Each year, billions of dollars are spent on anti-aging skin care products, and the amount of money being spent is projected to increased by 12 billion dollars in the next two years, as we Baby Boomers keep turning 50. We buy creams and serums that make unbelievable promises, not unlike a politician telling us what we want to hear–promises that often fall flat. Yet, we keep spending and slathering and praying that we can stop the hands of time. From the neck up, we look mahvelous!
But, what of those very hands trying to stop time? Who is taking care of those things at the end of your arms? The two things that can betray your age quicker than any other body part.
The Wonder Of You
Our hands are miraculous. We use them for throughout of lives in ways that cannot be counted; to soothe and stroke, to cook and clean, to touch and type. Yet, often without thought, we treat these wondrous hands with little thought, and we don’t treat them any too well, either. We wash dishes in hot water, we garden, we clean with scary products and we give nary a thought to what we wash our hands with, just as long as it’s antibacterial. We’ve been told for years that we should never leave the house with less than an spf 15 on our faces, but few of us protect our hands from the sun damage or much else, for that matter.
We would never think of treating our faces as callously as we treat our hands–and very often, it shows and not in a very flattering light. You can get all of the manicures that you can afford, but those pretty painted nails won’t disguise age spots, roughness and thin, crinkly skin. We remember our mother’s and grandmother’s hands with love, until we look down and see that our own hands are beginning to look suspiciously similar. It’s time to take matters into your own hands, literally, and begin to take good care of your hands.
Back in the 70’s, Madge the manicurist would boast to her customers that she was soaking their hands in Palmolive dish washing detergent, telling us that it was so gentle that it was good for your skin. It was a great, and effective, ad campaign for the time. These days, we’ve been taught to worry about germs to the point of obsession, using all sort of harsh, antibacterial soaps to clean, and sanitize, our hands.
Hand washing is great, and does help prevent the spread of viruses, but your hand soap does not have to be antibacterial to provide adequate hand cleansing as long as you wash your hands long enough. I am a nurse and know this to be true. Using the less than skin friendly products, such as Purell and other hand cleansers, dry out the skin on your hands, weakening the skin and hastening the aging process.
Change Of Habit
Just as you do on your face, use a moisturizing cleanser on your hands. None of would think of applying whatever we find closest to any given sink to our faces, and yet we do this to our hands all of the time. If you want soft, supple hands, try a little tenderness when it comes to hand cleansing.
Tom’s of Maine makes an all natural, moisturizing liquid hand soap, with wheat protein, that comes in either unscented or lavender scented for $5.99 for 10 ounces and can be found at www.tomsofmaine.com. Bath and Body Works has a line of antibacterial (if you must) moisturizing hand soap, with green tea and shea butter, that come in a wide variety of scents and retails for $5,00 for an 8 ounce pump bottle. SoftSoap also has a line of moisture rich hand cleansers, at very reasonable prices. Place these moisture loving hand soaps by your kitchen and bathroom sinks, and use them.
Don’t Be Cruel
Several years ago, I was at a function at my children’s small school, when my eyes fell upon a pair of hands, belonging to another parent that could only be described as very angry looking. These hands were red and calloused. The were tremendously rough and cracked, and they looked permanently swollen. I figured that these poor hands must belong to one of the lobsterman parents, but when I glanced up to see the owner of the hands, I was shocked to see that they belonged to a mother, not a father.
This woman and her family run an organic farm and the veggies that they grow are wonderful, but her hands looked damaged beyond repair. In my best, vain, Scarlet O’Hara mode, I thought to myself, “As God is my witness, I will never abuse my hands that badly!” I had the luxury to think that way back then. But, circumstances change and I abuse my hands pretty badly nowadays.
Having no washing machine or dishwasher, my hands are in and out of hot water many, many times a day washing clothes and dishes. While I may be in more hot water than other people, the effect of hot water on hands is the same. Hot water is bad enough, but combined with detergent it is extra drying to hands, breaking down the skins natural moisture barrier.
If you have your hands in and out of hot water all day long, invest in a pair of those old fashioned Playtex gloves and use them. Practice safe dishwashing. Put on your gloves and don’t go into hot water unprotected. Also, don’t forget your gloves when cleaning with harsh cleaning products, or any type of chemical product. If you garden, invest in a good pair of gardening gloves, as well.
I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine
If you aren’t moisturizing your hands as you should, there is no time like now to begin. Just as most of us would agree that there is no one moisturizer that meets the needs of our faces both in the daytime and at night, the same goes for your hands. To provide the best care for the skin on your hands, you’ll need a hand cream for daytime, one for anytime, and one for nighttime.
Begin by choosing a hand cream for daytime that has at least an spf 15. Yes, such hand creams do exist these days. Our hands are just as vulnerable to sun damage as our faces, and age, or “liver”, spots a dead giveaways to a womans age. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Age Hand Shield has a hefty spf 30 and is priced a reasonable $10. I have tried this hand cream and found it to be too heavy, but others give rave reviews.
Avon Anew Ultimate Hand and Nail Cream has an spf rating of 15 and promises to lighten age spots and restore radiance with continued use. I went through two tubes of this cream last summer. It sells for $15 for a 1.7 ounce tube and I liked it well enough, but it didn’t dazzle me. Check out eBay for find this cream at a more affordable price.
My favorite hand cream with an spf 15 is Bath And Body Works, Glove Me Tender hand cream with shea butter. This cream provide a protective shield over your hand that is said to last for a couple of washing. It also contains light reflectors that help hands look younger and more radiant. It also has a lovely citrus scent that is not overpowering. A 2.5 ounce tube of this terrific hand cream cost $16 and can be bought online at www.bathandbodyworks.com, or in BBW stores. You can’t buy your hands a big floppy hat and designer sunglasses, so smear on the spf hand cream before you leave the house for anything, even to go to the mailbox.
Love Me Tender
Now to take a look at anytime and every time hand creams. The hand creams that you station by the kitchen sink, in your purse and on your desk. When asked, women in the hand cream know, swear that L’Occitane hand cream with shea butter is by far and away the best anytime hand cream. However, it is a bit pricey with a one ounce tube costing $10 and a 5.2 ounce tube priced at $26.50. Many feel that it’s an indulgence that is well worth the cost.
I like Aveda Hand Relief Cream, which is an all natural hand cream with a light lemony scent and contains licorice, meadowfoam oil and vitamins E and A. It’s suitably rich, but not greasy. I found this cream with the help of my youngest daughter, who is a Aveda hairstylist. She gave a tube to my husband for his horribly cracked fingertips and it worked wonders. A 4.2 ounce tube cost $19, but it seems to last forever.
Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream has a price that is affordable and it is fragrance free. It contains oatmeal and rich moisturizer that promise to form a protective shield over your hands that will last up to 24 hours. A 3.5 ounce tube costs a very reasonable $6.60 and can be found at most drug stores.
Help Me Make It Through The Night
Nighttime is the perfect time for your hands to heal and rejuvenate and you’ll need a special hand cream to help that process along. We all know the benefits of retinol on our faces, but on our hands? You bet! RoC makes wonderful retinol skin care products for the face, so it’s no surprise that they make RoC Retinol Correxion Hand Repair, $13 for 1.7 ounces. This hand cream also contains an spf 15, so the cream can be used by day. However, since retinol can make skin very vulnerable to the sun, I would use it as a night cream. Sally Hansen also makes a retinol hand cream that costs a mere $6 for a 4.5 ounce tube. Retinol can cause redness and burning for those with sensitive skin, so go easy with retinol hand creams in the beginning to see how your skin reacts.
Philosophy Time On Your Hands Exfoliating Hand Cream contains glycolic acids that exfoliate your hands while you sleep. With a price tag of $18.50 for 3.3 ounces, this cream produces a slight peel that helps speed cell turnover and reduces discoloration. Remember to never use a cream with glycolic acid at the same time as you use a retinol cream–alternate nights if you choose to use both types of creams.
Personally, I prefer to exfoliate my hands with a paste made of olive oil, lemon juice and brown sugar. Apply to your hand and rub and rub, in a hand washing, massaging motion, for about 3 minutes then rinse with warm water. It feels great while you’re exfoliating and afterwards, your hands will be very soft and very smooth.
My hand cream of choice for nighttime is Bath And Body Works, Look, Ma, New Hands, with paraffin, just like the hand softening treatments that they use in fancy spas. With a light lemony scent, which seems to be a theme among hand creams, this cream goes on smoothly and leaves your hands with a lovely , radiant, sheen. For the perfect bedtime hand treatment, apply a layer of this cream to your hands then put on a pair of cotton gloves and head of to dreamland. You will wake up with soft and happy hands, all for $15 for a 2.5 ounce tube.
This many seem like a lot of work and money for hands, but when you think of all of the things that your hands do for you, and others, day after day, you will happily begin to treat them with the care that they deserve. In the end, you’ll be left with soft, touchable, radiant hands that won’t betray your age or scream “granny” when you reach for something. Isn’t that worth a little bit of effort?