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Winter Hand Care

Winter is the harbinger of dry, chapped and cracked skin.  Surprisingly, when it comes to skin, water is not the remedy for dryness; in fact, it can wash away your skin’s natural oils.   Yet winter also brings sniffles, coughs and flus – not the best time to avoid hand-washing.   I’ve read that dermatoligists generally suggest washing the palms of hands more than the backs, and using a towel rather than hand-dryers, patting rather than rubbing your hands dry after washing.  And what about our obsession with hand sanitizers and antibacterial wipes?  The alcohol-base, although effective at killing germs, ironically can cause further dryness and cracking, allowing more bacteria to enter the body.  They should only be used when soap is not available.

Moisturizers are of course the best way to keep your hands healthy.  So after washing, apply some moisturizer.  Before going out into the cold temps, apply moisturizer before putting on gloves.  BUT . . . what type of moisturizer?  None of us want the greasy or sticky feeling on our hands, which potentially results in more harmful washing.

I recently learned that creams are different than lotions.  They tend to be more concentrated, and therefore thicker.  They absorb at a slower rate.  So if you have severe dryness, “cream” seems to be more effective than “lotion,” especially long-term.   I can’t say I’ve tried everything or for long enough to make a definitive decision, and since we all have different skin types, I’m sure it depends on individual skin needs.  I can recommend what I’ve personally liked, however.

True Blue Spa (sold at Bath & Beauty Works) Lay It On Thick and Shea Cashmere & Silk hand products really moisturize.  Shea butter in general is my personal favorite effective moisturizer, seconded by Aloe.  Both can be a bit sticky, but again, cream products tend to absorb slower so the softness lasts all day.   I tend to use the thicker creams at night, and thinner lotions during the day to avoid the greasy feeling.   TBS Shea It Ain’t So Foot Cream is also fantastic – I love shoes, which as we know don’t always comfort our feet, so this cream is cool and soothing after a long day of being on the move.

Victoria’s Secret Secret Garden Ultra-Moisturizing Hand and Body Creams are also great.  These are strongly scented like their Hydrating Lotion counterparts, but are much thicker in consistency and produce a silky texture.  My favorite scents are Vanilla Lace and Pear Glace.  This line also features holiday scents.

So lather up this winter to protect the largest organ – your skin! Having healthy hands will intensify the look of your nails and help prevent nail brittleness.  And for nail-painting addicts like me, use acetone-free polish remover to inhibit dehydration.  Here’s to hand-model nails – class dismissed!

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