My hands have taken a beating lately.
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that we’ve been working to remodel a lot of our house. Copious amounts of drywall mud have been employed to fix walls damaged by the previous owners, and let me just say that sanding drywall mud is like handling sheaf after sheaf of paper all day long; it sucks the moisture right out of your skin.
On top of that, weather has begun to fluctuate significantly. Some days it’s below freezing when I leave my house in the morning, only to thaw to a tolerable mid-fifties by afternoon.
All of this has culminated in abnormally dry skin susceptible to cracks around the knuckles and cuticles.
It can be a lot of maintenance to take care of your hands and nails during the winter, but it’s much easier than dealing with miniscule cuts that sting like the devil whenever you try to wash your hands!
I’m definitely guilty of being lackadaisical with taking my own advice on this, so this post is just as much a reminder for myself as it is information sharing as we prepare for winter. Here are my top tips for preserving your hands!
- Wear gloves even when it seems too warm for it. Whatever temperature has you feeling like circulation to your hands is slowing, throw gloves on at that point. Cold fingers inevitably lead to dry skin and cuticles. I’ve gone to work wearing gloves when it’s 40’ outside and never heard the end of it. Get yourself a good pair that you don’t feel immobilized in. You know the feeling. You’re unlikely to wear bulky gloves that you feel like you can barely drive in, let alone handle your cell phone or get your keys out of a pocket. Find something sleek that still insulates and you’ll be on the right track. Isotoner is a good brand, and I’ve also had great luck at Wilson’s Leather.
- Use a cuticle oil. Every night before bed. People have raved about the wonders of coconut oil for this, but for the life of me I don’t understand why. I feel like it never absorbs no matter how much I massage it, and I end up washing it off for fear of it leaving oily smears on my pillowcase at night. I’ve been using the cuticle oil sold by the Dead Sea Spa for a couple of years. I put a few drops on my cuticles, massage it in, and finish with a hand lotion to make everything soft. When I’ve been diligent about it, even the aestheticians have remarked how healthy my cuticles are. Take that for what it’s worth.
- Invest in good hand creams. Yes, Bath and Body Works has amazing coupons and every fragrance known to man, but their lotions (in my experience) don’t do a thing to heal my skin. (Note I’m speaking about their classic line, and not the Shea line or CO Bigelow or any of the others they sell.) I’ve been raving about AHAVA skin care for a while now, and they seem to have one sale or another running regularly over on their website. I apply hand cream at night and in the morning, and usually once mid-day. A key indicator of a quality cream is its absorbency. Like the coconut oil, if you feel like your hands are slippery after a few minutes and it’s still just sitting on the surface, you’re more likely to end up washing or wiping it off. A good cream absorbs quickly and lets you get back to your life.
- Use rubber gloves. They seem like a pain in the rear, but when you’re washing dishes or doing other cleaning where your hands will be submerged off and on in water, keeping your skin dry is life-changing in the war on dryness. Again, get a pair that fits. I didn’t know until my late twenties that rubber gloves come in sizes. I always grabbed the first pair I saw and bemoaned the fact that they were huge and baggy and barely kept water out. You can get them so they are the appropriate length and width for your hands, and they even have some that taper at the wrist and cuff at the ends for extra help keeping water out. As with cold-weather gloves, get a pair that’s comfortable that you’ll actually want to wear.
- Use Neosporin. If all else fails and your skin does crack, get some Neosporin on it as quickly as possible to help it heal.
If you can be diligent with these things this winter, your hands will thank you!