A sweet, faithful reader of Empty Nest Blessed in her late 70’s stopped me at church last Sunday to ask me what was coming up on the blog. When I told her I was writing a post on getting middle-aged legs ready for summer, she said, “Oh, good! In the summer I go from full-length pants to crop pants, and that will really help me!” Oh, my word, I love that lady! Women of all ages tend to raise their hemlines in the summer, and as we get older, our legs don’t seem to, um, fully cooperate (!), in this process! Whether you’re dealing with sun damage/age spots, lack of muscle tone, crepey skin, cellulite, or varicose veins, today we’re going to talk about what you can do to get your legs ready for shorts season (or crop pants season, as the case may be!).
By the way, I struggle with every one of the typical problems we all have with our middle-aged legs. You can even catch a glimpse of my dimply cellulite in the photo at the top of this post! 🙂
Sun Damage/Age Spots
Since many of us grew up wearing inferior, minimal, or even no sunscreen (Baby oil, anyone?), age spots and sun damage are probably something you’re dealing with on your middle-aged legs. What can be done? Serious treatment will require visiting your dermatologist. Here are the options:
√ Retin-A – This topical prescription medication is an excellent fading cream but takes about six months of faithful use before you’ll notice a difference.
√ Alpha Hydroxyl Peels – This chemical peel uses a mild acid that removes the top skin layers, and new skin takes its place. It’s faster than Retin-A.
√ Cryotherapy – Liquid nitrogen is applied to the spots, and a localized “freezing” occurs. After a few weeks, the treated age spots fall off, and the underlying rejuvenated skin appears.
√ Laser treatment – Laser treatment is the most effective and the most expensive option for getting rid of age spots.
If you’d rather try an over-the-counter product first, look for one with hydroquinone. I use Ambi Fade Cream, which has contains 2% hydroquinone, along with vitamin E and Alpha Hydroxy Acid. It also contains a sunscreen to prevent further damage. To mask skin imperfections on your legs, try using Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizer on wet skin right after you shower, or Jergens Natural Glow + Protect with 20 SPF. If you’re like me and you’re positively militant about sunscreen, consider adding a few drops of Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster to your regular sunscreen. (Speaking of that, did you see my recent Instastory on my fave sunscreen? Consumer Reports just gave it a 100% rating! It is the best, and now we know I’m not the only one who thinks so!)
Finally, if you’re all about covering up those little imperfections, consider using Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Makeup. It comes in several different shades to match any skin tone and is water resistant. I use it before every one of my photo shoots!
Lack of Muscle Tone
I have good news! Of all the issues with middle-aged legs we’re going to talk about today, this is one you can really “fix.” Although experts say it’s impossible to spot reduce, it is possible to tone the muscles of your legs to give more definition. The best exercises? Lunges, reverse lunges, walking lunges (sensing a theme here?), and squats, To see me demonstrating some of these, along with other critical strength training moves for women over 50, click here. Also, just walking can help tone your leg muscles. I’m obsessed with my new Fitbit Alta! It tracks my sleep, heart rate, calories burned, and reminds me to get up and move every hour. I absolutely will not go to bed unless I get my 10K daily steps in — which sometimes looks hilarious as I march around our house in my nightie and sneakers late at night! (Bob: “Seriously?”)
This thinning of the skin on our middle-aged legs can be caused by sun damage, aging, and a loss of elasticity. According to the experts, the best remedies are:
√ Stay adequately hydrated.
√ Exfoliate to promote the growth of new skin. (I use this exfoliating loofah cloth with my body wash every morning in the shower.)
√ Use a moisturizer with Ammonium Lactate and Alpha Hydroxy moisturizers to hydrate skin.
√ Use a high-quality sunscreen to prevent further damage.
Did you know that varicose veins can actually be dangerous if left untreated? If yours are extensive, bulging, or painful, you may need to see a vascular surgeon for treatment. The problem occurs when the valves that keep blood flowing from your middle-aged legs toward your heart weaken. Blood pools in the legs and the veins can turn blue, or enlarge and twist. It can be hereditary or caused by pregnancy, obesity, or excess sitting or standing. For a quick cosmetic fix, use the products I suggested above for sun damage/age spots. If you want to do more, your dermatologist may suggest sclerotherapy (which I do every 2-3 years) for smaller veins. If you have a serious problem, you’ll need to see a vascular surgeon.
Cellulite is common on middle-aged legs! It occurs when fat deposits push through the connective tissue beneath the skin, causing the skin to dimple. Approximately 90% of women have it. The experts say that anti-cellulite creams containing caffeine can work somewhat, as can massage. (You’ve probably seen ads for the FasciaBlaster, which is the hot new gadget on the market right now.) Other people swear by coffee scrubs and dry brushing. For more aggressive treatment, your dermatologist may suggest Cellulaze, Cellfina, or ThermiSmooth.
High-Rise Boyfriend Shorts | Must-Have Ruffle Sleeve Tee (come in 10 colors!) | White Wedges (pictured above) | White Mules | Rattan Circle Bag | Pink Drusy Earrings | Pink Drusy Necklace | Fitbit Alta | White Nail Polish | Blue Toenail Polish | LIpstick
These pink denim high-rise boyfriend shorts are loose and comfy, with just enough spandex in them so that they aren’t clingy, and you can move around easily. I styled mine with what I consider the must-have tee of the summer. It comes in 10 colors (!!!) and the ruffle comes down low enough on your upper arm to provide a little, um, camouflage, action there. (Can I get a hallelujah?) It has insets at the hem to create a layered look without the bulk. Unlike so many of the tees out there right now, even the white one is not too sheer. It fits TTS (true to size). I wore it with two different shoe styles in this post because I know some of you wouldn’t be caught dead in wedges with shorts! The wedges I’m wearing are another of my summer must-haves! They come in four colors and are easier to walk in than you might think because of the platform on the front. (I walked all over Manhattan in them when we went up to NYC to see Billy Joel in concert at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago.) I also paired them with this buttery soft and inexpensive pair of white mules. They honestly feel like slippers! How cool am I with the on-point two-finger tuck going on in these pics? (LOL!) All you do is stick two fingers in the hem of your shirt about half-way between your belly button and your hip bone, then tuck it into the waistband of your shorts. It feels a little contrived but is supposed to look super easy breezy and casual. 🙂 Whaddaya think? My rattan circle bag has been all over the internet and might just be the “it” bag of the season. I researched them and found mine for cheap on Amazon. I feel so hipster when I carry it! (Click the images below for more info on any part of my look.)
Happy Friday, friends! Bob and I are headed out very early this morning to our favorite island spot! Our son and daughter-in-law are with us and we’re looking forward to a week of sun, seafood, fishing, and laughter. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to watch my Facebook Story and Instastory for BTS (behind the scenes) snaps!
Photos by Megan Weaver.