It seems like everyone is super sensitive to hand care these days. If you are constantly washing your hands (which we all should be) and slathering on hand sanitizer religiously, chances are your hands are like mine, extremely dry. The need to keep your hands germ-free is vitally important in the era of COVID-19, but it can be quite taxing on your skin. For my quarantined-life hand regimen, I tend to alternate treatments as I would my face.
Here are a few tips to minimize the effects of dry hands. Note that if your hands are irritated, itchy, have broken or cracked skin or active preexisting conditions like eczema or psoriasis, these recommendations may not be as effective. Medical treatment may be necessary so please be sure to contact your dermatologist.
Use Gentle Hand Care Products
Most hand sanitizers are extremely drying because of the high alcohol concentration. And constant hand washing just increases dryness. Avoid washing with dish detergent and deodorant bars that increase dryness and irritation. Be sure to use a gentle hand soap and sanitizer that have moisturizing properties like aloe or vitamin E.
Be sure to moisturize every time you wash or sanitize your hands. After applying moisturizer, your hands should have a comfortable “quenched” feel. If the moisturizer does not provide that feeling, opt for a heavier hand cream. Petroleum jelly and similar ointments are great, but may leave you with a greasy feeling if applied during the day. You want to use what works well and if preferred, I would opt to use petroleum jelly at night before bed.
Many of us like to apply moisturizer whether our activities call for hand washing or not. For moisturizers packaged in jars, be sure not to contaminate the product if you need to moisturize ‘just because’ during the day. Always wash and sanitize your hands before digging in.
Like your body, hands need exfoliation too. You can use what you may have at home already, a facial or body scrub or choose to DIY. Whether it’s your hands or body, exfoliation removes dead skin cells to allow moisturizer to penetrate deeper. It helps the moisturizing effects to last longer.
I use my exfoliating body scrub for my hands twice per week. I apply it to dry hands and use light buffing, circular motion. Next, I rinse the exfoliator off in warm water, pat dry then apply moisturizer.
One great hand care drugstore option is AmLactin Alpha Hydroxy Ultra Smoothing Therapy Intensely Hydrating Cream. I mainly use it on my legs, knees and elbows but it’s great for hands too. It has lactic acid that mildly exfoliates dead skin cells to soften and brighten.
If you don’t have a scrub on hand, it’s easy to make your own. Scroll down for our favorite DIY scrubs.
Use Masks and Balms to Lock in Moisture
While tuning in to your favorite TV show or podcast, apply a deeply hydrating hand mask or heavier hand-balm then slide on a pair of moisture-sealing gel-lined gloves after exfoliating. Here are a few of the staff’s go-to hand care products:
Aim to moisturize with gloves twice per week, leaving them on for a minimum of 15 minutes. The gloves help the product to penetrate better and locks in moisture. Sometimes I save this step for my bedtime routine and sleep with the gloves on overnight. The length of time is dependent on how much moisture your hands need. Moisture is the key to keeping your hands super soft. Here are a few of the staff’s favorite balms:
Make a Do-It-Yourself Hand Scrub
If you don’t have an exfoliating scrub handy, you can create one of the following in the comfort of your home with a few kitchen staples. Be as creative as you’d like with scents. Here are a few variations of scrubs to experiment.
Citrus Salt Scrub
– Himalayan salt (finely ground) or Epson salt, scented or unscented
– Carrier oil (olive, coconut, grapeseed, avocado, etc.)
– 3-4 drops essential oil (optional)
Put 2 cups of Himalayan salt scrub in a bowl. Measure out 1 cup of the oil of your choice. Start by adding the carrier oil into the salt 1 spoonful at a time, folding into the salt. Add more oil until you achieve the desired consistency. Use a citrus essential oil such as grapefruit, lemon, orange, or 2 drops each if combing 2 or more essential oils.
To level it up, you can add citrus peels to a blender then add in. If you opt to add fresh ingredients, be sure to refrigerate the scrub after each use.
Coffee Lemon Scrub
– 1 cup coffee grounds
– 2 tablespoons hot water
– 2-4 tablespoons of jojoba oil
– 3 drops lemon essential oil
Mix coffee grounds with hot water in a bowl. Add in jojoba oil. Mix thoroughly. If the consistency is too coarse, add a tablespoon of oil. Lastly add in the essential oil.
Brown Sugar Honey Scrub
– ½ cup of brown sugar
– ¼ cup grapeseed oil
– 2 tablespoons honey
– 2 drops of essential oil
Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a bowl. If the mixture is too crumbly, add more oil. By contrast, add more sugar if the scrub is too runny.