It's primarily women who are the victims of cellulite. It begins to appear in girls around the age of 14 and increases as we mature and the subcutaneous skin layer thins and redistributes. Cellulite often forms in postnatal women and those who take birth control pills because the waste system can't get rid of the enormous flow of estrogen in the body. Cellulite can develop after a traumatic injury if the circulatory system has been disturbed. A sedentary lifestyle leads to a hardening of the connective tissue, causing a dimpling of the skin.
Men rarely develop cellulite because their network of fat cells occurs deep in the skin. If you were to look at a map of the female body from the inside out, you would see that the cells are smooth in shape and nearly reach the surface of the skin, causing a dimpling effect. Men's cells are shaped more sharply and reside deeper in the skin, rarely poking through to cause the ripples we associate with cellulite.
Some of the contributing factors for developing cellulite are:
- Heredity, but unlike the strength of your nails or the color and texture of your hair, you can do a lot to fight cellulite.
- Insufficient water intake. Water helps the waste system operate, flushing toxins from your body. Drink seven glasses of water a day.
- Diet. Poor eating habits (alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods) contribute to the formation of cellulite because the toxins they produce get trapped in the fatty tissue. And despite what you've heard, crash diets don't work to fight cellulite. In fact, crash diets increase the risk of cellulite because the body thinks it's starving and by attempting to compensate, it assists in cellulite formation. All saturated fats help build cellulite. These fats block the arteries and get trapped in the tissue as well, preventing sufficient waste and toxin elimination.
- Smoking is not only bad for the skin and lungs, it also weakens the skin due to the constriction of capillaries. It further damages the connective tissue that causes the dimpling effect of cellulite, too.
- Tension and stress can cause a muscle to seize up in pain; they can also cause the connective tissue that covers that muscle to seize up. Tension also blocks the tissue, preventing proper waste elimination and purification.
- Medication can disturb the body's natural processes, disturbing the purification system that is naturally in place. Diet pills, sleeping pills and diuretics can all lead to cellulite; oral contraceptives, which increase the body's estrogen, cause fat cells to enlarge, leading to water retention. Retaining water inhibits the body from flushing the system of toxins, leading to the formation of cellulite.
- Lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle contribute to the formation of cellulite. Exercise decreases many health risks and also helps fight cellulite. It improves muscle tone, circulation and overall well-being, helping to break blocked tissue and purify the body.
Some women find diet supplements helpful in controlling cellulite. "I'm on the Herbalife program right now and I have noticed a big difference in the way my skin is," says iVillage Beauty member juliajewel. "It is much softer feeling and the texture is a lot smoother, too." Hear what other women are saying about cellulite by visiting our Cellulite and Hair Removal message board.