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Do the leg work

Revealing legs and feet that have been wrapped up all winter is a daunting prospect. Our expert guide will leave customers ready to bare their pins in the warmer months ahead, says ANJANA GOSAI.

 

LOVELY LEGS

Diminish dimples

The dreaded dimples of cellulite on the legs can afflict women of all ages, shapes and sizes. “Cellulite tends to develop after puberty and is common around the buttocks and thighs,” explains Dr Alexis Granite, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic in London. “Weight gain, ageing, inactivity and hormonal factors may influence its development.”

Unfortunately, doctors don’t have a cure for cellulite and it can’t be prevented; however, maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, and making smart product choices, can improve its appearance.

The quickest way to disguise the look of cellulite is to use a self-tan. Skinny Tan and Tone Oil (RRP £24.99) bestows skin with a golden glow, while added guarana berries target cellulite. Anything that boosts circulation, such as vigorous massage or body brushing with a product like Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil (RRP £19.95), can also provide a temporary improvement. “Cellulite creams containing collagen-stimulating retinol or circulation-boosting caffeine may also make a difference,” Dr Granite advises.

When it comes to diet, keep sugar levels to a minimum. “Too much sugar will result in more fat cell storage, which can trigger the appearance of cellulite. Exercise is also important – it activates blood flow, increases fat burn and reduces the severity of dimples,” adds Dr Granite.

Treat stretch marks

“Stretch marks form when the dermis (the middle layer of skin) is stretched abruptly, leading to tears,” explains Dr Granite. “Hereditary factors, rapid weight loss or gain, plus growth spurts during puberty and pregnancy are contributing factors,” she adds.

Unfortunately, there is no magic potion for stretch mark prevention, but avoiding quick weight gain or loss can help. Body care may also make a difference to the appearance of stretch marks. Dr Granite favours creams containing peptides and collagen boosters, such as retinol to resurface the skin and improve the look of silvery red streaks. She recommends Strivectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate (RRP £55.50), which is loaded with peptides.

Fight fuzz

There are several de-fuzzing options to pick from to help keep legs looking and feeling silky smooth. Shaving is the quickest and least painful way to remove unwanted hair; however, stubbly regrowth is likely after a day or so. “For an ultra-smooth finish, pick a good quality razor and a moisturising shaving cream to prevent grazing,” says Rachel Halling, principle of the Champneys Beauty College. Recommend Queen of… Ooh La La! Shaving Gel (RRP £2.25), which is packed with soothing aloe vera. A high-performance razor like Gillette Venus Swirl Flexiball (RRP £9.99) is also essential.

Offering fuzz-free results for around three to six weeks, waxing is a good option for those looking for longer lasting smoothness. “This method removes hair from the root and regrowth is much finer,” says Halling. Nair Nourish 7-in-1 Ultra Body Wax Strips (RRP £6.99) are formulated with nourishing Japanese cherry blossom and are a breeze to use. Alternatively, Veet EasyWax Electrical Roll-On Kit (RRP £29.99) is made with the same ingredients as salon wax.

Those who wish to bid farewell to fuzz forever could try a home-use IPL (intense pulsed light) device. These are designed to permanently disable the hair follicle after multiple treatments. Tria Beauty Hair Removal Laser 4X (RRP £375) emits beams of light that target the dark colour pigment at the root of the hair to destroy the follicle. Meanwhile, Iluminage Precise Touch (RRP £280) uses a combination of IPL and radio frequency energies to permanently put the follicles to sleep.

Disguise imperfections

Regular maintenance can leave legs looking their best. A good exfoliant will slough off dead skin, and daily application of a rich body cream or lotion can nourish thirsty skin and give limbs a smooth appearance. This Works Perfect Legs Skin Miracle (RRP £37) has a tinted formula to camouflage discolouration, vitamin C and E to even out blemishes, plus arnica to fade bruising. Those with pasty pins who need a quick fix could try new St. Tropez Instant Tan Finishing Gloss (RRP £12), which adds an immediate touch of bronze and a glossy gleam.

FABULOUS FEET

Dry spell

Walking, standing, wearing inappropriate footwear and friction caused by shoes can dry out the skin on the feet. “Using a foot file and scrub once a week will slough away dryness,” advises podiatrist Margaret Dabbs, who has her own footcare range. “Follow with a foot cream specially designed to penetrate the skin on the feet, which is 12 times thicker than on the rest of the body.”

If the feet become too dry, cracks or fissures can develop on the heels. “If left untreated, fissures can become painful and lead to infection, as deeper cracks allow bacteria in,” warns Michael Ratcliffe, Head of School – Podiatry at Birmingham Metropolitan College.

Stubborn hardness can be tackled with a powerful foot file such as Scholl Velvet Smooth Diamond Pedi (RRP £39.99). Moisturising the feet twice daily can reduce the build-up of hard skin. “Creams containing humectants like urea, glycerine and hyaluronic acid are ideal, as they prevent water loss from the skin,” says Ratcliffe. Recommend Carnation Footcare Cracked Heel Cream (RRP £5.95), which is loaded with 20% urea.

Nail it

Cutting nails may seem easy enough, but clumsy trimming can quickly lead to ingrown toenails. “Nails should be trimmed either straight across or in a gentle curve that follows the shape of the toe; don’t trim down the sides, as this can cause ingrown nails,” warns Ratcliffe.

If a customer is concerned about discoloured, abnormally thick or brittle toenails, it could be a sign of fungal nail infection.“Wearing tight hosiery and footwear can damage the nail through repetitive trauma and create a moist environment in which fungus can thrive,” Ratcliffe says.

Rubbing the nail with a natural antiseptic, such as tea tree oil, may help tackle mild cases, while keeping them short and clean will prevent bacteria from spreading. Alternatively, ClearZal Complete Foot and Nail System (RRP £14.99) is designed to kill fungus and bacteria.

Perform the perfect pedicure

Recommend the following seven-step treatment to customers to help them make their feet look and feel fabulous:

  1. Cut the nails before filing them in one direction
  2. Remove hard skin from the soles with a foot file, such as Margaret Dabbs Foot File (RRP £24)
  3. Massage on a foot scrub, such as Dr Ceuticals Pumice Foot Scrub (RRP £6.99), to eliminate dead skin on the feet, before soaking them in warm water for five to 10 minutes
  4. Apply a cuticle cream like Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream (RRP £6.50) to each nail bed
  5. Rinse off the exfoliator, pat the feet dry and gently push cuticles back with a manicure stick
  6. For the perfect polish, apply a base coat to ensure the colour stays shiny, followed by a coloured varnish and topcoat, which will seal the colour
  7. Slather on a rich foot cream.

Using a foot file and scrub once a week will slough away dryness

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