By Michelle Lamb
Have you ever noticed that the skin on your hands can sometimes look older than the rest of your body? It's really no surprise when you think about all that they do for you! Hands are especially difficult to keep moisturized as the skin tends to be thin and we have fewer sebaceous glands than most other parts of our bodies. Especially now that everyone is washing their hands and using drying hand sanitizers more often, it's important that we don't neglect the health and comfort of our hands.
As a rock climber, I'm perpetually focused on my hands.They are constantly being exposed to the sun, cut on sharp rocks and rubbed until calluses form. If that weren't enough, climbing requires your hands to be as dry as possible so that you don't slip, so I'm always dipping my hands into powdered chalk. Yet somehow, my hands still look pretty good after all of that abuse! Here's how I keep my hands looking and feeling their best:
1. Wash with lukewarm to cool waterWe use water when washing to create soap lather which physically rinses off oils, germs and dirt. Washing with hot water does nothing to reduce the number of germs on your hands. To kill germs, the water would have to be so hot that it burns you. Hot water can cause excessive drying which is uncomfortable, but may also cause breaks in the skin which have the potential to become infected. After rock climbing, I always wash my hands in cool water to prevent my pores from opening and holding onto any drying chalk particles.
2. Reduce dark pigmentationBecause our hands are essentially tools, we tend to bang them up more than other areas on our bodies. I am all too aware of this when I come home from a day of climbing to find new scratches and bruises. Scars are one type of discoloration, but sun damage can also cause dark pigmentation (often called "sun spots"). To keep my skin looking uniform and bright, I use the same vitamin C serum as I do on my face - Luminous Vitamin C Serum. It takes about a week to notice changes, but when it starts to work the difference is really amazing. All of a sudden you're skin looks so awake and fresh.
3. Use sunscreenWe all know by now that sunscreen is a must, but many of us forget about our hands. You can use any sunscreen that you prefer. I choose whichever type of sunscreen fits my activities for the day. If I'm going to be in the water, I put the same waterproof sunscreen on my hands that I put on everywhere else. Other than that, my usual daily moisturizing SPF does the trick - Eco Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 25.
4. MoisturizeThis is pretty obvious, but I still know people who complain about their dry hands but don't keep any moisturizer with them. For me, hand lotion and lip balm are essential and I carry them everywhere. I have some stashed at my desk, in my car, in every bag and next to my bed (because I'm a bit forgetful and will DEFINETELY misplace them if I had just one of each). Moisturizing does so much more than keep your hands feeling soft. A good moisturizer will both sink into the skin to deeply hydrate but also create a protective barrier that seals in moisture and repels things like germs. On top of that, skin heals much better when moist. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared antibiotic ointment with plain petroleum jelly. There was no statistical difference between using petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment. I use Spa Technologies' Lavender Hand Balm with Silver. What's great about it is that it's super moisturizing without feeling greasy, smells so nice and has silver added which is a well documented antimicrobial. When I have an extra minute, I will also apply Healthy Nails oil to my cuticles to keep them looking fresh and clean.
5. ExfoliateI used to think that exfoliating your hands seemed excessive. Don't they get enough exfoliation with constant use and washing? It turns out, normal daily activities tend to remove oils and dirt but leave most of the top layer of dead skin cells in place. Exfoliating your hands has the same benefits as anywhere else on your body, it removes the top layer of dead cells so that moisturizing products can penetrate more easily and deeply. It also triggers the skin to turnover more rapidly, meaning more new skin pushing to the surface more often. As a rock climber, exfoliation is an absolute MUST to combat calluses from getting too thick and uncomfortable. I still need to retain some calluses since the tough skin protects the tops of my palms and fingers from getting raw and scratched, but regularly exfoliating them keeps that tough skin looking and feeling smooth.
6. Deeply moisturize at night
I moisturize my hands during the day; always after washing and whenever they feel dry, but when I really need extra hydration I opt for a heavy balm and some gloves. I rub a thin layer of balm on my hands, like Spa Technologies' Instant Rescue (products marketed for the face are great for hands too) then cover them with thin, soft gloves. I wake up to baby soft hands that no one would suspect gripped onto rough rock on tall cliffs the weekend before.
Even if you're not a rock climber like me, I'm sure your hands could use a little extra love. I hope these tips help you find the right balance of products and care to have your hands look and feel their best!
To help you get started, use code HEALTHYHANDS at checkout for 20% off of our full sized Lavender Hand Balm with Silver, Mini Lavender Hand Balm with Silver, our full sized Healthy Nails oil or Mini Healthy Nails oil.