Hands can be the first body parts to begin to show age. And along with our feet, they’re our busiest external parts. But they’re often neglected, so show them some love.
Why the Hands Don’t Lie
Our hands and feet show noticeable signs of aging early because we have very little fat on the backs of our hands and tops of our feet. So when natural processes break down elastin fibers and collagen in the skin, lines and wrinkles are noticeable here first.
“With age, our skin becomes less elastic, resulting in dryness and cracking of the hands and feet, and them being more prone to sun spots,” explains New York dermatologist Dr. Bruce Robinson, clinical professor of dermatology at Lenox Hill Hospital, national spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, and creator of dermatology brand JAS Cosmetics. “Dryness and cracking can often be prevented by avoiding overwashing and using moisturizer frequently — at the very least twice a day and after each handwashing,” Robinson says, “and preferably with cream not lotion.”
He also advises wearing cotton-lined rubber gloves to protect hands from harmful detergents when doing dishes or other housework. To battle weather’s effect on hands and feet, Robinson says always wear gloves and warm socks and shoes to protect the skin from the cold, and apply sunscreen daily and every two hours when in the sun. “Sun spots are not just unattractive, they can also give rise to melanoma. And since the hands are exposed to the sun all year, it’s common place for basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma to start here.”
In-Office Treatments Can Help
Robinson recommends yearly skin exams for all his patients — twice a year for those with a history of skin cancer. As far as procedures to help keep your hands looking youthful, Robinson likes Fraxel laser treatments for brown spots and sun-damaged skin. “The spot turns brown and a light scab falls off, leaving the skin clear as if there never had been a spot. Fraxel is painless, and skin heals in a week to 10 days,” Robinson says.
If red spots are the issue, Robinson recommends a laser treatment like the Vbeam Perfecta (a pulsed-dye laser). “Initially after the treatment, [a spot] will look like a small bruise that fades away after seven to 14 days. It usually needs to be repeated only if a new red spot arises,” he says.
Cosmetic fillers such as Radiesse are sometimes used to plump up the backs of the hands. “With time, the skin loses its subcutaneous fat, so your veins and ligaments become more prominent, and sometimes looks like your skin is shrink-wrapped over the bones,” Robinson says. Fillers immediately restore volume with almost no discomfort and little or no downtime. They can be repeated yearly. A newer treatment Robinson suggests is Tempsure Envi. It’s “a gentle, massage-like, skin-tightening radiofrequency treatment that can be repeated once every six to 12 months after an initial series,” he says.
But if that all sounds like a bit much to you, we rounded up our favorite OTC hand and foot creams and treatments so you can be kinder to your hard-working extremities.
For the Hands
Smells Like Heaven: vegan, toxin free, paraben free Solavedi Organics Farm Hand is made with lavender flowers, juicy red grapefruit zest, and vegetable oils. It left our hands feeling luscious with an aromatherapy scent that lasts.
Made in Texas: Handmade in Austin, Palo Santo hand salve includes nourishing hempseed oil, meadowfoam seed oil, pumpkinseed oil, beeswax, and castor oil. It’s a soothing salve for the driest hands.
Fusion of White Flowers: Tuberose, gardenia, jasmine, and lily of the valley give Hope hand and body cream a lovely fragrance. Even better: All profits go to the Hope Research Foundation for Depression.
Peppery Picker-Upper: Our tired hands felt revived after pampering with Molton Brown’s Re-Charge lotion with black pepper, coriander, and ginger.
Small-Batch Wonder: Rich but soufflé light, In the Beginning Organics hand cream is packed with antioxidants and vitamins A, B, C, and E. Keep the orange and rosemary concoction in the fridge for a refreshing cooling effect.
For the Feet
International Influence: Blue Lagoon foot scrub is made of silica, algae, and minerals — treasures of Iceland’s geothermal seawater. After a soak in the tub (recommended) and then vigorously rubbing the black scrub on our soles, our feet felt as smooth as silk.
Like a Newborn: After a week of using Baby Foot exfoliation foot peel as recommended, we visibly saw the dead skin on our soles peel. The primary ingredient is fruit acid, which is more gentle than some other acids.
Do the Two-Step: If you’re like us, you don’t have time for a daily foot soak or waiting for a thick foot cream to absorb. That’s why we dig Sol de Janeiro Samba Foot Fetish care package. With a quick glide of the smoothing board to relieve rough edges and a toe-to-heel smear of the cream, you’re good to go.
Dry Run: The active ingredient in Carpe antiperspirant lotion works beneath the skin to reduce the amount of sweat that reaches the surface. One of our editors took it for a test run and saw the difference. She loved its soothing eucalyptus fragrance, too.
Back to Basics: A trip to the podiatrist for dry and cracked feet often results in the recommendation of the simplest thing: Vaseline.