Your hands take a beating throughout the year, but fall and winter can be particularly brutal.
The cooler, drier weather and the constant washing and use of hand sanitizers to avoid coughs and colds can quickly dry out and irritate hands, resulting in cracking skin, rough cuticles and redness.
A few quick precautions can help keep your hands in the best shape possible this season.
Wash with warm or cool water: First, try not to wash your hands in scalding water. Studies have shown that cold water is just as effective at getting rid of germs when you use soap and wash for long enough (about the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song). A gentler temperature will help keep the skin on your hands from becoming dry and irritated.
Choose a gentle soap: That harsh detergent soap or the pink liquid soap found in many public bathrooms can quickly strip the oils and moisture from your hands. At home, pamper them with liquid hand soaps that include oils for your skin, such as coconut or olive oil. Avoid ones that have chemical detergents, particularly sodium lauryl sulfate, since those ingredients can be harsh and drying on hands. Another solution is using a gentle bar soap instead of liquid soap in your home. And, while you’re looking at your hand soap, make sure the soap you use in the shower is equally gentle!
Lots of lotion: If you’re having trouble with cracking and bleeding, try some of the lotions meant to address just that. Lotions with colloidal oatmeal can soothe and relieve skin by lowering its pH level. Thicker creams contain less water and more oils, which can help moisturize better. Some medicated hand creams can help cracked and bleeding hands heal faster. Apply lotions after washing your hands, before you go to bed at night and anytime they feel like they need it.
Get some gloves: Remember to protect those hands in the first place with latex gloves when cleaning at home and, as it grows colder, gloves to protect your hands from the elements outside. For hands that need some extra care, try applying lotion at night and wearing a pair of gloves to bed.
Once those hands are feeling healthy and looking better, you can start thinking about your next manicure. In a few weeks I’ll share how to get the nude nail look that has been so popular this year!