Because they are essential to any summer look
It isn't just small rodents and bears that go into hibernation over the winter months, so do regular tans and strict hair-removal regimes. And with the temperatures soaring in the UK right now, what's needed is an easy step-by-step of how to prep your legs for summer.
With the help of leg-expert Kate Shapland, creator of Legology - the cult beauty brand designed as a high-performance solution to cellulite and heavy legs - we've come up with a simple way to ensure that you don't get caught out on sunny days this summer.
Step 1: Exfoliate
'Skin which has been covered for months doesn’t look its best,' Shapland explains. 'Legs are usually a bit dry and dull. Even if you’ve religiously exfoliated and moisturised throughout winter, the expanse of bare skin from ankle to knee can demand an extra dollop of confidence to pull off.'
And so the first step is to buff away any dead skin. Not only will this create a clean, smooth surface, but it will also help boost circulation and get rid of any dullness. Dullness of the skin occurs because dead skin can't reflect light, so you want to get rid asap.
'You need a power buffer - something super-crunchy that will send a rush of nutrient-rich blood to the skin’s surface to give it tone and colour, and plants plenty of suppleness back in there.'
We also love Espa's Invigorating Salt Scrub, (£38 | Lookfantastic). If you don't think either of these are for you, you could choose the best body scrub for your skin type from our list.
Step 2: Dry Body Brush
This is one of those things that we, as beauty editors, repeatedly tell people to do because the benefits are phenomenal. But this is also one of those things, that in all honesty not many people can be arsed to do. However, we are going to preach about it again in the hope that this time you will take note and segue it into your routine.
In case you were wondering how to get rid of cellulite, we truly believe that this is one of the best ways to treat and get rid of the dreaded orange peel.
Brushing from the ankles upwards in the direction of the heart in quick, swift motions boosts circulation and helps lymphatic drainage. Trapped fluid emphasizes cellulite and makes legs feel heavy, but by brushing twice a day you decrease fluid retention and toxins are drained away.
Step 3: Moisturiser
If you want smooth and supple legs, you have to moisturise and you have to do it on a regular basis. This is not a step you want to skip. Nothing will leave legs in a better condition than super-duper hydrated skin.
Shapland recommends steering clear of oils, because not only do they sit on top of the skin and don't sink in as well as a moisturiser, but they're also unflattering. 'It's the shine - the only acceptable area for sheen on your legs is a line down the shins because it helps make this area look longer and narrower. All over shine gives you barrel legs in the same way that gloss volumises a lip.'
Another body cream that we're completely obsessed with at the moment is the new Ole Henriksen BeamCream Smoothing Body Moisturiser (£32 | Boots). It contains AHAs and fruit enzymes, which gently exfoliate the skin, and caffeine - a key ingredient in the best cellulite creams.
Step 4: Hair removal
The thing about hair removal is a person typically falls into one of a few camps - laser, epilating, waxing or shaving. Laser can be pricey (although the best IPL hair removal devices make it a lot purse-friendly), epilating could be compared to a Medieval torture technique and waxing is for those with a high pain threshold. Which leaves shaving. Shaving is simple, pain-free and more importantly, affordable.
In the past, you'd buy a bag of plastic razors and then throw them away as soon as the blades got blunt. But that's just not the sustainable steps we like to encourage at Marie Claire anymore. If shaving is your chosen form of hair removal, then subscription brands like Estrid are a great way to keep on top of your blades.
Estrid Razor, £7.95 (for the Starter Kit)
The starter kit includes a steel handle, which is built to last, a holder and two razor blades. There's free climate-compensated shipping too. Then for just £9.95 you get four new blades sent directly to your house as often as your needs require. You can update, pause, change or cancel your subscription at any time.
Step 5: Body Treatment
'Cellulite is not a life sentence,' says Martine de Richeville, creator of the body treatment Remodelage that helps to detox, refine and tone. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a relaxing-you-might-fall-asleep-during massage. It's not. It's a deep-tissue technique that incorporates the specially created 8 shaped motion and it pinches. Like a lot.
Don't be put off, because the therapist needs to get down into the lower levels to reach the older fat deposits. By doing this, it allows for better circulation to the area, which in turn reduces excess fat in the tissue. Not only does it tone the silhouette (which is excellent if you suffer from saddlebags at the top of your thighs), but it rather cleverly helps to filter the metabolic waste and flush out toxins, so your digestion improves too.
Shapland completely agrees that massage is vital to getting killer legs, 'If it’s good, it won’t be comfortable, but your legs will look less puffy & feel lighter; so book a course of sessions.'
Step 6: Exercise
Nothing will prep your legs for summer better than exercise. We know, snooze. But Shapland suggests we embrace exercise: 'Get up and cross the office to speak to someone instead of emailing them, take the stairs at a run, do a handstand – anything that promotes circulation and maintains flow.'
Whilst a HIIT session or a spin class is a brilliant full-body workout, there are now more and more classes that are specifically aimed at toning. From your classic Legs, Bums and Tums class to Barre-style workouts that combine traditional ballet positions with repetitive movements from Pilates, you'll find something similar in most gyms. Why not choose one from our Health Editor's edit of the best gym classes.
Step 7: 'Fake Tan'
'One of the biggest mistakes women make with their legs through the summer is with self-tan, because inevitably it’s too dark,' explains Shapland. 'Too many of us make this mistake at the start of the summer when we’re desperate to improve the look of skin too quickly.'
Even if you have the best fake tan or follow our fake tan tips, it should still be incredibly subtle. Still unsure? We're talking more about blurring the imperfections on your legs. 'You’re aiming for the kind of sun-kissed shade skin develops after a long hot weekend, when skin has just ‘turned’, not full on tropical tan.'
If you can't give up the darker shade, then we recommend a leg make-up product like Vita Liberata Body Blur (£20 | Boots).
So there you have it. Your complete guide to getting your legs ready for the summer.
What are you waiting for? Begin with step 1.
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Katie Thomas is the Senior Beauty Editor at Marie Claire UK. With over 10 years of experience on women's luxury lifestyle titles, she covers everything from the best beauty looks from the red carpet and stand out trends from the catwalk, to colonic irrigation and to the best mascaras on the market. She started her career on fashion desks across the industry - from The Telegraph to Brides - but found her calling in the Tatler beauty department. From there she moved to Instyle, before joining the Marie Claire digital team in 2018. She’s made it her own personal mission to find the best concealer in the world to cover her tenacious dark circles. She’s obsessed with skincare that makes her skin bouncy and glowy, low-maintenance hair that doesn’t require brushing and a cracking good manicure. Oh and she wears more jewellery than the Queen.