Popular face treatments give legs a lift.
It’s hard to ignore signs of aging when they’re written all over your face. But legs? Out of sight out of mind—until you want to bare them. Then all you see are the brown spots, the scaly texture, the squiggly veins. While most of us willingly spend on products and procedures to rejuvenate the face, we tend to forget that long stretch of skin from ankle to upper thigh, which can benefit from the same attention—and often the same treatments.
To defeat dry, flaky skin, exfoliate regularly and moisturize twice a day with a thick lotion—try enriching it by mixing in a little argan oil. For extra protection against moisture loss, consider a barrier cream such as CeraVe ($12 to 15 in drugstores)—look for silicone, glycerin or zinc among the ingredients. If skin is super-dry and itchy, tap the market for dermatitis products. Cetaphil Restoraderm (about $15) was created for eczema but is soothing for any type of skin. Same with Skinfix’s Body Repair Balm ($15 to 30); this clay-like lotion is popular with A-list makeup artists including Jetty Stutzman, who counts Alicia Silverstone, Angelina Jolie and Claire Danes among her clients. “I’m so happy to have Skinfix in my kit,” she says. “It’s my go to product for quick relief of redness and irritation.”
Tone-correcting and collagen-building creams are also finding their way onto legs, though you’ll need to invest in several tubes’ worth to cover the territory. New York Dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD likes Skinceuticals Retinol 1% (about $50 to 60 per one oz. tube) or the prescription-strength retinoid, Fabior Foam. Another derm fave is Amlactin, a line of alpha hydroxy acid moisturizers ($10 to $40) that encourage cell turnover and renewal. In February, Radical Skincare is launching its high-potency Firming Body Multi-Repair designed to do for the body what their product line does for the face.
Legs are just as susceptible to age and sun spots as the face and so are fair game for laser treatments too. “More and more women are asking to zap a brown spot on their legs or feet while I am working on their face spots,” says Fusco. The treated marks typically get darker, scab, and flake off, exposing natural-toned skin below. Types of lasers and costs vary widely—$150 and up per treatment—and you may have to have several sessions to erase all the pigment. Meanwhile, there’s no reason not to dab the same lightening and brightening creams and serums made for the face on a calf or thigh. You just have to be diligent about applying daily and patient to see results.
Vain about Veins?
Spider veins—the result of aging, sun damage, and genetics—appear as purple or red starbursts, often on the inner ankle or thigh. Luckily, these superficial veins, as opposed to the deeper, varicose ones, respond well to sclerotherapy: a saline solution is injected through a fine needle into the veins, which causes them to collapse and reabsorb into blood stream over the course of a few weeks. Downsides? Cramping during injections is common; compression socks are recommended while healing; and there’s the cost—$200 to $500 per area or session. Depending on how much territory you want to fix, you could invest thousands. Plus, results aren’t always perfect. You may have to repeat the procedure if the veins aren’t completely absorbed on the first round.
For the tiniest spiders too small to inject, camouflage is your best bet: leg makeup, concealer, or artfully placed self-tanner. Ditto for scars, stretch marks, or any spots that have lost pigment. For large areas and a longer-lasting coverage, Fusco recommends Microskin, a simulated second skin that’s applied in a custom-made color to match skin tone and doesn't sweat or wash off for up to five days or more. The Microskin Center, run by dermatologist Roy Geronemus, offers a package ($750 to $3,500) that includes the equipment and a 6-month supply of custom color. Or you can order an at-home starter kit for $165. Faking it never looked so good.