The Tanning Trick
It's a low-tech, high-results way to visually "slim" your legs and cover blemishes. To make a home job look pro:
1. Wax before you bronze. Your faux glow can last up to 10 days but shaving afterward can shorten that by sloughing off your color, says Maureen Ressler, national trainer for Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas. A pre-tan wax should last at least a week.
2. Exfoliate properly. This means opting for a non-oil-based scrub. If your skin is too oily, it may prevent the tanner from being absorbed well, says Ressler.
3. Use a tinted tanner. Reason: If you can see where you've applied color, you'll end up with fewer streaks. (Try Clinique Self-Sun Body Quick Bronze Tinted Self-Tanner Mousse.) For a nice, even application, use a 50-50 mix of tanner and a scent-free body lotion, says Cheryl Renella, director of Channing's Day Spa in Chicago.
4. Use your hands. Trying to reach tough spots with a tool can be tempting, but it's the quickest way to end up blotchy and uneven, says Renella. Can't do it alone? Coax your spouse into helping.
5. Spot-treat streaks. If, once the color develops, you see darker patches, dip a cotton swab in non-acetone nail polish remover (it's gentler) and lightly swipe it over the problem area, says Renella.
6. Shower using a body gel. Post-tanning, avoid grainy cleansers and even soaps: They contain harsher ingredients than shower gels do and can fade your color. Choose a hydrating wash to get clean sans side effects plus, the added moisturizers it contains will keep your skin (and thus your "tan") from getting flaky. (Try Philosophy 3-in-1 Ultra Rich Shampoo, Conditioner and Body Wash in Lemon Meringue Pie.) But save the shower for the morning after: Though most products claim color will fully develop in four to six hours, for best results, let the tanner soak in overnight.
Newer, Better Vein Treatments
• Lasers vs. sclerotherapy. "We have 30 lasers in our office but almost never use them to treat leg veins," says dermatologist Margaret Weiss, M.D., codirector of the Maryland Laser Skin & Vein Institute in Baltimore. She prefers sclerotherapy, in which tiny needles inject a solution to atrophy the vein so that it eventually dissolves. Lasers hurt more, cost more and are less effective, she says. Foam is another form of sclero: It stings less than the usual solution, is twice as strong and works for spider and fragile blue-green varicose veins, says New York City dermatologist Neil Sadick, M.D., president of the American College of Phlebology.
• Good options for ropy veins. Rejoice! Unlike the traditional invasive procedures, these treatments require only local anesthetic and little downtime. The possibilities: ambulatory phlebectomy (problem veins are pulled out with small hooks) and endovenous laser and radiofrequency closure (a laser or an RF device shrinks the greater saphenous vein, the leg's biggest varicose).
• Vitamin K creams? According to Dr. Weiss, there's little valid data suggesting they're effective.
• Cover-ups that work. Body makeup can actually emphasize varicose veins, but it does hide the spider kind. DermaBlend Leg & Body Cover Crème (or its totable version, the Quick-Fix Concealer, pictured above) offers opaque coverage far superior to regular concealers; the Setting Powder makes it water-resistant. For light-colored veins, try Air Stocking, a spray that softens imperfections with an "I'm wearing nylons" effect.