Biting cold and months under heavy layers hardly leave legs in great shape, so you can’t blame us for wanting to scrub up a little now it’s time to cast aside the opaques. Enter Legology, the beauty super-brand putting leg-focused formulas at the centre of its ethos. With over 25 years of beauty writing experience, Kate Shapland made a move to the other side, founding Legology in 2013. Her obsession with sculpting perfect, cellulite-free legs inspired the next-generation lightener-and-tightener Air-Lite Daily Lift For Legs and, with summer on its way, this and Legology’s other must-haves have been combined in a four-way attack against your leg-related woes. As the Killer Legs kit launches, Shapland lets us in on her top tips for enviable legs.
I’m passionate about legs – their beauty and their wellbeing. I think legs have had a poor deal in the beauty world up till recently. The market is flooded with products that aim to fight cellulite, but not a lot else. There is more to our legs – and the issues we have with them – than this. Legs get puffy – especially during pregnancy, hot weather and long haul flights. Legs can feel tender and sore – especially after exercising. Lower legs can feel achy – especially if you’ve been on your feet all day. Don’t even get me onto the balls of your feet after an evening in heels. Ankles can puff up. Skin can get dehydrated, scaly even, lose its tone. Stretch marks come and go, and come back again. Varicose and spider veins can develop, seemingly overnight. A lot can go wrong with our legs. First of all though, I’m going to ask you all to do yourselves all a few favours:
1. If you’re sitting with your legs crossed, uncross them! Crossing your legs can impede blood flow and exacerbate varicose veins.
2. Slip off your heels – I know you’re dying to do it!
3. Give yourself some leg room, raise your legs a little and point your toes; now flex your feet by pushing down with your heels. Do this intermittently over the next half an hour to stimulate your circulation and lymph and help energise your legs.
CELLULITE – A REAL ISSUE Cellulite affects up to 99% of us in differing stages and forms. We all know what it looks like, most of us know what it feels like, and many wonder whether it can be spirited away. Can it? The thing is we all have it for different reasons. A collection of fat and fluid, cellulite manifests in its familiar lumpy way because of the way our fat cells sit. It’s more predominant in women because ours lie horizontally; in men they are vertical. There are, however, a few common denominators: your sex, your genes and your lymph. If you are prone to cellulite, thank your parents – especially your mother! In addition to these influences, being overweight, having fluid retention and being sedentary – sitting at your desk all day – can all contribute. To tackle cellulite you need to identify your enemies – address that, and then some.
LYMPH LIGHTENING I’ve done more research into cellulite than any other beauty topic and of all its contributing factors, one in particular stands out – the lymph. Lymph is the fluid that flows through your lymphatic system, carrying bacteria to the lymph nodes where it’s destroyed. When your lymph and blood circulation are sluggish, your legs can feel heavy and congested. Fluid gets trapped in and around the fat cells and can cause puffiness. Anyone who’s tried a high protein diet may have noticed that, while you lose weight, your cellulite often looks worse. This is because carbohydrate encourages fluid retention, and when it’s released, cellulite areas become less plumped making the lumps appear more angular and obvious. Lymph only moves when you move so keeping active is key to keeping your legs light and uncongested.
GET ACTIVE The solution then, if there is one, is to enhance the lymph and blood flow – to be active. Pump that circulation around, be it through exercise, massage or stimulation of any kind – this is why body brushing helps. Try using a body brush in the shower daily, brushing from feet to knees, knees to thighs and over hips and buttocks. Always brush in a heartwards direction – up. Another method is to spray your legs with intermittent blasts of warm and cold water with the shower head. Apply your treatment cream or oil, massaging upwards again, from feet to knees, knees to thighs.
This is how I do it:
1. Begin at your feet and use your thumb to massage along the inside of your soles, across the bridge of your foot, and around the ankle – as if you are pushing fluid around.
2. Work around your ankles and up your calves, using your thumbs to push upwards in lines, all round your shins and calves.
3. Massage around your knees; pinching the sides gently, kneading the backs to stimulate the lymph nodes.
4. Use your thumbs to push up the sides of your thighs, and then gently knead and pinch the sides.
5. If you have more time, focus on the Marma points on your legs and feet – there are 22 in total, 11 on each leg. These are areas where flesh, veins, arteries, tendon, bones and joints meet, used in Ayurvedic medicine to ease congestion and enhance energy. Apply a resting pressure to these areas:
– Centre front of thighs (urvi)
– Top of knee (ani)
– Lower point of knee cap (janu)
I developed Air-Lite Daily Lift For Legs specially to be used for massaging the legs, but also so it would absorb quickly, leaving skin supple and lemon-scented. The whole point is that it’s a joy to use, not a chore. I believe this is part of the science to good legs: the key is to be regular with your treatment so you need a cream that you love enough to use every day. I wanted to create a product that was uplifting in every sense – for your legs and your mind.
A FEW TIPS • Puffy legs on a flight – always wear your flight socks, and put them on before you leave home. Point and flex your feet, just as before, as often as you remember during the flight. Try to book a bulkhead seat, so you can stretch your legs out and raise them. Wear loose trousers – nothing that pinches or is tight around the ankle, knee or upper thigh.
• Seated at work – get up and walk around regularly, and point and flex your feet.
• Puffy legs in hot weather – lie flat on the floor, or your bed, and put your feet up against the wall at right angles for 10 minutes.
• Feeling bloated at the wrong time of the month – take a bath in Epsom or magnesium salts.
• Swollen feet – soak a towel in cold water, wring it out well, wrap it around your feet, and place them up against the wall at right angles.