Cream crackers

is it worth it? At pounds 26, Christian Dior's new formula Svelte Perf ect promises to help conquer your cellulite - but are they selling you a product or a dream?

As if women haven't got enough to worry about - the ozone layer, why there isn't a Minister for Women, gravity - along comes the C-word. In just a few years, cellulite has gone from being a few dimples you hoped would go unnoticed to the Nineties equivalent of Elephant Man. To assuage our fear - and encourage it - almost every cosmetic house now sells an anti-cellulite cream.

When Christian Dior launched its Svelte Body Refining Gel in 1993 it sold out worldwide. In Japan alone, 100,000 bottles were snapped up in the first two days. And in the UK it was harder to get hold of than a Buzz Lightyear. But now, Dior has launched Dior Svelte Perfect, an Advanced Body Refining Gel, which claims to work even better.

Apparently, the original gel's secret lay in its four plant extracts: Plectranthus, to regulate lipos (fats), Cola to eliminate fats, and Visnaga Vera and Teminalia Sericea which help drain water and toxins. These got to work on your skin without you even having to massage your body to make it work. So, if it was so great, why did Dior have to improve it? "Svelte Perfect has one more plant - extract of cassava," says Pierre Perrier, head of research at Dior's R&D Laboratories. "In conjunction with the others, it re-triggers the natural production for Cyclic AMP, the enzyme which sets off the mechanism of withdrawing sugars and lipids out of cells."

But does it work? Well, after one month's application, my legs feel firmer and smoother, but the cellulite's still there, dimpling in the bathroom mirror. I suppose it might look a bit better. The thing is, I really want to believe that it works. Dior isn't selling me a product, it's selling me a dream.

A very complicated dream. Dior has sent me an 11-page document on how Svelte works. I'm confused by page two. What is lypogenesis-lipolysis balance? "They're blinding you with science," says Dr Ian White, a dermatologist at St Thomas' Hospital. "Lipo means fat, lysis means to break down. You can make these terms up!" Yes, but Svelte has been clinically proven, I protest. "Clinically is a Greek word," says Dr White slowly. "It literally means from the sick bed. Clinical trials are things that you do on sick people, not on people with cellulite. Cellulite is part of the structure of your skin. Once you've got it, you can't get rid of it."

Dior Svelte Perfect costs pounds 27 for a month's supply of 200ml. So, what are the cheaper options like? Botanics Anti-Cellulite Gel from Boots costs pounds 9.95. It's a green goo which sticks to your legs, takes forever to dry and is best forgotten. If only we could forget cellulite.

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