Cellulite is the dimpled-looking skin that commonly occurs in the thigh region. It forms when fatty tissue deep in the skin pushes up against connective tissue. This creates the dimpled appearance that cellulite is infamous for.

It’s estimated that more than 85 percent of all women 21 years and older have cellulite. It’s not as common in men.

Cellulite can develop on the thighs because the area naturally has more fatty tissue. Other risk factors for the development of cellulite include:

  • age
  • estrogen
  • family history
  • tissue inflammation
  • increased fatty tissue caused by weight gain
  • loss of collagen
  • poor circulation (a common issue in the legs)
  • poor lymphatic drainage
  • thinning epidermis (outer layer of skin)

While thigh cellulite can be frustrating, in terms of your overall health, there’s nothing inherently wrong with having it. Still, it’s understandable that many women want to get rid of it.

There are a number of home remedies and exercises that promise to do just that, but the key is to determine whether these solutions really live up to the hype.

Home remedies for cellulite

Here are several of the home remedies that may help reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Massage

One promising remedy is massage. This can be done at home or with the help of a professional massage therapist. Massages have a multitude of mind-body benefits, but you may also enjoy reduced thigh cellulite in the process.

Massage may reduce cellulite by improving lymphatic drainage. It can also help stretch your skin tissue — this can help stretch out cellulite dimples, too.

Massage creams offer the same benefits, but the key component is the massaging process. You can’t apply a cream and expect the cellulite to go away by itself.

Also, know that just one massage won’t help when it comes to cellulite. You need to repeat the process consistently to achieve and maintain your desired results.

Bioactive collagen peptides

You may already be wary of the promises that supplement manufacturers make about changing your body via quick fixes.

However, one study found an improvement in cellulite in women who took bioactive collagen peptides. These supplements were administered in women both at healthy and unhealthy weights over a period of six months. Overall, there was a noted decrease in cellulite on the thighs.

While the results are interesting, more studies are needed to back any supplement’s role in cellulite improvement.

Self-tanners

Perhaps a more cost-effective measure to reduce cellulite appearance is to use a self-tanner. Cellulite is often a little less visible in darker skin tones. For best results, exfoliate your thighs before self-tanning to ensure a more even application.

Avoid tanning in the sun or at tanning salons — this leads to other skin issues, such as premature wrinkling and possibly skin cancer.

Drink more water

Drinking water is another low-cost option that may help with cellulite. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but water also helps remove the toxins that can lead to fat accumulation. Water can also help encourage circulation and lymphatic flow.

Possible weight loss

Weight loss may also help some people who have cellulite, but only if you’re medically considered overweight. Losing excess body fat can naturally reduce the appearance of cellulite.

The catch-22 here is that people who are at a healthy weight (or even those who are underweight) are still at risk for developing cellulite.

If you do want to lose weight, you may find that a healthy diet and exercise can help reduce dimples on your thighs. Consider some of the talked-about exercises in the next section.

Exercises that can help get rid of cellulite

Certain leg and glute exercises may help tighten the skin around the thigh region. In turn, you may also see a reduction in cellulite. Exercise isn’t a fool-proof way to get rid of cellulite on the thighs, but stronger muscles and tighter skin may reduce the appearance.

Here are some exercises you might want to try.

Squats

To perform a squat:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and make sure your toes are pointed forward.
  2. Lower your glutes as if you were sitting in a chair, making sure your knees don’t go over your toes.
  3. Squeeze back up to your starting position and then repeat.

Jump-squats

This is a step beyond the regular squat with the added challenge of a jump at the end:

  1. Perform a regular squat.
  2. Instead of squeezing all the way back up to the starting position, make a small jump off your toes.

Step-ups

  1. Stand in front of a bench or a sturdy exercise box.
  2. Then step up on it, one foot at a time.
  3. Step back down in the same pattern.
  4. Repeat.

Glute/leg kick-backs

  1. Get on your hands and knees on the floor in an all-fours position.
  2. Kick each leg back behind you, concentrating on using your glutes and upper thighs.
  3. Lower each leg and repeat on the other side.

Side-to-sides

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Lunge to one side at a time, squeezing both your inner- and outer-thigh muscles.
  3. Go back to center and repeat on the other side.

Add progressions

Each of the exercises above allows you to use your body weight to your advantage. You can also incorporate hand-held weights and barbells as you see fit.

You should do between 12 to 15 repetitions at a time.

You can increase the weights or repetitions as you get stronger.

Be sure to stretch before and after exercise to prevent muscle strains and tears.

Aim for two to three sessions per week, 30 minutes at a time.

Rather than focus on one single exercise, aim for a regular workout routine that combines aerobic exercises and strength training. Aerobic activities help you burn fat, while strength exercises build muscle and help with overall skin elasticity.

Combined, all these factors may help improve thigh cellulite.

Some aerobic exercises that can help burn fat include:

  • cycling
  • dancing
  • hiking
  • running
  • swimming
  • walking

The key here is to find an activity you actually enjoy and stick with it.

If you’re new to exercising, be sure to double-check with your doctor first before getting started.

Lifestyle changes are your best bet

Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent cellulite, according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. It’s a common condition, and the risk increases with age and certain lifestyle choices.

Although you can’t control your age, you can make some changes to your lifestyle that can help reduce the amount of cellulite on your thighs.

Talk to your dermatologist if you’re interested in professional procedures to reduce the appearance of cellulite. Some treatments, such as laser therapy, may help but won’t fully erase cellulite on your thighs.

Also important — know that results from any remedy or procedure aren’t permanent — you’ll likely have to repeat the process to continually reduce the appearance of thigh cellulite.