By David V. Poole
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, February/March 2000.
The other day, one of my patients said to me, “Now that you have erased the wrinkles on my face, what are you going to do about these hands. They look as though they should belong to someone else, the person who used to have my face.”
Hands often show their age even faster than faces do. The skin on your hands is about one-half as thick as the skin on your face and has half as many oil and moisture glands in it, making your hands very susceptible to drying, cracking and the damage that being constantly abused can bring. From the constant exposure of wind and sun to washing the dishes and using various household cleaning products, the hands receive far more abuse and far less pampering than almost any other part of the body. As we age, the fatty layer below the surface of the skin begins to thin, showing bones, tendons and veins. The elastic component of the skin, like everywhere else, thins dramatically with age and abuse. The result is skin hangs off the bones of the hand like a furniture slipcover that is too big.
I remember my mother applying liberal quantities of various creams and lotions to her hands and face every night in a futile attempt to maintain the soft, supple appearance of the skin. Today there is real promise in some of the cosmetic industry’s high-tech creams, lotions and potions. Many of the new-age hand and skin products combine the proven benefits of sunscreen, alpha-hydroxy acids, vitamins and rehydrating agents. They can often peel away the years from your hands.
Exfoliate, Moisturize and Rehydrate
One of the most important steps in rejuvenation of the hand’s skin is to rehydrate and moisturize it. But to effectively do this, the outer dead layers of the skin, which form a barrier to the penetration of moisture, must first be removed. Alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) treatments can gently and safely exfoliate the dry, dead, unwanted skin away revealing the healthier living layer beneath that is just “dying” for more moisture. An added benefit of these AHA treatments is they also stimulate the natural regeneration of skin, thereby slowing the natural thinning process. Now that you have skin that can be moisturized and rehydrated, you need to choose a hydrating hand cream. There are many good products on the market to accomplish this. Just a few examples are Estee Lauder’s Age Resisting Hand Crème, Neostrata’s Hand and Body Lotion, Neutrogena’s New Hands and Skin Ceutical’s Hydrating B Complex. These lotions can be applied and massaged into the hand’s skin. For severely dried or cracked hand skin, you can increase the rehydration of the skin by applying the hand cream you have chosen and then covering the hand with a moisture glove. You can purchase hand gloves and mitts especially made for this purpose. Or you can buy a supply of inexpensive rubber or plastic gloves, like the exam gloves your doctor uses. Both will do the trick and keep the moisturizing cream next to your skin all night, leaving your hands amazingly soft in the morning.
Just as we have learned never to leave the house without sunscreen on our face, the same holds true for the many areas of skin that can be ravaged by the sun’s rays. Most dermatologists recommend you use at least SPF 15. I recommend to all my patients that they use SPF 30. The newer sunscreens, such as Skin Ceutical’s sun blocks with zinc oxide in them, may offer a much greater level of protection by blocking a wider spectrum of the ultra-violet radiation which the sun generates.
Hands That Can Look As Young As You Feel
It’s the simple things that can make all the difference when it comes to the appearance of your hand. If you treat your hands the same way you treat your face, you can have beautiful skin on both.
Advice to Live By
Knowledge empowers you to make safe and effective choices. There are many different sources from which you can obtain therapy for your skin, such as spas, salons, dermatologists, cosmetologists and plastic surgeons. Often the end result you desire is right at your fingertips and can be done inexpensively, by you, at home. These other sources of obtaining skin advice and care are excellent, but often what you’re paying for is the pampering you get there. These experts should be able to evaluate the condition of your skin and give you alternatives for treating it. Beware of recommended treatment plans which are expensive and offered exclusively only at that one place.