Sunday, January 26, 2014

Self-Help for Aging Legs

self-help for aging legs

Months ago, a Flattering50 reader emailed me after I'd written a post entitled Arms Over 50: The 3/4 Sleeve Solution. She wanted to know if I had any aging legs solutions. It’s a great question! Sadly, many women over 50 notice signs of aging--such as crepey skin, sagging knees, age spots, flaky skin, varicose veins--on their legs. They have two choices: treat the problem or hide it. Thanks to modern medicine, there are corrective procedures (ie, lifts and laser treatments) that can help. For those of us who lack the nerve or the pocketbook for these expensive procedures, there are also self-help treatments. Here's my self-help regimen for aging legs. I'd love to know yours.

For the greatest impact, self-help for aging legs should be year-round. Old Man Winter dumped 13 ½ inches of snow here last Tuesday, so I have no plans to go bare-legged anytime soon. However, I try to keep up with my leg care routine all year. Has my routine taken 10 years off the look of my legs? Doubtful. However, I do believe my legs look better than they would if I did nothing. Also, a little leg pampering makes me feel good. And I do believe: When you feel good, you look good.

We all know how important it is to exfoliate our complexion, removing dead skin and brightening our skin's appearance. The same is true for our legs and arms. For years, I've used a once-a-week exfoliant that is especially designed for the body. That's about to change. As soon as I finish my current exfoliant, I'm going to try the Exfoliating Shower Whip ($12) by Wildbath. An over 50 girlfriend swears by it. It's a  well-priced, convenient scrub and wash designed for daily use.

For everyday aging leg care, I love using exfoliating gloves ($5) with a moisturizing bar soap. I bought a single pair to try out. Later, I added extra pairs to rotate, popping them in the launder with towels as needed. Since the Shower Whip product is a scrub and wash meant for daily use, I plan to use it with the exfoliating gloves in the future.

Daily moisturizing from head to toe is so important--especially during winter in the Northeast. The cold air outside and the dry heat inside are double trouble. I dream of retiring and adding long luxurious baths with fragrant, soothing bath oils to my regular leg maintenance. One of these days! Until then, my current fav body moisturizer is Creme Ultra Riche ($44) by L'Occitane. It's super rich on my flaky skin. A little goes a long way. I also like the fragrance--very subtle.

The best time to moisturize: I read somewhere that the body moisturizer should be applied right after a shower, when your pores are still open. This allows for better absorption of the cream.

Your aging legs are one more reason to get moving. If you build muscles in your thighs, you may actually lift those sagging knees a little. Stronger leg muscles can also combat crepey skin. In the past year, I've read repeatedly how great walking is for us, so I'm trying to walk more. My current fav at-home workout is the 7-minute workout. In less than 10 minutes, my heart is pumping and my legs, torso and arms are working. Yoga is another workout you can do at home and is recommended for toning legs. Also, you might want to take a peek at a few exercises that target wrinkled knees.

Cellulite Busting
I probably should be more concerned with the cellulite on my upper thighs, but so far, it hasn't been a  self-help priority. In summertime, I wear a tankini top with a swim skirt. The skirt covers most of my cellulite. If you have a good tip, however, please share it in the comments.

Recently, I read massaging the cellulite areas with ground coffee may help break up the fatty deposits. However, the article said to avoid coffee with large grounds because that could hurt.

There are also an endless supply of online articles and videos with exercises to reduce cellulite. Just Google "exercises for cellulite."

Tube Tanning
Tanning lotions have come a long way since the original smelly, orangey variety. Moreover, there’s a self-tanner for every pocketbook, from Jergen's Natural Glow products ($10) to Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Golden Perfection Self-Tanning Milk for Body ($30). Before the summer is in full swing, I depend on tanning lotions to hide my aging legs. I usually use one for a month. After that, I live with the little bit of tan I pick up (even though I always wear sunscreen) from being on the beach, in the garden or on the sailboat.

I was nervous about using self-tanning products at first; I’d heard you have to be careful to get an even color. But I found a how-to article with six helpful tips for self-tanning. (Scroll down to Fake Fabulous Legs and read it plus the 5 tips that follow it), which really helped.

Sun Screening
Short of surgery or laser treatments, there isn't much we can do about the skin damage on our legs caused by decades of sunbathing. However, it's important to slather on the sunscreen whenever you're outside to prevent additional damage. I can't stand smelly sunscreens, so I use Aveeno Protect+Hydrate sunscreen ($9.30).

Apparently, we should be drinking 8-12 glasses of water each day for many different reasons, including for healthy skin. I’ll never know if it really helps; on a really thirsty day, I'll drink 4 glasses of water. However, I know it’s important.

Well, those are my leg tips. Now, if I can just get “She’s Got Legs” by Z Z Top out of my head, I’ll be all set. I plan to do a second post on how to stylishly cover up aging legs. Until then, I’d love to know:

What are your solutions for aging legs?