I think the worst condition I have ever seen my hands is when I worked over the winter in a post office in Edmonton. With all of the Christmas deliveries, the back door open, the wind blowing the fridgid air in, and then handling all of the parcels and papers…. every action I took in that job sucked a little more moisture out of my already desolate hands leaving them cracked and bleeding and having to wear something on my fingers that I not so fondly referred to as a “finger condom.” Ugh – that was a run on sentence if I have ever written one but I also wanted to get that memory over with quickly!
Normally, my hands are dry. My cuticles snag on things and rip and hurt. Living in Ontario now I find the summer humidity rectifies all of this and I barely need to pay attention to them at all, but once the cold hits I need to be on hand duty pretty much 24/7. There are so many hand products out there and I have tried many, but only a few I have found can stand up to a Canadian winter.
Let’s start off with this piece of advice – cream or lotion of ANY kind going on ANY part of your body will not absorb properly if your skin is too dry and flaky. You need to remove some of the rough surface in order for the cream to do it’s job best. This is where a hand scrub comes in. For some of you this may seem like an unnecessary step or a luxury, but trust me and try it! Who cares if it is a luxury, it feels AH-MAY-ZING! While there are many DIY posts online to help you make your own scrub, I tend to purchase them. I am not saying one is better than the other, I am just not a DIYer.
There are a few hand scrubs that I have used and enjoy. Crabtree & Evelyn makes a great scrub called “La Source Hand Recovery”. This product helps remove the dry and flaky skin with mild exfoliants. This is best applied to dry (as in not wet) hands and then you work it around by rubbing hands together. Pay special attention to the backs of hands and around the cuticle. Then, rub hands under warm water until it is all rinsed off. Immediately your hands feel smoother and look more lovely. Although this product is touted as a scrub and moisturizer in one, I would recommend applying a good moisturizer afterwards after blotting your hands dry with a towel. I have also enjoyed Mary Kay Satin Hands Satin Smoothie Hand Scrub, but it only comes as part of a set and I don’t always require the other pieces. You can use a hand scrub a few times a week or even daily in the driest of seasons.
I don’t know about you, but I really like to try a hand cream out before I buy it. This often limits me to more expensive brands as they are usually the ones that have testers. I have taken the risk of buying without trying before, and I usually end up with something too watery to do a good job, or alternately one that is too sticky and won’t rub it (subsequently leaving a film on my hands that collects dirt throughout the day so I look like I have been digging through garbage). I find L’Occitane makes wonderful hand creams that are a real treat to use AND are effective at reparation. There are a number of scents to choose from and often you can find multi-packs to get several to try. I also really like Avéne Cold Cream Hand Cream and Biotherm Biomains Hand Cream.
Application of hand cream is really important. For years I would just squirt some into my palm and rub it in. Then, I would be irritated when I couldn’t open a jar of pickles or something (I know weird) because my hands were too greasy. Well, let me give you a tip… maybe you are super smart and already use this method… put your lotion onto the BACK of your hand and then rub the backs together. Since this tends to be where you are dryer it will help distribute the lotion or cream to where you need it most. Pay special attention and rub into each finger nail and into each cuticle. Lastly, rub any remainder into palms only if you need to. Voila! Now you can open jars to your hearts content!
Speaking of cuticles, I like to employ the use of a cuticle oil whenever I remember (not nearly often enough). This is a great way to prevent hangnails and cracks as the winter weather sets in. I am prone to the skin on the sides of my nails splitting if I neglect my hands, and this is a very painful and ugly thing to experience. The options are endless here too, but I like to use Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil. It is in a nail polish bottle so it’s small and easy to tote around, and I like to apply cuticle treatments with a brush as it is fast and easy. Truth be told, the main reason I ever purchased this particular one is I had a sample of it in a magazine insert. I used the sample, liked it and bought it. Sampling works!
There are times when my hands need an intervention due to abuse and neglect. This is when I use a night treatment that looks a little strange and makes my hubby call me “Mickey Mouse Hands” (I think he is a little creeped out by how it looks). BUT – it helps provide quick relief to painful stinging winter dry hands. Go to the drug store and buy cotton gloves. You can usually find these in the beauty section. Then at night slather on your cream of choice, or if you are like me and require major help, Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Skin Protectant. This magic elixir is a beauty fix-all for everything from ravaged hands to windburn on your cheeks. This is a truly legendary, award winning product that boasts a multitude of uses. So, once I have slather this stuff all over my hands, I put on the cotton gloves and go to sleep. The gloves allow the product to stay put and have a chance to soak in to where you want it rather than it ending up all over your sheets. When I wake up there is a noticeable difference. If my hands are really bad I will do this a few nights in a row along with the regular daytime methods noted above, and within a week my hands look human again.
What do YOU use for hands to keep the winter sting at bay? Please leave your comments and questions below- your feedback is important to me. If you enjoy this blog please feel free to share on your social media!
Up next… Baby It’s Cold Outside Part 3 – Body and Part 4 – Face… and then on to some make up stuff!