Have you ever noticed how lotion ads focus on “dry, cracked winter hands,” and sunscreen ads tell you sun protection is paramount in the summer? Don’t take your skin care advice from seasonal advertising campaigns. You need sun protection and moisturizer all year long, no matter what climate you live in. And I don’t just mean on your face.
Hands are a telltale sign of aging, so why do we spend hundreds of dollars on face serums and eye creams, but slap $2.99 drugstore body lotion on our hands? I’m as guilty as anyone. I did it for years. My hands were an afterthought, until they became cracked and dry. The thing is, I’d never let my face get so dry it split and peeled. Why didn’t I think my hands weren’t worth the pampering?
I’ve learned over the last couple of years to take excellent care of my hands. Here are some tips so you can, too.
Wash your hands with mild soaps. I know it’s easy to snatch up whatever’s on sale when you’re at the grocery store, but frequent washing with a harsh hand wash can strip your hands of natural oils and cause skin irritation. Look for washes that don’t contain sodium laurel sulfate or triclosan. The FDA just banned the use of triclosan as it’s not shown to be safe or necessary for hand sanitation. Companies have one year (from Sept. 2016) to remove it from all of their products. You may still see several items on store shelves with triclosan before the ban is fully in effect, so read the labels.
Oil your cuticles. Oil keeps your cuticles supple and prevents hangnails. It’s even said to help your nails grow. You don’t have to buy some fancy, specialized oil marketed “just for cuticles”. Jojoba, vitamin E and avocado oils all work wonderfully.
Wear rubber gloves for tasks like gardening, washing dishes or vigorous house cleaning. This step is mainly about what your hands are exposed to during the task. If you’re in the sun gardening, you can get sun damage on your hands. If you’re using harsh cleaners on your bathroom tub, you may dry and irritate your hands from the ingredients in the cleaner. Even dish detergent is often very harsh on hands. Protection is easy with rubber clothes.
Apply hand masques weekly. Applying an exfoliating and moisturizing masque on your hands will give you the same wonderful results you see when you use it on your face: tighter, more radiant skin. These can be made at home from a number of ingredients such as oatmeal, honey and lemon juice. But being as time pressed as I am, I prefer to use the same one I use on my face.
Use a rich, moisturizing body butter to seal in moisture. Even without the harsh winters of the East Coast (I now live in Los Angeles), I’ve still noticed dry patches on my hands. Most times, it’s signally that I’m not drinking enough water. But as a quick fix, I apply a thick, wonderful body butter at night before heading to bed. I put on these gloves (or a pair of old socks will do) and let my hands soak in the goodness while I rest. I wake with baby soft hands.
Use sunscreen on your hands every single day. This is a game changer. Your hands have very thin skin (which is why they show aging so quickly), so it’s important to protect them from the sun’s harsh rays. That means wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen (protects from UVA and UVB rays), especially when driving. Be sure to reapply throughout the day.
Do you have tips on how to keep your hands moisturized and youthful looking?