The jeans couldn’t have arrived at a better time.
Just before that afternoon on January 31, I started seeing the usual seasonal ads for escaping the snow at sun-soaked resorts and their accompanying “get a beach bod in six weeks” proffering prescriptions for diets, exercise, and pills to hasten the process of looking svelte before putting on a swimsuit.
I was planning a tropical trip, so I would soon be faced with the prospect of showing plenty of pasty winter skin in tank tops and shorts. Coincidentally, I was talking to a friend who represents Beija Flor, a premium denim brand that was manufacturing jeans that claimed to transform the appearance of cellulite and make skin look smoother. I told her I’d like to try them, and a few days later, a pair of gray skinny jeans arrived at my door. I pulled them out of the package and put them on immediately.
The media has long been a promoter of perfection, sending scientists and beauty industry professionals on a quest to develop products promising to deliver smoother, dewy skin to consumers at every age. I’m no exception. I’ve tried masks, creams, and supplements, all aimed at improving my looks.
Beija Flor’s jeans called with a similar siren song. All I would have to do is wear the jeans for six hours a day for 30 straight days. Then I would magically have better skin on my legs.
They are crafted with a textile called Emana. It’s the result of one female physicist’s eight-year pursuit of a similarly pervasive problem: improving sport performance. According to Emana’s manufacturer Solvay, physicist Tarcis Bastos was challenged with producing a yarn that could positively impact athletic performace for the company’s Brazil-based polyamide research department. Her research led her to explore far infrared rays (FIR)–which are the ones produced in 80% of daylight and don’t cause sunburn–and their various health benefits. Bastos found that if a fabric would emanate (hence the name, Emana) FIR, it could work with the body’s heat to stimulate microcirculation. That could benefit muscle endurance. The bonus: It could improve the skin’s appearance.
Bastos and her team at Solvay debuted the smart textile in 2013. The following year, Beija Flor became the first American company to use the fabric for its Jennifer Jeans.
Now I had them and the 30-day challenge was on. The first day, I did notice a distinct fragrance wafting up from the jeans. I asked Kathy Moca, founder and president of Beija Flor, if that was part of the polymers woven into the textile. Moca told me it wasn’t the Emana, but came from the washing process of the jeans before they are delivered for sale. “They put in fabric softeners and I always ask for no fragrance,” Moca asserted. “But when we first get the jeans, it smells like they just came out of the laundry.”
Indeed, they do smell like dryer sheets, which is kind of nice considering that you can walk around feeling fresh all day. I was worried that the smell would disappear after the first wash. Although it did diminish somewhat, it stuck around for the better part of the month.
Every day I pulled the jeans on and wore them for a minimum of six hours. On the days that I had an event or more formal dinner out, I wore them in the early part of the day and switched to other clothes at night.
During this time, I didn’t change my diet. I continued my regular exercise regimen in which I do yoga at least three times a week.
That said, I was paying pretty close attention to the scattering of dimples on the backs of my thighs. And while I was at it, I tried to learn as much as possible about what cellulite was and what could work to control it.
Cellulite is caused when fat stores swell through cells that hold them. As skin ages and loses elasticity, those lumps and bumps can appear more prominently. Lionel Bissoon, who served as a flight surgeon in the Air Force and wrote a book called The Cellulite Cure, says that it affects 90% of women and 10% of men.
It usually appears around the belly, pelvis, and thighs, according to Bissoon, and women tend to have it more because they have three layers of fat in these areas instead of one like men.
Getting rid of it has prompted the development of caffeine creams (which act as a diuretic) to seaweed wraps to strength training exercise–all of which has been debunked at one time or another. Dr. Oz even jumped on the bandwagon dedicating an entire episode of his TV show to busting cellulite myths. He’s in favor of staying hydrated as a solution. Others are proponents of more aggressive methods. The FDA recently approved laser treatments that range from topical applications to those where lasers are inserted under the skin (under local anesthesia).
Wearing a pair of jeans for a month seemed like an easy fix, even if they are pricey. The cost of Beija Flor’s jeans made from Emana are $188. But if you factor in cost per wear, it comes to just a little over $6 a day. Some people spend that much on coffee each morning. The jeans come in two colors, so it’s conceivable that alternating between blue and gray pairs can switch your look up enough that you’d never have to wear any other kind of jeans. And they do fit well. Beija Flor prides itself on making sure their jeans don’t ride down or gap at the waist. They’re soft and comfortable when you are sitting down.
At the end of the 30 days, I assessed the results. To my eye, there was a definite difference in the look of my skin, especially on the front of my thighs. They appeared as though I had just applied lotion. Did I look dewy and youthful? Not especially, but I definitely didn’t look dry or pasty as I usually do in the winter. As for the cellulite, I didn’t notice any significant change. I had some to start with and it’s still mostly there. I’d give Beija Flor’s Emana jeans an A for ease of use. It certainly beat having to remember to take a supplement, or spending time and money applying creams or wraps that have minimal long-term effect.
The biggest transformation was still to come. Less than a week after the experiment I hit the beach. There under the bright sunlight I could see my legs in a way I couldn’t in the bathroom mirror under florescent bulbs. Lo and behold, they did look dramatically different: smoother and somehow more toned. Maybe it was the glare or the haze of being on vacation. Maybe it was the technology. All I know is that they looked good. And that’s really all that matters.