Spa Treatments: Cellulite-Busting Solutions

Learn how to fight the Battle of the Bulge where you’re most guaranteed to win: on your spa’s home turf.

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Most experts are in agreement: although topical preparations can play a key role in addressing cellulite, they don’t quite suffice on their own. In fact, they’re at their most effective when employed at home between smoothing in-spa treatments, to sustain service benefits. It’s crucial, says Elizabeth Murchison, director of education for Guinot, that spa pros impress upon concerned clients the need for a complete plan of attack that “includes exercise, diet, drinking plenty of water, homecare products and regular body treatments.”

We’ll delve further into such lifestyle factors in June's issue of DAYSPA, but for now, let’s focus on the service aspect. It’s the professional approach to administering a range of services that boosts the intensity and effectiveness of smoothing treatments. All of the experts stress the importance of deep delivery of anti-cellulite topicals into clients’ skin, as well as the removal of unwanted fluids. For manual (non-device-related) treatments, this is generally achieved via deep stimulating exfoliation, massage, cocooning techniques and the creation of a thermal effect.

A vigorous full-body exfoliation not only helps prepare skin to better receive the topicals to come, but it stimulates the body internally. “Using upward, heart-bound motions, you can increase circulation and lymph flow, which of course helps to minimize the ‘cottage cheese’ effect,” explains Natalie Pergar, lead skincare trainer for Éminence, and a big fan of dry-brushing cellulitic problem areas. Dr. Christian Jurist, global medical director for Pevonia, reports that his team starts all cellulite treatments with a thorough body brushing. And Alice Pichery, national trainer for Sothys USA, recommends a regimen of in-spa exfoliation and wraps that are “rich in active, phlebotonic (draining) agents such as caffeine, ivy and horse chestnut.”

Lydia Sarfati, founder of Repêchage, believes that any anti-cellulite treatment must include massage, “which plays an important role in improving circulation and boosting overall detoxification and oxygenation,” she says. Sothys USA’s cellulite services incorporate “vigorous effleurage movements, followed by cupping techniques,” says Pichery.

Following an application of massage oil, Tag Ceder, CEO of Definitions Skincare, wraps clients in a thermal mask. “Cocoon guests for 15 minutes, and follow with a massaged-in slathering of anti-cellulite cream,” she advises, adding that this approach performs double-duty as a stretchmark-buster. Pevonia’s Jurist recommends applying a targeted, caffeine-based wrap—think “hip wrap.” Set-N-Me-Free favors a mask wrapped with plastic film that’s left on for 30 minutes, during which time a mini-facial, manicure or foot massage may be performed. And M’lis’ well-known slimming body wrap calls for even more cocooning time to force excess fluids from cells—up to 60 minutes’ worth.

Despite the considerable effort, innovation and creativity that has gone into developing these in-spa treatments, it’s important for spa practitioners to keep clients’ expectations reasonable. “The elimination of cellulite is best accomplished through a series of 12 professional treatments,” advises Pevonia’s Jurist. “That’s twice a week for six weeks, along with at-home product support.”

“I always make it a point to educate clients about the importance of combining services with results-oriented home care, and get them to commit to a sensible diet and exercise regimen for three weeks,” says April Zangl, CEO of HydroPeptide, adding that this wellness-focused cellulite-busting approach is a “win-win” because clients “will absolutely see improvement in their skin and overall physical condition.”

Some pros are getting creative with hybrid treatments. Angela Cortright, founder of Southern California’s Spa Gregorie’s, combines cellulite and sunless tanning services. “After all,” she reasons, “tanning helps eliminate and dilute the appearance of cellulite on skin’s surface.” And Debbie Fitzpatrick, vice president, sales & marketing, at Botanical Science, Inc., finds that full-body applications of antiaging peptide treatments can be a great two-fer option for guests over 40. “This approach helps address cellulite brought on by hormonal deficits associated with age,” she explains.