Get A Leg Up On Spring-------
This winter was unbearably long, but after many, many months of being resigned to a rotating wardrobe of heavyweight opaque tights and jeans over those aforementioned tights, the temperature is finally rising…which means our wardrobe is shrinking. The problem is, it’s been a very long time since our legs have seen the light of day, and while they were hibernating, they’ve somehow morphed into pudgy, pasty, furry limbs. Here, to help you get used to the idea of—gulp—shorts, we’ve compiled a top ten list of products and expert tips. Your gams will be ready for their Spring debut in no time.
No Pain, All Gain
While they certainly won’t replace time logged in at the gym, this trio of leg-toning potions does help firm, stimulate circulation, and combat water retention. Super by Dr. Perricone’s Supermodel Legs uses chili pepper capsaicin to do the job, while Origins infuses menthol into its Leg Lifts to impart a tingly, invigorating effect. For a refreshing and revitalizing finish, a slick of Dr. Hauschka’s Rosemary Leg and Arm Toner should do you just fine.
Try It: Super by Dr. Nicholas Perricone Supermodel Legs, $30, www.sephora.com; Origins Leg Lifts, $20, www.origins.com; and Dr. Hauschka Rosemary Leg and Arm Toner, $34.95, www.drhauschka.com.
As the temperature goes up, so too does your shaving frequency. For the smoothest depilatory experience, dermatologist Dr. Sapna Westley advises wetting hair in warm water for three to five minutes prior to shaving to soften the skin and prevent irritation. “Always use a shaving cream or gel, ideally a fragrance-free version to avoid razor burn,” she says, adding that it’s equally important to change the blade weekly, and shave in the direction of hair growth.
Try It: Schick Intuition Natural Sensation Razor, $9.99, www.ulta.com.
Avoid the Bumps
For many, ingrown hairs are an inevitable (and annoying) result of shaving. If they do pop up, Dr. Heidi Waldorf, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, suggests treating them much like a pimple. “Apply a topical corticosteroid cream like an over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone and then a benzoyl peroxide spot treatment,” she says. “The first is anti-inflammatory to reduce the redness and swelling, and the second helps decrease bacterial growth.”
Try It: Aveeno Hydrocortisone cream, $6, and Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10, $5, both available at drugstores.
Beyond the Blade
If you’re ready to graduate from your regular razor routine to an alternative hair removal method, there are options besides waxing. “Sugaring is an all-natural alternative to wax [it uses only sugar, lemon juice, glycerin, and water] that is great for people with sensitive skin and a lower physical pain threshold,” says Shobha Tummala, founder of New York’s Shobha salon. “The sugaring gel goes on like warm wax and removes from the root, but hurts less. If you usually shave just go at least two weeks without shaving before you sugar.”
Try It: Shobha, 595 Madison Ave., ste 1304, NYC, (212) 223-2872, www.myshobha.com.
The latest addition to Spa Merge’s extensive menu is the super-relaxing detox leg and foot treatment. The session includes a seaweed foot bath, glycolic pedicure, an invigorating deep-tissue massage, and a mineral-packed mask for the legs made with algae, Icelandic moss, and Ume plum, followed by a warm wrap. It is in fact as divine as it sounds.
Try It: $125 for 75 minutes; Spa Merge, 102 W. 57th St., NYC, (646) 484-4104, www.spamerge.com.
Preparation Is Everything
The key to getting an even hue if you’re planning on going the self-tanner route is prepping the skin. “Wax or shave at least 24 hours prior to applying a self-tanner, and the night before, gently exfoliate the skin, concentrating on problem areas such as knees, ankles, and feet so you don’t get any dark, patchy spots,” says Michelle Sturiale of New York’s Rita Hazan salon. Opt for a brown sugar exfoliant, like Caudalie’s Merlot Friction scrub, rather than one with a salt base for softer sloughing.
Try It: Caudalie Merlot Friction scrub, $29, www.sephora.com.
For even deeper exfoliation, Clarisonic users are advised to extend their beloved brush’s reach downward, for some gentle, but vigorous, leg brushing. “Dry body brushing not only eliminates toxins by stimulating circulation, but it also helps remove the dead skin layer and improve the texture of the skin,” says Cynthia Chua, founder of Strip Ministry of Waxing. “Use a soft natural-fiber brush or loofah sponge and dry-brush in the direction of your heart before you shower.”
Try It: Clarisonic Plus Sonic Skin cleansing system, $225, www.clarisonic.com.
Moisturize Like You Mean It
To take the skin sloughing one step further, moisturizers with alpha-hydroxy acids like NeoStrata skin smoothing lotion or AmLactin also help remove dead skin cells after mechanical exfoliation. They may burn after a shave, though, in which case a more mellow moisturizer, like Avene Trixera emollient cream or CeraVe lotion, are better bets.
Try It: Cerave moisturizing body lotion, $14, www.walgreens.com.
Once you’re properly toned and scrubbed, it’s time to get tanned—faux-tanned, of course. MAC’s new Bronze Everyday Skinsheen leg spray is a good place to start. “It’s long-wearing and water-resistant, and can also be worn on arms, shoulders, and décolletage,” MAC senior artist Jennifer Karsten says of the sheer, pearlescent gold tint. “Using less is best. When blending, move lengthwise and then pass back over horizontally until you see a lustrous finish and skin is dry to the touch.” You can also turn to one of the varieties from bronzing gurus St. Tropez, like its lightweight Self Tan Bronzing Mousse. “It’s easy to apply and dries instantly without that tell-tale self-tan aroma,” Rita Hazan’s Sturiale offers.
As a final step, to give your perfected pigment a little extra glow, face illuminizers can be your best friend. “I love the Josie Maran Argan Self Tanning cream for legs mixed with their Argan Illuminizer, which is usually only used for the face, so you only need to use a little bit,” makeup artist Tina Turnbow advises. “The line is all natural so it has a more natural golden look to it.”
Try It: Josie Maran Argan Self Tanning cream, $32, and Argan Illuminizer, $28, www.sephora.com.