Posted 2 years ago


Now that the competing season has begun in the UK, you may have seen athletes posting photos on their Instagram stories with their physique/skin covered in big red patches (similar to sunburn). You may have wondered: what have they done to themselves there?! And if it has anything to do with dieting, how on earth does hot pink skin help with fat loss?

You’re not alone in thinking this! What those athletes are using is Vasoburn, which is a topical capsaicin skin gel. This gel is commonly used by bodybuilders in dieting phases to help reduce body fat in stubborn areas across the body and is also used to tighten up loose skin. Its use, however, is poorly understood and because of this, it is often disregarded or not used in a dieting phase when it could in fact help with your fat loss journey. Therefore, the aim of this article is to provide you the “whys and hows” of Vasoburn, in the context of its use for fat loss.

What is it?

As stated above, Vasoburn it is a topical capsaicin gel that it applied directly onto the skin, usually prior to cardio or training. The word “capsaicin” refers to the fact it is actually an active component of chilli pepper, and as such, works as a chemical irritant to the skin. That irritation is what can cause a burning sensation, hence the name Vasoburn. If you haven’t used this before, believe me when I say that the burning/itching sensation is pretty extreme.

Users will typically squeeze out a 10p coin sized portion and apply to the area(s) they are looking to firm up. The stubborn areas that Vasoburn is commonly applied to may include (but is not limited to): glutes, hamstrings, hips, and lower back. It is designed to give you tighter, firmer and thinner skin for an overall leaner appearance.

How does it work?

Once applied, alongside the redness, you will notice a lot of heat coming from the area as well as an increased blood flow, and subsequent sweating. Why is that a good thing? Well, those stubborn fat areas have poor blood flow to them, but also a high number of alpha receptors, making them stubborn for fat loss.

If you have a read over the Yohombine article, you will know exactly what I am talking about. As a quick reminder, fat cells have two different receptors: the beta receptor (good guy) and the alpha receptor (bad guy). When adrenaline binds to the beta receptor, it initiates fat burning (lipolysis), but when it binds to the alpha receptor, no fat burning occurs.

Basically, in Layman’s terms, this means that in stubborn areas where we a high amount of the “bad guy” fat cell receptors, we can use Vasoburn to counter this.

What is in it that makes it work

The first and most potent ingredient in Vasoburn is Yohombine HCL. As you’ve already read, this is widely researched and shows an increase in fat burning through its supplementation. Yohombine HCL has a high affinity to bind to the “bad guy”, which effectively blocks those receptors. This then only leaves the “good guy” available for adrenaline to bind to, meaning that fat loss is initiated more efficiently. Yohimbine HCL in itself also increases the production of adrenaline, so ultimately, we have a win-win scenario (more adrenaline to bind to the target receptors = more fat loss).

As I’ve stated, given that stubborn areas are stubborn because we have more of these “bad guy” receptors there, by applying Vasoburn to those areas, we can block those receptors, AND we can stimulate increased adrenaline production as well as increased blood flow to the area. In short, this means that a higher amount of adrenaline is getting to those sites and initiating the “fat burning” process, which is exactly what we want when we’re trying to get lean.

Other ingredients include [1]:

  • Ethyl Alcohol
  • Dimethyl Isosorbide
  • Ethoxydiglycol
  • 3-Aminopropanoic Acid
  • Triethanolamine
  • Theophylline Zingiber Officinale (Ginger Root Extract)
  • Carbomer
  • Raspberry Ketone
  • Benzyl Nicotinate
  • Trans-Cinnamaldehyde Oil
  • Tetrahydropiperine
  • N-Vanillylnonanamide
  • Water

These other ingredients can help with: enhanced skin penetration and absorption; increased intramuscular levels of carnosine (reduced fatigue); increased thermogenesis (heat production); increased metabolism; vasodilation of blood vessels (increased blood flow to the area); and even with appetite suppression.

When we combine all of these side effects together, we really do have the perfect recipe for increasing lipolysis in those stubborn fat areas. However, as I am sure you already know, this will only be possible if you are in a sustained calorie deficit. So, if you are in a gaining/off season phase, this gel would be a waste of your money. However, if you are dieting, it can be a welcomed addition to help with those “hard to lose” areas.

How many times have you felt that “No matter how lean I get, I can never get my lower back lean”, or “I always have this little pouch at the bottom of my stomach”?. It’s those very areas that Vasoburn will help tighten up.


The research we have on topical capsaicin skin gel is limited to animal studies. [2] This is mainly due to the ethical considerations in conducting this research with human participants. Also, it’s worth considering the fact that running these experiments in humans would involve too many variables that are out with the control of the experiment, such as dietary adherence and energy output, meaning that the results would be quite unreliable or open to interpretation.

The one study I’ve referenced here refers to obese mice, and it wouldn’t be deemed ethical and safe to purposely over feed humans until they were obese. This study is relevant to us here because mice and humans’ protein-coding regions are almost 85% identical, and as such, the results can be interpreted for humans. In fact some regions are 99% identical, whilst others are 60%. [3]

The study in question observed that the topical application of 0.075% capsaicin to obese male mice significantly reduced their weight gain and visceral fat (fat sorted in the abdominal cavity). It also showed that the fat cells were markedly smaller and showed other benefits, such as lowered cholesterol, improved fasting glucose levels and triglyceride levels, and reduced inflammatory markers.

Thus, we assume that the gel would be beneficial for us in humans, but as always, more research is warranted. We also need to remember that this study did not include any of the extra ingredients that we see in Vasoburn, which have additional benefits for our physique (listed above).

Personal experience

I have used Vasoburn with many clients over the years also on myself and have so far found that it definitely helps with reducing body fat in stubborn areas. I’ve found it to be especially helpful with losing stubborn body fat in the glutes, lower back and hips. These are the most common stubborn sites in athletes, and it really helps tighten those areas up for presenting the final package on stage or for their photoshoot.

Although it may have not been deemed as 100% effective in human studies and probably won’t ever either, from personal usage, I stand by its benefits. How I pitch it to clients is that if it helps us improve on a 1-2% basis, then we’ll take that all day, every day, as bodybuilding is about marginal gains, and we know that a 1-2% difference can create a huge difference in the physique.

When there is a debate in the industry about its effectiveness, people will reference the literature (or lack of), but I always say that when it comes to making decisions, we need to consider what the experimental evidence says, and then our experiential or practical evidence. I have formulated my opinion based on the latter. Seeing its benefits in research done on mice made me confident in trying it out on myself, and I can say that it works.

In conclusion, Vasoburn is a topical capsaicin skin gel that can be used to help stimulate lipolysis in the specific sites that it is applied too. The product’s combination of Yohombine HCL and other ingredients help elicit fat loss in stubborn fat sites. There has been scientific evidence showing its effectiveness on mice, but more research is warranted to make definitive conclusions as to its usage in humans. However, through personal use on myself and clients, I stand by its effectiveness.

Vaughan Wilson Bsc Hons