Replace cellulite with super-smooth skin

No woman is immune from it, no matter how thin, rich or famous. Just think of those holiday snaps of Hollywood starlet Mischa Barton (below) flashing her dimpled thighs.

The one good thing that can be said about the dreaded 'C' word, aka cellulite, is that it certainly isn't in awe of celebrity.

Jerry Hall is a fellow sufferer, along with Uma Thurman and Reese Witherspoon. Actress Sandra Bullock admits that she makes a hobby of going to fashion shows to spot cellulite on the catwalk models to make herself feel better about her own body. She says: "We all have cellulite. So do supermodels! I've been to the shows, and I go, 'Stick figure has some cellulite'. It's nature. Without it, you're not human."

She's right, you know. A study by Neutrogena shows that 70pc of women suffer from dimpled skin. More women have it than men because of our thinner skin, which shows it more clearly.

Strangely enough, though, cellulite has actually only been in vogue since 1973, when the word was coined by Nicole Ronsard, the owner of a New York beauty salon, to describe that dire combination of fat, water and toxins.

Experts say that the orange peel texture of cellulite is down to the fat deposits just below the surface of the skin that bulge out from the fibrous cords connecting the skin to the underlying tissue.

We still don't know exactly what causes it, but stress, poor diet and a lack of exercise don't help. And, being thin or young are no defence because we all have layers of fat just below the surface of the skin, and cellulite can appear in those as young as 14. Genetics are a major factor, and hormones, pregnancy and ageing can all contribute to the weakening of our collagen fibres.

Your fate isn't predetermined though, you do have some control, thankfully. Here are some tips for super-smooth skin:

n Drink: It's believed that a lack of water in the body can cause or aggravate cellulite, so make sure you drink between six and eight glasses a day, starting first thing in the morning with a herbal tea and a slice of lemon to detoxify your body, while avoiding as much tea, coffee and alcohol as you can.

n If you're trying to lose weight, make sure you do it at a steady, sensible pace, averaging a pound or two a week. Crash-dieting shocks your body into trying to hold on to any fats and fluids it has left, much of which will be in your thighs, the place cellulite likes to call home.

n Regular massage won't cure dimpling (if only we should be so lucky), but it does encourage blood circulation to cellulite-prone areas, which will improve its appearance. It's also worth dry-brushing your whole body with a natural bristle brush every time you have a bath or shower, using strokes towards your heart to boost circulation.

Brushing stimulates both blood and lymphatic circulation, and the increased blood flow helps to bring more healing nutrients to help repair cellulite damage while the boost in lymphatic circulation means that toxins and waste products are cleared more quickly.

n Do make sure to exfoliate regularly. Because skin cells become less active when trapped under 'dead' cells, exfoliation helps to improve and maintain your skin's health and appearance by polishing away the dulling layer of dead cells that build up more quickly as skin ages.

n Adding three drops of geranium, juniper or rosehip oil to your bath is another easy way to improve your circulation. And don't forget to moisturise, moisturise, moisturise to keep your skin supple.

n Get yourself moving because statistics show that you're far less likely to develop cellulite than those who don't. Swimming is great for toning your thighs. But any good workout reduces your level of fat (good news), and stimulates that all-important blood flow (even better).

n Cut out refined sugar as much as you can. We can't be good all the time, though, so if you do need a treat, have a square of good quality dark chocolate to cure that craving.

n Cosmetic creams can only help the appearance of cellulite, they don't claim to banish it completely.

Caffeine is contained in almost every cellulite product that shows any benefit, because it helps blood flow to the skin and it works like a diuretic. In removing moisture from the skin, it firms it, albeit temporarily.

Three to try:

n Christian Dior Plasticity Anti-Cellulite Cream, €45 (above)

n Dermalogica Exfoliating Body Scrub, €33.60

n Clinique Water Therapy Whipped Body Cream, €32 (left)

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