Hands are one of the first places to show age, but one of the last places we treat well. Here’s how to give your hands some much-needed TLC.
Many moons ago, when I went off to college, my paternal grandmother mailed me a “Survival Kit.” In that kit, among other things, were a pair of cotton gloves, a nail file, a buffer, and a small jar of Barielle cream. (The cream, originally formulated for horses’ hooves, was and remains, a cult favorite.) Did I heed her advice and carefully tend to my hands and nails during my college years? For a while, yes, and to this day, I still appreciate the look of well-manicured hands and healthy-looking nails without lacquer, that have been lightly buffed.
As I age, I’ve become much more aware of my hands—and the hands of others. You could say that I’ve been a “hand woman,” my entire life—they’re one of the first things I notice in both genders. Hands are expressive and belie much about their person. Hands tell stories: Rock-climbing hands, rowing hands, gardening hands, poets’ hands, nervous hands and couch potato hands. No matter the type, all hands age—and not necessarily well.
Although our hands are one of the first places to show signs of aging—and one of the hardest to camouflage—we often forget about them.
Although our hands are one of the first places to show signs of aging—and one of the hardest to camouflage—we often forget about them. We may put lotion on our hands when they feel dry, but beyond that, we don’t do much. It’s that not-doing-much part that leads to the big bad three of aging-hand culprits: crepey-ness, brown spots, and bulging veins.
So, how can you get a handle on preventing future damage and addressing the damage that’s already apparent? Here are some handy (pun intended!) tips.
The Topical Route
You should treat your hands with the same attention and care as you do your face—right down to using the same products. “Basically, the same [anti-aging] products you use on your face, you should use on your hands,” advises Dr. Marta Rendon, medical director of Rendon Center for Dermatology and Aesthetic Medicine in Boca Raton, Florida. Rendon, an expert on hand rejuvenation, regularly sees a number of women ranging in age from forty to seventy, who want to address a varying array of aging hand issues. She suggests using the same moisturizer, retinoids, and sunscreens for both face and hands. Good anti-aging ingredients to look for in skin-care products include, vitamin C, the afore-mentioned retinoids, and an SPF of 30.
When it comes to moisturizers, beware of oily hand creams that can get all over your clothing and bags and smudge reading materials and more. Beauty expert Jamie Ahn, recommends opting for creams and moisturizers that contain shea butter without any additional oils in the ingredients. “The best tip is to purchase hand creams in small sizes, leave in your bag, and carry it with you at all times.” Callused skin? Choose a hand cream with glycolic acid, she suggests. And don’t forget sunscreen. “I can’t stress how important it is to use sunscreen on the hands,” Ahn states. “Just make it a part of your routine when you apply sunscreen to your face, don’t forget to apply it to your hands, as well. Since you wash hands more frequently than the face, make sure to reapply.”
There are hand creams specifically targeted to brown spots and pigmentation, and if you already have some dark spots, look for creams with a natural lightening factor. Two good ones specifically formulated for dark spots and dryness are Ilike Organic Skin Care‘s Brightening Moisturizer for Face, Hands and Body and Juice Beauty‘s Green Apple Age Defy Hand Cream.
Start a Weekly Regimen
In addition to keeping your hands nourished and well moisturized, there are some other steps you can take to prevent further damage. Exfoliation, for example, is key to keeping your hands in topnotch condition. Again, choose an exfoliating product that you’d use on your face and set aside a little time once a week. Ahn suggests exfoliating the hands with baking soda or salt combined with a liquid hand soap, and using a toothbrush to exfoliate the cuticles. A weekly hand mask is also a good idea.
And a word of advice to those who are addicted to antibacterial soaps and wipes: Don’t overdo it! They can lead to extreme dryness. “Try to avoid them unless you’re in a medical field or in a field that must use antibacterial washes. They dry your hands out. If you must, make sure you moisturize afterward,” cautions Rendon.
Five Favorite Hand Creams & Lotions
• Sugar Beet & Blossom Shea Butter Handcreme not only comes in one of the prettiest packages we’ve seen in a while, but it’s full of hydrating ingredients like avocado and shea butter. Add beet root and kale extracts, and you have a super-hydrating hand cream of which you won’t be able to keep your hands off. thecottagegreenhouse.com
• Coconut Illipe Hand & Nail Balm is a perennial favorite here at the office. It’s rich without being greasy and it relies on a bevy of tropical ingredients like illipe and wild mangosteen butters. We’re addicted to its subtle fragrance that makes us feel like we’re on vacation. juaraskincare.com
• Ugandan Shea Butter Hand Cream counts shea butter made by women’s co-ops in Uganda among its star ingredients. Available in two naturally hydrating blends, a little of this wonderful hand cream goes a long way. planetbotanicals.com
• Renew Hand & Body Moisture Lotion has a super-light feel to it, but don’t let that fool you. This restorative hand lotion includes the proprietary Ceramide Lipid Complex that’s concocted from sunflower, apricot kernel, and grape-seed oils. sukiskincare.com
• Hand Nutrition Intensive Hand and Nail Repair Creme is a medium-body cream—not too thick, not too lightweight—with a luxurious and rich feel. This one is also formulated to help reduce pigmentation. Moisturizing ingredients include argan and rose hip oils, as well as omegas 3, 6, and 9. elementalherbology.com
Mary Bemis is Founder & Editorial Director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She is a pioneering spa journalist, most recently honored as one of the "Top 30 Influential Voices Transforming Wellness." She is an inaugural recipient of Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and was honored by ISPA with its distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She is a Global Wellness Day Advisor, and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.
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