Got Cellulite? Don't Bother Doing This

Dry brushing promises smoother, dimple-free skin—but does it really work?

Medically reviewed in November 2022

Cellulite on the thighs, buttocks, hips and abdomen is the plight of many adolescents’ and adults’ confidence. While there’s no single treatment for cellulite, there may be natural ways to improve the appearance of cellulite, including dry brushing. Is dry brushing a beauty myth or does it really work? Find out.

What Is Dry Brushing: Dry brushing is the act of brushing your bare skin with a dry, natural bristle brush. It’s typically recommended that you start at your feet and brush upwards, towards the heart to stimulate the lymphatic system. The claim is that dry brushing problem areas regularly will reduce the appearance of cellulite, but unfortunately, there’s no scientific proof that it actually works.

Dry brushing has a plumping effect on the skin, which is likely what people interpret as cellulite reduction. The effect is a result of the increased blood circulation caused by dry skin brushing, but only lasts temporarily.     

What Does It Do: Although dry brushing doesn’t eliminate pesky cellulite, it may have several other benefits. If you have dry skin, try dry brushing to exfoliate away dead, flaky skin and unclog pores.

Dry brushing may also stimulate the lymphatic, circulatory and nervous systems. The lymphatic system is responsible for filtering bacteria, abnormal cells and other matter out of the bloodstream. Proponents say dry brushing helps increase lymphatic flow and pulls contaminants out of the body (though there’s little evidence for this, too), and increases blood circulation. Dry skin brushing also helps to wake up your body by stimulating your nerve endings in your skin, like a massage.      

Cellulite Remedies: There is no permanent fix for cellulite. Many products and procedures, like vigorous massages, cellulite creams and mesotherapy (a procedure that involves administering injections beneath the skin) claim to diminish the appearance of cellulite, but few actually perform.  

There may be other ways to reduce the appearance of cellulite, including weight loss and exercise. Shedding pounds and toning the muscles in your thighs, buttocks and abdomen can help smooth dimpled skin. Topical creams containing retinols have shown a reduction in the appearance of cellulite over a six-month period if applied twice daily.

Learn more about how one woman reduced the appearance of her cellulite, and other skin treatments.

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