Should You Wrap Your Cellulite In Seaweed? Experts Weigh In

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Wrapping your cellulite in seaweed may be the skincare treatment you didn’t know you needed. That said, “understanding the nature of cellulite is crucial,” holistic esthetician and Klur founder Lesley Thornton tells ESSENCE. Characterized by a dimpled texture (similar to an orange peel) over the thighs, hips or buttocks, cellulite is known to be harmless, although a difficult skin condition to remove. However, “seaweed wraps are believed to help reduce the appearance of cellulite by improving circulation, detoxifying the skin, and firming and toning the tissue.” 

Below, experts weigh in on the benefits of using algae on your textured skin.

What is cellulite? 

“Simply put, [cellulite] is a condition that causes lumpy, dimpled flesh specifically on the lower half of the body such as thighs, hips, butt and sometimes abdomen,” holistic esthetician and In Groov founder Shani Hillian says. “This is due to fat deposits pushing through the connective tissue beneath the skin, creating a bumpy texture,” Thornton adds. 

According to the NIH, approximately 80-90% of women have cellulite which can occur as a result of age, weight, and skin laxity. “It’s also completely harmless,” Hillian says. Despite potential psychosocial effects (as a byproduct of fatphobia and ageism), cellulite is a non-life-threatening skin condition solely impacting our appearance.  

What is seaweed used for?

Seaweed is the common name for various species of marine plants and algae that grow in the ocean, according to the NOAA. In skincare, “seaweed is a very popular ingredient used for its ability to promote collagen production, which helps plump skin and smooth fine lines,” Hillian says. “It’s also a humectant so it draws in moisture to support long-lasting hydration.” You may have seen the weeds washed up on the beach, but the rich mineral content and anti-inflammatory properties can support our overall skin health. 

What are the benefits of seaweed wraps for cellulite?

A regularly offered treatment in spas, body seaweed wraps are used to help the body draw out toxins and exfoliate dead skin cells, smoothing the appearance of cellulite. In addition to improving circulation, firming and toning, “the minerals and antioxidants present in seaweed can also help nourish and rejuvenate the skin,” Thornton says. This is because “the nutrients found in pure algae are believed to have regenerative effects on the skin and can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and cellulite,” Hillian adds. 

How does a seaweed wrap work?

“The wrapping process itself may help with skin firmness, and the heat and warmth from a seaweed wrap helps to increase blood flow, enhancing the look of your skin,” Hillan says. During a seaweed wrap treatment, “a mixture of seaweed and other ingredients are applied to the skin, which is then wrapped in bandages or plastic wrap,” Thornton explains. “The heat generated from the wrap helps open up pores, allowing the skin to absorb the beneficial properties of the seaweed.” 

Then, the wrap cools, tightening and firming the skin (like our pores when icing our face, “leading to a temporary reduction in the appearance of cellulite,” she says. Although there are a number of invasive and non-invasive treatments, the efficacy of most of them are unpredictable and often short lived, according to the NIH. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from temporary cellulite reduction among other skin-enhancing properties of seaweed. 

Do seaweed wraps have any risks?

If you’ve never been in contact with seaweed (or had it wrapped tightly around your body for an extended time) you should know the risks before booking a spa appointment. “While seaweed wraps are generally safe for most people, there are some potential risks to be aware of,” Thornton says. “These may include allergic reactions to seaweed or other ingredients in the wrap, skin irritation or sensitivity, and dehydration if adequate hydration is not maintained during the treatment.” Hillian warns you should avoid the cellulite treatment especially if you have an allergy to iodine, as seaweed is rich in the mineral. 

What are some other ways to reduce cellulite?

“In addition to seaweed wraps, other methods for reducing cellulite include maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and incorporating strength training and resistance exercises,” Thornton says. There are many ways to target cellulite reduction, from practicing lymphatic massage and staying hydrated, to using topical treatments containing ingredients like caffeine, retinol, and antioxidants. Although cellulite is known to be difficult to remove, “by focusing on nutrition and lifestyle choices that support hormonal balance, we can reduce the severity of cellulite and promote overall skin health.”

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