When the temperatures rise, one of the first things we usually think about is how to prep our feet and toes for sandal season. Sloughing off rough skin and picking the prettiest pedicure shade is loads of fun, and often a *job* in and of itself, but who says the pampering should stop at the ankle? Keep going up and you might find your legs are just as much in need of some TLC to make them ready to show off your shorts and skirts sans tights.
Moisturizing your legs (and arms) might be in your daily beauty routine already, but the transition from winter to summer (acknowledging the complete lack of spring…and now ice caps…) means switching up your routine and your products. The heavy and saturating creams and oils that felt great when you were bundled up may now cause a different kind of heaviness that may not help to clarify and tone skin that’s been covered up for months. Add to that the swelling and bloating that can accompany warmer weather, and your legs will be craving something more like a kale juice than a latte. They’ll want to be able to breathe.
The first time I ventured to work this season without tights, I was horrified by how uneven my legs looked and felt. I don’t usually tan, so the paleness wasn’t the issue: it was more that my legs felt they lacked vitality, inside and out, were more fragile from being covered for so long. I started a little at-home regimen combining powerhouse products and restorative treatments that have made me feel more confident with each step I take out into the glorious summer sun.
- Exfoliate: I’m going to jump on the Josie Maran train in this post since her ever-growing line of skin and body care now includes one of my favorite in-shower scrubs. This Argan Sugar Scrub is super-fine, which makes it gentle enough for daily use all over your body, including more delicate areas like the decolletage. I like this for my legs because, even though you’d think it best to do a heavy-duty scrub for winter dryness, I found that my coarser exfoliators left my skin red and irritated. Josie’s has a lovely fresh scent, too, which makes it feel like spring even though it was elided in our seasonal calendar.
- Moisturize: It’s important to follow hard with soft, so making sure scrubbed (or just roughed-up) legs can heal is an important follow-up in this process. One of the biggest things I noticed about my summer legs was how they wanted moisture just as much as during winter, just a different kind. Instead of my warming and heating body oils, I turned to a lotion so light it’s “whipped”: again by Josie Maran. The unscented Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter is my new bedstand buddy. I slather it onto my calves and feet before sleep and wake up to silky, refreshed skin. If you’re more of an oil person, there are lots of quick-absorbing oils to choose from in summer. Look for cooling combinations with vitamin E, jojoba, and avocado oil, or an Ayurvedic oil that balances Pitta (or fire) with cooling herbs.
- Smooth: For many women, summer means the return of the razor–a bathroom tool that maybe had a bit of a vacation during colder months. When I started shaving my legs more regularly again, I noticed that my old shaving cream wasn’t doing the trick to protect my more fragile skin from nics and cuts. After a little hiatus and some extra lotioning, I started to use a super-concentrated and even more moisturizing formula from Cremo. This brand knows their stuff, and their products work without all the extra fluff (literally) of regular creams and foams. The light layer your rub into skin, not on, makes a smooth layer over which a razor will effortlessly glide. After shaving, repeat step 2 above to get that moisture right into your open pores.
- Restore: I’m a very active person, and living in the city means that my legs (and feet) get a lot of mileage. Walking is key to healthy circulation, and thus the appearance of, legs overall, but too much of a good thing can lead to muscle fatigue and swelling, only exacerbated by heat. That’s why my summer yoga routine includes lots of inversions, especially legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani) in place of Savasana. With your legs above your heart, gravity helps to move fluid buildup called lymph, and all the bacteria and viruses that it can pick up. Self-massage with therapy balls is also an inexpensive at-home way to ease tense muscles: simply kneel down onto a soft surface, wedge a ball between each thigh and calf, and roll back and forth over the balls, moving all the way down your leg from hip to ankle. To combine tips 3 and 4, choose a lotion or oil with lavender, mint, and/or eucalyptus, which will soften skin as it cools internal congestion.
Besides these tips, staying hydrated with plenty of cool water (infused with lemon or cucumber for a kick!) is essential to keeping all skin glowing and smooth, so drink down to your legs!
What are your favorite ways to get your body ready for summer?
Also by Jennifer: The Simple Investment That Guarantees Your Ultimate Beauty Sleep
Related: How to Get Your Best Shave Ever
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Photo: Pixabay; Josie Maran Cosmetics, Cremo, Annika Ihnat