- Take a second look at body makeup. "Spotty, veiny legs are the biggest summer complaint of every 40-plus client — famous or not," says Lancome celebrity makeup pro Sandy Linter. "Luckily there are lots of new cosmetic fixes that don’t look phony and won’t come off on clothes or furniture. Body makeup used to be too icky, sticky, and tricky for anyone but experts and dancers," she says, "but I find mature women so adept at face camouflage, they get the knack for leg coverage quickly."
- Minimize contrast with sunny gels or mousses. Even legs with fairly uniform color often have vein damage, usually on the upper thighs or just behind the knees, where skin is thinner. The lighter your skin tone, the more obvious the problem. But be careful not to go too dark. Linter likes Per-fekt Body Perfection Gel in Golden ($48, sephora.com), a matte mousse that softens flaws; other fans include Heather Locklear and Nicollette Sheridan.
- Use opaque concealer to disguise veins. A typical undereye product won’t provide enough coverage. Heavy-duty theatrical or film camouflagers — designed to disguise birthmarks, tattoos, and cosmetic surgery — have the thicker, pastier texture you need. Jeanine Downie, MD, author of Beautiful Skin of Color, says, "African-American women with hyperpigmentation scars or vitiligo patches on the legs find these camouflage products work for them too."
- A gradual self-tanner makes a perfect base for coverage of several kinds of discolorations. It can blur sunspots, freckles, splotches, and broken capillaries, giving legs a more even color, so you can add additional makeup without getting a heavy cosmetic look. We like Estee Lauder Body Performance Golden Naturally Radiant Moisturizer ($35, Estee Lauder counters) or, for darker skin tones, Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer for Medium/Tan Skintones ($10, drugstores).
- Choose a strategy: the natural skin-tone look or the tawny leg. Whichever you opt for, tint your arms and face to match.
- If you still want more coverage, add sheer water-resistant body foundation. "Match the makeup to your legs, not your face — the legs are usually darker. And you shouldn’t apply anything greasy, like a body lotion, either before or after the makeup," Linter says.
- Add a top coat of ultra-sheer shimmery powder for evening. "A cool, sparkly, silvery powder enhances pale legs with a rosy undertone," says Rea Ann Silva, an L.A. makeup artist who’s worked on Dancing with the Stars . "Golden glints work on darker skin tones."
- For a tawny, beachier leg, substitute body-moisturizing bronzer for foundation. Helene Macaulay, makeup artist for Marcia Gay Harden and Edie Falco, says, "If you don’t like self-tanners or you need a quick boost, a gel gives you the look fast — no waiting for color to develop."
Originally published in MORE magazine, July/August 2008.