The first time I visited New York I spent a fascinated hour watching a Rockette carefully apply pancake makeup to her bruised legs before encasing them in two pairs of hi-test ultra-shiny dance hose and donning the rest of her costume. Fortunately, body makeup has come a long way and even though we mere mortals don’t have to have Rockette-approved legs, we can help nature along courtesy of various potions and tricks to even skin tone and make legs look longer and healthier. Here are a few to consider:
I love MAC Face and Body and wouldn’t be caught dead without my big bottle of White, which I use as a foundation in winter. Basically this is an extremely light, buildable, water-resistant foundation makeup artists use all over the face and body, thus the clever name. You get coverage by building up layers, so it’s much sheerer and more natural looking than face foundation applied to the legs. I’d use this if you’re gunshy about applying makeup to your body but want to even out the tone a little. Just goop some in your hands and rub into your legs, like lotion. Let it set a few minutes and go over it with a tissue to buff it a little. Then if you want more coverage, do it again.
This is great stuff IF you can master the application. Theoretically you can just spray it onto your legs and buff it in. Uh huh, yeah. Good luck with that. It goes on like theatrical makeup so if that’s the look you want, great. If not, you’d be better served in putting a dime-sized blob of lotion in your hands and spraying the product onto the lotion, then rubbing it all over your legs. The lotion thins out the makeup and gives it more slip, plus time to buff it in. The downside is you have to wait for it to absorb, or else you’ll leave marks everywhere, so don’t do it if you’re in a rush. I’ve had luck covering up bruises and such by applying the spray to a cosmetic sponge and then buffing it in. When you’re done, scrub your hands with dish soap. Do NOT touch your eyes if you wear contacts. If a bit of the product gets on your lens, you might as well throw them away.
The Old Stripper Trick:
I don’t know why it’s called “The Old Stripper Trick” since it’s basically just highlighting your legs the way you’d highlight your face. Once your legs are tanned and moisturized and you’ve done whatever else you plan on doing to them for the evening and they’re nice and dry, take a bit of highlighting powder –NOT BRONZER– and starting just below your knee brush it straight down your shin bone. Easy does it on this one: you want a highlight, not a racing stripe.
I don’t use highlighting powder for my face –I don’t like shimmer– and I didn’t want to buy a fancy one just for this so I popped into drug store closest to Stately Chateau Gateau and picked up N.Y.C. Sparkle Eye Dust in Champagne and it worked like a charm. It’s a loose powder and comes with its own (admittedly pretty junky) applicator brush. I applied it with the (still junky) brush and then blended it out slightly with my fingers. I didn’t want to use one of my brushes because even though this is a shimmer and NOT a glitter, sparkly things have half-lives of plutonium and I had no desire to get any on my brushes and subsequently, my face.
Sweet Almond Oil:
Slightly glossy legs look fantastic but can be a pain in the neck to achieve for daily wear. There are all sorts of short-term tricks: petroleum jelly, baby oil, glycerin and water, even cooking spray, plus a hundred and one different shimmer lotions, but my favorite is just good old-fashioned Sweet Almond Oil. I discovered this completely by accident one morning. See, the night before, SoccerBoy had invited me over to watch Casablanca. People talk about seeing Casablanca on the big screen as if it’s the way it must be seen. False. The way to watch Casablanca is while getting a sweet almond oil massage from an eager to please soccer player FROM Casablanca who ranks your pasty and corpulent body just above Ryan Giggs’ left foot and just below Zinedine Zidane’s nutmeg skills on his personal list of Greatest Things Ever.
In the morning I still had no idea whether Ingrid Bergman got on that plane, but I did notice sweet almond oil, liberally and enthusiastically applied (seriously, rub it in) makes my legs look glossy and healthy without looking greasy. Here’s lookin’ at you, SoccerBoy (though that doesn’t mean you’re still invited to walk into my gin joint, if you know what I mean.)
Without oversharing any more than I already have, if you’ve got a Special Friend who is especially enthusiastic about your legs, you might want to give a bit of thought to whether the products you use are visitor-friendly. Is it going to smudge, feel weird or taste weird? Skip it. Opt instead for pure cocoa butter or my beloved almond oil and invite them to stay a while.