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Can Caffeine Reduce Your Cellulite?

Brittany Kline
By: Senior LetsTalkBeauty Editor  |  Brittany Kline

Caffeine. The hero of our morning brews; the oomph we need to make it through Monday. We know it’s the stuff that wakes us up and gives us energy to do all that’s demanded of us on a daily basis, but did you know that caffeine can also be used to combat cellulite? It’s true! Believe it or not, caffeine is frequently used in many topical creams, gels, and lotions that are designed to fight against cellulite. Why? Well, caffeine can do a lot more than supercharge your venti iced double shot latte with coconut milk. It has health benefits when applied topically as well as when ingested. Putting pep in our step is just one of the many things this hard working little bean can do.

The Wonder of Caffeine

A single 8oz cup of coffee can have 95mg or more of caffeine.

Coffee is America’s biggest, most widely-consumed source of caffeine, with most people admitting to having at least one cup a day, and many others claiming they choose two or more. In other parts of the world, it is in direct competition with the ever-popular tea, which is America’s runner-up beverage of choice for caffeine. But by far, when it comes to seeking out that jolt of energy, most of us turn to java before all else, and with good reason. It’s delicious, healthy (if not adulterated with too much cream and sugar), has a load of health benefits, and provides that much needed kick of caffeine.

Caffeine is the most-used psychoactive substance in the world. While psychoactive substances are often thought of in terms of “hard” and illegal drugs (like mushrooms or LSD), the term “psychoactive” simply means “affecting the function or perception of the brain”. And anyone who needs a cup or two to wake up in the morning will tell you that coffee- and the caffeine in it- definitely affects their brain. This one just happens to be in what we experience as a positive, helpful way.

In the United States alone, more than 150 million citizens consume coffee on a daily basis, and that’s not even to mention the hundreds of millions more who drink caffeine in tea and colas daily. Caffeine works as a stimulant for your body’s central nervous system, and also provides numerous other benefits, such as reducing the risk for Parkinson’s disease and colon cancer.

Coffee grounds make an amazing addition to DIY skin scrubs. 

But that’s what happens when we ingest it.  Caffeine also provides various benefits when applied topically. Clinical studies have shown caffeine reduced cancerous tumors in mice that were exposed to high levels of ultraviolet radiation. There are also dermatologists who use caffeine to treat rosacea. Caffeine stimulates our systems both when taken internally (such as consumed in coffee) or topically, as in skin contact through a cream. On the outside, this stimulation can increase circulation and encourage hair growth in patients who have premature balding. It can also dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. To top it all off, coffee is an antioxidant, so when used in an exfoliating scrub, it can smooth skin.

So, considering all these great benefits of caffeine, how can it assist in fighting cellulite?

Caffeine vs. Cellulite

Coffee, particularly the caffeine in it, can also boost your metabolism and aid in weight loss.

When caffeine is applied topically, it can actually work to reduce the fat content within a person’s cells. There is a general belief among scientists that caffeine interferes with the activity of a specific enzyme within the cell known as phosphodiesterase. The human body employs phosphodiesterase to prevent the breakdown of body fat. By inhibiting phosphodiesterase, caffeine helps the body to burn off the deposits of fatty tissue that cause cellulite.

Also, by dilating the blood vessels beneath the skin, caffeine relaxes the hardened collagen tethering the epidermis to the muscle. This collagen hardening keeps the layers of the skin together, but when stretched too far, causes the dimpled, orange-peel-like appearance of cellulite. But when those collagen are relaxed, thanks to increased blood flow, they aren’t so rigid and taut, allowing for a smoother skin appearance. This can be permanent or temporary, depending on what caused the collagen to harden in the first place. 

Caffeine also helps to whisk away excess moisture, slightly pulling the epidermis taut and smoothing out the visual appearance of wrinkles from above as well as deeper down in the skin layers. This can help give an almost instant lift, while the work below the surface can take a bit more time but deliver longer lasting results.

Is Caffeine Effective in Reducing Cellulite?

The real culprit of cellulite is in the hypodermis, so any treatment you use has to be able to penetrate deeply to be effective. 

The answer to the question above is both “yes” and “no.” Applying caffeine topically can be a very effective method for helping to fight the appearance of already existing cellulite, but ingesting caffeine through food and beverages can actually aggravate cellulite and worsen its symptoms. This is because of the different way caffeine affects us and our bodies internally as opposed to externally. 

When ingested, caffeine can dehydrate our bodies, tricking our brains into thinking we need to store water. Where does that water get stored? In our fat cells! Which, in turn, increase the appearance of lumps and bumps. Plus, many coffee drinkers add milk and sugar to some degree, both of which can lead to weight gain and more cellulite.

An 8oz cup of green tea can contain between 30-50mg of caffeine.

A notable exception to be wary about caffeine intake is green tea, which contains a compound called theobromine. This compound stimulates the release of fats from cells in the human body, thus reducing the size and appearance of cellulite.

However, drinking a ton of coffee or green tea or eating handfuls of roasted coffee beans should not be the only weapons in your arsenal. They are effective helpers, useful tools, but not a way to win the ultimate battle. It might make the difference in being satisfied with your results or not, but that doesn’t mean caffeine alone can cure all of your cellulite woes. 

Cellulite is a naturally occurring thing in the human body, and almost 90% of people have some form of it somewhere by the time they reach adulthood. 

So, What Can I Do to Reduce Cellulite?

The most common trouble spots for cellulite are the buttocks, thighs, arms, and tummy.

Nowadays, the majority of cellulite creams on the market contain caffeine. For a cream to be considered a “good” cream when compared to others on the market, it should contain caffeine in addition to powerful and proven anti-cellulite ingredients such as bladderwrack extract. See our anti-cellulite ingredients article for more information on which ingredients to look for and what they help to do.

When applied daily, a high-quality cellulite cream with the right ingredients inside can go a long way in reducing the presence of cellulite and helping you recover the well-toned appearance that we all desire. 

Yes, there are surgical alternatives to attempt to remove or reduce cellulite. But these procedures are often invasive and almost always expensive. Botched surgeries can result in scarring and disfigurement, far worse than a natural annoyance that most women deal with. It is okay to want to be rid of cellulite, and it is okay to try and diminish the look of it to sculpt your appearance into what you want it to be. 

Graham, 31, is an American model who advocates body positivity and loving the skin you’re in.

We believe in the Ashley Graham viewpoint on cellulite: “My cellulite is hanging out of my pants and I am sexy AF.” The model offered this quote as a response to an internet troll’s comment on one of her Instagram photos. Graham often talks about turning hate into teachable moments, which applies to self-hate as well. 

It’s important to remember that even if there is something about our bodies or our skin that we don’t like, that’s okay. It’s alright to dislike your cellulite and want to be rid of it, as long as you remember that you are worth more than the dimples on your thighs. It’s perfectly okay to be on the lookout for the best beauty creams and anti-cellulite tips. That’s why we’re here! Just remember that you’re still sexy AF, with or without cellulite. 

For more information on anti-cellulite creams, check out which products fared better than others on our cellulite creams comparison chart.

Brittany Kline
Senior LetsTalkBeauty Editor
We sent Brittany to venture across the world in search of discovering basically the world's best products and then bringing those back to you. She has documented all her research so you can receive the most vital information and latest innovations in beauty.
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