Summer Legs

legs in the air

Ah, summer days. How gloriously sun-drenched. How carefree. Carefree, that is, unless you have ‘leg issues’. From late September through till mid-spring, of course, anyone who feels theirs are less-than-show-offable can retreat into opaque tights, and nobody’s any the wiser. But come shorter hemlines and days when even 10 deniers are unbearable, there is literally no hiding place. And, we’re reliably informed, that moment might – just might! – finally arrive this month… Yikes.

Whatever shape or size yours come in, there are ways to make every pair of legs that bit lovelier. And however pale they are, there are not only self-tanners but leg tints which get rid of that ‘pastry’ look faster than you can say ‘fake it’. To get the most out of any of them, however, you first want to give legs some TLC – cocooning the skin so it’s velvety and smooth. Legs don’t naturally have too many sebaceous glands, so they get more papery (the skin can even ‘craze’ and crack), as we age.

It’s actually vital to keep the skin of the lower legs supple and resilient, because in old age, the skin here can take forever to heal, if damaged. An ounce of prevention, now, pays huge dividends in our dotage. Make this an excuse to indulge in a body cream that’s as rich, fragrant and sensual as you like. And if flaky shins are a problem, our friend Kathy Phillips has come devised the ultimate solution: This Works range: Skin Deep Dry Skin Leg Oil, packed with seven pure, cold-pressed plant oils including evening primrose, macadamia and coconut oil. It’s rich, it’s unctuous – and it’s miraculous, frankly. We also like Pukka Ashwagandha Tonic Massage Oil, which is great for dry, itchy skin. At a pinch? Any body oil will work wonders on shin skin, if applied lavishly and regularly. A once-a-week slurp just doesn’t cut it.

Now, of course, one woman most of us will remember as having gorgeous legs was the late Princess of Wales. Forget genetics, here (giraffe-long legs were in her DNA), but remember that shiny-shin trick Diana was so fond of? She was definitely onto something: as make-up artist Pat McGrath notes, ‘Applying sheen to legs creates an illusion that they are longer and leaner.’ Our tip: mix some gold mineral eyeshadow with body oil in the palm of your hand, and smooth into shins. Works a treat.

What you don’t want, of course, is shimmering gold clinging to Geldoffian stubble. Oh, no way. Home waxing, hair removal and razors have all improved exponentially. (Quite simply, we cannot imagine life before the Gillette Venus, which is just brilliant for a quick whizz.) Hair removal creams used to rank among the vilest-smelling gunks ever to be slathered on the human body, but no longer: while you wouldn’t want to dab any of these behind your ears, hair removal creams work faster – and smell rather prettier – than their early incarnations.

But the real advances are in salon treatments, which offer a far longer-term – and even permanent – method of hair removal. Sure, they seem more expensive. As one friend observes – having recently had her legs lasered, ‘At over £2,000, six laser treatments – the recommended programme – worked out equivalent to about eight years of regular waxing. If only those lasers had been around when I was 20 and had my first leg wax, it would have saved me a fortune – about £6,000 I reckon – and that’s not even factoring in the time-is-money aspect.’

So: they’re touch-me soft and smooth. Now as for giving legs some colour, you have two options: the temporary tints and the self-tanners. Personally we are HUGE fans of the This Works products which fit into these categories. This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle, which is a can’t-tell-it-from-real skin tint and which is our go-to product on those first days we throw caution (and Wolfords) to the wind, and go bare-legged. But we’re equally keen on This Works Perfect Legs Gradual Tan, which combines that instant tint effect with a self-tan that day-by-day builds to a golden, sun-kissed glow. And they even smell fab…!

Legs need to feel as good as they look, of course. For every woman whose legs seem able to adjust easily to demanding situations – pregnancy, long periods standing, long-haul travel – there is another whose legs struggle to recover. Well, just as natural, reviving botanicals can work wonders for tired tootsies, they can perform near-miracles on aching legs, too: look for products with menthol and camphor and rosemary, in particular.

For instant leg relief, meanwhile, try this trick This Works creator Kathy Phillips, our old friend – and a woman who really knows her leg stuff. ‘One of the first exercises I do after a long day is to lie on my back and just put my legs in the air – so simple and so therapeutic.’ If you prefer, jiggle your backside near to the wall and rest them against that, at a 90-degree ankle to your body. Stay put for at least 5 minutes, preferably longer.’ (Much longer, we suggest…)

And of course, take time to admire your smooth, tanned, touch-me soft legs, while you’re at it…

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