If you’re unsure about a woman’s age, just look at her hands … or so the saying goes. Despite the time we spend fretting over our faces, our hands and nails tend to show the signs of aging first. “The skin on the back of your hands is much thinner and therefore more susceptible to showing signs of skin damage faster than our other ‘protected’ body parts,” says Michele Pierno, product developer at Kiss Products. “Wrinkling and age spots are much more prevalent on our hands due to lack of moisture and care.” Those hand sanitizers you’ve got stashed in your purse (and glove box and desk drawer) probably haven’t helped the situation. “I’ve never seen so many patients with severely dry hands in all my years as a dermatologist,” says Cynthia Bailey, M.D., who has a practice in Sebastopol, Calif. “Hand sanitizers are selling like gangbusters—but because they contain at least 60 percent alcohol, they strip hand’s natural oils and dry them out.” So, short of keeping your hands all to yourself, what are your best options?
Moisturize and Treat
It’s a catch-22: We work so hard to keep hands free of germs, but in doing so, we rob them of essential moisture. Soaps continuously dry out the skin, but you can reduce the damage by using gentle, nondrying soaps, says Bailey. “Use a very mild glycerin bar soap, or liquid soaps with a lot of added glycerin,” she advises, as glycerin acts as a humectant to bind moisture to the skin. Keep in mind, the more the soap foams, the more drying it is. “Try to wash only the dirty palm side of your hands when you can,” says Bailey. “And rinse well, as soap residue can be drying.” After you wash your hands, apply a thick hand cream. Watch out for products with petroleum, mineral oil and silicones. “These ingredients just sit on the surface of the skin and don’t absorb to deliver that much-needed moisture,” says Bettijo B. Hirschi, founder of Bath by Bettijo. Instead, look for rich hydrators like shea butter, glycerin, cocoa butter, jojoba oil and avocado oil. One trick to get more bang for your buck: Apply your favorite hand cream before doing dishes, then slip on rubber gloves. “While you’re scrubbing, those kitchen gloves become ‘beauty gloves’ and the warmth from the water will work to create a super-penetrating deep-moisturizing treatment for your hands,” says Hirschi. And when you sunscreen-up in the morning, don’t forget your fists! Since our hands are exposed 95 percent of the time, they need extra protection from the sun’s damaging (not to mention aging) rays. Look for one that offers broad spectrum (both UVA and UVB) protection.
Vitamin E-infused Curél Hand & Cuticle Therapy ($6; drugstore.com) moisturizes both skin and cuticles in one easy step.
Thymes Agave Nectar Hand Lotion ($12; thymes.com) uses a medley of citrus scents, such as ruby red grapefruit and lemon blossom, leaving a lovely light scent.
DHC Moisturizing Clear Soap ($20; dhccare.com) is made with olive oil to keep hands clean and hydrated.
AHAVA Lightening Hand Cream With SPF 12 ($20; ahava .com) contains a broad spectrum sunscreen to protect your paws from aging rays.
Essie Smoothies Hand & Body Lotion ($10; essieshop.com) is rich in anti-aging alpha hydroxy acid and absorbs immediately, leaving no residue.