In the past few weeks, your hands have most likely gone through a rough time (pun intended). Combine the winter’s harsh, cold air with the constant hand-washing and alcohol-based disinfectants, and we have ourselves a hand’s worst nightmare: dry, cracked skin. If you find yourself wanting to stuff your hands deep inside your pockets and never take them out again, you’re not alone!
The outermost layer of the skin on our hands acts as a barrier that both protects from outside irritants and helps to retain natural moisture. This natural barrier is broken down by the soap when washing our hands, which (fortunately for us) kills germs and gets rid of debris. Unfortunately, it also scrubs away all of the natural oils in the skin.
Each time we expose our hands to dry air conditions without protecting them, and each time we skip applying hand cream after a good wash, we risk dryness, tightness, redness, itching, flaking, and in severe cases, cracks in the skin.
So how should you care for your hands to avoid skin dryness?
1) Use a mild, fragrance-free soap to wash your hands––these are going to be the least irritating on chapped and sensitive skin. However, avoid using so much that it creates a thick lather, as this dehydrates your skin in the long run.
2) Wash with warm (not hot!) water, for at least 20 seconds, and gently pat your hands dry with a towel. This will avoid further aggravation if your skin is already red and cracking.
3) Apply a moisturizer immediately after drying your hands. Your winter BFFs are travel-sized hand creams to leave in your purse, car, and at your work desk to make sure you always have some within reach. Note that creams and ointments are usually better for hands than lotions, as they are thicker and have less water content.
YONKA PARIS HAND CREAM $34
BABOR SHAPING REPAIR HAND CREAM $35
These days, we’re all sanitizing our hands everywhere we go, and for a good reason. However, know that hand sanitizers with too much alcohol can be extremely drying to chapped skin. According to the CDC, there are alcohol-free alternatives made with benzalkonium chloride that are both approved and just as effective in killing germs. Another simple solution is to reapply hand cream following each time you use an alcohol-based disinfectant.
5) Once or twice a week, before going to bed, we suggest applying a thick hand moisturizer or a hand oil, and then covering up both hands with cotton gloves to help lock in deep hydration. You’ll find yourself waking up in the morning with soft, healthy hands!
COMFORT ZONE SPECIALIST HAND / CUTICLE OIL $33
Last but not least, using a humidifier at night to elevate the humidity in your room can also help prevent and relieve cases of dry skin and also deter the drying effects of our indoor heating. Also, people with chronic dermatologic conditions, like eczema, can find that their symptoms worsen in the wintertime. This means that they should pay extra attention to hand care and always wear gloves when stepping outside in the cold, even for short periods of time.
And if you’re not wearing gloves: a bit of sunscreen is crucial to prevent premature ageing and dark spots on your hands, too.
JANE IREDALE HANDDRINK® HAND CREAM SPF 15 $38
Until next time!