The ultimate guide to your best summer legs
If you’re anything like us, you’ll have mixed feelings towards baring your legs. On the one hand, ditching tights – as one in three of us will already have been doing since early April – means warmer weather and a more relaxed style of dressing. But the de-fuzzing/moisturising/tanning ritual can seem like a bit of a hassle, and we’re not always sure if we’re doing it right. In the name of summer body confidence, we’ve chatted to the experts about the most effective (and fuss-free) ways to achieve your best legs for summer.
Remember: legs need moisturiser, too
While neglecting our legs for one half of the year is completely forgivable (we’re busy tackling our wind-beaten complexion), it does mean some upkeep is required come summer. ‘The skin on our legs is thicker than facial skin, and in winter, central heating and the cold collude to create dry skin resulting in a scaly appearance,’ says Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic. ‘To get your legs looking their best, exfoliate to remove the skin’s dull outer layer. Choose a scrub with a natural exfoliant, such as sea salt, using gentle, circular motions to avoid irritation. Next, invest in a body oil to lock in moisture. Moisturise regularly, to help avoid dry skin on knees and ankles.’
To tan or not to tan?
While there’s no shortage of pale-skinned beauty icons around – Emma Stone, we’re talking about you – a majority of us (six in 10) feel our legs look best when they’re tanned, according to a survey by, er, St Tropez. If this sounds like you, follow Fake Bake’s global creative consultant James Harknett’s tips for a flawless finish: ‘Always apply tanning product to legs first,’ he advises. ‘Ensure skin is cool and dry (you don’t want to apply tan after a hot shower), and stand in front of a mirror.’
Begin by smoothing the product downwards, towards the feet. Harknett favours a mitt in order to prevent the fake tan getting all over your palms. ‘Once the tanning lotion or mousse is dry, use a make-up sponge or dry face cloth to buff over the ankle bone and feet to create a blended finish. Lastly, dust talc behind the knees, to prevent mottling while you walk.’
Which leg hair removal method works best for you? Good news for those with a low pain threshold: we’ve found the holy grail of waxing. Virtually painless, lycon wax is made from aromatherapy oils, resin and beeswax – natural ingredients we can get on board with. Start with clean, exfoliated legs, says Strip Wax Bar co-founder Maria-Louise Featherstone. ‘Make sure you can reach the area easily with two hands, so you can stretch with one while removing wax with the other. This will avoid bruising and hair breakage, as well as reducing pain.’
For more serious issues, you may want to see a specialist. Thread veins are tiny blood vessels just below the skin’s surface; they affect one in three and are more common in women, and as we age. healthy editorial director Ellie Hughes visited French medical beauty clinic Epilium & Skin, to see Dr Jean-Marc Chardonneau, a leader in leg aesthetics, who developed the Veinwave process to heat and close veins. ‘For thread veins around my ankle, he recommended microsclerotherapy, which uses a fine needle to inject a sclerosing drug to cause the veins to shrivel and eventually disappear. With his expert care, the process didn’t hurt and I only needed to take one day off from exercising while I recovered. It took about 10 minutes for him to work his way around my ankles. Although I could feel the needle on my ankle bone, it was uncomfortable rather than painful. Microsclerotherapy can take a while to work and three sessions are recommended; however, just a week later my veins look much better.’