Hands are the symbol of hope, help, caring, and love. People often offer a helping hand, extend a hand of friendship, and ask for someone's hand in matrimony. Yet, the hands are punished like no other body part. They are often scalded and exposed to caustic household chemicals and the biting cold and blistering sun. As a result, they are often the first to announce that old age has arrived. For many, wrinkling, loss of skin elasticity, and discoloration begin with the hands. Fortunately, with some well-deserved pampering, the hands can regain their youthful appearance.
Take the Upper Hand
Clients can begin a new hand care regimen by using warm water and a moisturizing cleanser, instead of a soap product, to wash their hands. Soaps contain surfactants that can remove natural skin oils. After washing, they should pat their hands dry with a towel and avoid commercial dryers, which can over-dry the skin.
After drying their hands, clients should return moisture to their hands with a product that contains emollients, moisturizers, and protectants in a formulation specifically for hands. Ask clients to find one they like and use it three to four times a day to keep their hands soft and supple. Clients with severely dry skin should use a moisturizing hand lotion at bedtime and wear cotton gloves while sleeping.
Exposure to cold weather and airplane travel may require additional applications of hand moisturizer. A bedroom humidifier can also help to maintain skin moisture when indoor humidity levels drop below 30 percent, which commonly occurs in winter months.
Healthy hands include the cuticle area, which can be especially prone to dryness and cracking. The use of an acetone-free nail polish remover will avoid stripping oils from the cuticles. When moisturizing, clients should work the moisturizer around their fingernails or use a cuticle cream to soften the skin around the fingernail.
Skin hydration depends on adequate body hydration, so remind clients to drink plenty of water. Skin health also depends on lipids that can only be derived from the diet, hence the term essential for linoleic and alpha linolenic fatty acids. Fish, whole grain foods, walnuts, and olive oil are good food sources for both. Moreover, excess dietary sugar contributes to protein glycation, which leads to wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity.
In Good Hands
A person's hands are exposed to the elements and sun year round. Therefore, clients should use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to minimize the effect of ultraviolet exposure, which can contribute to skin cancer, age spots, and photodamaged skin. They can also consider wearing gloves when temperatures fall as decreased humidity levels will cause additional loss of skin moisture. Coarse wool fibers can irritate the skin, so gloves made from acrylic, cotton, or finer yarns such as cashmere can be less troublesome. For severe weather, leather gloves can protect hands from both cold weather and wind.
It is easy to forget hand protection while crafting or working in the garden or on a home repair project. There are numerous protective gloves available to minimize accidents and make projects easier. For example, special gloves are available for sports activities such as golfing, biking, and rowing. Clients should wear rubber gloves while doing household chores to protect their hands from harsh detergents, abrasive cleansers, and hot water.
Turn Back the Clock
Dark spots commonly appear as people age, especially after the age of 50, and show the cumulative effect of sun exposure over the decades. Sometimes called liver spots, these areas of discoloration are due to collections of melanin pigment. The best preventative treatment for these spots is the avoidance of further sun exposure and the use of sun protection products with broad spectrum SPF.
Although topical treatments are not likely to completely remove the discoloration, hydroquinone, kojic acid, alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic or lactic acid, niacinamide, and vitamin C can lighten dark spots. Clients should read the product label carefully as some of these ingredients can increase sun sensitivity and are best used at night. Botanical extracts such as gooseberry, licorice, and bearberry have ingredients that inhibit melanin production and may lighten skin spots. Physical exfoliants, such as scrubs, can help the lightening process by removing dead skin cells. Remind clients to be patient as any lightening effect will happen very gradually.
For age spots that persist despite applications of skin lighteners, treatments that use IPL or lasers may be beneficial. A consultation with either a doctor or a medical spa professional will help determine the most suitable treatment.
The skin on the back of the hands is much thinner and, as collagen levels decrease with age, veins take on a prominent appearance and tendons become more visible. Anti-aging creams with ingredients such as vitamin C and amino acids support collagen production and minimize collagen degradation. It is particularly important to use a product that has a liposomal delivery system to assure that the ingredients needed for protection penetrate the skin and stay there long enough to have an effect.
For total hand rejuvenation, plastic surgeons and cosmetic dermatologists offer a few treatment options, such as injectable fillers made from hyaluronic acid, poly-L-lactic acid, or calcium hydroxylapatite; these fillers can replace lost volume and boost collagen production. Furthermore, fat can be taken from one area of the body and used to plump hollow areas of the hands. The plumping effect of fillers can last between six and 24 months; fat injections can last for several years.
If clients keep these tips in mind, their hands will have a more youthful look.