Our legs are two of our most hardworking body parts. Yet, beyond bathing, shaving or waxing them, how much do we reward our gams for all the walking, rushing, standing and crossing they do? And while we’re told the legs are the last to go, chances are they’ll function and look better with a little TLC. Summer, with its endless limb-baring opportunities, is the perfect time to show your legs some love. Check out how, here:
I’ve been diligent about daily sun protection since my mid twenties. Except I seemed to think protecting my skin didn’t apply to my legs. I’m naturally pale and while I’ve come to appreciate my fair complexion; pasty legs aren’t anybody’s idea of sexy.
So during the summer and on sun vacations I used to bare my legs sans SPF. Then a few years ago, I started noticing sun spots dotting parts of my calves. Not exactly the tanned effect I was going for… Never mind the risk I was taking with skin cancer.
As a result, I now coat my legs with sunscreen when exposing them, just as I do with the rest of my body. And since I’m not any fonder of leg pallor and am allergic to self-tanner, I fake it in another way.
When I wear a dress or skirt without hosiery, I often apply Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs in Light Glow (it also comes in three darker shades). It’s basically spray-on leg makeup, which may sound about as appealing as wearing hose during a heat wave, but it gives the effect of natural tan skin. Be sure to apply and blend evenly in good light to avoid splotches.
No matter what skin tone your legs are or what shape they’re in, they’ll look better when moisturized. Shaving, dry air and lack of exfoliation can all leave your legs a little worse for wear.
And while you’re likely already applying lotion to your legs when moisturizing the rest of your body after showering, when baring legs, it’s a good idea to lotion them up again midday to keep them glowing.
3. Fight cellulite
It’s probably safe to say the most unwelcome resident on middle-aged legs is cellulite.
Cellulite doesn’t play favourites (at least not among women): it affects about 90 per cent of us and can appear on all skin tones, and strike even the very thin. Lumpy skin on thighs and buttocks can show up as early as the teenage years, but its appearance often worsens at midlife, as skin loses elasticity with age.
Cellulite is simply fat below the skin that gets a dimply appearance because it pushes against connective tissue. It’s an overwhelmingly female issue because our collagen, fat and connective tissue are structured differently than in men. Basically our bodies let the fat push up more through the skin than in our male counterparts. Lucky us…
The cottage cheese effect is influenced by genetics and hormones, and lifestyle factors such as poor diet, too much caffeine, smoking and being sedentary.
So what can you do?
There’s still no absolute “cure,” but there are steps to take to help minimize its appearance.
For those truly bothered by the orange-peel appearance and willing to go to somewhat extreme lengths, there’s Cellulaze. So far, this laser-assisted procedure seems the most effective medical cellulite treatment, with 93 per cent of patients reporting being satisfied or very satisfied with their results a year later. I’ll discuss it in detail in next week’s post.
But for people wanting to take a less invasive approach, improving the appearance of cellulite involves a healthy lifestyle. That means eating a balanced diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking sufficient water, not smoking and regular aerobic and weight-training exercise.
Keep in mind, however, that because cellulite also involves the tissue below our skin, losing it is not just a matter of losing fat.
4. Brush it off
Another theory is that cellulite is caused by poor lymphatic drainage. Hence, why some swear that massaging with a dry brush an action that promotes lymphatic fluid circulation is an effective treatment.
While there’s no scientific data to back up dry brushing as an effective cellulite treatment, some naturopathic doctors believe in the connection, as I’ve written about previously.
For several months I’ve been dry brushing before showering each morning, and while I haven’t noticed any miraculous results, I will say after getting used to the sensation, I’ve found it an invigorating way to start the day.
Another benefit is that dry brushing helps exfoliate the skin, making it softer and healthier looking. Note: be sure to brush gently and towards the heart.
5. Soak it up
Finally, don’t ignore your legs when they feel tired or achy. Reward them regularly with a warm bath of Epsom salts, which helps reduce inflammation to relieve pain and muscle cramps. Add a bath pillow and maybe a candle to make muscle therapy feel like a spa treatment.
I hope these tips will help give you a leg up this summer. But perhaps the biggest way to show your legs some love is that while taking care of them, you also make peace with them ─ even if they’ll never come close to looking like Tina Turner’s.
Be sure to check out next week’s post for more info on cellulite prevention and treatment, including exercises that target the dimples, as well as strategies for those other unwanted leg “accessories” of midlife: spider and varicose veins.