I'm a fan of my backside. It's an asset that makes me feel confident in hip-hugging clothing, which has been a really helpful step in my (long) journey toward loving my body and accepting each and every curve. As expected, that hasn't always been the case. But after years of resenting, struggling, and quietly stewing over my figure, I've grown into a woman who can handle a larger-than-sample-size number on the tag of my jeans. Jeans that look pretty fantastic on a girl with a butt, I might add.
So this summer, I embarked on a journey to best tighten, tone, and show off my bum. A celebration of my body, more like. I researched butt treatments, lotions, and potions, and I tried out the ones that sounded the most intriguing. At the end of three months, I'm giving my booty a resounding A+. Below, I singled out the few things I wanted to enhance. Keep reading to find out everything I did to get there and the small improvements that made a world of difference.
1. Tending to Cellulite
Park Avenue plastic surgeon Scott Wells offers Cellulaze, a treatment that aims to provide an effective and permanent solution for unwanted cellulite. As you probably know, cellulite is the dimpling and irregularity that inevitably develops in the thighs and bum of most women (90%, to be exact).
During a consultation, Wells explained the procedure: "Cellulaze is a fantastic treatment designed for the correction of cellulite based on its causative anatomy. Through tiny openings in the skin, a laser fiber the size of a spaghetti strand is introduced into the area of cellulite to reverse the three causes. First, laser energy is used to melt some of the expanded fat layer. Next, the laser is used like a high-tech scissor to cut and release the fibrous bands under the skin. Finally, and most importantly, laser energy is directed right at the skin to safely heat the skin to a very specific temperature, resulting in the remodeling and strengthening of the skin's elasticity.
"In the past, many methods for correction of cellulite have been tried, but none addressed all of the causes as effectively or as permanently. The procedure is performed using local anesthesia, so there is no discomfort. Generally, only a single session is needed. The price varies from $3000 to over $5000, depending on the size of the areas treated and number of areas. Results take a few weeks to months to develop because this is a permanent restructuring of the skin and requires time for the body to form new collagen."
I debated giving the butt treatment a go—why not? It's totally safe and only minimally invasive. The thing is, I'm very squeamish. Like, "will faint just thinking about a shot at the doctor's office"–level squeamish. So I decided to think about it for a while and use a fellow editor's go-to cellulite-busting treatments instead.
The magic ingredient in this fast-absorbing, deliciously scented cream (seriously, it’s a mix of caramel and pistachio, and I feel the urge to eat it each time I apply) is guaraná—a native Amazonian plant whose fruit contains one of the most potent forms of caffeine on the planet. Caffeine equals tighter, smoother skin. The product also includes moisture heavy-hitters cupuaçu butter, açaí, and coconut oil for a truly hydrating experience. I've noticed a visible difference in ripples and dimples since I began using it just a few months ago.
Cupuaçu butter is extracted from the seeds of the cupuaçu fruit, which contains 45% butter. It possesses a high capacity to absorb water and works at the cellular level to regulate water levels and the activity of lipids on the skin.
2. Learning to Contour
As I've mentioned, I love a good spray tan. And there's no better (or quicker) way to boost confidence than a glowy bronze and a little subsequent contouring. St. Tropez finishing expert Sophie Evans contours your abs, arms, legs, and butt during each session, and the results are pretty remarkable.
After a fresh coat of self-tanner, Evans goes in with a smaller air-brush to get the proper contour—she darkens the curves underneath each cheek and shapes the right and left side. By the end of the tanning butt treatment, my booty looks lifted and nicely rounded, and the rest of me looks decidedly slimmer. You can DIY the process with a makeup sponge, or brush and your favorite self-tanner. I'm partial to St. Tropez's Gradual Tan Classic Everyday Body Lotion in Medium/Dark ($25).
Avoid using oil-based body products to extend the life of your spray tan.
With absolutely zero self-tan scent (a deal-breaker, I must admit), this moisturizing lotion can be applied daily to build a gradual, sun-kissed color on your entire body. It's never sticky, and it always looks natural.
3. Building More Muscle
Since I'm not the most avid gym-goer (read: never), I thought it wise to get into squats. While my yoga practice has been helpful in the toning department, I wanted to try something more targeted. Mike Alexander, an L.A.-based professional trainer and the owner of Madfit on Melrose, explains why squats are the holy grail of a great butt: "Squats work most of the muscles in your lower body—the motion of knee extension works your quadriceps (front of thighs), and the hip extension works your glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back of thighs)." Using correct form, I made sure to keep my chest lifted, my heels down, and never to squat with a round back or let my legs and knees bow outward. I even added in weight for an extra challenge with Neoprene's Body Sculpting Hand Weights ($18).
After squatting my heart out every day (twice a day) for the entire summer, I can definitely tell the difference in tone and muscle definition. My butt feels firmer, sits higher, and looks shapelier.
4. Getting a "Butt Facial"
The last—and perhaps most bizarre—butt treatment I scheduled for myself was a booty facial. Yes, you read that correctly. In fact, the one I got was called "Tip Top Tush," so the humor is not lost on me. Developed by a New York-based plastic surgeon who often performs Brazilian butt lifts, Dr. Matthew Schulman, the procedure is exactly as it sounds: a facial for your butt.
It's a customized treatment, so each one is unique and tends to your personal concerns, and they cost anywhere from $350 to $450. Before we got down to business, I chatted with the aesthetician about my trouble spots and what I was hoping to achieve with the treatment. I wanted to smooth out the texture of the skin, even the skin tone throughout, and tone the shape.
We did a quick cellulite laser and an IPL photo-facial meant to clear up any discoloration, followed by an exfoliating chemical peel. It took a little less than an hour, and, afterward, I was pretty psyched when I saw the results. The aesthetician left the room for me to dress, and I stared at my backside in the mirror for longer than I care to admit. It was somehow younger looking—is that a thing? The skin was smooth, supple, and completely even in tone. It felt so soft, and I even noticed a difference in the tightness of the skin on my butt and along my thighs.
Because I won't be able to go in for a butt facial quite as often as I do for my monthly regular facial, I've been keeping the results up with Stacked Skincare's TCA Multi-Acid Body Peel ($125).
This intense brush-on peel stimulates cell turnover while sloughing off dead skin build-up, softening keratin deposits, and eradicating acne-causing bacteria.
Scientific American. Is cellulite forever? Updated May 4, 2009.
Herman A, Herman AP. Caffeine's mechanisms of action and its cosmetic use. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2013;26(1):8-14. doi:10.1159/000343174
Sano K, Kawanobe H, Someya T. Effect of cupuassu butter on human skin cells. Data Brief. 2018;21:516-521. doi:10.1016/j.dib.2018.10.026