How To Care For Hands
Worthy of a round of applause, your hands take on a lot – more, perhaps, than any other part of the body. So learning how to care for hands is top of agenda for taking care of yourself. That means working to prevent dry skin on hands, sustaining strong, healthy nails and giving your digits the most hydrating hand creams to thwart the drying effects of, well, life. So perfect your crafts later, put down the adult colouring books, stop your thumbs scrolling. We’ve got all the manicure and hand care tips you need to get a grip on.
WHAT CAUSES DRY HANDS?
From tending to your favourite ferns to hoisting you up mountains, battling washing-up to flicking through the pages of your favourite book, dry hands can be caused by all sorts of things. Are yours feeling less soft than usual? Forget predictions and palm readings, we’ve rounded up the scientific pain points that can contribute to dry skin on hands, a signal of a weakened skin barrier. Bear in mind you might recognise a single factor as your dry hand culprit, or a combination of them might be playing havoc with your hands’ hydration levels.
1 The elements
More common in the colder months, it’s no secret that the climate can contribute to (often temporarily) dry skin. Low-humidity weather saps moisture from our skin, most felt by those parts of us that are pretty much constantly exposed. Just like that – dry hands.
2 Artificial heating
Plunging the levels of moisture in the air much lower than normal, harsh weather outside and central heating inside makes for a doubly drying combo. Conversely, in the summer, air conditioning can do much the same.
3 Hand-washing, plus antibacterial gels
Dodging cold or flu? We get it. It’s important to try to keep bugs at bay, but excessive washing can deplete our hands’ natural oils, stripping moisture from the skin. Our mitts much prefer a lukewarm water temperature and a cream-based soap to help reduce dryness and replenish moisture.
4 Overexposure to too-harsh formulas
See point 3 – if overused, soaps, detergents and shampoos formulated to remove oil can aggravate already dried-out hands.
Professions that call for immersing hands in warm water – think nursing or hairstyling – might require handling chemicals day-to-day, which can be irritants to skin. Similarly, gardeners and tradespeople working outdoors might suffer this occupational hot potato.
6 Hot baths or showers
Bathing more than once a day and/or turning the water temperature to hot (rather than warm) can create dry skin on hands. Equally, while we love a good swim, frequent paddling in heavily chlorinated water doesn’t help.
A major culprit in the fight against parched skin. If you’re not drinking enough water or getting enough sleep your skin won’t be able to retain moisture like usual. Skin needs plenty of H2O – aim for at least 2 litres a day (more if you’re particularly active or also drinking reputed diuretics like alcohol and coffee).
Worsening skin’s hydration levels, this habit can lead to drier hands.
9 Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis
If you’ve got itchy, cracked, or red and inflamed skin, it might be down to one of these, which are often linked to genetics or allergies. Help keep skin’s moisture levels up by brushing up on the other factors in these list, and if you have eczema or psoriasis, see a doctor.
Everyone experiences this inevitability differently but some common side effects include our flight-or-fight response triggering sweat, which, if we don’t drink enough water, can cause skin to dry out. Nails can become brittle or peel. Plus, stress can exacerbate existing eczema and psoriasis.
The back of the hands in particular is often noted as a tell-tale sign of someone’s age. Typically, we’re more susceptible to dry skin on hands as we get older. This is only natural and caused by the skin thinning over time, so it’s important to use our best hand creams to top up on moisture.
WHY YOUR HANDS NEED HELP
With so many causes to be aware of, is it any wonder that our hands need, well, a helping hand sometimes? Just like giving a hand to your pal or community, those good vibes need to come back around to you, too. So don’t forget about you. If you take care of your hands, they’ll look after you.
So, what do dry hands feel like? When the skin on our hands gets too tough, it could become hard and tight. (Ouch.) The skin may feel rough or even scaly.
When your skin’s natural protective barrier isn’t working as it should, you might be losing out on all sorts of good touchy-feeling moments. Quite literally, in fact, as holding hands is said to release the love hormone, oxytocin, and we all need lots of that! Our sense of touch is so closely linked with our hands, perhaps owing to our fingers being packed with nerve endings (the way our brains process tactility.) Hands are considered a feat of locomotive engineering – in a nutshell, the reason our mitts can move in so many ways, allowing us to do so much from playing musical instruments to typing on a keyboard. Ensure yours are tip-top. Give the enemies of supple hands the slip and help to reduce rough, dry skin on hands with our ranges that are designed specifically for helping to restore moisture to dry hands, like shea butter and coconut oil.
Hand Care Routine
Step 1: Wash your hands
A must to help stop the spread of bacteria, bugs and other nasty no-no’s, hand-washing is, of course, a part of everyone’s day-to-day. Step yours up to the next level in a bid to take care of dry hands by ensuring you’re using one of our gentle hand washes from the ranges we’ve made especially for this delicate skin. What difference does it make? With every trip to the loo, dry skin on hands feels soothed, helping them to stop drying out and stay soft and supple.
Step 2: Apply a hand cream
To help restore moisture after hand-washing and get a thumbs up on the hydration front, follow up with one of our best hand creams for dry skin. You’re up on your skin type, right? Bearing that in mind is the best way to pick your ultimate The Body Shop hand cream. And remember, what your skin needs might change with the seasons. Cold weather can often cause skin that’s dandy in the warmer months to dry out. Counteract this climate-induced dryness with a nourishing hand moisturiser or a more heavy-duty hand cream whenever the temperature drops.
Step 3: Use targeted hand care
Hands up, who already does this? High five to you. Just like tailoring your skincare routine, targeted hand care ensures you’re reading the terrain of your hands, taking care of each part in the best way. Consider – nails, cuticles and hands all need something slightly different. Ideally 1-2 times a week, or even more in the colder months, care for your hands with a targeted regime that includes protective products specifically designed for nails, cuticles and hands. Helping your hands to happier levels of hydration with a hand protector or hand butter, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.
Step 4: Don’t forget about nail care!
Strong nails are such a key part of healthy hands, protecting the fingertips and capping off your targeted hand care routine. They’re made of a protective protein and, just like hands, when exposed to lots of icy winds, chlorinated or soapy water can be left a little worse for wear. To help keep nails in tip top shape, be sure to file them to your desired shape regularly and keep an emergency nail kit in your bag for on-the-go touch-ups. To help restore moisture and prevent damage to nails and cuticles alike, massage a gentle cuticle oil into the nail bed a few times a week. Consider making this a part of your before-bed rituals to be consistent in your care of healthy-looking cuticles.
Create Your DIY Hand Care Routine
HOW TO DO A MANICURE AT HOME
Step 1: Clip your nails
There’s nothing more pleasing than getting your nails in perfect order, all the same size and contoured to the same shape. First step in getting this right is trimming nails down to size. Use nail clippers to get your desired length.
Step 2: File and buff
Now your nails are trimmed, it’s time to create the perfect shape. Whether you like nails square, almond-shaped or rounded, using a file will help create this finish. Don’t forget to follow up with our Nail Polishing Block – a multi-tasker of a tool that helps to smooth ridges, file, buff and polish.
Step 3: Moisturise
Consider this step in your DIY manicure the soothing snow-capped peak of hand care. Hands that are susceptible to dryness will soak up our naturally inspired Almond Hand and Nail Butter. It’s enriched with Community Fair Trade shea butter from Ghana and helps hands to reach new heights of hydration, with a beautiful, moreish scent.
Step 4: Nourish your cuticles
Our handy Almond Nail and Cuticle Oil in a nifty pen form makes caring for cuticles almost effortless. Enriched with Community Fair Trade shea butter as well as sweet almond oil, this grab-and-go Cuticle Oil helps to nourish the nail bed, keeping cuticles looking healthy. Top tip – if you’re adding colour to your nails as part of your manicure, always apply cuticle oil post-manicure (not before). That’s because the nail varnish won’t be able to stay put on fingernails if they have an oily base.
Tips For Dry Hands And Nails
Tip 1 – Wear Gloves
A no-brainer for many of us. When the thermostat drops, one of the best ways to offset the drying effects of cold weather is by wearing gloves. A winter wardrobe essential, they’ll help to protect your hands from the elements as much as keep you feeling cosy. Avoid the often inevitable separation of one glove from the other by investing in a pair you can’t bear to be without and pop in your handbag or coat pockets. Overnight, using moisturising gloves in combo with our Shea Hand Cream will help protect your skin, leaving it feeling and looking softer. Equally, protect your paws by wearing cotton-lined gloves whenever gardening or cleaning.
Tip 2 – Keep Hydrated
Hydration contributes to keeping hands feeling and looking soft and youthful. So, how much water do you need? Epitomised by our entirely unique fingerprints, no two people are alike, meaning the amount that’s right for you might be different to your friends. Equally, other factors can alter how much water you need on a daily basis. The standard 2 litres should be topped up if you are exercising or drinking coffee and alcohol. If you work in an office, why not keep a big reusable bottle by your side to remind yourself to glug throughout the day? Slow and steady wins the race – the last thing you want is to be downing gallons before bed, as you’ll be up all night back and forwards to the loo! And if you’re not a fan of water? Spruce up your H20 by adding sugar-free squash or fresh fruit or veg – try lemon, celery or that spa-fave, cucumber.
Tip 3 – Massage Your Hands
Get a grip on effective relaxation. A hand massage doesn’t have to be a one-off treat. In fact, all of us have healing hands, capable of great things. Bring the spa vibes home and give yourself a hand massage, like the empowered human you are. All you need is one of The Body Shop’s best hand creams for dry skin to make it happen. Helping to relieve the repetitive actions our hands go through every day, boost circulation and mobility as we age, hand massage techniques have been used over thousands of years. Good hand massage practice calls for a thorough hand-wash first up. Pat them dry with a clean towel, before grabbing your hand cream. Massage down up and down your fingers and over knuckles in circular motions, rubbing in one of our sumptuous hand moisturisers as you go. Hands will be left feeling soothed and smoothed.
OUR BEST HAND CREAMS
2-in-1 hand and nail cream
We’ve harnessed the mighty almond, a nut with popularity stemming all the way back to biblical times, in our favourite protecting Almond Hand and Nail Cream. This formula cares for nails as much as the rest of your hands, and is enriched with Community Fair Trade almond oil. After using this multi-tasker, hands are left feeling fresh and smelling beautifully nutty.
Helping to replenish super smooth, soft vibes to hands, our Shea Butter Hand Cream is as cult a product now as it was when we first formulated it. In fact, it’s non-greasy feel and sumptuous smell has been a firm favourite at The Body Shop since our founder discovered shea butter in Ghana in the 90’s. We still use Community Fair Trade shea butter from Ghana in every tube. Throw in your bag, and you’re good to go.