The Age Giveaway: Take Care of Your Hands

sunlight on handsThere’s no end to the hunt for the perfect regimen to maintain a fresh-faced, dewy complexion.

We research, we try and we buy in an endless cycle, spending more than a good amount of time, money and energy on all things anti-aging.

And while our devotion and hard work does pay off in the end, we forget that our hands show some of the most telling signs of age taking its toll.

handsIt happens. We neglect our hands, using them, abusing them and then forgetting about them all too easily. One look – one quick glance– at your hands and they have become a surefire giveaway to your true age regardless of how much effort you dedicate to your facial skincare regime. Don’t let your attempts to protect and prevent go to waste: give your hands the attention and care they deserve. Treat them as you would your face. Skin is skin, after all, and each part of your body requires its own regimen.

Start with the basics. To make up for negligence and lost time (or, if you simply want super soft hands) give your hands some much needed R&R. Begin by washing your hands in lukewarm water – keep in mind that hot water dries out the skin – and a gentle cleanser. It seems like such an inconsequential thing to direct any attention toward, but targeting the root of the problem starts with reevaluating your fundamentals.

Most generic household soaps can be stripping to the skin, continually drying out the hands with every wash. You would never wash your face with bar soap, so it is only logical that the same principle applies to your hands. Choose a mild, botanical-based soap with anti-bacterial properties and, if possible, find one with Alpha Hydroxy Acids – fresh fruit extracts like Grapefruit or Papaya Extract – in the ingredients. Not only will such a formula cleanse your skin properly without drying it out, but it will also gently exfoliate away dulling buildup and reduce the appearance of any fine lines or wrinkles you may have.

Follow with a lightweight body lotion or anti aging hand cream packed with ingredients like nourishing Vitamins A and E and/or Hyaluronic Acid that help lock in the skin’s natural moisture. Moisturizing on a daily basis – and after every hand wash – is crucial to protecting hands from the rigors of constant washing and daily abuse. Hand creams help maintain the soft, supple skin of your youth, leaving it silky, smooth and hydrated. Massage the product to work the lotion into the skin, reducing tension buildup and helping increase blood flow and circulation.

moisturize your hands frequentlyMoisturizing frequently is essential to maintaining the suppleness of the skin. More importantly, however, is investing in a daily hand cream with SPF protection and applying it as often as possible.

The topic of sun protection is hardly new: the dangers that come with intentional overexposure (e.g., tanning, sunbathing) are now considered common knowledge. It’s no secret that 90 percent of wrinkles are caused by the sun.

What most people don’t realize, unfortunately, is that two-thirds of all sun damage is incidental. Simply by walking your dog, spending a few minutes outside, gardening and driving – regardless of weather – you’ve subjected yourself to sun damage. There’s an aphorism that says something along the lines of “what you don’t know might kill you,” and while its application to anti-aging hand care seems a little dramatic, the gist is there. You don’t realize how susceptible you’ve made yourself to sun damage on a daily basis until several years later when you start noticing the brown age/sun spots and wrinkles.

Apply your favorite sunscreen about 20 minutes before you head out of the house, and reapply regularly throughout the day or as needed. Keep a bottle of hand cream with SPF handy at all times for reapplication, hydration or as a backup if you’ve forgotten to protect your hands earlier in the day.

Take care of your hands now to help slow and reduce signs of aging. More often than not the smallest changes in a daily routine – in this case, your skincare regimen for the hands – make the biggest difference in how you look and feel. Just by moisturizing regularly and protecting your skin with proper SPF protection will garner the long-term results you want: soft, supple more youthful and healthy-looking skin from head to toe.

This is a guest post by Kim Yang who is a blogger, sometimes freelance writer and full-time business school and journalism student. Previously the fashion editorial intern for two boutique magazines and now writing for Mario Badescu Skin Care.