Boy, summer’s taken its time, hasn’t it? But at last, it is time to peel off some layers – and reveal the skin beneath. And – in the case of our legs – possibly shriek in horror, and retreat straight back into a pair of jeans. Not sure what it is about legs, but most emerge from winter looking like they’ve been under a stone somewhere. Hideously pale. Often dry and flaky. Definitely not worthy of a can-can, that’s for sure…
But since most of us are just longing to stow away our opaques until autumn rolls round, emergency action is required. The good news? Fortunately, there are some short-cuts to bare-able legs which can transform them fast enough for you to reach for a short dress or a pair of shorts in just an hour or two from now, without scaring the horses. (Highly relevant, in Sarah’s case.)
Here’s our ultimate leg guide to show you how…
Step one: scrub up. Legs that have been hidden beneath layers tend to be very dry. Not only do tights and clothing actually ‘wick’ moisture from the skin – leaving them papery – but the very fact that for most of the time our legs are out of sight (and therefore out of mind) means we can get lazy about lavishing them with TLC. So: your very first recourse should be to reach for a scrub.
Until recently, there were basically two types: sugar and/or salt scrubs, with grains that dissolve in hot water, and those speckled with teeny particles of crushed minerals or nut shells. (Not great to use in the bath, those – unless you wait right till the end – or you’ll find yourself sitting in pile of grit. And we’re not fond of a gritty bottom.) Sugar scrub-wise, we’re fans of Temple Spa Sugar Buff Mediterranean Body Scrub, which has a fantastic aromatic scent and leaves skin veiled in moisture; work from ankle to thigh, in circular movements, and it gets to work on lymphatic drainage while buffing away dead, dull, sometimes grey surface cells. But to be honest? Pretty much any sugar/salt scrub you’ve got lurking bathside will work wonders.
However, at around the time this editorial appears, stellar podiatrist Margaret Dabbs is unveiling her Fabulous Legs range, which we’re a bit in love with, and which features a scrub of a very different type that works by dissolving dead skin cells via enzymatic activity. There are no ‘grains’ in Toning Leg Scrub – but it’s dead satisfying to see the dullness literally ‘roll away’ before your eyes, leaving legs unbelievably soft and smooth. (In our Beautybible.com review, we’re describing this as a ‘leg-makeover-in-a-pot’.)
Step two: apply a mask. Whaaat, we hear you chorus? Well, funnily enough, we’ve often slathered a face mask onto calves and shins while in the bath (and hands too), to moisturise and soften skin. (The key: keep them above the water-line or it’ll wash clean off again!) But as it happens, within that same Margaret Dabbs Fabulous Legs collection, there are a couple of leg-specific masks. Yup, really. Yellow Leg Masque is skin-brightening and radiance-boosting, enriched with argan and sweet almond oil, leaving legs super-nourished. Black Leg Masque, alternatively, targets ‘tired leg syndrome’, with its blend of camphor and other aromatics. This one’s seriously circulation-boosting – but of course, it’s your call which one floats your boat.
Step three: lavish feet and legs with moisture. And/or oil. Preferably both, we recommend; just as we need food and water, so does skin. Oils offer nourishment, while lotions and creams deliver the equivalent of a drink of moisture – and that doesn’t just ease dryness and tightness; a topped-up water level also helps with what’s called ‘cellular communication’, so that skin can get on with repairing itself.
Personally, we like to apply moisturiser first, then ‘seal’ it with oil; skin will be left sheen-y – which is just what you want, leg-wise. So this two-step treatment kicks off with a lotion (like Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion, or – Sarah’s favourite – Century Systems Seven Wonders Miracle Lotion). Be generous, and massage it in well before applying a ‘top coat’ of oil. We are massive, massive fans of This Works Skin Deep Dry Leg Oil, which is packed with evening primrose and aloe vera, and heaven-scented with essential oils that include sandalwood, rose and tuberose. (Since you’re unlikely to be sniffing your ankles, we suggest massaging some into shoulders and arms, too, where it’ll give off delicious little wafts of scent.)
Step four: fake a tan. You’ve two options, here: a tinted gradual tanner, or the more temporary type of tint. We literally never look further than the This Works range, personally (you can scroll back through previous posts on our Beauty Bible website, if you don’t believe us!). Perfect Legs Gradual Tanner is the most fantastic serum-formula gentle self-tanner, which tints from the word go, instantly minimising skin imperfections while adding a shimmery summer glow. (Nicest-smelling self-tanner ever, too, BTW.) But if it’s a total S.O.S, we’d recommend Perfect Legs Skin Perfector SPF30, another serum formula leg treat which blends really well and sinks in fast, its blend of caramel and mica adding a subtle, golden sheen that you can build to a deeper tone, if you’d like. (But applied to truly pastry-like legs, it still looks realistic.) This won’t budge till you remove with soap and water.
Now, all of this might all sound like a massive, massive faff – but remember: these steps are basically a one-off, designed literally to give your legs a real makeover. You’ll then be able to keep up the good work easily with daily moisturisation and a top-up self-tan every few days, resulting in legs thatlook more than bare-able, all summer long.
Though we thought we’d leave you with one last idea: add a sweep of something shimmery up your shins – highlighter cream, or powder shimmer, or This Works Perfect Legs Sculpt & Shine – to create the illusion of longer, slimmer legs. This leg-lengthening tip was apparently the secret of Diana, Princess of Wales – whose pins always looked utterly glorious. (And who clearly hated wearing tights as much as we do.)