Whether you love it or hate it, you can’t deny the fact that this is the summer of body makeup. Everyone’s frenemy Kim Kardashian will soon be launching her own line of body makeup, and the Internet is in an uproar. Kim K, however, is not the inventor of body or leg makeup, and neither is Huda Katan for that matter. They’re just the first ones really talking about it.
I admit that I mostly fall on the anti- side with this new trend. Applying body makeup is not a quick process, and do we really need another thing to feel insecure about?
Then again, I also see an upside to this; women will feel better about themselves if they know that the ultra-smooth legs of models are courtesy of leg makeup rather than perfect genetics or a better grooming regimen. Applying body and leg makeup has been the secret weapon of makeup artists on fashion and film sets for years, helping to conceal and even the skin tones of hundreds of models and celebrities.
There are also times when body makeup makes a ton of sense, like when you need to cover up a tattoo for a job interview, or special events when you want to transform yourself into a glowy fairy princess with an ultra-shimmery body highlighter. There we go, I may have just talked myself into a pro-body makeup stance!
If you’d like to give body makeup a try, you should use the best products for it – that’s why I’ve collected a list of them, which includes sheer leg makeup, glowy oils, and high-coverage body foundations. I pontificate on the scenarios when body makeup might be appropriate, and then get into the details of what you really want to know: how to apply all the different kinds of body makeup!
Leg & Body Makeup Guide: Contents
- 19 Best Leg & Body Makeup Products to Get
- When Should You Wear Body Makeup?
- How to Flawlessly Apply Body & Leg Makeup for That Airbrushed Look
Whether it’s for a job interview or for emulating those enviable model legs, here you have the best body and leg makeup options that camouflage any skin flaws and bring out that body glow!
1. Vita Liberata Body Blur Instant HD Skin Finish
This brand is primarily known for their self-tanner, but their body makeup is great, too. People often mistake this product for a self-tanner, but it’s actually a shimmery tinted moisturizer/ bronzer meant to give the skin a more even color and a touch of bronzed glow. It has a very nourishing formula, and it can work on both body and face, although be aware that it may transfer on clothes. Buy your favorite from 3 shades at Nordstrom!
2. Dermablend Leg and Body Makeup
Now, this is some heavy-duty body makeup. It has full coverage, so you can use it to hide tattoos or scars, and once set with powder it won’t transfer or fade easily. It has 25 SPF, so it’ll also protect your skin from the sun. We bet it’d also do a great job doubling as face foundation. This leg makeup is available at Ulta in 12 shades.
3. Tan-Luxe The Gloss Illuminating Face & Body Highlighter
This face and body makeup comes in a convenient roll-up stick. It’s like a large crayon you can use to draw all over your body. It only comes in one bronzey, shimmery shade that’ll nicely complement a fake tan. Use it to add luminosity to your collarbone, shoulders, or legs, but don’t treat it like a body foundation, especially as it can transfer. Order it online from Net-a-Porter!
4. Dior BACKSTAGE Face & Body Foundation
Dior gets a lot of respect for releasing their body foundation in an inclusive shade range. This buildable foundation can be sheered out to smooth out the legs or built up to cover a bit more. It has a very natural-looking demi-matte finish that is waterproof, and it works beautifully on both face and body. Pick your match from 40 shades at Sephora!
5. Charlotte Tilbury Supermodel Body Slimmer Shimmer Shape, Hydrate & Glow
The name of this leg makeup might be ridiculous, but the product delivers. It’s a medium-toned highlighting cream that gives a beautiful golden glow to the body. The formula is moisturizing, and it comes in a tube with a rollerball applicator. You roll it on to apply, and then massage in with your hands. It does transfer a bit. You can get it at Nordstrom.
6. Kevyn Aucoin Glass Glow Liquid Illuminator in Crystal Clear
This is a body highlighter for the paler girls. It has a clear base with a pinky glow that adds reflective shimmer to the skin without darkening it. The formula has a very dewy, moisturizing finish that can work for both face and body. It is sold via Net-a-Porter.
7. Sally Hansen Salon Airbrush Legs Leg Makeup
This might be the OG body makeup product. This affordable spray is like pantyhose in a bottle, giving the legs a smooth, luminescent appearance and a slightly more even tone. It is mostly transfer-proof, long-lasting, and easy to apply. Do note that it’s best applied to the hand and then rubbed on! You can buy this leg makeup at Ulta.
8. Sol De Janeiro Glowmotions
You won’t be able to take your eyes off your legs after applying one of these body glow oils. They give an iridescent cast over the skin that reflects beautifully in the light, and also have skin tone-smoothing effect. The formula dries quickly and tends to stay put. Order it from Sephora!
9. Huda Beauty N.Y.M.P.H Body Blur & Glow Brush
There is nothing wrong with applying your body makeup with your hands, of course, but a brush certainly makes the whole process cleaner, with fewer streaks. This large brush is made to perfectly conform to the curves of the body and to dispense a smooth layer of your body makeup of choice. It’s available at Sephora.
10. MAC Cosmetics M·A·C Studio Face and Body Foundation
This formula has been around for a while, but for the longest time, it was only available to professionals. It is wonderfully hydrating and dewy, with fairly sheer coverage that is wonderful for the body as well as for the face if you have dry skin. The shade range is fairly small by MAC standards, but the sheerness of the coverage means that one color will work across a range of skin tones. You can find this body foundation at Nordstrom.
11. African Botanics Marula Shimmering Gold Oil
This is another luminizing body oil that is well worth trying. It is a bit like a dry oil, with a silky texture that sinks into the skin quickly, and includes antioxidant-rich marula oil. It is a shimmery formula flecked with gold, but that won’t darken or tint your skin. You can order it from Net-a-Porter.
12. BECCA Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter
These all-over highlighters give the most intense glow, and they even come in a collection of colors! They’re perfect for adding that touch of shimmer at the collar bone or shoulder and can be mixed with a moisturizer for an all over glow. The color range includes both lighter and darker shades in both cool and warm tone to suit everyone. Purchase your favorite shade from Nordstrom!
13. NARS Monoi Body Glow I
Body oils are already luxurious, so it is even doubly decadent to smooth a shimmering body oil into your skin. This coconut oil-based formula is infused with monoi flowers that give it a unique scent. Don’t be afraid of how dark it seems in the glass bottle, as the mineral pigments here actually give a light golden sheen. Grab it from Sephora!
14. Frank Body Illuminator
This new balm from the Australian brand Frank Body will give your skin a mesmerizing glow. It is made with castor and coconut oils, as well as beeswax, which gives it a thicker, more solid texture. The shimmer here comes from a blend of gold and silver mica, which makes it ideal for those with both warm and cool undertones. Get it from Ulta!
15. Real Techniques Miracle Body Complexion Sponge
This oversized makeup sponge will make blending body makeup into your skin a quick and easy job. It gives the most natural application and makes even quick-drying products easy to blend. You can use the sharp ends for precision body contouring and highlighting, or rely on the rounded sides for perfect all-over application. Buy it at Ulta!
16. Estée Lauder Double Wear Maximum Cover Camouflage Makeup for Face and Body SPF 15
This is another great body makeup choice if your main concern is spot-concealing. This super high-coverage face and body foundation was made in collaboration with doctors specifically to help hide post-surgery scars, but it can also work on pimples, bruises, and tattoos. It is self-setting with a natural finish, and 15 SPF. Find it in 11 colors at Nordstrom!
17. ThisWorks Perfect Legs Skin Miracle
This unique serum is primarily skincare, but it also has some makeup-like abilities. It gives the skin bronzey-glow and has a slight blurring effect that helps to diffuse imperfections. The formula itself is super nourishing, helping to moisturize the legs, and in the longer term may also help firm up the skin. It’s sold at Nordstrom.
18. Isle of Paradise Glow Clear, Color Correcting Self-Tanning Mousse
This is a water-based self-tanner rather than leg makeup, but it does have a great color-correcting power to smooth the skin and make it picture-perfect. Perfect for all skin types, it dries quickly and doesn’t transfer, being an ideal body makeup choice especially for your legs. Pick it up online at Sephora!
19. Lancôme Flash Bronzer Tinted Self-Tanning Gel with Pure Vitamin E
Here you have another fantastic tanning gel that works as a great body and leg makeup. Infused with light-reflecting micro pearls, this self-tanner brings out that healthy glow in your skin while also camouflaging any imperfections. Best of all, you don’t have to take it off at the end of the day, as this leg makeup lasts for five days! Get it from Nordstrom to give it a try!
The easy answer is, wear body makeup whenever you feel like it! However, since putting body makeup on is not the quickest process, here are some scenarios when you might find going through the trouble worth it:
• If you have special events coming up where you’ll be showing a lot of skin you might like some body highlighter to help you feel more glam or a coat of leg makeup, which will allow you to skip wearing pantyhose.
• Body bronzer is great for giving a bit of a tan on those first days of spring when your skin is still pale from winter. However, do note that most body makeup products are not going to last after a dip in the pool or ocean.
• High-coverage body makeup is great for hiding tattoos before important professional events.
• All forms of body makeup can be extremely useful for photoshoots where you want to look your best. You can hide blemishes and scars, highlight and contour your figure, or just smooth things out a bit.
• With transfer-proof products, it is better to apply the body makeup first and to get dressed after.
• For products that might transfer after they’ve been applied, get dressed first, and roll up hemlines and sleeves to avoid covering them in makeup while applying.
• For unrollable parts, like your neckline, tuck a tissue or paper towel in so it can act as a barrier.
• Don’t rely on your body or leg makeup to go on flawlessly the first time you try it! Do a trial run before a big day to make sure the product goes on nicely and that it doesn’t rub off easily.
Body Makeup for All-Over Coverage and Glow
• For sheer, all-over formulations, dispense some of the body makeup into your hand or a large makeup brush and massage it into your skin in circular motions in order to prevent a streaky application.
• For covering large areas of skin, first, dot the body makeup all over, and then rub it in to spread it.
• If your body makeup is not transfer-proof, then set it with a translucent powder. Dispense the product on a large brush or powder puff, and then tap it over your skin to set the makeup. Wait a few minutes, and then brush off any excess product.
Body Makeup for Spot Concealing
• Much like our face, sometimes our body also needs some spot concealing. You might need to hide a tattoo for a job interview, or you might want to cover a scar or a blemish before a special occasion.
• Choose a high-coverage body makeup product, though you can also use a regular concealer.
• Use a stippling motion to build the product up to maximum coverage over the area you’d like to conceal. Avoid rubbing or brushing motions, as they will remove the product.
• Make sure to cover at least a few millimeters beyond the actual area being concealed, so that you can blend those edges into the skin seamlessly.
• You will likely want to set everything with a translucent powder once you’re done.
Body Makeup for Highlight and Contour
• The same highlight and contour principles that apply to the face also apply to the body! This means that a darker color will pull things in and make them slimmer, while a lighter color will add dimension.
• Stick to just highlight for a glamorous, subtle glow, using body makeup products with a hint of shimmer. The areas of the body most commonly highlighted are the round part of the shoulders, the collarbone, and the décolletage. Use the tip of your finger or a makeup sponge to get a precise application.
• Contouring is quite intense and tends to be fairly obvious in real life, so it is best reserved for photoshoots. To contour, use a body makeup product that is matte and a few shades darker than your skin tone, and apply it with the pointy end of a makeup sponge or with a regular cream contour brush. The areas that are most frequently contoured are the “dips” near the collarbone, along the cleavage, and the outer part of the legs and stomach.
Body & Leg Makeup for Extra Sheer Glow
• An all-over glow can be just as fetching as more targeted highlighting, especially when done with a glowy product that is neither darker nor lighter than your skin tone.
• Opt for either a very sheer, glowy body makeup product, or make your own tinted body lotion by mixing your favorite highlighter or liquid bronzer with a body lotion.
• Apply it to your skin in gentle, circular motions, much in the same way you would a regulation body lotion.
Photos via @gabriellamelignano, @emmaleger, @jelena.marija, @oliviarink, @anacruz