While we're busy applying various anti-aging creams to our faces and running to the colorist to cover our grays, we often forget the body part that typically reveals our age first: our hands.
Here are some simple ways you can turn back the clock on your hands and deal with common aging issues like dryness and age spots.
1. Wear gloves.
Washing the dishes every night can dry out your skin, with the hot water and abrasive dish soaps stripping away the natural oils in your skin, causing it to become parched and even cracked. The perfumes in dish soaps can also irritate your skin and exacerbate conditions like eczema. Help keep the moisture in your skin by wearing dishwashing gloves every time you clear out the sink -- or opt to use the dishwasher!
2. Moisturize like your life depends on it.
Thanks to frequent washing, our hands get the moisture sapped out of them more than pretty much any other area of our body -- so they definitely deserve a little more TLC. Using lotions and creams will help lock in the moisture and help your hands look younger by plumping up the skin. Dermatologists recommend using treatments which include ingredients like shea butter, olive oil, vitamin E and macadamia nut oil. Applying these to slightly damp skin helps them absorb better, so make sure to keep a jar of cream handy on your bathroom sink to use after showers or hand-washing.
And when you're using treatments and creams on your face, it doesn't hurt to apply some to your hands too -- especially if they are products which boost collagen production, to help plump up the thin skin on the backs of your hands. Just make sure the products don't cause peeling or increased sensitivity to sunlight.
3. Use a flattering polish.
While things like black polish or nail art might be the hottest trends right now, they could just look severe and further age mature hands. But the right shade could help spruce up your hands and draw attention away from age spots or visible veins. Style experts recommend steering away from fads like glitter, overly long nails, or square shapes.
While you may be tempted to use nude polishes so that you don't draw attention to your hands, a pop of color can actually help your hands look younger. Orange-based reds are a popular pick, compared with blue-based reds (which can make your veins stand out). If you're afraid of going bright, just keep your nails short and well-shaped and the color will still look sophisticated.
And if you do choose to opt for nudes, celebrity manicurist Deborah Lippmann says it's all about choosing a shade with the right undertone so your skin doesn't look gray and sallow.
4. Wear sunscreen.
Sun spots can be a true giveaway of your age. They develop over time, after years of exposure to the sun's UV rays or even tanning beds. You can talk to your dermatologist about topical creams like hydroquinone, which helps bleach the pigment, or even some laser therapies which destroy pigment-producing cells.
But as with everything, prevention really is the best cure, no matter how old you are. Prevent more age spots from appearing by applying sunscreen daily. Yes, we know, the first thing you want to do after applying sunscreen to the rest of your body is to wash your hands. Instead, resist the urge and slather the reamining cream onto the backs of your hands, which need the protection most. (The palms of your hands have a layer of dead skin cells which help protect against UV rays.) And make sure to reapply after hand-washing.
5. Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate.
Dead skin cells can not only make your skin look flaky and dull, they can also keep treatments from sinking in. As with your face, make sure you use a gentle exfoliator -- nothing too abrasive, because it can scratch the surface of your skin. You can even make your own treatment at home by using a teaspoon of sugar combined with a hydrating oil, like coconut oil.
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