Your body is ready for summer no matter what it looks like – but there’s nothing wrong with giving your legs a little TLC. We asked the experts for their tips on exfoliation, hydration, and so much more…
We love the sun, we really do, but does anyone else feel slightly nervous when the weather rises above a certain temperature and your legs have to make an appearance?
It’s not that we’re shy or that we don’t like our legs – it’s just that when they’ve been in hibernation under thermals and jeans for so long, suddenly whipping them out can feel like quite a big deal.
Of course, there are no mandatory steps you have to take before going bare-legged. If you’re not a fan of fake tan, rock your pale limbs with pride; if you’re averse to hair removal, there’s absolutely no need to start shaving your shins.
But there are plenty of tricks guaranteed to make you feel good about ditching the tights. Below, we’ve asked the experts for their tips and advice – so you can be ready for whenever the weather decides to play ball.
1) Exfoliation is key
According to the experts, exfoliating two to three times a week is a great way to take your legs from flaky to flawless. Whether you prefer body brushing or topical products, regular exfoliation chips away at the dead cells that tend to accumulate in dry patches around your knees, freeing ingrown hairs caused by shaving, and increasing circulation and blood flow for suppleness. In short, exfoliation is a win.
If you aren’t a fan of scrubs or acids, start with a body brush.
“Starting at the ankle use a dry brush in long, firm, circular sweeps up to just under the knee,” says Amanda Harrington, international tanning and skin finishing expert.
“Move around the ankle until the whole of the calf has been brushed, then move over your knee and up your thigh. Once both legs have been thoroughly brushed, hop in the shower and apply a polish to help slough off any further dead skin and leave your legs looking and feeling alive.”
Legology Lymph-Lite Boom Brush for Legs
Made with natural bristles, this handy brush promotes lymph flow and buffs away dry skin, restoring softness and bringing fresh, nutrient-rich blood to the surface for suppleness.
This Works Perfect Legs 100% Scrub
A mega-mix of Himalayan and sea salts, blackcurrant, sweet almond and crambe oils, naturally exfoliate and restore moisture to dry, lacklustre limbs. Hello, glow.
Radical Skincare Express Delivery Enzyme Peel
You exfoliate your face, so why not extend the skin-perfecting technique to your limbs? Radical Skincare’s new body peel harnesses a team of enzymes to slough away dead skin cells, making scaliness, parched knees and pesky ingrown hairs a thing of the past.
2) Ace your hair removal technique
Waxing or shaving? Epilation or laser? When it comes to hair removal everyone is different, and while some people want to be as smooth as a dolphin, others embrace the fuzz.
But if you are removing hair, then you’re probably going to be choosing between waxing and shaving.
“Waxing removes the hair from the hair follicle, which is located in the dermis,” says Chloe Scriminger, training manager at Ministry of Waxing, “whereas shaving only cuts the hair at the hair shaft. Shaved hair will grow back in two to three days where as waxed hair will grow back in four to six weeks,” - so it’s probably the better option if you’re heading on holiday.
“Waxing will also help to reduce the texture of the hair as it is removed from the root,” adds Chloe, so you can wave goodbye to prickles. For best results (i.e. no rogue fluffy patches) always visit a professional.
And if you want to really tackle the issue for good, then laser is the most advanced method of hair removal.
“During laser, a light is applied to the skin and travels down the hair follicle, converting to heat energy in the dermis,” explains Chloe. “It cuts off the blood supply to the hair follicle, and without a blood supply the hair will cease to grow. It is required to have between six to nine sessions to eliminate all stages of hair growth. We use Diode, Alex and the YAG - the latter is great for dark skin.”
Wilkinson Sword Intuition f.a.b. Razor
If you can’t make your waxing appointment, pick up this clever 2-in-1 razor. The top blades shave up and the bottom blades shave down, so you get a super-comfortable and insanely close shave altogether.
This nifty hand-held laser device uses IPL (intense pulsed light) to zap hairs at the root. It’s so simple to use, virtually painless and works on a range of skin tones. We noticed a significant difference in the rate and thickness of our hair growth after just three weeks.
3) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Keeping skin supple and hydrated will help to even skin tone and texture. If you’re not planning on fake-tanning then an oil is a great way to nourish limbs prone to scaliness – just make sure not to use it at least 24 hours before tan application.
Why? The oil will create an uneven base for the colour and you’ll be left with patchy, streaky legs instead of flawless limbs. “The body needs serious hydration pre-DHA based formulas as these can tend to sometimes be drying on the skin,” advises Amanda.
Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Whipped Body Butter
This is heaven in tub, for real. Air-whipped to perfection, this sinks into skin quickly, leaving it looking and feeling hydrated and radiant.
Not only does this smell like a sun-soaked beach holiday, but it heals and nourishes skin prone to scales and absorbs in seconds. Did we mention the amazing smell?
4) How to tan the right way
If your skin isn’t naturally warm-toned, olive or dark, a little bit of bronze can give a small confidence boost when it comes to getting your legs out. But tanning doesn’t come without its risks. After all, who hasn’t had a tango nightmare?
“Hair removal should be tied into your tanning plans,” says tanning expert, James Harknett. “Get your wax on a Tuesday as Thursday is a great time to tan for the weekend. Those annoying little brown dots you get on your legs are usually caused by the tan collecting in the pores, but if hair removal is done a good two days before the tan, then the pores can close over.”
And the million dollar tanning question is: how can you treat those tell-tale areas that normally give an otherwise flawless tan away?
“The skin surrounding the knees, ankles and feet is more delicate and less fleshy than the legs and these areas are where self-tan clings darker and can collect,” says James. “To avoid it darkening or looking blotchy, gently massage in a lightweight moisturiser - nothing too thick and fragrant, as they can be oily - in a circular motion around the knee cap.
“You also need just a dab of moisture down the ankle bone and across the feet to help stop your chosen tan from absorbing awkwardly. The easiest way to tan the legs is with a luxe foam mitt. Sweep the product from the tops of the thighs down in a sweeping motion.”
Tan Luxe Wonder Oil Illuminating Self Tan Oil
This lends pasty limbs a subtle, sub-kissed glow and the nifty roller-ball applicator helps with lymphatic drainage. Jojoba, argan and raspberry seed oil moisturise as you bronze.
Vita Liberata The Classic Mitt
Don’t even attempt to tan without a mitt. Out of all the ones we’ve tried this has to be the best. It spreads all tan formulas, from mousse to lotion, evenly to give a beautiful, professional finish.
Bondi Sands 1 Hour Express Self Tanning Foam
Even if you can’t get to Bondi Beach, you can look like we have with this speedy self-tan mousse. It lends limbs flawless colour sans any streaks and lasts for days on end. Stockpile it.
5) Leg contouring is a thing
If you want to contour your legs and body for extra definition, Amanda advises a two-part method.
“The day after applying tan, once you have washed off the setting layer, go back in with a medium/dark mousse mixed with a little gradual tan on a mitt. Brush upwards to apply even colour to the outer thighs, inner thighs. You can even target the bottom of the stomach, rib cage and outer hips. This will add a ‘cinched’ look to skin. You can do this to the backs of arms and breast bone, too. Your body will appear more defined with a second layer.”
6) Add a little radiance
If you aren’t worried about tanning but want something to add gloss and dimension to your legs, invest in a body lotion filled to bursting with iridescent optics. Think quietly glowy, not garish.
MAC Strobe Body Lotion
Creamy but fast-absorbing, MAC’s Instagram-famous Strobe Body Lotion hydrates rough limbs and leaves behind a slight, grown-up, radiant shimmer.
Images: Unsplash / Instagram / Getty