Ninety percent of women have cellulite, a harmless condition that causes skin to look lumpy. When the fibrous bands that run from the skin to your muscles start to pull downward, the fat cells in between start to bulge up, creating a dimpled appearance.Topical lotions and creams can diminish the appearance of dimples when used regularly.
Cellulite can worsen with age, as the skin’s elasticity and collagen weakens, notes Manish Shah, MD a board-certified plastic surgeon and skin-aging expert. And because estrogen helps create fat, cellulite tends to accumulate in areas where we have more fat reserves, such as the hips, thighs, butt, and stomach. "Cellulite is a complex structural process that happens deep within the skin's tissue," explains Shah, noting it can be hard to treat topically. However, every day use of a cellulite cream can help skin to appear less dimpled in texture.
We tried a few of the most highly-rated creams out there, our testers rating how well they improved their skin's hydration, texture, and appearance. We then combined these results with recommendations from plastic surgeons, as well as our own research to compile our list.
Ahead, find the best cellulite creams to improve the appearance of dimpled skin.
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream
Rich and hydrating
Multiple sizes available
Scent can be too overpowering for some
There’s a good reason this firming formula has a cult following. Inspired by Brazilian style itty-bitty bikinis, the cream also relies on ingredients native to Brazil, including guaraná, an Amazonian plant packed with caffeine. It contains four times the amount of caffeine in coffee.
Caffeine is ideal for stimulating circulation, an important component for promoting the look of smoother skin. Paired with hydrating cupuaçu butter and coconut oil, plus antioxidant-rich acai, and you’ve got yourself a cream that’s ideal to use all-over, not just on your derriere. But quite possibly the best part? The delectable pistachio-caramel fragrance.
Price at time of publish: $22, $48
Main Ingredient: Caffeine | Application Area: Butt, legs, stomach, arms | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 2.5, 8.1 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Augustinus Bader The Body Cream
Rich and hydrating
Makes skin look radiant
Everyone from Kim K. to Victoria Beckham to beauty editors everywhere is a fan of the face creams created by German physician and researcher, Augustinus Bader.
This formula touts the same proprietary ingredient as the beloved face creams, a complex known as TFC8, loaded with amino acids, vitamins, and other molecules naturally found in the skin that help promote cellular regeneration. This particular formula took a whopping 30 years to develop, time we think was well spent; a clinical trial conducted by the brand showed anywhere from 64 percent to 75 percent reduction in the appearance of cellulite after 12 weeks. Not to mention that it feels extraordinarily delightful going on, truly worth every penny.
Price at time of publish: $185
Main Ingredient: TFC8 | Application Area: All over | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 6.7 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Nivea Skin Firming & Toning Gel Cream
Firms and tightens
Contains alcohol which can be drying
An oldie-but-goodie, this remains our go-to drugstore cellulite cream year after year. It obviously gets major points for the affordable price tag (so you really can slather it on daily with reckless abandon), but also for the fact that it really does work, thanks to ingredients such as CoQ10 and L-Carnitine that help firm up skin. The lightweight, refreshing, and fast-absorbing gel texture is an added bonus.
Price at time of publish: $13
Main Ingredient: Ubiquinone | Application Area: Butt, thighs, stomach | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 6.7 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Palmer's Cocoa Butter Firming Butter Skin Lotion
Despite its ultra-affordable price, this formula boasts many of the same star ingredients as much pricier counterparts. Collagen and elastin to help firm and tone, along with antioxidant-rich CoQ10 and vitamin E to soften and smooth skin. Reviewers also note that it’s effective for reducing the look of stretch marks, too.
Price at time of publish: $9
Main Ingredient: Vitamin E | Application Area: All over | Free of: Parabens | Size: 10.6 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Best for Arms
Revision Skincare BodiFirm
Firms and tightens
Contains fruit extracts
Could be a bit more moisturizing
The star ingredient in this formula is the brand’s iFirm technology, a powerful combo of peptides, antioxidants, botanical extracts, and prebiotics. The result is a lightweight lotion that yes, firms and tightens for more toned skin, but also improves the look of crepiness, sagging, sun damage, and dehydration. Go ahead and use it on all over, but given the litany of benefits it delivers, we especially like using it on more-often exposed areas, like the upper arms. It is expensive, but we think given the formula's active ingredients, that the price is justified.
Price at time of publish: $156, $270
Main Ingredient: Blend of peptides, antioxidants, botanical extracts, and prebiotics | Application Area: All over | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 3.8, 8 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Legs
Body Merry Cellulite Defense Gel-Cream
Firms and tightens
Contains organic ingredients
“This product mixes some of the best ingredients out there for improving circulation and firmness and smoothening the skin,” says Shah. “Seaweed, cayenne, and retinol are all included in the formulation, which is paired with caffeine to address the problem areas around the thighs or buttocks,” he adds. It contains peppermint oil for a pleasingly refreshing sensation, although some reviewers have noted this scent is quite strong. The consistency of the formula soaks in lightning fast, so you can slip on your skinny jeans right after using it.
Price at time of publish: $24
Main Ingredient: Caffeine | Application Area: Legs | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Mature Skin
Paula's Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment
Can be irritating when used in combination with exfoliants
While it’s more commonly found in products for the face rather than the body, Shah says seeking out retinol in a cellulite cream is a good move, noting that a study published back in 2000 showed it improved skin elasticity by 10.5 percent when used topically to address cellulite. Along with boosting firmness, it also helps stimulate cell turnover to improve the overall look of skin, he says. Here, it’s paired with protective antioxidants, plus hydrating plant butters and oils, though some reviewers note that it's best to avoid pairing with an exfoliating scrub.
Price at time of publish: $29
Main Ingredient: Retinol | Application Area: Face and body | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
What Our Testers Say
"I am happy to report that my skin feels just as soft as a baby’s—from head to toe. The best part? My skin felt hydrated all day. I even asked my mother to feel my arms, and she confirmed that my skin felt much softer and smoother." — Olivia Hancock, Product Tester
Elemis Body Toning Cellulite Program
Lotions aside, daily dry brushing can also be super beneficial in your quest to minimize dimpling. It’s one of the best things you can do to stimulate circulation, which in turn flushes out excess fluid and swelling that can exacerbate the look of cellulite. In other words, pair dry brushing with a topical cream for a one-two punch, exactly what you get with this duo. Dry brush pre-shower, then apply the cream (which transforms into a lightweight oil) post-shower.
Price at time of publish: $132
Main Ingredient: Nigari salt | Application Area: Feet, thighs, stomach, arms | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Cruelty-Free: No
Kayo Bodycare Concentrated Firming Serum
Firms and tightens
Could be more hydrating
By definition, serums are lighter and more concentrated with active ingredients than lotions or creams. In other words, if you’re really trying to combat cellulite, it may be worth trying a serum. This one takes the cake, with plenty of caffeine to help tone, along with hydrating hyaluronic acid and coconut oil. It’s moisturizing enough on its own, though if you’re craving a little more moisture, you can always let it dry and top it with another cream of your choice. Also nice: It’s fragrance-free.
Main Ingredient: Caffeine | Application Area: Butt, thighs, arms, neck | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Post-Procedure
SkinCeuticals Body Tightening Concentrate
Firms and tightens
Contains mineral oil
In-office, body tightening and contouring treatments are always going to work faster and be more effective at addressing cellulite than any topical product out there. That being said, if you do opt to take the in-office route, using the right products afterward, like this option, can maximize the results. Peptides and hydrolyzed rice protein help tighten, lift, and firm. The formula is also innately cooling and refreshing. While it’s ideal to use post-procedure, it also works well on its own.
Price at time of publish: $90
Main Ingredient: Tri-peptide | Application Area: Butt, legs, stomach, arms | Free of: Parabens | Size: 5 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: No
Nubian Heritage Patchouli & Buriti Infused Shea Butter
Firms and plumps skin
Clean, hydrating formula
Forms a barrier on skin
Texture can be a little grainy
This all natural body cream might not be advertised as a cellulite fix, but it definitely has the ingredients to help get the job done. Shea butter has plenty of vitamin A, which repairs damaged collagen fibers for plumper, firmer skin. It's also rich in an acid called cinnimac, which helps with proper blood flow to the skin.
Use this naturally fragrant cream all over to revive, lift, and tone your skin.
Price at time of publish: $15
Main Ingredient: Shea butter | Application Area: All over | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 4 fl. oz | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Texture
Oui The People Featherweight Hydrating Body Gloss
Glossy sheen makes skin look smoother
Could be thicker in consistency
This hydrating formula contains squalane and avocado oil to provide rich hydration and antioxidant protection. The glossy finish refracts light and gives skin a natural sheen. Skin instantly appears smoother and glow-y, and reviewers note any feeling of rough skin is diminished.
Price at time of publish: $65
Main Ingredient: Squalane | Application Area: All over | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 3.3 fluid ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Stretch Marks
skin BUTTR Ginger Lemon [BUTTR]
Melts into skin
Helps fade stretch marks
Pleasant natural lemon scent
Needs to be used within one year
This indulgent body cream is made with whipped shea butter and a blend of coconut and essential oils. The result is an incredibly hydrating and plumping formula that works to help smooth out the appearance of stretch marks. Each batch is handmade, and there are no preservatives, so it's recommended you use the product within one year of purchase.
Price at time of publish: $30
Main Ingredient: Shea butter | Application Area: All over | Free of: Parabens, mineral oil | Size: 8 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Biossance Squalane + Caffeine Toning Body Cream
Contains plant-based squalane
Contains caffeine for firming benefits
Can be a bit greasy
Formulated with caffeine from green coffee beans as well as niacinamide and sugarcane-derived squalane, this rich body cream is a great choice for anyone looking to find a hydrating cream that touts firming benefits. Caffeine helps to firm the skin, niacinamide works to improve skin texture, and squalane delivers a healthy dose of moisture. We also appreciate that it's fragrance-free, so it won't compete any perfumes or fragrances you could be wearing. It's great for all skin types, but it's worth mentioning that some people find it to be a bit heavy or greasy.
Price at time of publish: $30
Main Ingredient: Caffeine, niacinamide, squalane | Application Area: All over | Free of: Fragrance, mineral oil | Size: 6 ounces | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Our best overall pick is Sol de Janeiro's Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, which stimulates circulation in the skin with a potent dose of caffeine—plus, it smells delicious and has a rich texture that absorbs easily. For a more affordable pick, consider NIVEA Skin Firming and Toning Body Gel-Cream. This drugstore favorite uses ingredients like CoQ10 and L-Carnitine to help firm up skin.
Meet the Expert
Manish Shah, MD, is a board-certified plastic surgeon and anti-aging skin expert based in Denver, CO. He regularly performs body contouring procedures and is an expert in treating cellulite.
What to Look For in Cellulite Creams
Shah says there are three key ingredients to look for in a cellulite cream that contribute to skin health and can help reduce the appearance of dimples and bumps when used long-term. This first is Retinol. “Retinols are vitamin A derivatives that have been shown to thicken the dermis of the skin and rejuvenate the epidermal layer,” he explains. “This process results in tighter, thicker skin that lays down more smoothly and is less likely to buckle or create out-pocketings.”
Another must, according to Shah, is caffeine, which is helpful due to its circulation-boosting benefits. “Caffeine in cellulite creams acts to reduce local tissue swelling that creates the cobblestone appearance of classic cellulite,” he says, adding that this, too, helps contribute to smoother-looking skin. Our favorite option with caffeine is the Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Body Cream.
Finally, Dr. Shah credits vitamin C can be critical for collagen production. “Vitamin C deficiency leads to the creation of weak collagen, which in turn leads to looser connections between the skin and underlying structures,” he says. “These loose connections create the septae that give cellulite its cobblestone appearance.”
How We Researched & Tested
To compile this list, our team of editors and contributors spent hours researching the best products on the market in this category, evaluating their key features—like ingredients, performance, or design—in addition to reviews from customers and other trusted sources. Our team also incorporated their own personal experiences testing products in their own lives. We then used these insights from our research and testing to assign a star rating from one to five (five being the best; one being the worst) to certain products on the list.
Why Trust Byrdie
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She considered dozens of formulas for this roundup, evaluating each on their active ingredients. We also had testers try out some top-rated picks, and combined these insights with Shah's recommendations to compile this list.
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