"darling the legs aren't so good ~ I just know what to do with them" .. Marlene Dietrich
THE GUEST ROOM: this week, fellow journalist Emma Robertson talks cankles
The Leg Room is proud to welcome freelance journalist Emma Robertson to its guest room this week. Emma writes for The Daily Express, Metro, NOTW Fabulous magazine and Grazia, and she is an ankle expert: she can spot a cankle at 30 metres. Here, she talks about how celebrity cankle-spotting has eased her own plus-size ankle anxiety:
It’s not been the best time for Cheryl Cole recently, has it? First our national sweetheart was unceremoniously dumped by American X-Factor and then she was outted by the Daily Mail as a celeb cursed with the worst public humiliation of all… CANKLES.
We all know that given time, Chezza’ll shake-off her rep as the latest casualty in Simon Cowell’s pursuit for world domination (after-all, even a killer-bout of Malaria couldn’t keep this fighter down). However, unfortunately the same can’t be said for the puffy micro-paunch of fat or water retention lurking at the bottom of the pop princesses legs.
I should know, because, for as long as I can remember, I too have battled against the curse of shapeless ankles.
I’d like to say now I’m 31, I’ve finally made peace with the cheeky muffin-tops spilling over my sock-tops and have quit obsessing over the abrupt sausage-shaped pinch that signals the end of each leg and the start of each foot. As if!
In fact, a shrink would have a field-day analysing the gross injustice I feel towards the voluptuous c-cup bulges peakng-out from my trouser bottoms, when I’m frustratingly flat-chested where it counts.
However, it’s nothing compared to the embarrassment Barbie must’ve felt when foot fatist Christian Louboutin insisted on ‘reshaping’ her ankles before she was allowed to step into his shoes for a special collection celebrating the doll’s 50th birthday. Plastic or not, that’s some slap in the, erm… cankles.
If only I could freeze-frame my legs at 7am when I get a tantalising glimpse (if I squint) at the potential my pins have to look ‘normal’ after lying down overnight. But just when I think all my prayers for washboard-flat ankles have been answered, after a few hours on my feet, they always blow back-up to their usual full-size glory.
Sound familiar? Then perhaps there’s some bittersweet consolation in knowing that at least our cankles are in good company. The Geordie glamourpuss joins Davina McCall, Mischa Barton, Alicia Keyes (left) and Patsy Kensit as high-profile ambassadors, flying the flag for oversize ankles. Why are there no blokes in the list? Because according to foot and leg guru, Margaret Dabbs (margaretdabbs.co.uk), women’s blood circulation is hardwired to concentrate around the reproductive organs which can lead to water retention, especially during times of pregnancy, menstruation and menopause. What’s more, this celeb leg line-up also proves chubby ankles have little relation to your waist size or fitness - with whippet-thin women just as vulnerable to this pre-programmed genetic, medical or water retention issue. To be honest, the untrained hawkeye might not have ever noticed these celebs lack the dainty definition of ankle icons such as Charlize Theron and Olivia Palermo. Why?Because they’re the ultimate Cankle Masters of Disguise, each with sartorial cankle-hiding highs I’ve been studying for as long as I can remember (really… it’s not as creepy as it sounds).
Christian Louboutin's solution for Barbie's 'cankles'
From experience, I’ve learned size zero ankles don’t start with personal trainers or extreme diets – remember you only lose fat proportionally from your bod (although I’d never deny regular exercise to rev-up sluggish circulation or the benefits of a healthy, fresh and protein-rich diet, free from processed foods plus plenty of water). Nope, these bad boys won’t go down quietly, and after reading this 'Don't Stop Me Now' post , there’s no way I’m going under-the-knife to beat the ankle bulge – even if I could afford it. But I do know that stealing some smart A-list fashion and beauty moves from women on the paparazzi frontline can liberate you, like me, from a lifelong dependency on maxi skirts and floor-sweeping trousers. Want to know how easy it is? Then follow my materclass in how-to make your cankles look like ankles (well… almost)…
EMMA’S CANKLE BOOTCAMP – no-sweat required:
STEP 1 - ELONGATION My superstar cankle comrades won’t be seen dead without a pair of at least two inch heels (are you listening Hilary Clinton – cankles just don’t cut-it in court shoes) which instantly arch the foot and lengthen the leg, softening the appearance of ankle saddlebags. Psst! Word to the wise Cheryl – your passion for pretty wedges is bang-on-trend with a chunky heel which balances out a thick-set ankle, but please drop the T-bar ankle straps. They only draw unwanted attention to your problem zone, like Gladiator sandals, ankle boots, lace-ups etc… Best to stick to slingbacks or slip-ons. Likewise ankle bracelets (if you can even get them on) and tattoos are another massive no-no. Of course, we’re not all waited on by chauffeur-driven limos, so when heels aren’t practical, choose flats such as pumps which have a low-rise upper and show off more of the foot, again creating the illusion of length.
STEP 2 – DISTRACTION I’m no Trinny Woodall (another cankle ambassador), but in my red carpet cankle-watching experience, a fitted skirt that stops above the knee teamed with heels can help plus-size ankles look like they’ve been on a diet. It’s simple fashion logic - the shorter hemline (within reason) the further away scrutinising eyes are from your weak spot. Of course, trousers are the ultimate cankle cover-up. But even if you have gazelle-like legs, steer-clear of ankle-strangling skinnies and go for flattering straight-leg or bootcut bottoms, just like Davina does instead. Needless to say, ¾ length skirts and Capri cropped pants are the number one ENEMY for cankles. STEP 3 – POSINGFed-up of detagging full-length body shots from Facebook? Yeah… been there too. Instead, take a cue from the stars and stand slightly sideways with a graceful bend one knee, placed just in front of the other, pin-up style in photos – Cheryl’s your muse for this move. Likewise, when you sit, don’t cross your legs but drape them both to the side helping elongate their shape, clever… huh?
Xen Tan Perfect Blend
STEP 4– TAN-TRICKERY Tanning expert to the stars, James Read (thetantalist.com) swears a sun-kissed glow can slimify even supersize ankles – as long as you get your technique straight (grubby-looking tan-tastrophe feet won’t do your cankles any favours). Use a mitt and apply the colour in sweeping moves down the leg, then use the leftover residue to give feet and ankles a sheer wash of colour. Gently buff to a flawless finish with a clean flannel. He rates Xen-Tan Perfect Blend, £34.99 (xen-tan.co.uk) which allows you to customise the colour of your tan and flatters all skins. The next day, apply a little of the product’s shimmer tint setting to both indents of the ankle – it creates shade and contour for model ankle bone structure. STEP 5 – EAT SLIM One tip my cankles can’t live without from Harley Street nutritionist, Yvonne Bishop-Weston (foodsforlife.org.uk) is to get a daily dose of omega 3s. These essential fatty acids are a must to strengthen the skin cell wall’s ability to retain water, instead of leaching into surrounding gaps which cause puffiness. Aim to at three portions of small oily fish such as sardines or anchovies every week and add a daily dessert spoon of hemp seed oil to porridge or salad dressing. You can also find them in my fave, Perricone MD Omega 3 supplement, £31 for a 30 day supply (perriconemd.co.uk). While you’re at it, swap your usual caffeinated cuppas for a nettle tea brew instead which has natural diuretic properties to flush out stagnation (the lynchpin of water retention). Make sure it’s loose leaf (way more potent than bags) and sip around 3 cups a day for results.
MD Perricone Omega 3
STEP 6 – SLEEP According to the principles of a weight-management method I follow called BioSignature Modulation (which diagnoses hormonal imbalances which govern areas of excess fat storage on the bod), chunky calves and ankles can point towards low levels of growth hormone. It’s released during sleep – so for cankle’s sake, keep those late nights to a minimum will you? If you, like me, have problems winding-down then try Better You Magnesium Oil Spray, £12.59 (hollandandbarrett.com) before bedtime.
Follow Emma's tweets @thebeautysnoop
Spring has sprung! Flowers (not so good for those with hayfever!), bird song (at 6am!), hatching spiders, end of the tax year (5th April) and the threat of something far worse than any of those things….. Uncovering winter legs! The UK has had a few sunny days recently which means a flurry of flesh! If you haven’t been brave enough to bare already then summer is just round the corner. Either way, now is the time to get down to some summer leg preparation!
The Legologist has asked me to share some of my secrets on this. My legs have been covered up all winter. But I love wearing floaty summer skirts and flipflops, so I aim to get my legs smooth, soft and silkym, and my toenails nicely manicured (in fact I have a secret ambition to be the Special K cereal box lady in her nice red summer outfit with perfect legs, but don’t tell anyone!)
First fungus .. a winter of covering up legs with tights and shoes can lead to fungal conditions. I always put tea tree oil on my toenails and cuticles after a bath. It’s a natural antifungal. Be careful to dilute a drop into carrier oil if the oil is neat! Watch for itchy, flaky skin between or under toes. This could be athlete's foot (don’t be fooled by the name, it’s not exclusive for gym bunnies). I use Lamisil AT 1% pump spray. Spray once a day for 7 days. Sorted. Ignore at your peril!
Ren Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish
Next, exfoliation: layers of clothes and winter central heating can lead to dry skin and nails. I think it's important to keep hydrating internally and externally. Coconut water is supposed to hydrate you better than water. Personally not to my taste - although you can get varieties mixed with fruit juice: I like Dragonfruit Vitamin Power C Water and natural spring water.
Externally it is important to moisturise, but only after exfoliating dead skin. Think of skin like a loaf of bread: the crusts are hard to butter, aren’t they? Go to the inner soft bread and it takes butter easily (especially when toasted and warm!) It’s the same with skin, you must exfoliate the outer layer to reveal and promote new skin growth. This is the layer that retains moisturiser.
My current bathroom basket contains Scholl Rough Skin Remover for feet. Goes on creamy, and massages into feet easily. Texture changes to a sort of soft sand, which provides a gentle yet thorough exfoliation. The best bit is watching the layers of old skin wash off.
I currently have two buffers on the go: Ren Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish (contains Rose Damascena oil, Paraguay Can Sugar and Palmarosa Oil) and Aromatherapy Associates Enrich Body Scrub (contains Coffee, Frankincense and Grapefruit). I love both depending on mood and time of day.
Vitaminwater Dragonfruit Vitamin C Power Water
An essential exfoliation tool is a body brush. Brushing daily aids circulation and prevents ingrown hairs. Always brush towards the heart. I use The Body Shop round body brush or their long haired cactus brush. Of course this also helps with fighting cellulite. I'm currently trying a few potions against cellulite but I wont report on them until I have more to say.
Now, moisture: I often find my legs feel parched after a bath or shower, so I normally use a barrier lotion like Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion to lock moisture in. At night I like to use Aromatherapy Associates Revive Body Gel. I love this product. It smells SO good (it's a mix of grapefruit, rose, rosemary, juniper, peppermint, eucalyptus, sweet orange) and one sniff transports me to my favourite health spa! It helps to smooth skin texture and I usually dab a little on my inner wrists just so I can indulge in the fragrance during the day.
Another cabinet staple for me are Nivea and Simple moisturisers. The latter is very good if my skin is irritated as it is free from perfumes and other nasties!
Sanctuary Spa Moisture Locking Socks
Onto toes: after getting yellow nails once, my manicurist said that they were dry and trying to take moisture from my polish. I now apply Jessica Phenomen Oil on to my nails and cuticles daily. A little bit goes a long way! I also try to use my Sanctuary Spa Moisture Locking Socks one night a week, after slathering on Lush Peppermint Fairtrade Foot Lotion!
Next up, depilation: I normally start the season with a salon wax (with good intentions to wax every 4-6 weeks!) If I wax at home I like to use Veet Suprem Essence wax strips (with rose and other essential oils) simply because it’s the one that always seems to be in stock at the local! (Tip: Try a quick blast from a warm hairdryer to wake pre-waxed strips up!)
Razor wise, if I'm in a hurry Wilkinson’s Sword Intuition razor fits the bill because it has a moisture block and blade joined together. No need for separate shaving gel (great for travelling). To help with nicks, burns, grazes and irritations I apply an aloe vera gel such as Herbalife Aloe Vera Soothing Gel after hair removal. The Aloe plant is one of natures little treasures and natural products get a thumbs up from me.
Now for some colour: I'm all for pale skin, but after a long winter pale skin can take on a rather transparent appearance ! I'm very, very pale which is fine, but sometimes a little colour is good! Of course tanning is an art and the keys lie in good preparation and product. That is a whole other story! Opening my cupboard I can see a bottle of Johnson’s Holiday Skin moisturiser. This contains a small amount of self tan and builds a natural glow over several hours. I've just got my mits on a bottle of TanOrganic which is an organic self tan in a glass bottle. Of course a spray tan can be a very quick and easier option as someone can reach the places you can’t! I have tried and liked the SiennaX range.
A must for me is a bottle of Guerlain Terracotta Teinte Dore liquid, a stain which you apply with cotton wool. It can be hard to find, but applies instantly and is perfect at filling in gaps when seeing out the last day of a tan!
Obviously a nice coat or two of nail polish, a killer floaty skirt and sturdy pair of flipflops to finish it off. Maybe even a Special K-red pair of shorts ..?
This week The Leg Room welcomes Amber Macintosh, founder of Dandelion Baby, the digital beauty guide for mother & child, to the guest room to talk about the exercises that work best on a post-baby body and products that have had great reviews on her website:
Melvita Pour Maman Body Milk
So much emphasis is placed on post baby tummies that we tend to forget the impact that pregnancy has on the rest of the body. I was never a gym bunny but I did try to keep up some kind of routine while pregnant with my son; jogging up to the fifth month and regular yoga right up till the day he was born. The same cannot be said for my daughter, a toddler to run around after and a busy work schedule resulted in a lot of time on my feet and the legs paid for it!
Lacklustre post baby legs are crying out for our attention and while your tummy might be the obvious place to start, have you taken a good look out of the rear view mirror! While you have been busy housing, birthing and bringing up a baby your butt and leg muscles have been on a cheeky vacation.
I've found that the quickest way to see improvement in the muscle tone is to give Pilates or Yoga a try. You may well yawn at this point, particularly if you’re an avid body pump girl. If you are motivated enough to head to the gym to pump iron and spin I commend you but would also suggest you mix in a technique like these that help muscles to stretch and elongate.
Darphin Hydroform Toning Oil
This can really have a beautifying effect on the shape and tone of the legs. Gradually the improvement in muscle tone will see off nagging cellulite that may have built up during your pregnancy. Most gyms in and outside of London will be happy to take your little one into their crèche, it may seem daunting when they are very little, but it gives you that important me time.
To shift final lumps and bumps and aid natural elimination of toxins I am a big fan of dry body brushing, and would suggest you follow this with toning oil. Darphin, a brand that built their name on the reputation of their oils, have a great range to choose from. I love their Hydroform Toning Oil (£36), made with finest plant extracts and containing a wonderfully uplifting fragrance.
If you prefer to use creams then new organic brand, Melvita, have a gorgeous toning and regenerating body milk; Melvita Pour Maman Body Milk (£24). If you enjoy this then give their ‘pour bebe’ range a try; Dandelion Baby have been testing this baby range for our baby product reviews and are very impressed.
Emma Hill is an award winning beauty writer who has been in the business for 15 years. She’s been a beauty editor on several magazines including In Style and now writes about beauty for titles including Stella, Style, the FT, YOU magazine and Japanese Vogue. She also happened to be my deputy when I was beauty editor at Woman's Journal some years ago. Here she covers hosiery for The Leg Room and finds out which the experts think are the best socks and tights you can buy.
"Earlier this year, as the ice chill gripped, I found myself in a tights crisis. Was down to one pair grey ribbed (which itch), one pair woolly charcoals by Falke (love) and one pair black opaques (not warm enough). I put this to The Legologist who suggested I share my findings, so it’s with delight that I’m guest blogging on tights for the The Leg Room.
"Snuggle factor aside leg wear this season has been brilliantly quirky. Take the glorified shooting sock at Prada, bright rib ruff up the centre, or the half- tights-half-pop-sock at Marni. Then there’s the celeb factor – Cheryl Cole and her Wolford Heros, ‘this winter girls couldn’t seem to get enough of anything seen on the pins of a celeb,’ Cosmopolitan Bride’s fashion director, Sally Dixon tells me. ‘They sold out within minutes of Cheryl wearing them when she performed on X Factor,’ says Laura Gosling of mytights.com. The other celebrity hotties are Henry Holland’s suspender tights – the cleverest idea ever and one hot little must-have. ‘They were our best seller this winter,’ says Laura.
"Back to my petit crise: am after a good, basic, winter woolly that’s a. not itchy, b. doesn’t sag at the crotch and c. doesn’t cost the earth. This is what my little posse of tights experts say:
‘If you buy a good quality product in the right size, they shouldn’t sag at the crotch,’ says Laura. Lycra or elastane will, she says, ‘dramatically improve the fit.’ She also says ‘check the size chart – they’re generally accurate – or suppliers would get a lot of complaints.’ In terms of expensiveness, it seems to pay off to pay a little extra. Falke are my favourite and though fabulous, are pricey. So I challenged this theory and plumped for John Lewis cotton rich opaques. Pretty good. I did find their sizing a bit skewed – these were too short and their classic opaques were too long. My tip: stretch against a leg before trying on (they don’t refund tights already tried). For woolly warm factor I’m about to put my money on Trasparenze Gennifer Merino Wool Tights because they’re My Tights’ bestseller and just £12.50.
"I also asked My Tights’ Laura, Cosmo’s Sally and the girls at Fenwicks (ace hosiery dept) to spill this season’s hosiery hotties:
Sally on the fashion forward –
• Emilio Cavallini, ‘I love him for always coming up with something fabulously creative with pattern.’
• Knee-high and over-the-knee socks, ‘Big news too, with La Perla doing some uber luxe versions – check them out at asos.com.’
• Vintage – ‘Don’t forget the sheer, seam back tight, Mad Men style just keeps on running.’
Laura on the best-selling classics –
1. Trasparenze Gennifer Merino Wool
2. Pretty Polly Nylons
3. Aristoc Ultra Shine
4. Pamela Mann 50D 5. Pretty Polly 60D
Fenwick on control tops and socks:
* Control top – ‘Spanx are our most popular– Falke Oroblu are also good.’
* Socks - ‘we love the plain, stripe or floral socks by Antipast.’
* ‘Texture is hot, as opposed to last year’s strong colours – try Fogal and La Perla'
Meet Debra Hepburn, Director of Young British Designers, founded by people with a passion for original, brave design - raw, new talent if you like - and a vision to create a retail environment that celebrates the brilliance of British design. YBD's repertoire of young designers all have a talent that speaks for itself and YBD gives us an opportunity to buy their unique pieces - moments in time, which YBD believe is where the best of fashion starts. Here, Debra talks winter leg-dressing in her guest post Legs Just Want To Have Fun:
"Why is it that summer legs seem to have all the fun? They get to be bare, to wear the teeniest bits of frippery and strut their naked stuff in easy-going flipflops or comfy raffia wedges. They parade about shamelessly in cut-off denim, in ditsy floral mini’s and even in tiny bikinis.
Alice Palmer's brilliant spike- studded opaques
And then comes winter. For some of us - those with less-than-gloriously-long-and-tanned-blemish-free-limbs, it’s a blessed relief. Time to pull out trusty opaques (30/50/70 denier, a wide choice. Black of course) and beloved boots. Job done.
Except it’s a tad - cough - boring.
Everywhere you look there are black-legged ladies appearing as mere silhouettes of their former fun Summery selves. Which is precisely why our emerging young British fashion designers have been having a lot of fun with their accoutrements for our winter legs.
Let’s start with the safest manifestation of fun: opaque black tights-cum-leggings from Queen of Scottish Knitwear Alice Palmer (£130, left). These have a bit of an edge to them. A spiky edge to be exact. 80 denier, but with stainless steel studded spikes which both menace and fascinate all at once!
Fashion Fringe's Jena.Theo's Back to Front Jeans #legologistloves!
Then there’s the Skort. Some genius decided that the perfect running around garment would be a cross between shorts and a skirt. Looks so much more feminine and well, decent, grown up if you will, yet also as practical as trousers. This camel cashmere version from Sykes (£299) is a modern classic (and you can wear your opaques beneath).
Jeans: they can be dull can’t they? And how much more skinny can they be? We go from baggy boyfriends to sprayed on leather effect and everything in between. Well, say hello to a brand new concept in jeans from Fashion Fringe’s duo Jena.Theo: Back to Front (£210, right). Easy to wear, look slightly wrong in a very right way and joyful too.
And staying with the genius of Jena.Theo we are still claiming these Blue/Black pleated leggings (£255) as our favourite leggings of 2010/11. They have the most exquisite knot and fold detailing along with the kind of stunning print that makes us be brave enough to banish all black from our repertoire. Not just black you understand, just ALL black.
And finally, how much fun is a garment that is so much more than it appears at first glance? Take Simeon Farrar, designer artist extraordinaire, and his star spangled harem pants (£176). Or are they? Well, they can be. But with a bit of nifty hitching up you have a perfect day to night jumpsuit. In not black maroon with blackish stars.
Seems to us that our younger designer folk want to pull all our legs right out of their heavy black comfort zone and into a fun-filled Winter Legs Wonderland. Seems like quite a lot of us are ready for that change too".
Say hello to Reena 'Legs' Patel. Reena is the first PR to make an appearance in the Guest Room with her post on legs. And The Legologist is celebrating because she's celebrating - having been awarded Freelance PR of the year by the Public Relations Consultants Assocation (PRCA). Here, she tells us about the challenge she has had with stretch marks - a problem for many darker skinned women - and the approach that has helped her.
"A friend likes to call me ‘Legs Patel’ but I wouldn’t describe myself that way. Yes, my legs are longer than my body (apparently this is the ideal ratio for a ‘perfect’ body) but I’m not convinced by them. They are naturally tanned and shapely but I would hardly say I look the leggy supermodel/gracious ballerina type. Instead, I’m about 5”4 and am more the image of Bambi painfully tilting on stilts when I’m in my high heels. Still, I’m flattered and am hugely honoured to be able to put in my two pins worth for The Legologist.
"The main reason for the lack of self-belief in this nickname is that have unsightly stretch marks that upsettingly appeared following a growth spurt when I was about 12. A skin trouble for many Indians (it must be our genetics), these zebra stripes mostly sit around my hips, there are a few above my knees and I’ve longed for a cure to magic them away since.
Bio-Oil - worked wonders on Reena's legs
"From an early age, my mum would regularly massage warm oils and lotions to moisturise my skin daily. This ritual ingrained in our Indian culture hasn’t prevented their appearance but I’m certain it has helped keep my skin in better condition. So, although there is no proof that any treatments or products actually work on stretch marks, I am a firm believer in circulation boosters and tinctures that keep skin soft, supple and nourished to help reduce them, but I’m not a major fan of laser or cosmetic treatments. So, here I recommend a health and beauty buffet of top topical remedies and alternative therapies that target both the inside and out. "I recently discovered Bio-Oil (£8.95) and wish I had earlier! Although my marks have been around too long to see much repair, this affordable non-greasy miracle oil works wonders on the skin. I’ve started to use it on my cuticles and on a scar I have too. Its nourishing formula of PurCellin Oil, vitamins A and E and calendula, lavender, rosemary and chamomile oils melt into your skin. It also teams up as wonderfully soothing and hydrating bath oil. Also try Boo Boo Super Stretchy Miracle Oil (£14.99), in which omega 6 and 9 feeds skin, firms and helps put the elasticity back in your skin and passion-flower and sweet almond oils gently soften, and Rodial Stretch Mark Eraser (£78). Results are not overnight, so massage these in every day for at least three months to see a change.
Boo Boo Super Stretchy Miracle Oil
"I also try to prevent any more stretch marks from appearing by boosting body circulation and re-boot my tired, weary legs from within (as a lifestyle PR, I’m constantly pounding the pavements). I find a deeply relaxing Oceanic Massage by Deirdre Gough at her private practice, Health Touch, in Putney does the trick.
"Another hidden gem for tired legs and lots more is Bowen Technique practitioner Catherine Ford in Fulham. Her Alternative Leg Reviver (£50-£80) session uses Bowen - a complementary holistic therapy - to straighten the pelvis, which is the origin of many leg/foot conditions, loosen tight hamstrings, help with knee pain and relieve aches in ankles. "For a traffic stopping leg overhaul, I love The Chelsea Pins (£69) package at The Chelsea Day Spa. This King’s Road top beauty spot preps you with a full leg wax, followed by a professional application of the Vita Liberata spray tan. This A-list favourite is organic, odourless and paraben-free and gives a gorgeous glow with no streaky marks. It finishes with a file, shape and polish pedicure.
"Wellbeing delivery service Nosh Detox also has a BLT Bums, Legs & Thighs plan to promote goodness from within as a way of reducing the orange peel effect of cellulite and enhancing the overall look and contour of your legs. Bye bye stretchies!"
This week, The Leg Room is delighted to host beauty/fashion editor and blogger Joy Jewell in The Guest Room. Having recently relocated to Dubai where, as she says, it's year-round bikini season, Joy has had to up her leg care routine, and shares her time-saving tips on keeping legs 'deceptively lean' (#legologistloves!) with us here.
"Usually time of year sees me saying goodbye to most of my leg beauty maintenance and opting instead for thick tights, dark denim and knee boots. Out of sight, out of mind, right? While I love to primp and preen I am undeniably useless in winter and adopt the human hibernation technique, i.e. wrap up in many, many layers and don’t come out till springtime.
big daddy of body creams: Kiehls Creme de Corps
This year, I can’t afford the luxury of being blissfully unaware of dry shins, spreading cellulite and knobbly knees. I’ve moved to Dubai; the land of the year long bikini season. It’s enough to strike fear into even the most nubile and dimple free leggy wonders.
Luckily, over my time as a beauty copywriter and general skincare obsessive I’ve gathered something of an arsenal of tools, tricks and potions to keep my legs looking deceptively lean.
Legs can take a battering out here in Dubai; it’s all down to moving from scorching sunshine to chilly air conditioning on a daily basis. It wreaks havoc on skin which is prone to dryness. For situations such as this, there’s only one thing for it – Kiehls Creme de Corps; the big daddy of body creams. There’s a reason why this custard-esque gloop is so famous, quite simply it works to wonderful effect. Even when my skin’s at its flakiest I know I can count on this; within a few weeks is not only smooth but, dare I say it, radiant.
Joy rates: Shiseido Body Creator
The biggest issue ahead of me however is the, gasp, dreaded cellulite. Whilst I don’t believe cellulite creams can ever rid legs of those god forsaken bumps, I do think they improve the appearance of the skin and at least create the illusion of less cellulite – a must for weekends spent lounging poolside. Two absolute favourites are Shiseido Body Creator Aromatic Sculpting Concentrate, which really does seem to perk up sagging skin but has a severely overpowering scent, and Green People Triple Action Cellulite Lotion, which I’m convinced increases circulation to the area it’s applied and always leaves the skin feeling as soft as velvet. Finally, exfoliating is key. Not only does it allow hard working creams to sink in, it keeps the skin looking healthy and feeling soft. Elemis Lime and Ginger Salt Glow is divine; the zingy ingredients do wonders for invigorating fatigued skin, but at £35 it’s a luxury. I tend to alternate it with the much more affordable, yet still blissfully effective Sanctuary Kyphi Nourishing Hot Sugar Scrub.
Reviber +: worth its weight in gold at tackling cellulite at source
My biggest weapon in my arsenal against cellulite is my Reviber Plus – a vibrating plate for home use which is said to tone legs and help weight loss. Whilst I have never found it to help much with either of these, I have found it to be worth its weight in gold when tackling cellulite right at the source. I sit down in front of a computer for 12 hours a day and my circulation is dire; making my cellulite spread itself from my waist to my knees in one wobbly swoop. This amazing gadget gives such a boost to the circulatory system that it makes your legs heat up and even occasionally itch – using it for ten minutes a few times a week has enormously improved the look of my legs, I would even go as far to say that it has reversed the extent of my cellulite to my pre-work-from-home days. Let’s get this straight, it’s not cheap at nearly £250 but for me it has been worth every penny particularly when combined with a balanced exercise routine. It’s made such a difference that I’m even having it shipped to The UAE, I can’t bear to be without it!
Now, I wouldn’t be a responsible beauty blogger if I didn’t talk about sun protection here. If you really want to have lovely legs and keep them that way then you need to get some SPF on them when you’re in a hot climate. We all know the health dangers that come with irresponsible tanning, so I’m not going to lecture. What I will say is that Clinique SPF40 Body Cream is pure genius – it goes beyond normal sun protection and actually works to repair signs of aging too. A must have for hot holidays.
My final words of advice for anyone seeking sun and slipping in to swimwear this winter? Calm down – now! It can be a real effort for some of us to peel down to a swimsuit in front of strangers, but it’s never as bad as you think. Take it from someone who has spent many hours pinching and prodding her thighs in front of the mirror – the sooner you relax about the state of your lower limbs, the sooner you start to feel good about them. And, if that doesn’t work, a touch of St Tropez Skin Illuminator down the centre of the legs can do wonders".
A new week, a new guest post: The Leg Room is delighted to welcome freelance beauty journalist Bella Blissett to the guest room to give us her leggy tales and reveal a brilliant leg perfecting system developed by tan man James Read. Over to Bella:
the rah-rah: Bella was bought one, aged 6, and never looked back
I don’t know what it is about trousers, but ever since I was given my first skirt aged six (rah-rah style, yellow polka dot and very isty-bitsy) I’ve never looked back. I rode out the whole skinny jeans fad, turned a blind eye to the high waisted trousers of AW09 and am studiously ignoring the currently ‘on-trend’ Gap combats. Which means that for eight months of the year, black opaque tights, (60 denier – absolute minimum) are my daily wardrobe staple.
Imagine my horror then, on hearing the news that my comforting, leg-slimming opaques were this season to be replaced by nude nylons. Aka granny tights, of which I’m sure the queen has an extensive supply. They may well be the perfect way to accessorize your new, flesh-toned AW10 wardrobe and Chloe-esque camel coat – particularly if you’re Carla Bruni or Claudia Schiffer, who’ve recently been spotted going nude. On the other hand, anyone who’s got the slightest hint of dry skin, purple bruising or spider veins, (so everyone else then) is going to need a lot more coverage. And far fewer reminders of HRH’s pantyhose collection.
Determined to side-step the issue, I turned to James Read – the UK’s number one tanning expert – who has attended to the legs of Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga. And sure enough, he came up with the perfect solution…
BELLA: So James, what’s your cunning plan for circumnavigating the nude nylons issue?
Mui Mui a/w 10
JAMES: “When I heard that nude tights were back in fashion, I knew many of my clients would be horrified. I created the Tights Tan to achieve the same look – minus the nylon. If you can have tan tights, why not have a Tights Tan?”B: Tans and AW don’t automatically follow. What’s different this season?
J: “Tans are no longer just for summer – they’re for life. New tan trends are coming through every season and with the return of bare legs to the Margaret Howell and Miu Miu AW10 catwalks, the Tights Tan bridges the gap between nylons and flashing pale, naked skin.”
B: What’s the aim of the Tights Tan?
J: “To re-invent the tan as we know it. It’s less about adding colour to the legs and more about adding a Mad Men-esque polish that mimics the slight sheen of nude tights – but with better coverage.”
B: Can all skin tones work the Tights Tan?
J: “Yes, but product selection is crucial - think of it like choosing foundation. The product should be as close to your natural skin tone as possible to enhance, rather than mask it. The best way to find your perfect match is to choose a product that releases colour on application. Remember, a gradual tan will deepen by 2-3 shades within a few hours – so err on the side of pale with a product that ‘disappears’ into your skin.”
B: Is a good tan all in the preparation?
Environ AVST Hydrating Lotion
J: “Prepping the skin with a thorough exfoliation 24 hours before tanning goes without saying. During winter when skin can be dry and scaly, dry body brush apply Environ AVST Hydrating Lotion, (£40; 020 724 3 1718). It contains Alpha Hydroxy Acids to boost natural exfoliation while also preventing further dehydration.”B: How can we perfect the Tights Tan?
J: “First, ditch your preconceptions about ‘getting the glow’ and focus on flawlessness. One of my backstage tricks is to pat a touch of concealer - or even an apricot shade lipstick – onto bruises and veins to counteract the bluey tinge. Then mix a liquid product such as He-Shi Quick and Easy Express Liquid Tan, (£20) with an oil-free moisturiser, (I love Fake Bake’s Oil Free Lotion, £12.50). Use a mitt to rub the mixture down the legs from top to bottom then buff around the feet and ankles with a baby wipe to avoid patching.”
B: What about the sheeny-shiny bit?
He-Shi Quick & Easy Express Liquid Tan
J: “Look out for the new St Tropez Illuminator in pink, (£12, available from March) that was trialled at the SS11 Erdem show and has a rose-gold undertone to bring a natural warmth to the skin. Use a clean mitt to buff this onto the shins, just above the knee and around the anklebone. Alternatively, use a large make-up brush, (you can't beat MAC’s 182, (£31.50) to sweep bareMinerals Illuminating Mineral Veil, (£19) onto the same areas for instant highlights. It contains Corn Starch to absorb oil to minimise the risk of streaking and ‘set’ the tan – just as loose powder does with foundation. The result is a multi-dimensional tan that lasts longer.”
Having tried, tested and loved the AW Tights Tan, I offer your two final tips: Take an umbrella, (should it rain – your tan may end up in your shoes). And for the sake of both warmth and modesty, wear big knickers. You don’t need me to tell you how blustery it gets on cold winter days.
Guest Book Details
See more of James in action at www.thetantalist.com
This week, the guest room is delighted to welcome Eleanor Tucker. Writer, mother and a sucker for beauty products, Eleanor has her own blog – Product Placement – and also writes for The Beauty Pages. Here she tells us about the products she’s using on her puffy legs as she enters the final stages of her second pregnancy.
the brush that means you don't have to bend
When Angelina stepped out whilst heavily pregnant with twins in a bang-on-trend maxi dress, fashionistas nodded in approval. Mothers the world over knew the full story, however, and smiled triumphantly to themselves. “Swollen feet. HA!" Had Angelina timed her pregnancy with an ankle-concealing fashion trend? It’s a possibility. But what is an actual fact is that no matter how itsy bitsy you are, towards the end of your ‘confinement’ (as the Victorians called it), you might find your feet and legs becoming a little ‘puffy’. Or, in my case, similar to the feet of a muppet: shapeless, foam-like and pretty much unusable.
refreshes the parts other gels can't reach
I like to think it was partly because of the warm weather – I spent the last few weeks of being pregnant in balmy July. But sadly, swelling and aching in your legs and feet during pregnancy is also to do with the increased pressure on your lower body, as well as fluid retention cased by hormones. So, although my final weeks this time round will be ‘enjoyed’ in the depths of winter, I’m not getting my hopes up that I’ll escape Muppet Foot altogether.
Thankfully, the beauty industry has something for me. An armoury of products with names even more euphemistic than cellulite potions: ‘Tired’ legs. ‘Pregnancy’ legs. Just say ‘Puffed Up Like Choux Pastry Legs’ and be done with it. I’m sneering, but my bathroom shelf is already laden with them as I enter my third trimester. And here’s what I’m using.
First up is Dr Hauschka’s Rosemary Leg & Arm Toner (£23). I wasn’t sure what to think about this at first. Is it an oil? Is it a toner? Well, it’s both, and once you realise that, it’s very pleasant to use. Oily enough to massage in but light enough not to leave a residue, it has a pleasant herbal smell and relaxed my tired old limbs immediately after a hard day’s waddling about.
DoveSpa’s solution is 'Circulate' Heavy Legs Concentrate (£20), described as ‘a cocktail of plant extracts with proven efficacy’. It contains Butcher’s Broom and Lemon peel as well as Menthol, which give it a very zingy, cooling feel on the skin. The consistency is a runny gel, which is refreshing to apply – and probably more suited to a hot day than Dr Hauschka’s contribution.
Eleanor is an Inlight fan - like The Legologist
Elemis Instant Refreshing Gel (£27) has become something of a cult product and it’s not surprising as it’s such an all-rounder. You can use it on any achy parts of you – shoulders, temples, neck... I’m more interested in these legs of mine though, so after a bit of circulation boosting brushing in the shower with my Forever Natural Bamboo Cellulite Brush (£12), which has a nice long handle so I don’t have to bend too much, I been giving my calves and feet a good massage with this. It’s lovely. A firmer gel than the DoveSpa one, but just as cooling and refreshing, which I put down to the camphor and menthol. It doesn’t leave a ‘Vicks Inhaler’ type smell though, something much more fragrant and herbal.
Lastly, Inlight Organic Foot & Leg Balm (£28.55). This is an absolute treat and one that should not just be reserved for pregnancy. Like their Restorative Body Butter (which I’m slapping on to save me from stretch marks), the balm has a wonderful ‘day at the spa’ smell and leaves you feeling pampered and relaxed. It also softens dry skin, and apparently helps promote better circulation. Inlight don’t recommend it for use in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, but as I recall that’s the feeling sick stage rather than the puffy feet stage. The glamour never ends...
Now that service is resumed in The Leg Room, the Legologist is delighted to host a guest post from Grace Timothy, a fashion and beauty writer published in Vogue, Glamour, The Times and New Woman amongst others. *Glamorous* Grace has recently started blogging too at http://www.the-three-graces.com/. Here, she tells us about her beauty 'leg-makers', along with her love of Nicholas Kirkwood shoes, Falke tights and Zara trousers (yes, Grace is one of the lucky few who actually finds Zara trousers fit her). Read on ..
"I write about fashion and beauty, and find the two things have always gone together in my mind to make my legs look better, longer, slimmer, smoother, less bony, more bony…
I never thought about my legs much growing up, not after the playground taunt of ‘Lanky Legs’ made me think they couldn’t be very nice. Then I went to University in Nottingham, where hemlines were only ok if they skimmed the butt-cheeks, and one day someone said, ‘You’ve got great legs.’ This was a revelation to me, but being aware that I had no boobs to speak of, a slight squint in one eye and hair that would not bounce, I held onto this sole compliment and made my legs the focus of my wardrobe and beauty regime from then on. To facilitate my mini-wearing, I would add colour and shine with Rimmel Sun Shimmer (£5.99, Boots), which we all applied with bare hands and then washed off our palms with a little diluted Domestos (unforgivable, I know, but we knew no better). That and a quick shave was it for my daily legwork.
Nowadays it takes more effort to get them ready for the big reveal. Dimples, bruising and a map of veins never seemed to come into play when I was 21, but now perfecting the tone and texture of my legs has overtaken fake tanning in my bathroom. Everyday, I do a spot of dry body brushing to exfoliate and get the circulation going, and I try to remember to moisturise them day and night. At the moment it’s with Nivea Happy Time Body Lotion (£3.49, Boots) or Kai Body Lotion (£32, The Shop at Bluebird), but I am quite fickle with body lotions – There’s always some REN, Fresh and Elemental Herbology body creams in the cupboard, and I always use my mum’s Kiehls when I’m staying with her. About twice a week I have a bath full of essential oils, usually Frankincense, Lavender or Geranium. My mother was an aromatherapist and so this has always been my way of relaxing and treating the skin to some much-needed moisture.
Fake-tan still features, but a toned-down ‘Fashion Tan’, as tanning expert, James Read describes it. I use Fake Bake Fair on a regular basis, but if I get caught short with pasty pins, I still reach for the Rimmel Sun Shimmer (now in ‘fair matte’), mixed with some Kai Body Lotion. And always applied with a mitt or gloves – no bleach allowed. Having used men’s razors for years (I find the 5-bar blades are still better than the female equivalent, even with their soap-bars and whatnot), I am now halfway through a course of laser hair removal at Renew Medica (Maddox Street, W1) the results of which I love.
In terms of fashion, my faithful friends are nosebleed high heels and cigarette pants. Firstly, no man makes leg-perfectors like Nicholas Kirkwood. Not only are his shoes absolute works of art, but also they tilt you the right amount to elongate the calves and usually have a slight platform so your feet aren’t too stretched. I suffer from plantar fasciitis – an inflammation of the connective tissue supporting the arch of the foot – so find I’m safer with a platform or wedge. Of course, a pair of YSL Tributes or Camilla Skovgaard sculptural delights would also do the trick, and I have several pairs of Jimmy Choos from regular visits to their biannual sample sale. But actually a lot of my shoes are from Aldo and Kurt Geiger – they have a better grasp on height and trends than other high street shops; all my purchases have lasted incredibly well, and I feel better about going for crazy shapes on high street prices. That said, those cheaper shoes are the ones I have to stuff with Party Feet gel pads and Compeed Blister plasters of course…
If I’m not bare-legged (which as should be apparent by now, takes a lot of work), then I love opaque tights (100 denier from Falke or M&S’ 60 denier). I have far more shorts and miniskirts - APC, H&M and Topshop - than trousers so they’re a key part of my underpinnings. And when it snows? I simply add another pair of tights. When I do buy trousers I have no waist so wide-leg, high waists and low-slung jeans look strange, leaving me with a collection of cigarette pants and skinny jeans, no matter what is sent down the runway. For trousers, Zara is my current favourite, and for jeans J Brand and Sass & Bide, or Dr Denim on the cheap. My main lust-have right now is the J Brand special editions by Peter Pilotto (at Selfridges) and Erdem (at Harrods). THE ultimate legs in fashion really are those of model, Maryna Linchuk – I would like some like that, please.
Until those magically appear between my feet and waist, I’ll be ploughing on with my usual sleight of hand to create the illusion of perfect pins".
This week, the guest room brings you a much anticipated guest post from Kate Logan, facialist, aromatherapist and founder of Kate Logan Beauty - a fabulous aromatherapy line. This lady knows a thing or two about the most leg-licious natural ingredients - actives that help to contour and tone - and how to use them. And The Legologist particularly likes her body brushing details .. Over to Kate:
"I know that the leaves are falling from the trees and winter is fast approaching but that doesn't mean you can ignore those gorgeous legs of yours. It's so easy to hide them behind forgiving magical opaque tights (I mean let's face it they do hide an absolute multitude of sins!) and forget about them till spring but with a little bit of effort you can have maximum leg confidence all year round. My 5 simple steps:
DRY SKIN BRUSHING
Yes, I know you have heard this a gazillion times before but it's so easy and so effective. Dry skin brushing works on so many different levels -
* Stimulates nerve endings (making you feel all zingy and awake).
* Gets rid of all that horrid dingy, dead skin.
* Helps to tone skin.
* Helps boost blood circulation
* And most importantly helps body eliminate icky, icky toxins and bloat that cause excess fluid!
All you need is a natural fibre brush (around the size of a paddle brush is perfect) and 5 minutes. Dry skin brushing is best done every alternate morning just before your bath or shower. Start at the soles of your feet and use sweeping upward strokes (nice and brisk please, this is no time for dawdling!). No need for fancy circular motions, just use simple sweeping strokes and always work towards the heart. Working towards the heart helps lymphatic flow. When trying to tone skin it's absolutely essential to add treatments that help to rev up lymph flow as the lymphatic system not only works with the circulatory system to ensure vital oxygen and nutrients get delivered to those plump little skin cells but the lymph system helps to remove excess fluids, toxins and general horridness!
The skin on your legs gets dry and irritated very, very easily so it's vital to get into the habit of applying a lotion or oil to help soften and lock in essential moisture. My Fennel Nourish Oil is a wonderfully effective blend to not only moisturize but help tone and revive skin throughout the winter months. It's main ingredient is Sweet Fennel essential oil. Sweet Fennel has a fabulous detoxifying and stimulating action which is invaluable in helping skin get rid of any build up of fluids and toxins, while a dash of Cypress helps strengthen circulation and as a result works a treat at protecting delicate skin and preventing those nasty little broken veins. Add to that skin calming Borage and rejuvenating Everlasting oil and you have the perfect blend to help keep legs soft, smooth and utterly fabulous!
Now I'm so not into the pummelling and pounding school of massage therapy (especially not on legs prone to spider veins). I believe a gentle self massage routine works the best as it not only helps to tighten & tone those pesky lumpy, bumpy areas and stimulate circulation but on a more important level I think it forces you to take time out to nurture and nourish yourself and as a result I believe you gain a teeny, tiny bit more body confidence with each treatment you give yourself (which is no bad thing!) So let's get those legs fabulous with my ridiculously simple leg massage -
1 Warm your chosen miracle potion in the palm of your hand. Place palms together to disperse the potion and gently place both hands around ankle, gently sweep hands upwards over knee, towards top of thigh. Ensure that every bit of skin is covered with a light layer of oil or lotion so do add more if you need to. Repeat with other leg. This simple step not only smooths your chosen treatment over skin but warms your skin and prepares it for the massage ahead.
2 Gently place thumbs on the shin bone at the bottom of leg and with fingers on the fleshy part of your leg gently squeeze the skin while working upwards towards knee. When you reach the knee sweep hands back down to ankle and repeat. Repeat with other leg.
3 Sweep hands up to knee and gently grasp thigh with one hand beneath the other. Gently squeeze and softly knead those deliciously fleshy bits (but no pinching, this isn't supposed to be painful!) using the whole of your hand. Try and work rhythmically as one hand squeezes and kneads the other gently smooths upwards. Then as you release the squeeze with one hand the other gently copies the action. Keep alternating this action and slowly work around your thigh for a few minutes. Repeat on other leg.
4 To finish the massage simply follow the gentle sweeping action of the first step.
MAKE TIME FOR TEA
Now I'm going to be absolutely honest here and admit that I'm not the biggest fan of herbal teas but I'm a huge fan of the effect they have! So to really help keep those legs looking trim & toned try adding a little cup of Fennel Tea to your morning. Fennel has a gentle detoxifying (oh and I really should mention it has a definite diuretic effect!) which can really help you to kickstart and maintain any kind of toning regime.
Now if all else fails or you really can't be bothered a bit of cheating can work wonders. Neglected limbs can be transformed with a dash of moisture and a subtle sheen. So if your legs need a miracle pretty darned quick try my Brazilian Leg Gloss. This luscious blend is perfect to immediately smooth & soothe not so fabulous legs. Chock full of leg loving ingredients it not only instantly transforms skin but also provides a really lovely skin treatment. It contains amazing Brazil Nut Oil (which is a deliciously light oil full of skin loving selenium), fabulous Carrot oil (which is not only rich in skin rejuvenating vitamin A but also adds a very subtle colour to skin) and skin soothing Avocado (which adds a serious dash of moisture to even the most parched skin). I also add a few drops of Carrot Seed essential oil to ensure skin is toned and revitalized while just a tiny bit of Black Pepper helps soothe away any aches and pains and don't tell anyone but I also add just a drop or two of Patchouli to help heal skin and repair any areas of scarring or damage!
This week, the guest room is delighted to host a post by Clare Rogers, owner of The Treatment Rooms, Brighton's largest and best-appointed day spa and beauty salon. A beauty guru who excels at professional pampering, Clare writes about the leg treatments that done her the biggest favours over the years.
"I’ve always found it interesting how we all have something about our body we are not 100% happy with.
"Legs! From the ankles to the bum, be they short or long, are an area of much female debate.
"My biggest issues when I was younger were that mine were skinny and knocked kneed! Later years came with the burden of dark hair and most recently, varicose veins. Luckily, being in the beauty industry, the hair issue was easily sorted with some IPL which worked so well that I rarely need to wax or whisk a razor over. IPL for someone like me, dark haired, has been THE best thing available in the High St salon.
"The knock kneed thing never really bothered me as much as it seems to bother others. I have no disability in sport and am a keen advanced skier. I just look like I always want a pee!
"At 47 I have toned, cellulite free pins. What I couldn’t live with was the varicose veins. They were definitely inherited from my father as, like him, I have very poor circulation. Waking in the mornings to that fluttering feeling in your legs is horrible. When the ‘grape’ look started to appear I knew I had to do something. It took 2 years to pluck up the courage to have them surgically removed. I was advised if I didn’t have them removed I would have other problems.
"Having a dog I get lots of walking in, sometimes known to wear ankle weights, and weekly yoga keeps me nice and stretched. I do like to spoil myself with a treatment focused just on my legs. At The Treatment Rooms we have the Aromatherapy Associates Reduce Cellulite treatment - a real wake-up call for legs and bums! It’s an invigorating treatment which targets cellulite but is also good for helping eliminate fluid retention and boosting circulation. The gels and oils used are full of zesty essential oils grapefruit, juniper berry and rosemary. Their properties are to stimulate and drain toxin accumulation. Your legs instantly feel firmer to the touch and not so heavy.
"I’m hoping to prevent further varicose veins in the future years!"
The Treatment Rooms, 21 New Road, Brighton BN1 1UF
This week, the guest room welcomes Kathy Phillips, ex-Vogue Beauty Director and one of the most recognised faces in beauty, with her sobering story about skin cancer.
"It started with a dark brown cigar-shaped mole about an inch long just above my knee. I’d had it for 20 years, well perhaps longer. It seemed to have always been there and so I tended to ignore it. I certainly never thought about melanoma.
"For one thing, I never go in the sun. To be exact, I haven’t sunbathed for a couple of decades or more. And when I say I don’t go in the sun, I really mean that. The most I might do in a Caribbean climate is go for a swim at around 8 o’clock in the morning or bicycle (in a hat) a short way between beach and restaurant. I sit in the shade.
"The other irony is that I know all about sun protection. I’ve written dozens of articles about the damage the sun can do. I’ve interviewed dermatologists and specialists in the sun damage field.
"I’ve been briefed about every sun protection product on the market so that I clearly understand about UVA, UVB and even UVC, the high tech chemicals they contain and how they work. I use a Broad Spectrum high factor both in the sun and in the mountains.
"Some years ago, I even travelled to New York to meet Dr Perry Robins, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. Among other things, we discussed Mohs Micrographic Surgery, at that time, the latest technology surgery for removal of Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma- the two most common skin cancers. The interview was for an in-depth piece I later wrote for Vogue magazine tracking a patient’s experience. I also read Perry Robins book among others on the subject of skin cancer so that I knew how to spot the changes in a mole and what signs to look for on the skin and so on and so on.
"And yet, all the time, I had a mole that was changing, a mole that turned out to be cancerous and which I didn’t spot because the truth is that the damage was done several decades ago when I was happily sunbathing and never considering the consequences that might present 20 years later.
"Luckily for me, last year I visited The Leg School (La Scuola delle Gambe) inCapri. It's a spa within the Capri Palace Hotel (one of The Legologist's favourite retreats) which specialises in getting your legs into the best shape they’ve ever been through a series of specific treatments, exercises, wraps and massages. During my initial check up, Professor Francesco Canonaco, the course director pointed out my mole and asked if I had had it checked. I was glib and dismissive.
"'I’ve had it for years. It’s always the same,” I told him and was still ready to ignore it. Back in London, 6 months later, on a whim, I asked my friend Andrew Markey, an eminent dermatologist at The Lister Hospital if he would “just have a look at my leg.” I was still offhand about it even then.
"But Dr Markey took one look and whisked me onto the table, called his nurses and started taking a biopsy. A week later he rang with the news that it was a melanoma but that it had not spread deep enough to have spread to other organs. By sheer good luck, I was alright. It was a sobering thought. Despite all my knowledge and experience of skin cancer, I hadn’t spotted the subtle changes in a potentially fatal mole. And if I didn’t spot it, I know that other people will not be so lucky. I shall check regularly from now on".
Welcome to the Guest Room leggies, and let The Leg Room's first ever guest blogger, Jo Fairley, walk you through The Beauty Bible's experiences on cellulite products.
"For the past 14 years, Beauty Bible has been sending out real products to real women to try – over 7,500 women in all. It’s an operation a bit like the invasion of Iraq, only (naturally) more peaceful: what we mean is that it’s a military operation which we carry out on a rolling basis, with a squad (er, staff) of five, trying to identify the products out there which really, really work.
"Considering the complete sensory overload that even we (as beauty editors) get walking into, say, a Boots or a Selfridges, to be confronted with a gazillion product choices, we consider that what we do is pretty valuable if it can help women take a short-cut to lotions, potions, powder, paint (not to mention cellulite-blitzers) that really work/deliver on their promises - and so keep rubbishy beauty products out of landfill. (Not to mention helping women to keep a little more hard-earned cash in their bank accounts, by not wasting it on c**p.)
"We’ve written seven Beauty Bible books, including the most recent Beauty Bible Beauty Steals as well as The Green Beauty Bible, and even produced an iPhone App (because we reckon that the place you really want the product info is when you’re standing like a rabbit in the headlights in Superdrug, trying to remember which blusher/powder/relaxing bath treat our testers loved).
"We’ve covered everything from eyelash curlers to miracle creams via waterproof mascaras and hair masks – but The Legologist, not surprisingly, asked us to focus on our testers’ favourite products from the thighs downwards. so Beauty Bible is delighted to be able to bring The Legologist’s followers some of the products that our testers love the best and/or that we love the best, for thighs, legs and feet…
"First, though, we thought we’d tell you a little insight into our experiences with cellulite products.
Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil, £18.94. Scored an absolutely unbelievable 8.2 marks out of 10 averaged across 10 testers (plenty gave it 10, some scored it a little lower). It’s all-natural, which is great news for our ‘green’ readers - and as our testers’ comments prove, it really does deliver impressive results. It’s designed to be used in tandem with other cellulite-busters in the Weleda range, but our testers got these results from using this product alone. Well done, Weleda. The testers’ comments included: ‘I’m really sceptical about cellulite products on the whole, but this one is worth continuing with alongside regular exercise etc.’ • ‘following the clear instructions for this attractive smelling oil, my skin feels much better, smoother and more refined; texture is better and cellulite looks much improved. It encourages me to work on skin brushing, diet and exercise’ • ‘sank in quickly, improved skin texture, making it softer, smoother and less bumpy’. Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Energising Hip & Thigh Gel, £16.75 for 150 ml. Score an average of 7.37/10 marks - excellent results from this gel-like product from one of the UK’s best-loved beauty gurus. ‘Skin felt moisturised and soft, and appeared smoother, less lumpy and more pliable; thigh 5mm slimmer after six weeks – I would buy it’ • ‘cellulite still there but not so noticeable’ • ‘I lost an inch off the top of the treated thigh, but I don’t think it affected my cellulite’ • ‘skin felt tauter and less like cellulite – my husband noticed and he didn’t know I had been trying this product; I lost 1cm off my thigh. I would buy it before a special occasion’ • ‘cellulite less noticeable; skin firmer and tighter’. Elemis Cellutox Active Body Concentrate, £30.65. Note that this juniper, lemon and sea fennel-based treatment is more appropriate for use at night-time as it’s an unctuous oily blend that could mark clothes. Beauty Bible’s 10 testers awarded it 7.3/10. Comments: ‘Very impressed; firmer skin and less orange peel’ • ‘skin smoother and less rough’ • ‘cellulite looked less dimply’ • ‘leg slightly less lumpy’ • ‘after six weeks a dramatic difference, with smoother, more toned thighs and soft skin; also improved stretch marks’ • ‘I look and feel firmer’. Nivea Goodbye Cellulite, £9.99. This refreshing cream formulation did pretty well in our book Beauty Steals – especially for the price – with an average score of 7/10. ‘Easy-spread gel, quickly absorbed with a circular rub-in motion: simple instructions; skin much softer and brighter, more uniformly white, less bumpy: improved the appearance of cellulite – after a week, visible difference on back of thigh and bottom’ • ‘skin less dimpled, more toned, less exercise!’ • ‘thighs feel firmer and also improved appearance of my saggy mummy tummy’.
And at www.beautybible.com we PERSONALLY love these treats for thighs, legs and tootsies… Alida Foot File, £9.99. Quite simply the best whisker-away of hard skin on heels and soles of feet ever, ever, ever. Ergonomically-designed handle, cheese-grater design – but gentler than that sounds, while still super-effective. Decléor Aromessence Sculpt Balm, £41, and Aromessence Sculpt Firming Body Concentrate, £42 for 100 ml. We reckon this is the first anti-orange-peel regime that anyone would ever use purely for the beautiful (fresh) smell alone – and if you can actually get in the habit of using products, that’s half the anti-cellulite battle. Pricy, but the idea is to use either, not necessarily both. Botanicals Natural Foot Balm, £12.95. Scooped this year’s Organic Beauty Award from the Soil Association, in the body category (which the two of us at Beauty Bible judged in Bristol). Been using this ever since: beautifully pepperminty, and very, very rich – ideal for last-thing-at-night slathering.
Meanwhile: if you ever, ever stumble across a body brush which has copper bristles, snap it up: Jo found one at a German trade fair years ago and is still using it to fabulous, circulation-revving result, but has never seen one since…!