New Year is prime gym membership selling time. It is also the season for health products, fads and unfulfilled promises and resolutions.
The Holland and Barrett shop window is dedicated to slimming products and supplements promising that you can, ‘Get in shape, FOR LESS’.
Some beauty products can take these promises even further, creams that banish cellulite and promise that you can lose inches by simply covering your bum in goo. There is even a whole website dedicated to them at cellulitecreams.net ….. Is this really possible? Even if you are still eating copious amounts of left over chocolate?
Top rated on the celulitecreams.net website is a cellulite and fat reducing cream called RevitaShape which claims..
- Metabolizing stored fat
- Draining water and toxins
- Improving circulation and flushing away fat and toxins
- Firming and toning the skin
Strangely, it is also top rated on http://www.getridcellulite.org and the delightfully named, http://www.bumfat.com. (Do you think they might be buying websites and rating their product as No1? Surely not)
What’s in it?
Full of sciencey sounding jargon the RevitaShape website states: ‘The RevitaShape formula contains the most powerful anti-cellulite components available on the market. These ingredients work together to boost circulation, finish off fluids and initiate lipolysis, the metabolization of stored fat. The key ingredients to RevitaShape’s success are (these are taken from various websites about RevitaShape, do not believe everything you read here):
- Bupleurum Falcatum: One of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese medicine. Initiates lipolysis, breaking down adipose (fat) cells (found no evidence for this)
- Glaucine:An oil derived from the horned poppy flower. Inhibits new fat cells from forming (found no evidence for this)
- l-carnitine: An amino acid involved in the metabolism of fat, l-carnitine can help breakdown lipids (or fats) beneath the skin surface, thus helping to minimize the quantity of available subcutaneous fat that may later herniate into the connective tissue (What?! In a cream, no.)
- Coenzyme-A: breaks up fat and is involved in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids, and produces similar effects to l-carnitine
- Centella Asiatica Extract: a Chinese herb that is widely regarded for its ability to assist in the restoration of the skin’s suppleness (widely regarded does not mean that it works)
- Caffeine and algae: drains excess fluids within deep tissues of the dermis. Caffeine can temporarily tighten and firm the appearance of your skin by absorbing moisture, effectively dehydrating your skin. Caffeine works on impact, instantly diminishing the appearance of lumps and dimples, for smoother, even skin. Caffeine is also a natural anti-inflammatory agent, and can help reduce the swelling beneath the skin of herniated connective tissue, thus help to minimize the cause of cottage cheese dimples
- Bladderwrack Extract:A marine algae, bladderwrack removes excess fluids that become trapped in the layers of the skin.
- Vitamin C: A key antioxidant, Vitamin C improves circulation and aids in the synthesis of collagen (‘a key antioxidant’ is meaningless)
- Retinyl Palmitate: A powerful form of Vitamin A, Retinyl Palmitate helps firm and tighten the skin (retinol, it might well just do that)
- Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin-E): Essential for healthy skin, Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals and improves circulation (it is but it doesn’t improve circulation or cellulite)
An impressive list of ingredients. Key thing to remember, chemicals, ‘natural extracts’, ‘vitamins’ and ‘antioxidants’ all might well show some effects when they are tested in the lab, at certain concentrations on cells grown in a dish (or animals) but that is completely different to when they are thrown together at various levels in a cream and applied to skin. Just because someone somewhere found that they did something at one point in time does not mean that they will have the same affect wherever they are applied. There is also a claim on a website that RevitaShape is ‘natural’ despite one of the ingredients being listed as a synthetic version of Vitamin A.
What have researchers got to say about cellulite? This next quote is taken from the latest scientific review published on cellulite treatments published in 2010:
‘The best of the currently available treatments for cellulite have, at most, shown mild improvements in the appearance of cellulite, and most of these improvements are not maintained over time. Studies about cellulite treatments are often limited by small patient groups, the lack of control groups, inadequate blinding of investigators, and a failure to test for statistical significance. Therefore, the “success” of any treatment method for cellulite reduction should be regarded as speculation.’
Ah. There you go then.
That isn’t to say that no cellulite treatments work at all. There are some treatments that have shown some effects. Some of the ingredients in cellulite creams (like caffeine) have been shown to produce an instant tightening effect and a slight improvement in appearance (although this is temporary).
If we stick to non invasive/topical treatments (a cream/solution) the only one shown to have any real effect ( is the application of a solution containing 0.3% retinol (Vitamin A) after application for 6 months. But even that study involved only 20 women.
Retinol is present in the RevitaShape formula as Retinyl Palmitate (synthetic version of Vitamin A) but it is not specified what % is present in RevitaShape.
From the RevitaShape website:
‘RevitaShape also aims to reduce the amount of excess fat in your body, which causes uneven skin in the first place. As such, RevitaShape also contains l-carnitine and bladderwrack extracts. L-carnitine and coenzyme-A can help breakdown lipids (or fats), while bladderwrack is believed to counter obesity by increasing your metabolic rate.’
RevitaShape will not do this. There is nothing in the scientific literature to suggest that applying RevitaShape will remove excess fat and counter obesity.
RevitaShape claims to have been ‘clinically tested’ what they mean is that they have paid (probably – as most consumer research is) an unspecified number of women to use the cream and note the appearance of their cellulite over a period of time. There is no ‘control’ group (so there is nothing to compare the data to) and no information about this ‘study’ apart from one graph that doesn’t tell you very much.
And finally, hidden in the FAQ section you find:
Can RevitaShape eliminate dimples permanently?
Unfortunately, there is no permanent method for getting rid of dimples, not even surgery. While liposuction does target and remove excess fat, the true cause of dimples is inflexible connective tissue or skin that is too thin. Liposuction can even make the appearance of dimples worse by leaving dimples and lumps where the extra fat used to be.
Massagers and contour-refining skin creams such as RevitaShape can help to temporarily diminish the appearance of dimples. With RevitaShape, the instant effects of the caffeine will temporarily tighten and smooth your dimply butt – the perfect quick fix to soak up the sun in your cute new bikini. But, as dimples is caused by the herniation of subcutaneous fat within your connective tissue, there is a good chance that without continued use, your skin will once again appear dimpled and uneven.
In summary, cellulite creams like RevitaShape all have similar ingredients. They might offer an instant temporary boost in appearance of cellulite by dehydrating the skin and making it appear tighter. They seem to have no evidence that their cream achieves the promises they make. They will not permanently remove cellulite or make you lose any weight. If someone really did create a miracle solution that solved these problems trust me you would hear about it and they would conduct a proper scientific study to prove that their product worked. Sorry to be a party pooper, but the only real solution for weight loss and to improve the appearance of cellulite is to lay of the chocs and move that bum a bit more!
Full ingredient list for RevitaShape (taken from http://www.dermboutique.com/revitashape.html) : Deionized water, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, RevitaShape complex (cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, caffeine, butylene glycol, PEG-8, bupleurum falcatum extract, coenzyme-A, glycerin, coco-glucoside, caprylyl glycol, alcohol, glaucine), glyceryl stearate, PEG-100 stearate, PEG-12 dimethicone, ethoxydiglycol, caprylic/capric triglyceride, stearic acid, cetyl alcohol, cyclomethicone, bis-vinyl dimethicone copolymer, sambucus nigra flower (elderberry) extract, retinyl palmitate (Vitamin-A), tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin-E), l-carnitine, fucus vesiculosus (bladderwrack) extract, ascorbyl palmitate (Vitamin-C), DMDM hydantoin, polysorbate-20, centella asiatica (gotu kola) extract, magnesium aluminum silicate, fragrance, methylisothiazolinone.