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Unlikely Subjects Test Thigh Cream

July 02, 1999|BARBARA THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Florida Atlantic University recently conducted a study to determine if thigh creams reduce cellulite on women. Their conclusion: The creams don't work.

No big surprise. But what did surprise Bonita Marks, assistant professor of emergency medicine at UNC's School of Medicine, is the number of volunteers for the study who were of normal weight and size.

"When we were recruiting, we didn't specifically state what type of people we wanted," Marks said.

The majority of women who came in complained bitterly about their thighs. But they had no discernible cellulite or fat dimples. When researchers disqualified these applicants, the women would squeeze their thighs to demonstrate that they indeed needed thigh cream.

"In that way, it's a little disturbing. These are young women," said Marks, noting the distorted views women have of themselves based on popular culture.

Eventually, 11 women between the ages of 18 and 35 were chosen to apply thigh-reducing cream on one thigh and a moisturizer on the other. Neither researcher nor subject knew what was applied to which thigh until the end of the study.

After six weeks, there were no differences in the subjects' thighs, Marks said. But there was an unseen benefit--commonly called the "halo effect" by researchers. The participants felt better about their thighs just from having done something they perceived as positive for them.

A similar study was done 10 years ago to test an exerciser that was supposed to enhance breasts, Marks said. That study showed that the exerciser did not work.

The way to get rid of cellulite remains the same--discipline in eating and exercising, according to Marks. "I guess it's trite, but the only way, unfortunately, to change your body is you have to work at it. You have to exercise and watch what you eat.

"I don't like to hear it either," she admitted.

Women tend to gain the most weight in their lower bodies, so when they diet, the first weight loss appears in the face and stomach, she said. "Unfortunately you cannot spot-exercise. You cannot spot-reduce fat."

Have a Fit--More than 70% of American women are wearing the wrong bra size, reports Jockey International Co., best known for men's underwear. For as many times as a woman's bra size changes in life, from weight changes, age and pregnancies, it's no wonder.

So with the launch of Jockey's first fully constructed bras, the company is offering a "Bra Sizer" measuring device free to customers. Consumers can ask for one at stores that carry Jockey or through the Web site at http://www.jockey.com.

All-Purpose Lipstick--A few lipstick lines have already included SPF 15 in their product, but Elizabeth Arden goes one step further. Lip Lip Hooray! SPF 15 now includes a breath freshener. Made with wintergreen oils and zinc citrate (a mouthwash ingredient) to mask bad breath, the lipsticks are also water resistant.

Hair Today--At least 20% of households with more than four people (read: parents and kids) own hair clippers, according to the Sunbeam Corp. And six out of every 10 mothers in households that cut hair do cut the hair of sons 18 and younger. Sunbeam ventures a guess that with the popular teen styles of fades and buzzes, these cuts are fairly easy to do. And, with the price of haircuts today, even pricey clippers pay for themselves after a short while.

Barbara Thomas can be reached by e-mail at barbara.thomas@latimes.com.

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