Do fat burning creams work?

We find out more about these supposed slimming creams.

fat burning creams

by Emily Thorpe |

There are so many lotions and potions out there that it's enough to confuse anybody. But with many making claims that they can make us look younger, smoother and even slimmer, it's no wonder that many of us are tempted to try out a new cream or two. One such cream, known as fat burning cream, has gained a lot of attention over recent years.

What is a fat burning cream?

"First off let’s clarify that no cream burns any fat," explains cellulite specialist and skincare formulator Georgios Tzenichristos. "Fat is oxidised (burned) in muscles and organs after being released by fat cells. No fat oxidation occurs in fat tissue. So in essence a fat cream is a fat-releasing cream that helps release fat from specific areas, where stubborn fat has accumulated. A more correct term for such products would be ‘fat reducing cream’. If fat was distributed evenly throughout the body, there would be no need for topical fat reduction creams or treatments - diet and exercise would suffice. Creams are slower acting than treatments, but offer much better value for money."

How do fat burning creams work?

A good fat reducing cream contains ingredients that stimulate adipocyte lipolysis, i.e. the release of fat from fat cells. "The most famous such ingredient is caffeine. However, the most powerful one is forskolin (but it’s also 10x times more expensive, hence you will not see it in most creams)," says Georgios. "The combination of both is ideal. Many other natural active molecules have a lipolytic action, but to a lesser extent. Retinol can help a bit, but it’s generally very irritating and its use is very regulated. In summary, look for the ingredients above, in high concentrations."

Do fat burning creams actually work?

Apparently so, though not how you might think.

"If they contain high enough concentrations of lipolytic ingredients, yes, they do work, albeit not how the public imagines them: even the best fat reducing cream will take weeks to work, not days. Only water can be shifted in hours/days, which then quickly returns again. So be patient and apply twice a day for a few weeks (6-12 ideally)," says Georgios. "Many people apply the cream occasionally, which of course is never going to work. Fat can always return if you ingest more calories and don't exercise, so keep up the good work during and after the 6-12 weeks of application."

You should, however, remember to have realistic expectations. Topical fat reduction creams are for small improvements, so don’t expect inches of reduction as this only happens in doctored marketing before and after photos, not in real life.

Are there any side effects?

"No cream on the market in the UK and EU (the strictest jurisdictions in the world when it comes to cosmetics) should reach the public without a toxicology assessment, so no, there should be no more side effects than using any other skincare cream," reassures Georgios. "For example, there is an upper limit in the inclusion of caffeine, retinol etc in skincare products."

George recommends not buying products made outside of the EU/UK unless you know that it's a quality brand.

Fat creams to buy


Get Waisted Stomach Firming Serum with Niacinamide
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This skin tightening stomach cream leaves the tummy area feeling tighter and stronger with body-shaping active ingredients such as caffeine to reveal smoother looking and hydrated skin. Review: "I absolutely swear by 'Mio's Get waisted' I have been a faithful fan for over 15 years and I love this product - the stomach area feels smoother and over time slender too!"

Elifexir Flat Tummy Reducing & Firming Cream
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Formulated with 99.6 per cent natural ingredients, this cream gently smooths, shapes and tightens the skin. Review: "I've been using this cream for a few weeks and it has definitely done something. My skin feels tighter and stretch marks have faded too."

freezeframe Liposlim
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With a unique tri-ball massager which targets cellulite and fat, Liposlim works by deeply massaging the tissue and breaking down stubborn fat cells, helping them to leave the body and make your skin super smooth.Review: "I mostly bought this to combat cellulite which it worked really well for but I also found that since using it really does seem to reduce fat too! My thighs feel thinner and my clothes are fitting better as well as my skin looking smoother."

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