If your legs have seen better days (hello, bruises and no sunlight), that doesn’t mean you have to keep them in leg jail, aka pants, forever. Leg makeup to the rescue. But what is leg makeup, you ask?
As its name suggests, it’s product you put on your legs. Benefits of wearing it include covering up things such as varicose veins, scars, age spots, a patchy faux tan. Like face makeup, it also evens out your skin tone and gives your legs that glowy, I’m-about-to-walk-the-red-carpet look.
Here are five makeup artist-approved leg makeup products, plus tips on stepping up your leg skincare routine and why it’s essential.
Types of leg makeup
Like face makeup, leg makeup also comes in a variety of formulations, including sprays, liquids, and powders. Sprays are typically waterproof and don’t transfer onto your clothes. Powder-based leg makeup, says makeup artist Rae Morris, tends to sit on top of the skin. And liquid leg makeup is easy to rub in and seamlessly blend into the skin.
5 makeup artist-recommended leg makeup products
For camera-ready legs, Morris recommends MAC’s liquid Face and Body Foundation. “You really have to rub this onto your skin, more than you think you do,” she says. “It gets better the more you massage it. I’ve had many photographers tell me that it makes the skin look retouched when applied properly. The camera lens can’t even detect it.”
Dermablend is a staple when it comes to leg makeup thanks to its lightweight and blendable formula. “It comes in 12 colors,” says celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin. “The coverage is buildable but still looks natural. I keep this in my kit for when models show up with bruises or uneven skin tone.” Bonus points: It also has broad-spectrum SPF 25.
Not sure if leg makeup is for you but still want to give it a try? Irwin has used Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Spray for a decade and swears by it. “It’s affordable, easy to use, and dries super quickly,” she says. “With six color options and the price being $15, it’s an easy way to try leg makeup without making a big commitment.”
Morris too is a fan of Sally Hanson Airbrush Legs for its velvety finish. “I use this when I’m covering things like bruises or darkness around the knees,” she says. “It dries like natural skin, so it’s perfect for touching up areas as opposed to the whole leg.”
Vita Liberata Body Blur ($45)
If you’re looking for that your-legs-but-better look versus full-on coverage, Irwin is impressed with Vita Liberata Body Blur, which comes in three different shades: latte, latte light, and mocha. “It’s sheer and hydrating, giving a glow rather than a ton of coverage,” she says. It’s also certified organic, while also being paraben- and sulfate-free.
Era Everyday Airbrush Spray-On Foundation is among one of Morris’s favorites to use as leg makeup. “This one is waterproof [and comes] in an aerosol, but you can also use your hands to blend,” she says. “It looks like skin when it dries, and it doesn’t move once dry. However, if you like more sheen on your legs, wait for it to dry, then dust with shimmer powder on top.”
Tips for applying leg makeup
Apply it as you would self-tanner
Applying leg makeup can get messy. Irwin suggests using gloves and a giant sponge if you have them on hand. And, most importantly, blend, blend, blend.
Match to your desired leg shade
When it comes to finding the right shade of leg makeup, Morris says it depends on your intention. If you want to conceal a few spots, it must exactly match your natural leg color, so it’s undetected. If you’re going to cover your entire leg with leg makeup, then match the shade to your face foundation.
Conceal bruises first
If you need to cover up a dark bruise with a blue-grey undertone, Morris recommends dabbing peachy under-eye concealer on it first to color correct and then applying your leg makeup on top for a seamless finish.
Why leg skincare is important
When you think of skincare, your legs aren’t the first area that comes to mind, but taking care of the skin on your legs is essential too. “Like the skin on the face, the legs also can experience skin issues like dryness that need to be addressed with a regimen beyond a moisturizer,” says NYC-based cosmetic dermatologist Marie Hayag, MD. “More importantly, melanoma is most common on the legs of women. Therefore, skin cancer prevention and regular skin checks with a board-certified dermatologist is a must for everyone.”
Also, ingrown hairs are no fun, and proper leg skincare rituals will help prevent them as well as help keep your legs feeling smooth and looking glowy.
Skincare tips for your legs
First and foremost, hydrate. Your legs too, Dr. Hayag says, need to be quenched from the inside out. Here are some more leg skincare tips she recommends integrating into your daily ritual.
“Dry brushing helps aid in the exfoliating process by sloughing off dead skin cells, increasing circulation, diminishing cellulite appearance, helping with lymphatic drainage, and exfoliating the skin,” Dr. Hayag says. Plus, eliminating all the dead skin means that your moisturizer will absorb into the skin more effectively and leave your legs feeling silky smooth.
To help prevent ingrown hairs, exfoliation before shaving is key. Take a shower first or use warm water to soften the skin and open up the pores. “Scrub the legs gently with a cleanser that has glycolic acid to get rid of bumps, dryness, and flakes,” Dr. Hayag says. “Be sure to focus exfoliation on areas like the knees that are more prone to bumps and skin build-up.”
Moisturize and oil up
Dr. Hayag recommends moisturizing right after the shower when your skin is still damp for better absorption. “Follow up with a body oil to aid in hydrating the skin and creating a smooth barrier,” she continues. “It is important to do this because the legs do not have as many sebaceous glands as the face does, so the legs tend to become drier.”
SPF is an integral part of every skincare routine, including one for your legs. “Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 on the legs 30 minutes before sun exposure,” Dr. Hayag says. “Reapply every two hours. Do not neglect the back of the legs and the feet, which are often forgotten.”
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