So You Are Offensively Pale and Have Really Dark Hair

(Trust me. I’m an expert on this.)

So you have offensively pale legs and really dark hair but perfectly okay shaped legs. (Thanks to Ben Moss for the phrase “offensively pale.”) If you’re a guy, it doesn’t matter; the world will take you as you are. (It helps to be extra hairy, though. You get manliness points!) If you’re a girl, life is cruel (but you already know this).

Basically there are two socially acceptable options for your pasty legs with their angry little hairs: hide them or fake them. (The third option is to go all-out Berkeley-in-the-60s and let that hair grow where the sun don’t shine (I mean your legs, which is why they’re pasty). If you do this, you are a brave, brave soul and I salute you.) I, however, am not okay enough with my body to do that, so these are my strategies.


Option 1: Pants. My least favorite option because to me, “pants” means jeans, and I have a very limited selection that I am not keen on adding to much. (This probably just means I should expand my collection of non-denim pants, but this may be a perfectly viable option for you.) There might be only so many times you can wear the same style of skinny jeans before you get bored, but they sure do cover up a whole host of sins. For winter 2009 and possibly spring 2010, you might want to look into harem pants if you don’t already own any, or some form of painfully hip sweat pants to get out of a denim rut. (Or paneled denim, if that’s your thing.) Corduroy is also winter-appropriate and surprisingly easy to wear.

Above, harem pants at Organic, via

Above, sweat pants from Alexander Wang (Resort 2010), via

Above, paneled denim from the fashion void that is DC

Option 2: Tights. Especially in the wintertime. Obnoxiously bright opaques, kitschy prints, subdued neutrals, woolly knits, you name it. Tights are my best friend, which is why I hold funerals for my tights when they run. For your basic black tights, I wouldn’t spend much. Just hop on over to Walgreen’s (or whatever your local drugstore is) and pick up a pack of Hanes. Opaques and sheers both work, although I’m pretty sure sheers are in and opaques are out for now. Either way, grab a bunch as they’re not the hardiest things, especially if you wear them with heels because the toe area is weak. (If they start to run but are salvageable, dab some clear nail polish on the wound so the hole/ladder doesn’t get any larger.) For winter tights, I suggest BP Nordstrom, as it’s the only place I’ve ever found wool tights for a reasonable price (around $14 when I bought them; they often run up to and well over $20). A good place for really cheap (pretty good quality) tights is H&M, especially when they have $1 tights sales. Forever21 is also okay, although their tights tend to develop holes instead of laddering (kind of like how their shirts tend to develop holes right in the fabric rather than getting hooked on something and unraveling). Wherever you get them, tights are a fun way to be leggy without actually showing any leg. Bonus points for layering a shimmery sheer pair over a solid opaque a la Susie Bubble.

Above, my interpretation of sheer-over-opaque.

Above, a partial view of my collection of tights.

Option 3: Leggings. Although these will have to be ankle-length if your legs are truly pasty, and your pasty feet might be showing. Still, leggings can be worn with socks (!) for your pasty feet, and they actually come in a wider selection of whack prints than tights (at least a wider selection that is easily accessible, such as at American Apparel or Forever21).

Above, my number-print leggings from H&M.

Option 4*: Nude pantyhose.
*Option 4 is a non-option. That is to say, I do not condone this unless you happen to be cast as one of the exotic dancers in Miss Saigon and need to be onstage under glaring lights in front of an audience five nights a week. More often than not, it doesn’t look deliberate enough and seems more like you’re trying to visually psyche someone out with your awkwardly dark legs, when really, even your heart is pasty. However, if you happen to be able to pull it off like Dennis Basso, please allow me to bask in the glory of your fierceness. If ever I obtain nude lace thigh-highs, I am definitely attempting this, pasty legs be damned.

Above, from Dennis Basso. via

Option 1: The most effective product I’ve tried is Sally Hansen’s Airbrush Legs Leg Makeup, but it’s such a hassle to apply, I’ve only used it for going out. (Which means for high school dances.) This is insanely effective and makes you look golden instantly, and it’s really hard to apply too much or look splotchy (you can always add more if you miss a spot, and you see mistakes instantly. Plus, it only hits a certain shade of tan no matter how much you use, so applying too much just makes the tan more opaque, not darker). My only beef with it is that I used it and then put on a light blue bra once, and my bra came out looking like it tanned too. Also, you can sweat it off from dancing too hard. However! If it means I look like this:

Then that’s a price I am willing to pay. In addition to the completely reasonable under $15 for my self-esteem.

Option 2A: For every day, I suggest Jergen’s Natural Glow Express Body Moisturizer, which smells pretty much AMAZING and is also pretty difficult to mess up, as long as you apply regular lotion to your dry spots before applying the Jergen’s. (Those being your ankles and knees.) This is a self-tanner that causes a reaction in the dead cells on the surface of your skin, making them appear more tan, but it’s subtle enough that it looks healthy and not actually tan (because your legs should not be tan if your face is pasty too! Conversely, if you’re really tan, please don’t use foundation 10 shades lighter than your real skin color. It totally shows).

Above, with Jergen's. Be thankful, or else you would have been blinded.

Option 2B: But according to the world and social norms, you can’t walk around with glowingly healthy legs if there’s any visible hair. Which is why you should get a multi-blade razor and serious shaving gel.* (I know people say you can just use soap or hair conditioner or even baby oil, but the times I’ve tried soap or conditioner, they’ve failed miserably. I don’t know about baby oil, though. Anyone?) ALSO, razor care! Ladies, don’t store your razor in the shower! I don’t care how convenient it is. That baby is gonna rust. Pat your razor dry after you use it, and store it somewhere it’ll stay dry, preferably not in the bathroom, which gets humid. Rinse every one or two strokes, do your legs in three sections, blah blah blah other information that I was supposed to have learned at the age of twelve but had to find out through trial and error and have only begun to master in my second year of college blah blah blah. Also, I just read this handy tip online, and it totally works: between shaves, get a pair of jeans and run your razor down the leg 10 – 20 times going down toward the foot, then 10 – 20 times going up toward the waist. This gets rid of the little irregularities in the blade and keeps it usable for a longer time.
*Some girls swear by wax. I'm not one of them because I've never been able to get a clean wax from an at-home kit, and regrowth is really uncomfortable and unsightly. I also dislike depilatory products because they don't work well for me, smell kind of gross, and sting my skin. So shaving it is.
Option 3: The really expensive option. If you happen to have bronzer (for your face) lying around that you never use (which was my case at one point because of free makeup samples), you can use it on your legs if you have some patience. Chances are the facial bronzer container is pretty small compared to how much you’re going to need for your legs, but it definitely works in a cinch. If at all possible, apply less at the shin bones for a highlighting effect (and so you can use less). Alternatively, you can use a highlighter on your shins, too, or something else shimmery. I really don’t recommend this, though, as face makeup is usually far more expensive than leg makeup, and you need to use a lot of it for okay-looking legs.

Option 4: Nude pantyhose.
*Option 4 is still a non-option. Sorry, ladies.
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