Your hands are one of the most exposed areas of your body – they bask in the sun, handle harsh household cleaners, and are subjected to frigid, drying winter winds. These daily assaults can leave them dry and chapped, with splotchy discoloration and other signs of premature aging.
Cold winter winds and dry indoor air can sap the moisture out of your skin, making hands chapped and cuticles crack. To form a protective barrier and retain moisture, wear gloves when outside in the winter and slather on a lotion that contains humectants, such as shea butter, glycerin or hyaluronic acid. To lock in moisture, apply moisturizer when your hands are still damp, such as after a shower or washing your hands. And don’t neglect your cuticles which protect your nails; keep them hydrated and don’t bite, tear, or pick at them.
Always wear rubber or latex gloves when doing household chores; all those detergents you use that so effectively cut oil, grease, and grime can also strip your skin, cuticles, and nails of essential natural oils. To boost the absorption of emollients while you do your dirty work, slather on a thick moisturizer before pulling on your gloves.
Just like your face, your hands will feel smoother and look more youthful with daily exfoliating. But just as you need to be gentle with your face, go easy on your hands; the skin on the backs of your hands has fewer oil glands and less underlying fat than other parts of your body.
Exfoliating may also reduce the appearance of sunspots caused by sun damage. But because sunspots reside below the surface of the skin, you need to use products that will absorb deeply into the skin while lightening its appearance. Try pairing chemical exfoliators like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) with a lightening agent, such as kojic acid, licorice extract or vitamin C. And to prevent spots, always apply sunscreen or lotion with SPF when you’re outside, even in overcast or foggy weather.
Sagging skin on the back of your hands is caused by the loss of fat and collagen. While this is a natural result of aging and can’t be completely prevented, you can temporarily plump the skin to delay sagging by using a hand lotion that contains water, and anti-aging creams and serums to smooth any wrinkles.
For a complete hand makeover, your dermatologist can transfer fat from your thighs or behind and inject it into the backs of your hands to create a plumper appearance. However, this procedure can cause significant bruising – to your hands and your wallet. For a slightly more economical treatment, try zapping age spots and smoothing roughness with a laser treatment such as the Fraxel laser. Glycolic peels can also smooth surface texture and lighten spots (you’ll probably need about six sessions). But it’s best to wait to perform these treatments until after your baby is born to ensure his or her safety.