Our hands work darn hard. Whether they are frantically typing away on keyboards, updating our facebook pages, gardening or washing dishes -- our hands are exposed to the elements, extreme temperatures and depending on your buying habits, potentially all sorts of harsh bath and kitchen cleansers. That's a lot of wear and tear! And, to top it off we start losing our collagen and our ability to regenerate the top layer of our skin (makes us look dull, as well as keeps dry skin, toxins and dirt stay way longer on the surface) in our 20s. This process gets ever more prevalent as we mature, making it ever harder for skin to repair and renew itself. As with all our skincare, we need to help it along.
The tops of our hands where the skin is thin will generally give away your age quickest. That loss of plumpness, more noticeable veins and, as everyone looks so forward to, those icky dark spots, all give us away every time. Which is why, no matter how much TLC you give to your face, you can't forget the hands if you want to remain looking and feeling youthful.
Healthy aging is part of life, and I believe we should embrace our true age and embrace every line we've earned, but that doesn't mean we have to grow old looking prematurely, nor do we have to go around looking dull or without the radiance that comes from great skincare, wholefood eating habits and healthful lifestyle choices. Yes, it will come out in the hands too, and here are ten "handy" tips to have your lovely, graceful hands looking beautiful:
Exfoliate...Your Hands. Keeping skin ever renewed and helping that process of regeneration along with a great exfoliate will keep spots (dry and dark) at bay.
Use Brightening Products on your Hands Too. Choose, instead of toxic hydroquinone, ingredients like lemon peel, licorice, resveratrol, sugar and vitamin C, which even out your skin tone without putting little "bleach holes" in the skin.
Drink Lots of Water. Tons. Yup, I know we've heard this one before. Question is why? Cause it's so true! Water, green tea, juices even, anything that ISN'T a diuretic (meaning, liquids that hydrate you and your skin and move toxins through your body, rather than caffeinated beverages, for instance, that remove the water from your body).
Eat for Hydration. Eggs, salmon, olive oil, nuts, seeds, legumes, dark greens, root veggies and brown rice -- are all fabulous for retaining good oils, not the bad fats. Foods rich in vitamin A, C and E as well as zinc plump up and improve your skin's appearance too.
Use Hand Cream. All day, and night. Be diligent about your hand care, particularly after washing your hands, shampooing your hair or rinsing fruits and veggies. Skip the light lotions, which are more water than nourishment, and go straight to rich balms, creams and even salves. Smooth on anytime you think of it and use that old technique -- putting spa gloves on overnight. It will make a big difference in softness and strength, and these are the qualities of youthful skin.
Look For: coconut oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, jojoba oil, and other truly natural ingredients. I like Malie Organics hand and body creams; my sukibodyￂﾮ butter cream salve, I'll admit, is amazing and non-greasy, and another salve company pure, ethical and full of possibilities is Badger. I do implore you to stay away from synthetic ingredients. They ACT all hydrating and moisturizing, but that is because they contain ingredients that produce a "feel," not a real effect, not to mention create addictive dry skin, wanting more more more! On that list is also mineral oil and petrochemicals, which coat the skin, rather than truly nourish. Check my site for a list of avoidable synthetics.
Buy Sample or Travel Sizes. Once you find a brand you love, stock up on itty bitty sizes. You can easily carry them in your cosmetic case, put them anywhere you need them -- at the office, kitchen drawer, your purse, in the car -- and that way, you will actually use them!
Switch to gentle, dish and hand soaps: like Seventh Generation's Free & Clear and Refreshingly Free's Natural Hand Soap. Hand washing and dish washing can strip away these natural oils and dry out hands, as can detergents and abrasive scrubs. Try to avoid super-hot water too. You don't need it to be hot hot hot to get your hands squeaky clean!
Go for Natural Antibacterials Rather than Chemical. You may think, crazy! But, I promise, the right brand, formulated correctly is so important. Alcohol (and I only mean 100 percent natural, food-grade, denatured with essential oil alcohol, not synthetic) is a good ingredient when used correctly and in the right percentage. It kills bacteria naturally and does NOT dry out the skin. Chemical antibacterial agents on the other hand, contribute to long term disease, skin problems and damage to the planet. Try my favorites I carry everywhere I go: Giovanni Hand Sanitizing Towelettes (grapefruit or "refreshing" is to die for) and Herban Essentials makes a lemon towelette without alcohol and instead lemon, a natural antibacterial and great cleanser (you could spritz it on your counter and clean it actually), and lovely aroma -- they make others but I feel lemon is the best because sans alcohol, you need intensive cleansing power and lemon provides that. There are certainly OTHER hand wipes on the natural market, but they are horribly formulated -- (I'm thinking of one in particular here) the moment you open the package, bam! You have to take a step back because you get "whiskey face!" It's all alcohol. Now that is bad formulation technology at work, giving alcohol a bad name!
Make Friends with Oil. Take a couple fish oil supplements every single day -- my recommendation for the best is Nordic Naturals with D3. You can do an at-home treatment, and pamper yourself by mixing up about ￂﾼ teaspoon organic sugar (choose the medium grade) and a teaspoon of olive oil together and massaging that into your hands at least once a week. Olive oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and sugar is a real, awesomeￂﾸ yet gentle exfoliating agent.
All told, resolve to pay at least half the attention you give your face and you will give yourself a natural "hand lift," making you feel like you've turned back time, in a way you may not have even thought about before!