The battle against dry skin, cracked cuticles and finger nails, and early-aging signs is never ending. The skin on the back of our hands is particularly prone to the signs of aging that so often make us look old long before our time.
In fact, the back of the hands have the thinnest layer of skin on the entire body. While most people make sure to get regular manicures and to moisturize daily, there are many other tricks you can use to preserve and restore a more youthful look to your hands.
Follow the steps listed below daily, or as required, to keep your hands and fingernails in tip-top condition.
Wear gloves if you’re in a cold climate and spend time outdoors for longer than 5 or 10 minutes. Cold, dry air can be just as damaging to the epidermis as over-exposure to sun, and the moisture-sapping effects don’t take very long to set in. The lack of humidity in the air that comes with colder temperatures literally “pulls” the moisture right out of our skin. Cold air also causes blood flow to be restricted to our extremities, which not only makes areas like our hands, feet and nose feel cold, it reduces the production of the natural oils in our skin that keeps it moist.
Wearing gloves is mainly a recommendation for spring, fall and winter months, in non-tropical climates. However, a light pair of cotton gloves in the warmer months is a perfectly fine alternative to sunscreen too, if you can tolerate them.
The back of our hands are particularly prone to sun damage. The hands are actually one of the most overlooked areas of our body when it comes to sun protection. After years of sun exposure, lines, wrinkles, cracked skin, age spots, and thrombose veins are all a major concern.
Only apply the sunscreen to the back of your hands, to avoid making your palms and fingers feel greasy.
Get Regular Paraffin Dips
Heated paraffin wax has far-reaching benefits for the hands; way beyond just moisturizing. The heat from the wax mixture is great for arthritis, nerve pain, and stiffness. If you’ve ever been for a professional manicure, you’ve likely already had a paraffin treatment and understand just how rejuvenating and moisturizing they can be.
Paraffin dips don’t have to be just a special treat during a spa day though. You can buy an inexpensive home appliance, called a “Paraffin Bath” ranging from $30 – $100, along with a few pounds of Therapy Paraffin Wax for around $15. The wax will rarely need to be replaced, making both items largely a one-time purchase.
Another option, is to buy the wax and heat it in a stovetop pot or electric crockpot. If you go this route, buy a thermometer and don’t dip your hands in the heated wax until it cools to 125°F or slightly lower.
Dip your hands in the wax repeatedly to form a thick “glove” of wax on your hands, allow it to cool for several minutes, then peel the wax and put it back into your pot or Paraffin Bath, to reuse it again and again.
This process can be done daily for best results.
Exfoliate With Dead Sea Salt & Sugar
Because hands are so prone to drying, daily exfoliation with sea salt or regular sugar is a great way to keep hands looking their best. There are several great products on the market, that also contain ceramide emollients, natural oils, and glycerine-based moisturizers, in addition to the exfoliant ingredients they contain.
You can also make your own concoction at home, using good ol fashioned bulk sea salt or simple white sugar. Pour either, or both types of granules into a small bowl and add just enough water to make a moist, gritty mixture.
Put a generous amount between your hands and rub it in moderately for a few to several minutes. Use olive oil, baby oil, or melted coconut oil, instead of water for even more moisture-infusing benefits to your hands and nails!
Use the Softening Glove Method
The softening glove method requires nothing more than moisturizing your hands with your favorite natural or OTC moisturizer, then placing your hands in a pair of gloves for 6 – 8 hours. Less time can be effective as well, but most people find this is best to do before you go to bed, then leave the gloves on overnight.
You can use regular gardening gloves, or purchase silicon lined, salon-inspired gloves that are specifically designed for this purpose.
Avoid Washing With Hot Water
Even warm water can have negative effects on your hands, nails and cuticles. Use lukewarm or cool water whenever you wash your hands to keep them at their best.
Not Just for Hands
All the methods described above are equally effective to treat dry feet with. Always use sunscreen on the tops of your feet when they’re exposed. Use socks instead of gloves as a “softening sock method” for moisturizing your feet.
Adding just one of these suggestions to your skin care routine can and will save you from having hands that look 20 years older than the rest of your body!