This Cheapo Leg Makeup Gives Me ‘Girl From Ipanema’ Thighs

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Sally Hensen Airbrush Legs Review
Sunbathers in Ipanema.

In these tense and fractured times, there are still a few truths we can all get behind. “Nobody likes their thighs” is, I believe, one of them. These words were first spoken to me by a dear friend who has great thighs, so the mantra brought me — a person who’s never liked her thighs — great comfort. But this friend, in addition to owning actually good legs, also has an ace trick for improving them in a mere minute: She uses leg makeup.

Her brand and product of choice is Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, and she’s used it since college. She found out about it through a friend who found out about it through a Hollywood stylist. And the gospel keeps spreading: My friend, at a daytime pool party on a recent bachelorette trip to Miami, managed to inspire several instantaneous Amazon orders of the stuff, placed by women who were several drinks deep and in awe of the Airbrushed Legs before them. And now I’m a convert, too.

The Sally Hansen spray is mostly so effective because unlike fake tanner, it doesn’t do too much. You aren’t supposed to spray the product directly onto your skin; instead, you spray it in your hand and rub it on like lotion. Your skin should be moisturized, but not within the last hour or two. Work it around your ankles and blend it onto your feet, but don’t bother getting it in around bony toes or heels — it will blend. It takes 60 seconds to dry (and it does truly dry — it won’t rub off on sheets or clothes), after which your legs are subtly but noticeably transformed into firmer, blemish-free, more enticing versions of their former selves. It’s like Auto-Tune, for your thighs.

Pantyhose is no longer a requisite for getting dressed. (Even in England!) But at a wedding or at the beach, who doesn’t want more toned legs? Airbrush Legs is even a quick and cheap one-day fix for spider veins — something my friend, a dermatology resident, will tell patients considering exorbitantly expensive treatments. So maybe my long-standing belief is actually a false one: For about $10, maybe anyone can like their thighs.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs
$10, Amazon

More Strat-approved tan enhancers

Tan Towel Face Tan, 15 Count
$30, Amazon

Real Housewife Carole Radziwill considers these Tan Towels an easy makeup substitute no matter where she is: “I don’t wear makeup all the time, but sometimes I want to feel a little alive, so I started using these tanning wipes when we would go away on trips for the show. On the trips, you don’t get makeup people. (Contrary to popular belief, it’s not glamorous at all. We’re pretty much in the car trying to put on our own eyelashes.) I’d use these Tan Towels, and the crew would go, ‘You look great.’ Now I use them all the time. I wash my face in the morning and wipe on one of these little things. You don’t get that orangey thing happening on your face or hands. It goes on very light, and you just look the tiniest bit sun-kissed. It’s the perfect, little, individually wrapped towelette that you then just toss.”

Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream
$23, Dermstore

The Cut’s Ashley Weatherford first tipped us off to this tinted moisturizer with SPF for giving “Instagram-ready skin,” and we wrote about it shortly thereafter as a deal of the day: “The coverage isn’t particularly heavy, but that’s also what makes the cream so special. It hides imperfections while still making your skin look like skin.” It’s once again on sale, though only in the Sienna shade.

Purlisse BB Tinted Moist Cream
$41, Amazon

And combining the two flattering effects mentioned in this post (Instagram-readiness and airbrushing), Strategist writer Lori Keong calls the Purlisse BB cream the best thing she bought last year: “Unlike other ones I’ve tried, though, that leave your skin with an oily film, are watery in consistency, or are a little too sheer, this Purlisse cream feels creamier, with just the right amount of hydration and coverage. It combines the dewy effect of Asian beauty products (thanks to its Chinese herb extracts) with the natural feel of French apothecary brands. Wearing it makes me look like the airbrushed, Instagram-filtered version of myself, give or take a little KiraKira glow.”

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This Cheapo Leg Makeup Gives Me ‘Girl From Ipanema’ Thighs