Healthy Skin

3 simple steps to prep legs for summer

Warmer weather is here at last. Editorial Director, Ellie Smith, turns her attention to skin below the chin and how we can prep legs for feeling our best on summer days.

How to prep legs for summer

Focus on hydration

As temperatures soar, we’re more likely to notice water retention in our feet and legs. To quote Alanis Morissette – isn’t it ironic?

Just as we want to slip into summer dresses and sandals, we’re hit with puffy extremities, thanks to dehydration and the loss of essential minerals in our sweat. Our circulation grows sluggish and fluid begins to pool in the lower body, starting with our feet and ankles. Add to that travel days with long periods of sitting or standing still in airport lounges, cars and planes – it’s no wonder our calves are looking less than contoured.

We need to be especially vigilant if we’re taking to the skies this summer, as aeroplane cabins have an estimated humidity of just 10%. That’s much dryer than cities such as London (60-80%) and even the Sahara Desert (25%). In this extremely arid air we’re vulnerable to dehydration, as we lose more water in our breath with each exhale. Any caffeine or alcohol enjoyed onboard can compound these negative effects, leaving us chronically dehydrated and prone to puffiness.

Looking for opportunities to stretch legs and get fluids moving can go a long way to remedy puffy pins. As can drinking plenty of water and taking an electrolyte supplement to restore minerals such as sodium, potassium and chloride, which help us retain the water we drink. In the absence of electrolytes, make bananas (high in potassium) and seaweed (rich in chloride) your travel day snacks, or make a DIY supplement by adding a pinch of good-quality sea salt and a squeeze of lemon to water.


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Smooth skin

Thought to affect 80-90% of women, cellulite is so ubiquitous that researchers say it would be more accurate to describe it as part of adult female anatomy – like breasts or widened hips – than as a disorder.

We know that cellulite-busting creams don’t work and yet they continue to sell in their thousands (the global cellulite treatment market has been valued at $3.67 billion and growing), suggesting that many still hope to vanish dimples on thighs, tums and bums, no matter how natural they’re purported to be.

If we’re tempted to despise the sight of our own dimples while squeezing into swimwear this summer, we can keep in mind that we’re not alone. ‘Digitally altered photos in the media continue to not only alter the perception of beauty, but also to deceive the public about the true frequency of this condition,’ explains Stephanie Luebberding in a systematic review of cellulite treatments.

While there’s no evidence that we can do away with cellulite altogether, there are things we can do to reduce its appearance, if we so wish.

Exercises to help

There’s some evidence that if we’re overweight, shifting excess fat can reduce the appearance of cellulite. When put to the test in a randomised
control trial, the vast majority of women did see improvements in cellulite with weight reduction. But in a small group of women, the appearance of cellulite worsened with weight loss.

The researchers speculate that this may be due to increased skin laxity – a symptom of major weight loss – that can actually increase the appearance of skin dimples.

Taking steps to increase the size of our muscles may help here, leading to tighter skin and reduced skin dimpling. This can be achieved with simple weight-bearing exercises such as squats, lunges and step-ups. For best results, increase the weight or number of repetitions as you get stronger and aim for two to three sessions a week.

While we work towards smoother skin we’ll also benefit from stronger bones, as well as improved balance and energy levels.

Opt for massage

Far more relaxing than weighted lunges in the gym, massage is one of the most frequently cited cellulite treatments.

‘It is assumed that this mechanical stimulation causes damage to fat cells,’ Stephanie explains. ‘As these damaged fat cells heal, they are purported to rebuild with an improved distribution that evens skin contour.’

Massage is also thought to ‘stimulate microcirculation, as well as lymphatic drainage, which may further improve the appearance of cellulite,’ she adds.

Here, the evidence is once again unclear. A systematic review of six studies shows that massage did result in an improvement in the appearance of cellulite as well as a reduction in thigh circumference. But researchers are calling for more high-quality data, as no studies compared massage to a control or placebo.

Our verdict? A DIY or professional massage is unlikely to deliver Tina Turner thighs but, in our experience, can help to clear lingering puffiness and encourage the circulation of nutrients to the skin for glowing, even-toned pins. Our favourite tool is the Legology Circu-Lite – a vacuum massage cup that does all the hard work for you.

Add some finishing touches

Healthy legs start with resilient bones and strong muscles, but supple, glowing skin is the icing on the cake. First on the agenda – sloughing away dull skin on shins. Take your pick of three exfoliating heroes: a dry brush, scrub or exfoliating mitt. All will whip scaly legs into shape while encouraging the delivery of fresh nutrient-rich blood to the area that can revitalise skin from within. Once legs are baby smooth, it’s time to cocoon them in moisture.

Like skincare for the face, a layered approach is best: start with a moisturising cream and lock in place with a rich oil. Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion contains a clever combination of gentle acids that work to hydrate and smooth skin. Other skin-friendly ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid and ceramides and, if skin is sensitive, avoid overly fragranced products.

Oils that have been laced with a hint of shimmer, like the Nuxe Golden Shimmer Multi-Purpose Dry Oil, can also help to cheat a healthy sheen if we’re heading out barelegged. A little glow goes a very long way and is infinitely less risky than experiments with fake tan.

Our favourite products to prep legs for summer

Legology Circu-Lite

In an independent clinical trial, 91% of women said this delivers firmer, more toned legs.

Messiah and Eve Body Cream .01

Expect smoother, softer skin from the first use, with prebiotics and plant-derived squalane to deeply hydrate and lock in moisture.

Legology Exfo-Lite Detoxifying Leg Scrub

A salt scrub to target dry skin and puffiness, revealing super soft, streamlined legs.

Soap & Glory Exfoliating Scrub Gloves

A super-speedy scrub solution for smooth pins.

Beauty Pie Youthbomb™ Body 360° Repair Concentrate

A powerhouse retinol body lotion for intensive renewing, smoothing, firming, and brightening.

*Save £10 off a Beauty Pie subscription with the code LIZLOVES.

Nuxe Golden Shimmer Multi-Purpose Dry Oil

Golden glow in a bottle. Smooth on pins for instant radiance.

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