Twice a week
Even the sleekest of legs can get little puffy, pouchy pockets of fluid, or patches of dry, dull and flaky skin (the shins have the driest skin on the body), especially after the winter months when we’re less active and more covered up. The best advice I’ve heard is from Kate Shapland, a long-term sufferer of water retention who used her own experience to create Legology, a genuinely excellent range of reshaping products. “If you want to see a real difference, think about prepping your legs in the way that you regularly prime your face,” she tells me. Her routine (try it twice weekly) starts with a good skin scrub: “Crunchy salt and oil scrubs are great, especially those with diuretic Himalayan salts as they help shift trapped fluid.” Adding salts to your bath, particularly Epsom, will also aid the depuffing process. “Next, give heavy legs the Scandi spa treatment by using the shower head to alternate warm (not hot) then cold water over feet, ankles, legs and bottom.” Try 20 seconds on each section, repeating three times – the skin-firming and flesh-tightening effects you get are amazing.
“Even simple things, like always making sure you towel-dry briskly, working from the ankles upwards, stimulates the lymphatic system and makes a difference to water retention,” says Shapland. “Every time you use a body treatment cream or oil, massage it into the trouble spots around the ankles, behind the knees and especially on the inner thigh.” Ideally, you should alternate between a skin-polishing AHA or glycolic body cream one day, and a depuffing cream or oil the next – Lancer Nourish is my favorite as it gives bare skin an incredible dewy glow, while the glycolic acid smooths skin over time.
Before a big night
As the woman famous for prepping A-list bodies for shoots, film sets and red carpets, Nichola Joss advises that glowing skin comes from layering up your products: “A self-tan makes a great base but it can look ‘flat’, so you need to finish by adding shine and dewiness to the skin, especially down the front of the shin and over the arch of the foot. It’s also good to use a hyaluronic acid serum on shins, where the skin gets dry and crepey, as it instantly gives a real plumpness and glow.” Taking her layering advice, I mix a light body lotion with a bit of skin tint – even a foundation or summer liquid bronzer – plus a few drops of luminizer, then blend it over my bare legs. This way you can tailor it – more bronze-toned one evening, more silver another – depending on your preference or your dress.
At your desk
As tempting as it can be to chain yourself to your desk and plough through your to-do list, not only is sitting at a desk all day detrimental to posture, it also plays havoc with circulation. Leg muscles can begin to feel tired and heavy if they are left for prolonged periods without movement, so it’s vital that you seize the opportunity to stand and walk around at least once every hour. Set a reminder on your cell phone or computer (if you have an Apple Watch, you will automatically be prompted to stand) so you’re motivated move.
Keep a tennis ball in one of your desk drawers and every so often take it out and place it on the floor at your feet. Roll each foot over the ball in turn, applying downward pressure when the ball is positioned at the heel of your foot. This is a great way to engage your muscles and keep your lymphatic system running smoothly. If you regularly fly long-haul, this is also a great thing to do mid-flight to keep your leg muscles limber.
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