Have you ever waved goodbye to someone and realized that the underside of your upper arm is, well…still waving long after your hand has stopped? Ugh, we’ve all been there. And no matter your age or weight, that pesky upper-arm flab, also known as the dreaded “bat wings,” is a common struggle for most women. But, hey, it’s not our fault!
What causes bat wings?
With hormonal changes, weight fluctuations and stress, women’s lymph systems are more prone to becoming sluggish. And when they don’t flush toxins quickly enough, the excess gets shuttled into the subcutaneous fat located just under the skin’s surface. And in areas, like the upper arms, where the skin is thinner, it can result in sagging, dimpling and jiggling.
So how do you get rid of bat wings for good? We’ve gathered expert advice, pampering tricks and easy exercises that you can pick an choose from—or do all together—to help you achieve smoother, more toned upper arms. Not only will you feel more confident baring your arms this summer, when you wave goodbye, you’ll only be waving once.
What are fast ways to tighten up the skin on upper arms?
Whip Up a DIY Seaweed and Aloe Wrap
It’s a cinch to firm up skin with a DIY seaweed wrap, says New York City–based celebrity dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D. Rich in iodine, seaweed absorbs into skin and boosts the activity of fat-burning enzymes to target the stubborn fat that accumulates in the upper arms. And using with aloe vera gel (its antioxidants promote elastin production) leaves arms looking toned faster.
To do: Combine 1⁄4 cup of seaweed powder (like Starwest Botanicals Organic Kelp Powder), 2 Tbs. of water and 2 Tbs. of aloe vera gel. Massage onto upper arms, then loosely wrap arms with plastic wrap (this helps ingredients penetrate skin better). Let sit for 20 minutes, then remove the plastic wrap and rinse skin. Use twice a week for firmer arms in three weeks.
Try a Green Tea Wrap
Wave goodbye to arm jiggles in minutes by applying a sheet mask that’s infused with green tea extract, like Freeman Beauty Pretty Arms Toning + Smoothing Sheet Mask . “Green tea’s tannins have an astringent effect that tightens looser skin along the arms immediately,” says medical aesthetician Holly Cutler, founder of FACE Skincare. Plus, caffeic acid in the tea has diuretic properties that absorb into skin and help flush excess fluids and toxins that build up in the upper-arm area, so arms appear trimmer and more toned faster.
To do: Place one sheet along the tricep area of each arm (this is where arms tend to be the flabbiest) and let sit for 15 minutes; remove and rub residue into skin.
Indulge in a Sea Fennel and Coconut Oil Wrap
What can tone up arms, no gym or diet needed? Wrapping them with a mix of sea fennel and coconut oil. Like seaweed, sea fennel is rich in iodine that absorbs into skin and increases the activity of enzymes to target the fat cells that builds up in upper arms, says Dr. Jaliman. And coconut oil’s hydrating lauric acid “plumps” skin for a less jiggly look.
To do: Mix 1 tsp. of sea fennel extract (like Making Cosmetics Sea Fennel Extract, MakingCosmetics.com) and 1⁄2 Tbs. of coconut oil. Rub on upper arms, then loosely wrap them with plastic wrap (it helps ingredients penetrate better), let sit 15 minutes; remove and rinse. Use twice a week for results in three weeks.
What are the best ways to hide bat wings?
Opt for a Striped Swim Top
Firm yet stretchy fabric on a long-sleeve rashguard reins in flabby arm skin, so it appears tauter. And a thin-stripe design “breaks up” a larger surface area, so arms appear slimmer too! One to try: Cabana Life Royal Blue Stripe Zipper Rashguard.
Add Slimming Sleeves to Any Outfit
JoyShaper Upper Arm Shaper, are opaque sleeves that come in black, navy and white, can be worn under sleeveless and strapless dresses or tops of the same color to transform them into long-sleeve silhouettes that help make arms look more trim and toned.
Create a Bronzer ‘Illusion’
Apply a small amount of temporary bronzer, like Bondi Sands GLO Matte One Day Tan to the inside of the upper-arm area and blend well. The bronzer creates a slimming shadow that helps arms look trimmer instantly.
What at-home exercises quickly tone bat wings?
“This exercise works the under-utilized tricep muscles that run along the back of the arm,” says fitness guru Jessica Smith. Doing targeted moves to firm them is the key to eliminating pesky wave wiggles.
Simply stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding 3- to 5-pound weights. Bend your torso forward 45° and pull the weights up toward your armpits (elbows pointing toward the ceiling). Without moving your upper arms, extend the weights behind you, then bend your elbows to bring them back in. Do 15 reps.
Here Smith outlines the kickback and other bat wing-erasing exercises:
Execute an Easy Towel Pull
Holding a towel vertically behind you, grasp one end at your lower back and the other end behind your head. Pull taut for 30 seconds, then swap arm positions and repeat. Done daily, this stretch strengthens triceps to tone arms in 30 days.
Follow this video below to try it yourself:
Tone Up With Resistance Bands
Looking for an arm workout that’s easier than push-ups? Try some resistance bands! A simple set of rubber loops (ranging from light to heavy) will get you far. We like the Fit Simplify Resistance Bands Set. Then, follow this 10-minute workout routine below.
What can I eat to get rid of bat wings?
Sip a Green Smoothie
The vitamin K, folic acid and magnesium in leafy greens like spinach shuttle toxins and trapped fluids out of the lymphatic system. This helps flush the toxins that can create the dimpling and sagging.
Nosh on Hemp Seeds
Add Extra Onions and Garlic
Onions, leeks and garlic contain compounds that increase the levels of an antioxidant (glutathione) that prods the liver to eliminate toxins and helps flush the toxins that can cause jiggly arm, says Sara Gottfried, M.D., author of Women, Food and Hormones. Supplementing with 600 mg. of the amino acid N-acetyl-cysteine also boosts glutathione.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.