Want to stop tights laddering? Stick them in the freezer!03:17:00
Every woman knows the misery of laddered tights. The sheer nylon that gives your legs such a desirable look is prone to 'running' the second it comes into contact with anything sharp - even a fingernail.
Research has found two-thirds of us snag our tights after just one wear, while as many as one in four resort to buying a new pair every two to four weeks.
But now experts have found an unlikely solution to holey hosiery - putting tights in the freezer before the first wear.
Every woman knows the misery of laddered tights
I decided to test this technique, as well as six others. To ensure my experiment was as accurate as possible I bought seven pairs of the same, supermarket brand, 7-denier tights, and applied a different technique to each.
I then subjected them to three separate tests that reflect the everyday perils our tights face - putting them on quickly without taking off my sharp-edged rings or filing my nails; sitting on a chair with a couple of screws protruding from the base and getting up again a few times; and walking past a thorny rose bush in my garden.
Here's how they fared . . .
FREEZE THEM OVERNIGHT
THE THEORY: This is a form of cryogenic treatment in which sub-zero temperatures make the molecules in the fabric stronger. The idea is that when the tights are brought back to room temperature the molecules rearrange themselves. This makes the material more uniform and reduces weak spots in the nylon that are more susceptible to snagging.
THE PRACTICE: Before I go to bed I run the tights under cold water and put them in a plastic bag, before placing them in the freezer overnight. The next morning they resemble a large, brown block of ice. It takes eight hours for them to defrost - however they look normal afterwards.
Nail varnish is supposed to stop tights from developing holes - but Antonia found that it made them sag
DOES IT WORK? It isn't the most pleasant of treatments - when I put the tights on they are still cold - but in a weird way the fabric feels slightly thicker for it. I put them on quickly, sit down three times and walk into the thorn bush twice without creating a single snag. And it's free! I'm impressed.
DAB THEM WITH NAIL VARNISH
THE THEORY: The film that polish forms on nails can also harden nylon fibres in the areas subjected to most pressure, to stop them developing holes.
THE PRACTICE: I use a clear, budget nail varnish to avoid looking like I've been in a nasty accident and paint it on the fabric on the toes and knees of my tights - the areas which traditionally are most prone to snags. It gives the hosiery a wrinkled sheen and, when dry, feels crispy to the touch. But you probably wouldn't notice it from a few paces away.
DOES IT WORK? Up to a point. I don't get any ladders in the treated areas, but when I put the tights on a little overzealously, the untreated fabric against my thigh catches on my engagement ring and snags.
The dried varnish also stops the elastic in the tights from working, making them sag around my knees. I get no further holes from the chair test, but the second I scratch my tights on the rose bush they ladder in the left calf.
USE SOAP TO STOP RUNS
THE THEORY: Soaps are made from fats and oils that harden on exposure to air. Rubbing soap against tights is said to stiffen the fabric, making it more resistant to ladders.
THE PRACTICE: The soap leaves an unattractive white residue and, instead of drying and stiffening, feels slightly slimy. The smell is overpowering.
While wearing gloves might be a good way of stopping your nails from laddering them, it doesn't work for outside factors such as thorns
DOES IT WORK? I manage to put the tights on without snagging them, but just as I think there might be method in the madness I sit down on the chair and they rip on the back of my right thigh. I get a rip on my left thigh from the rose bush - concluding soap treated tights are a truly bad idea.
WEAR GLOVES TO PUT THEM ON
THE THEORY: The simple act of putting your tights on is a risk, with rough nails and sharp jewellery making a run likely before you've even dressed. Wearing cotton gloves creates a soft barrier between the hazards on your hands and the fabric of the tights, minimising potential for damage.
THE PRACTICE: My £3 gloves are tight fitting but still make the already fiddly process of getting the tights ready to put on properly more difficult - you're supposed to bunch up each leg before putting your foot in it and slowly rolling it up. However, they force me to be more careful, which is fine as long as I am not in a hurry.
DOES IT WORK? Yes, in so far as the tights go on without a snag. They also survive the chair test - more by accident than design - but are ripped apart by the rose bush. Nonetheless, worth using for their ability to prevent holes.
RUB YOUR LEGS WITH TALC
THE THEORY: Tights are more likely to stick to your legs and snag when your skin is still damp from the shower or body lotion that hasn't yet sunk in. Talcum powder absorbs moisture and reduces friction on the skin, making it easier to pull up your tights, minimising the number of runs.
THE PRACTICE: I have a shower and apply body lotion before coating my legs liberally with talc, which helps them dry. It takes minutes to rub in, though, and leaves my legs looking anaemically white.
DOES IT WORK? Surprisingly, yes. The tights are far easier to pull on and don't snag at all as I get dressed. But they still ladder when they catch on the chair and the rose bush, while the residue of talc that lingers makes my legs look pasty.
SPRAY THEM WITH STARCH...
THE THEORY: Starch is a polymer that, when sprayed on to tights, creates a space between the molecules of the nylon fabric, leaving it stiffer and less likely to ladder. You can buy spray starch from any supermarket.
THE PRACTICE: This is one of the easiest tests, taking a matter of seconds. My tights feel stiffer and slightly crisp - wonderful on a freshly ironed blouse, perhaps, but a weird feeling on my legs.
DOES IT WORK? The tights feel robust as I put them on and they survive the chair test several times. Unlike the nail varnish, the starch doesn't seem to affect their elasticity. But they snag after I brush my leg against the rose bush the second time around. Still, this is a good quick solution.
THE THEORY: Hairspray can prevent tights from laddering Antonia found hairspray a terrible solution - it made them sticky anby making them less fragile. And, unlike nail varnish, it won't stick to your leg if applied once the tights are already on....OR TRY SOME HAIRSPRAY
THE PRACTICE: This is easy enough to apply, but when sprayed liberally with hairspray the tights become incredibly sticky. It feels as if my children have put syrupy fingers all over my legs and when the tights dry they look wrinkled and unattractive.
DOES IT WORK? Putting them on proves almost impossible because the hairspray seems to have weakened the elasticity of the fabric.
And they are so sticky that by the time I roll them up past my knee I have made a hole. The tights don't ladder any further from the chair test, but rip easily on the rose bush. They feel thoroughly unpleasant throughout the whole test.