TURNING BACK THE HANDS OF TIME
From the Skin Care Arena
Your hands, like your face, greet the world. You shake hands to introduce yourself, or greet someone. You use your hands to express your affection to those you love; to soothe a sad child, or comfort someone suffering from an illness. If you’re like me, you may even “talk” with your hands.
Hands are the workhorses of the body. They are exposed to sunlight, extreme temperatures, and a lot of wear and tear, says Nelson Lee Novick, a clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City.
By the time you reach age thirty, skin-cell production decreases by ten percent, making your skin less able to repair itself. Unlike the thicker skinned, palms of the hand, the thin skin on the tops of the hands, can show signs of age first. In addition, when hands lose plumpness, due to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, veins and knuckles can start to look more prominent.
You can do things every day to help your hands look and feel good. The best regime for the hands is fairly simple. Just follow my five step plan.
Step one: Wash your hands the right way. The frequent washing that’s designed to keep your hands sanitary can also keep them dry, cracked and wrinkled. The goal is to remove germs and grime, without stripping all the natural oils from your hands. So, wash with warm water instead of hot.
Step two: Avoid using harsh soaps. Dermatologists recommend nondrying products like Dove, or Neutrogena, as well as liquid nonsoap cleansers like Cetaphil. According to the Mayo Clinic, antibacterial soaps aren’t necessary and may even dry skin more. They also can kill good bacteria on the hands and encourage bad bacteria that resist antibiotics.
Step three: Rinse hands well, and gently pat or blot dry. Don’t rub.
Step Four: Apply moisturizer after washing your hands. A good moisturizer can help prevent or treat dry skin on your hands. It helps retain moisture in the outer layer of skin, making your hands smoother and softer. Two of my favorites are Eucerin Intensive Repair Extra Enriched Hand Cream, and Avon’s Moisture Therapy. Apply it each time you wash your hands. Don’t forget to massage the cream into your fingernails & cuticles.
Step Five: Protect your hands from harsh cleaners by wearing gloves for your household chores. If you think about it there’s no use being careful about the soap you use to wash your hands if you’re also exposing your hands to harsh cleaners. You might also consider using an inexpensive pair of cotton gloves as a liner to prevent sweating and itching. These gloves are available at most drugstores. They can also be used at night to cover your hands after you’ve moisturized them.
Step Six: Last but definitely not least, make sure you use a sunscreen on your hands during the day. The backs of hands, especially, need protection. There are quite a few products on the market. Try Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Hand Cream SPF 15, which you can pick up at Target for about $14. Another excellent product is Resist Ultimate Anti-Aging Hand Cream SPF 30 for about $13 from Paula’s Choice Skincare. If possible, reapply every time you wash your hands.
* Madeleine Arena is a cosmetic chemist who develops private label skin and hair care products for the trade.