In my family, legend has it that we have a little French blood dating back to the Napoleonic era, so I like to credit this with all the ways that I am French-ish. I live for baguettes and cheese and would eat them over pastries every day. I think flowers in baskets on bicycles look lovely. (Especially parked. I don’t want to actually ride the bicycle because, you know, heels). And I see no reason to sweat when a pretty smelling cream will do. French women use lots and lots of creams designed to make them skinnier and to make cellulite disappear, and look at them! They must be doing something right, because they all appear to be naturally fit and they live in a country with a patisserie on every block and a cake called quatre-quarts that’s made with something like 4 tons of butter. Anyway, as a rule, they don’t exercise and they look great. And they owe it all to creams.
This is super convenient for me because I know a lot more about creams than I do about exercise, having spent the better part of my life running from it. Not literally, of course, because that would be, well, exercise. But you know what I mean. So this isn’t a story about getting in shape. (I’ll tackle fitness and nutrition next week, when I enlist the help of some unbelievably inspiring experts and attempt to follow their advice.) This is a story about creams (and, occasionally, treatments and gadgets), and how they can make you fit-ter and firmer and flawless-er.
How to Look Flawless in a Bathing Suit in 7 Easy Steps
1. Tone and Tighten
There are 3 basic ways to tone, tighten and treat cellulite without exercise.
A. High Tech Treatments
Endermologie has been widely accepted as the most effective professional treatment for cellulite. Basically, specially designed rollers give you a deep tissue massage that is pretty effective at smoothing lumps and bumps on a person who is at or near normal weight. According to Angela Nice, one of the country’s leading cellulite experts (and a contributor to my book, 110 Simple Body Care Tips from the Experts): “It’s the gold standard, without a doubt. Plus it feels good and therapeutic. It has FDA approval for the appearance of cellulite, and it helps blood flow to be even throughout the body. It is the most effective at breaking apart adhesions and fibroblasts that attach themselves to fat cells.” The downside? There can be a little bruising, and if you stop going, the cellulite comes back. Nice likes a weekly treatment, but says she can stretch it to three if she uses cellulite creams.
One of the most exciting recent advances, the VelaShape is the only FDA approved device to slim and contour the body. It smooths cellulite and is actually supposed to reduce the circumference of the thighs. It’s even supposed to help smooth post c-section scar tissue. I will be trying it soon myself, and reporting on the results, but a friend who had it recently is thrilled with the results. For best results, the company advises about 4 treatments, and the average treatment is $300-500. My amazing Aesthetician, Amy Frederick, at Parks Dermatology Center, raved about the device and the results her clients have seen.
LPG, the company that makes the Endermologie machine, has created a device for home use, the Wellbox. At $1500, it’s pretty pricey, but if it can fight cellulite and keep it away, without frequent visits to a pro, it might be worth it to some people.
4. Bliss Fatgirlslim Lean Machine
The Lean Machine is a relatively inexpensive device that’s generated a lot of buzz (and fairly good reviews). At only $145, it’s an affordable home system that some users swear by.
2. Low Tech Treatments
Wraps have been getting a lot of buzz lately, and they’re a great way to streamline your body before a big event, but sadly, the results are very temporary. The basic procedure is this: A cellulite cream is applied to the area, the area is wrapped tightly, and then heat is applied, usually through a heated blanket or cover of some kind. This can be done in a spa, through popular commercially sold products for home use, or by creating your own wrap at home. There are dozens of YouTube tutorials that can help you do just that.
2. Dry Brushing
In use since ancient times, brushing your skin with a dry brush improves circulation, plumps up the skin’s surface and can help reduce the appearance of cellulite. Five minutes a day before your shower is supposed to be good for your whole body. And Dr. Oz listed it as one of the ways you can battle cellulite at home. He also recommends relaxing with a cup of tea, and the lycopene in tomato sauce, which I eat frequently on pasta, so I think I have this cellulite thing beat.
3. Cellulite Massagers
These handheld tools, which come in many different shapes and sizes, are designed to be used in the shower, often with a special cellulite reducing body soap, or with creams, lotions or oils. While massage is usually beneficial, there is no evidence that these mild massages reduce cellulite, but they may help your cellulite cream work better.
Can creams replace crunches? Scientists say no, but that’s not going to stop me from trying. I have hope, and while they may not melt away fat, they do tighten, firm and improve texture, which is pretty miraculous. So let the naysayers naysay. (Who needs a pessimist around when you’re already dealing with lumpy thighs)? I’m going to keep trying and applying. Here, some of the top rated picks in cellulite creams.
1. Cellulite Rx
This is the choice of top cellulite expert Angela Nice, and is actually part of a 3 step at home cellulite treatment. In the book, she describes it this way: “It increases circulation like nothing I’ve never seen before. Skin is warm and red and tingly for about an hour after application. It’s a very, very advanced product. You need to wash your hands afterwards, or they get sensitive and red. You don’t need to use much, and you need to really massage it in until you feel it’s fully absorbed. It is a vasodilator, so it really increases the circulation of the body to flush out toxins from your cells.”
2. L’Oreal Sublime
L’Oreal Sublime is one of the top rated drugstore cellulite products, with one mom claiming it really tightened her post-baby tummy.
3. Sisley Paris Cellulinov
A luxe treatment from a high end line. Sisley is known for its body products.
2. Remove Hair
Looking to get fuzz free in a flash? Here, 4 ways to make it happen.
1. Laser Hair Removal
As obsessed as I am with hair removal, I’ve always been hesitant to try laser hair removal because the results never seemed definitive enough. I wanted the hair gone, not reduced. I also wanted to be able to cover large areas, like my legs. Also, with my olive skin and dark hair, I wasn’t an ideal candidate, since lasers used to work best on fair skinned dark haired women (the device worked best when there was a contrast). Fortunately, the technology has dramatically improved in recent years. The LightSheer Desire Laser, currently only available at the office of Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank in New York City, has the most exciting new technology I’ve seen. It is able to safely treat all skin types, and can be used to treat large areas of the body in only 10 or 15 minutes. Plus, there is a smaller chance of regrowth.
2. Home Hair Removal
It’s harder and harder for me to schedule treatments these days, so I was really excited to try the Silk’n Flash&Go Luxx. It’s a home hair removal device that’s so simple to use! Here’s a description of how it works: “The Silk’n Flash&Go Luxx is based on Home Pulsed Light (HPL) technology which is a light energy combined with the acoustic effect is selectively absorbed in the hair shaft and disables hair growth. Energy is absorbed by the hair follicles while the surrounding tissue remains at normal temperature and hair removal is achieved.” I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and in a little over half an hour, while watching a show, I can cover my whole body. After using it every other week for a couple of months, you go down to one time a month. I have already noticed that I need to shave less often, which is remarkable for me, because although I don’t have a ton of hair it grows very quickly. And I’ve only done 2 treatments. I’m also impressed by how easy it is to use. I will post an update after I’ve finished the couple of months, but so far, I’m excited!
If you haven’t heard me mention my mom’s old-world home waxing technique, I’ll spare you. Let’s just say that it’s a DIY version of sugaring that was sticky, messy and painful. If you’re interested in waxing at home, the pros at Completely Bare have created simple, relatively painless kits with everything you need. Here, a few of my favorite products for waxing, whether you choose to do it at home or head to a spa.
Still the method of choice for most women, it’s become so routine that many of us don’t notice how far the products have come. Here, a few of my favorite finds for better shaving.
Who wants toned, hairless skin that’s rough and bumpy? Exfoliating isn’t only essential for skin health and smoothness, but it also helps some of the other steps on this list work better (including shaving, waxing, and, up next, tanning). I find most body scrubs ineffective and imprecise. You can’t target the areas you want to address very well and most of the stuff ends up down the drain.
Due to my Egyptian heritage, I have perma-tan, so tanning has never been a thing for me. Once, as a beauty editor, I needed to try out a brand new concept, the salon spray tan, and I sent my brand new husband to try it out. That’s why I really had to enlist some experts when it came to covering the topic of self-tanning in my book, likw Fiona Locke, a Celebrity Skin Finishing Expert who helps stars get their red-carpet-ready glows.
1. Self Tanning at Home
2. Salon Spray Tans
The DIY route is inexpensive and convenient, but the salon spray tan is a more foolproof way to get all over, even color. An experience technician can even use the tanner to accentuate muscles and make you appear more toned.
3. Bronzing Creams
My favorite method, and frankly my only method, these bronzing creams can be smoothed on to instantly turn your winter-white skin a golden shade of bronze. I adore them. For years, I used a mixture of Benefit Flamingo Fancy (discontinued) and Benefit Golden Gleam (also discontinued) lotions and applied them to shoulders, arms and legs for an instant bronzey glow. These are my current favorite solutions, and they’re far less messy. Think of these as bronzers for the body.
While not exactly cellulite creams, I consider firming lotions to be an everyday essential for every woman. Why wouldn’t you want firmer skin? Some multiaskers tan, brighten, moisturize and firm while conquering world hunger, or you can go for a simpler version.
6. Boost Your Bust
You know that test where if you put a pencil under your breasts and it drops to the ground, you know they’re perky. I failed it. That may be a little more than you need to know about me, so I’ll sum it up this way: I need a little lift in the bust department. I apply a heavier product, like Orico, at night, and the Mama Mio during the day, and just like the firming creams above, my skin feels tighter and smoother.
7. Tighten Tummy
Yes, I use a tummy cream, but clearly not as often as I should, because the six pack eludes me. Still, I love the tightening effect on my skin, and it sure beats situps.
I hope I’ve shown how easy it can be to go from winter woeful to bathing suit ready in 7 easy steps. Using only 73 products, you can be totally set for summer. So next time you’re tempted to do a lunge, I hope you’ll grab a cream instead. (And if you still insist on exercising, you’ll want to tune in for fitness week, beginning April 12!)