TLC for Hands

Pink background with thumbs up hand with pink rubber glove on

Poor, poor hands. Have they ever taken such a battering? Assaulted by the alcohol in most sanitisers, washed for a total of minutes a day while singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice over, under our breaths. (Personally, we really wish someone would come up with an alternative to that which is the requisite 20 seconds long, or forever more when we wish someone Many Happy Returns as we head in their direction carrying a large cake, we’re going to be thinking of the corona-nightmare.)

Handcare might seem pretty low down the list of priorities right now, when we’re fretting about so many other ‘bigger’ issues. But with hands at risk of becoming so dry that they get papery and even cracked, that’s really not good news, either. Cracked skin can become infected skin – red, sore (and as we all know from a mere paper cut) the number of nerve endings in our wonderfully dextrous, gloriously sensitive hands means that the pain of any cut or hand injury seems way out of proportion to its size. (And besides, aesthetically, does anyone really want hands that feel like sandpaper…?)

This, then, is the time to deliver super-TLC to those long-suffering hands. Not just a smear of hand cream, once or twice a day, but targeted treatments on an ongoing basis. (It helps, perhaps, that many of us have – um – extra time on our hands, right now, to do just that.) And here’s Beauty Bible’s wisdom, on the subject…

Try an alcohol-free hand sanitiser. When we’re out and about, we’ve been using DermSafe Hand Sanitizer, which Gill found in the States. You massage it into hands for 30 seconds; it contains 4% chlorhexidine glutonate, which is said to be an anti-viral and anti-microbial agent – and it’s said to protect hands for several hours. Definitely gentler than most alcohol-based versions we’ve tried.

Buy extra hand creams and keep them by every tap in your house. Pumps, tubes, tubs: these need to be kept right where we wash our hands, and used regularly. Spend 20 seconds washing, then dry your hands (ideally on a paper towel, for hygiene), and then take the same amount of time applying and massaging in hand cream. Keep a tube in your handbag (Ful.Vic Hand & Nail Cream is ultra-portable), one in the car. (If you’re still driving anywhere.) And your favourite of all (see below) on the bedside table Kids Natural Splash for Boys (Blue).

Invest in a hand cream that doesn’t sink in fast, for night-time use. Traditionally, we want creams that let us slather-and-go. Our rule is normally that they have to pass the ‘loo door test’, which means they need to absorb well enough that we can twist a loo doorknob (rather than a handle) straight away, rather than waiting for the cream to dry. But the exact opposite is true of a ‘night’ hand cream: we want a nourishing, rich formula that’s actually a little stickier or greasier, which won’t sink in so fast – but will leave hands baby-soft by morning. Slather on last thing at night – and ideally choose something that smells gorgeous, too, like Lano Rose Hand Cream Intense, or Margaret Dabbs Intensive Hydrating Hand Lotion, featuring emu oil for its moisturising power, and a so-pretty, yes-I’ll-sniff-my-fingertips scent of mandarin and geranium.

‘Double-moisturise’ at night. Apply one layer. Wait a minute or two, then layer on another coat. But DON’T follow that age-old advice to put on cotton gloves afterwards; all that happens is that they absorb the cream! (And who needs moisturised gloves?) You could also add a drop or two of body oil over the top, which creates a slight barrier that prevents the moisture evaporating.

When you bathe, keep your hands above the water-line. Baths are drying to skin, and your hands in particular don’t need that right now. A tip, too: submerging hands in water will shorten the life of a salon or a home manicure, so that’s another reason to rest them on the sides of the bath. Whether clutching a diverting book or a large plastic glass or Chardonnay or gin, right now, is up to you.

Mix up a D-I-Y hand mask. Take one ripe avocado (this is a great job for an avocado that’s maybe gone too ripe for your to eat – literally while you turned your back, we’re guessing), and mix it with two tablespoons of honey, a tablespoon of olive oil, a couple of teaspoons of plain yoghurt and just a few drops of your favourite essential oils. (Frankincense oil is great – and frankly, anything which can preserve the skin of an Egyptian mummy for millennia has got to have something going on, age-defiance wise.) Apply to hands, wrap them in plastic bags (we re-use clean, old bread bags for this), then rest with your hands on a towel draped over a pillow or cushion, relaxing for 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Apply more cream. (You literally can’t have enough right now.)

Try a ‘washing-up’ deep treatment. Yes, really. (Suddenly, the dishes got interesting.) Before you do the washing-up or do hand-washing, slather oil all over your hands and nails – anything from olive oil to hazelnut oil (or your favourite body oil). Put on a pair of disposable plastic gloves, then slip your hand inside your rubber gloves while you do the dishes. The warmth of the water turbo-charges the treatment and once you wash away the gunk, hands will be super-smooth and silky. Best way to turn a chore into a pleasure that we’ve ever come across…

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