Dublin: 8 °C Monday 28 November, 2022

Skin Deep: How to make your legs look great when they're actually made of ham

All it takes is a bit of TLC.


Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth.

The recent heatwave has driven many Irish women to do the thing they fear the most. Getting their legs out in public.

A propensity toward ham legs has left many of us feeling like we need to keep our lower limbs encapsulated in a thick layer of fabric year-round, but even the most committed to opaque tights have found themselves airing their legs over the last few weeks.

I’m delighted by this.

I love a good ham leg and think they are as entitled as any other legs to an outing (seriously, we do not owe the world perfectly oiled bronzed limbs, they only exist in television). However, it would be foolish of me to ignore the fact that many Irish women feel their legs need at the very least a certain level of cosmetic assistance before the go on display.


The good news is that there are lots and lots of products on the market these days which can help give you a little more confidence while ‘flaunting your limbs’ as a certain publication might say. (PSA: The only way to flaunt your limbs is to walk around constantly pointing at them saying ‘OOOOOH, WHAT LOVELY LIMBS I HAVE’ at the top of your lungs, so I find it strange that said publication manages to catch so many women at it on a regular basis).

Let’s start with the basics, moisturisation. No leg is ever going to look good if it’s covered in scaly, flakey skin, so a decent cream is always helpful in the summertime. I personally prefer butters like the ones on offer from The Body Shop (Coconut being my number one), Soap and Glory’s The Righteous Butter, or Kiehl’s lightly scented Soy Milk and Honey Creme de Corps Whipped Body Butter. I find their richness has the best impact on skin which has been ignored and neglected throughout the winter (congratulations if you’re someone who keeps up the moisturising all year round, I just don’t have it in me). However, if you prefer something lighter, which is quickly absorbed, I recommend Aveeno’s Daily Moisturising Lotion which is affordable, effective and great for sensitive skin. If you’re really lazy (as I am), and find the extra step in your routine too much to take on, Nivea’s In-Shower Body Moisturiser is efficient and surprisingly effective. After washing in the shower, you spread this cream all over your body and then rinse off.


If you’re really committed to your limbs’ appearance, you may choose to use fake tan next.

I am not a tan wearer. I have nothing but admiration for women who can commit to its regular use and who somehow manage to look magnificent throughout, but I am not one of them.

Again, I’m lazy, and can barely manage to put cream on, so how can I handle all the steps required for effective use of fake tan? Also I think my natural skin colour is grand, and yours probably is too.

Having said that, I am testing some tanning product at the moment so that I can write about it for you soon. So far, so messy. What is worth noting here, though, is that if you decide to wear tan on your legs, it’s best to do your shaving and exfoliation and what have you twenty-four hours before you apply the tan. If not, you leave yourself to the horror show that is tan sinking into your pores and leave you with a slightly polka dotted effect. Not ideal.

My preference for days when I feel like my legs need a boost is an instant product. With these guys you see what you’re getting straight away. There is no mystery and no ‘oops I messed this up and now I have an orange line at my ankle which even the best ‘tan erasers’ aren’t getting rid of’.

Sally Hansen Airbrushed Legs is a bit of a pioneer in this field, with many a young irish woman having built up a dependence on it over the years. There’s a lot that can be said for it too. It’s easy to apply, you simply spray it on and rub it in (I like to use a tanning mitt). It looks frighteningly orange when initially sprayed on but once rubbed in it takes on a more natural hue.


Having said that, the market has moved on, and there are lots of products on offer in this department now. Garnier’s Ambre Solaire BB Body Wash-off Bronzer is great and affordable, but hard to find. The Body Shop’s Honey Bronze Tinted Leg Mist is light, easy to use and gives a subtle bronzing finish.

My favourite product of this type, however, is Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant Skin Finish. This cream not only provides a bit of colour, it also evens out bits of veins or scarring that you’d like to cover up and leaves a slightly gleaming finish. It’s pricey, at €30.95, but a tube lasts a long time.

I recommend applying with a tanning mitt and then a blending brush for a perfect finish.

If you’re happy with the colour of your legs and don’t need a little boost, oils are where it’s at in my opinion. There’s nothing like a gleaming flash of leg, as Naomi Campbell is the queen of demonstrating.

Cocoa Brown’s Golden Goddess Shimmer Oil is affordable and does the job well, leaving flecks of golden shimmer on the skin as well as moisturising it. If you have a little more to spend, Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse Or is a gorgeous product, and a little more subtle (you can also get it without gold particles at all, if you just want a lovely oil).

Finally, Garnier’s Ultimate Beauty Body Oil is budget friendly and does an excellent job of leaving a gleaming moisturising finish, with a light, pleasant scent.


Thus, go forth and get your legs out, keeping in mind that none of the above are required steps. The purpose of your legs is not to look good in skirts or shorts, so if they’re not doing that, that’s perfectly fine! All of my beauty advice is about helping you make informed choices, should you wish to glam it up. If you don’t, don’t worry!

New Product


This week’s edition of ‘new product’ isn’t actually about a new product, but instead about some product news. This week Penneys has announced that its entire PS… Beauty range is Leaping Bunny Certified, which means it is entirely cruelty-free. The Leaping Bunny is the only certification programme for cruelty-free status, and requires those who apply for it to present evidence that no animals are harmed in the manufacturing of their product, right down to the last ingredient. For a massive international brand like Penneys to commit to something like this is big news in the cruelty-free beauty world, and welcome news to lots of consumers.

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