When you’re getting ready for a night out, pretty much all of your attention is focused from the neck up. But a little time spent on your legs can have a major impact. Choosing the right shoes, applying the right products, and doing the right exercises can draw admiring glances to your long, supple limbs. Read on to get expert tips that’ll help you step out today with better legs.
If you’ve noticed that it’s a little harder to get the skin on your legs to look as good as the skin of your face, arms, and hands, you’re not imagining things. The legs have fewer oil glands and suffer different abuse than other parts of your body (think bumps, bruises, rubbing, and general man-handling), says Doris Day, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center. Without the natural moisture from oil glands, the skin tends to try out and take on a reptilian look. Dr. Day suggests treating your legs to a homemade scrub of honey mixed with oatmeal to remove dulling, dead surface skin. Or try Neutrogena’s Sugar Scrub Body Exfoliator ($10.69) for a ready-made skin smoother.
The lack of oil also makes moisturizer crucial for legs that are worthy of display. Immediately after a shower, apply a rich lotion or cream to lock in moisture. Ideally, you want a lotion with a bit of sheen, says Lauren Cosenza, a celebrity makeup artist who has helped prepare the Victoria’s Secret Angels for the catwalk. The shimmer adds definition and helps contour your legs, she says. Try a moisturizing body oil like Vaseline Intensive Care Vitalizing Gel Body Oil ($7.49). Cosenza adds deeper dimension with a touch of MAC’s Strobe Cream ($15) just on the shins “for a sexy highlight,” she says, “and to make legs look more sculpted.”
Use the same makeup tricks you’d use on your face to cover imperfections, suggests Sonia Kashuk, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk cosmetics. “Be sure to use a concealer that’s the same color as your legs and not a lighter shade,” she says. If the pigments don’t blend, this will only draw attention to a problem.
For a fast, allover fix, Carmindy, the makeup host of What Not to Wear, suggests applying an aerosol foundation over veins and bruises you want to hide, and then blending with a makeup sponge. Try Sally Hansen’s Natural Beauty Airbrush Spray Makeup ($13.95).
One of the easiest and quickest ways to create a better silhouette for legs is to make the right shoe choices. “We always suggest wearing a nude (the color closest to your particular shade of skin) or neutral shoe to make your legs look longer,” says Venus celebrity fashion stylist Rob Zangardi, who has worked with Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Kerry Washington, and Kristen Bell. “And the higher the heel, the longer your legs will look,” he says. “You should also avoid ankle straps and ankle boots.”
Try This Move
“Performing body weight squats or split squats periodically throughout the day will definitely give some temporary tone to your legs, and over time will also help them look better,” says Joe Dowdell, a celebrity fitness trainer and the founder of Peak Performance Gym in New York City. So to shorten your hemline with confidence, work this move into your fitness routine:
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart (you can hold dumbbells while you do this, if you like). Step your left leg about two feet in front of your right. Lower your hips to the floor by bending your left (front) knee, but don’t let your right (back) knee touch the ground. Keep your head and chest up and do not extend your left knee beyond your toes. Return to the starting position by pushing back with your left foot. Repeat on the right side. Do 15 to 20 repetitions on each side.
See a Pro
Dermatologists offer in-office skin treatments that can help you walk out with better legs. Among the options, Day suggests peels to improve sun damage, lighten brown spots, and fade blotchy skin. “There are lasers that can help eliminate fine spider veins, lasers to even out and lighten or eliminate spots caused by the sun, and devices that can help make the skin appear less crepey,” she says.
Another in-office option is sclerotherapy to treat spider veins (this requires multiple treatments, however). Day says sclerotherapy is the “gold standard” and the first choice for most unsightly veins. “The newest FDA-approved product — Asclera — is my favorite,” she says. “It is safe, virtually painless, and very effective.”