Show off those stems, even in the dead of winter.
Perhaps the cruelest reality of holiday dressing is that you’re constantly finding yourself in a skirt—in the dead of winter. This is less than desirable for many reasons, especially when pesky red bumps and dry skin come into play. But you don’t want to hide behind tights for every party, either.
Nobody understands this conundrum better than makeup artists and self-tanners. We called upon the expertise of James Read (who’s tanned Beyoncé herself), Charlotte Tilbury (who’s worked with almost every supermodel ever), and Rose-Marie Swift (founder of RMS Beauty) to find out the best tricks for getting gorgeous legs in a flash.
Start By Scrubbing
We’re guessing you may not have time for a full shower before every single party. In the event that you do, consider a salt scrub. It may sound counterintuitive to buff away at your legs when they likely feel rather fragile and dry, but sloughing away that dry skin is essential for an even canvas. It provides the ideal, blotch-free base for self-tanning. “Exfoliate two hours before tanning if you can,” says Read.
Know How to Apply It
Wash Off Tan can be incredibly intimidating once it comes out of the tube: It’s a bronze gel with hyaluronic acid that imparts an instant tint to the skin. “You can mix it with your moisturizer for an illuminated look,” says Read. “Otherwise, apply it to a proper tanning mitt, and use long, sweeping strokes to ensure the color is blended evenly. Allow to dry for a few minutes to assess the color payoff, and then apply a second coat if desired.” Save the feet for last—you’ll want the bulk of the color to appear on your legs. If your legs are dry, make sure to moisturize your kneecaps and feet right before application. A big plus: This dries really fast.
Use A Body Gel
Before you start layering products—and especially before you put on any clothing—it’s wise to follow up with a body gel. Read recommends after-sun versions because they reduce inflammation while trapping moisture, which is ideal for quelling skin post-UV exposure. In this case, however, it seals the tint while providing a dewy, cooling base. Think of it as a makeup primer for your body: Use it even if you haven’t self-tanned, and you’ll love the results.
Most products designed to enhance arms and legs are made with shimmer. The suggested application method is usually to smear the stuff all over and blend it in. This, says Swift, is a major no-no. (She’d know about great gams: Gisele Bündchen is a regular client.) “You will make the leg look wider if the shimmer is everywhere,” she says. “You only want glitter where the light hits you.”
Keeping this in mind, Tilbury recommends shading using your favorite bronzer — cream is best for covering such a large area. Go over the sides of your calves with a big brush (like the one shown here), in light, sweeping motions, and then buff it into the skin.
Just A Hint Of Shimmer
Speaking of Gisele, Tilbury created her Supermodel Body shimmer with Ms. Bündchen in mind. It’s a gold-tinted formula that makes skin look radiant. Again, shimmer only looks convincing when you apply it strategically. “Put a little down the legs, just in the middle,” she says. “You want a straight line down, brushing it up along the bone and the back of the calf. Skip your knee…and put just a touch through the thigh…maybe in a section just barely an inch wide.”
“Add Supermodel Body to the front of your arms, décolletage, and shoulders,” Tilbury suggests. “Just make sure to blend it with your fingers. It’s like summer in a jar.”