Aging is part of life. But as a woman, I will spend countless hours of my time and energy, not to mention a large chunk of my bank account, to fight this natural process.Then it hit me one day. While I know the exact location of every fine line on my forehead or the smallest crease in my neck, I had seemed to forgotten about the #1 tell-tale sign of aging – my hands!
I, for one, did not want to be the woman whose hands did not match her face. So I set up a few simple ground rules to keep my hands looking younger. But first I had to understand why my paws were such a dead give away.
The skin on the back of our hands is thinner than the other parts of our body, making it more susceptible to wrinkles and sun damage. As we age, our collagen and elasticity lessens, and the fat on the back of our hands diminishes, giving them that less plump, more veiny look. There are fewer sebaceous glands, making them dryer. Compile that with the exposure to the sun, wind and rain and you’re left with that much feared crepey texture.
As humans, our everyday activities are wreaking havoc: doing the dishes, cleaning, driving, even typing away at our desk. Of course there are cosmetic procedures out there to “reverse time”, but I’m a big believer in the art of prevention. Back to the ground rules.
1) Gentle Please
In today’s times, we are continually having to wash our hands throughout the day and/or sanitize, which has seemed to accelerate the aging process overnight. Frequently washing your hands removes the natural oils that lubricate the skin. Avoid hot water and strong cleansers and instead opt for warm water and gentle soap. Try to moisturize after each hand wash
Tip: keep some hand lotion next to the sink so you don’t forget.
2) Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
Ok, so maybe not only keep a bottle by the sink, but also in your handbag, the car, the gym and at work. Not only is it important to moisturize after cleansing to retain moisture, but applying lotion to damp skin actually helps it absorb better.
Since the skin on our hands needs to replace the oil that’s lost when washing, it makes sense to use a lotion that puts the oil back in, more so than you’d want on the rest of your body. Vitamins A and E keep the skin soft. Look for fatty acids such as olive oil, macadamia nut oil or shea butter to lock in moisture. No one wants greasy palms, so just squirt a dollop on the back of your hands and rub them together.
Switch to a thicker cream at night to combat the crepe. Look for one packed with retinol to help thicken the skin. Glycolic acid aids in exfoliation and hyaluronic acid adds a nice plumpness. To avoid the nasty lil’ dark spots, vitamin B3 or alpha hydroxy will act as a brightener.
Tip: put on a pair of cotton gloves at night to maximize the effect.
3) Shoo Shoo Sun
UV radiation causes 80% of skin aging! And while we remember this when slathering the sunscreen all over our face, shoulders and chest, we usually omit our mitts. Either that or it gets washed off before we even hit the sun. While the palms of our hands have a layer of dead skin cells to protect them from the sun’s rays, the tops are at it’s mercy.
If your daily hand lotion doesn’t have SPF built in, make sure to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. A lot of time is spent in our cars, and that gives the sun ample time to do some damage. Pull out your inner speed demon and put on some driving gloves. Some have UV protection actually built into the glove.
Tip: beware of gel manicures – UV drying lamp is the enemy.
4) Pamper Project
I like to give my hands an at home spa day a couple times a week.
Just as it’s crucial to remove the top layer of skin to reveal the fresh layer of skin hiding underneath on your face, the same applies for your hands. Dead skin cells not only make your hands appear dull and ashy but they also prevent the helpful treatments from binding to your skin.
A great at home exfoliator is an easy coconut sugar rub. It’s simply 2 parts sugar to 1 part coconut oil. The finer the sugar, the less rough the scrub will be on delicate hands. You can add a little lemon juice to help with the dark spots too!
After exfoliation, lock in the moisture with a banana cream hand mask. Crush a banana in a bowl and apply the yummy mush to the tops of your hands. Once dry, just rinse. Not only is it moisturizing, but the vitamin C and minerals help combat wrinkles.
Massage increases blood flow which leads to tighter, younger looking hands. Put a few drops of olive oil in one palm and use your opposing thumb to work the oil in small circular motions. Using medium pressure, go over your palm, then up and down the fingers, finishing on the top of your hand. Repeat on the other hand.
Basic beauty rules apply to your hands as well. Don’t smoke, drink plenty of water, get a good night’s sleep and adequate exercise. You can also consume collagen boosting foods such as spinach, berries and carrots.
Of course, those with hereditary factors or medical conditions have options as well. Lasers, fat injections, dermabrasion, fillers etc. But for most of us, natural prevention and a lil’ TLC might be all that’s needed for younger looking hands.