Are you struggling with dry, cracked, itchy or flaky hands from too much handwashing and hand sanitiser? You’re not alone. Choosing the right skincare for dry hands can help soothe and heal sore skin and give you soft, smooth hands once again.
So why does frequent hand washing cause dry skin?
When you wash your hands with soap and water you’re not only washing away the germs, but you’re washing away your skin’s natural oils too. Plus if you have been using hand sanitiser multiple times a day, you can literally feel the alcohol strip the moisture from your skin. Ouch! Over time this can leave your skin feeling dry, scaly or even cracked and sore.
But you don’t just have to suffer. With the right skincare plan, you can have the best of both worlds – clean, hygienic hands and soft, hydrated skin. Here’s what you need to know…
Choose Your Hand Soap Carefully
If you’re struggling with dry hands due to washing your hands more frequently then it could be a good idea to try a different soap.
Like most things, not all soaps are created equal – some will dry your hands more and some less.
When you’re selecting your skincare for dry hands try to choose a hand soap that’s free from the normal nasties such as sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, perfumes, parabens and phthalates. And look out for natural moisturising and soothing ingredients like essential oils, aloe vera and shea butter.
New York Dermatologist, Neil Bridy, recommends Dove’s Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar because it doesn’t leave a residue, it’s mild and non-irritating, has no perfumes, and it doesn’t dry out your skin. It’s not quite as natural as I like my products to be, but if you’re struggling to find good skincare for dry hands that you can pick up from your local supermarket, then it’s worth considering.
A good option that’s more natural-based is Method Body’s Simply Nourish Soap Bar which is made from coconut, rice milk, and shea butter. It’s paraben-free (no preservatives), aluminium-free, and phthalate-free too.
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise
The main problem with frequent hand washing is that every time you wash your hands, you strip your skin of its natural oils and moisture. The good news is that with the right skincare for dry hands it is possible to replace the moisture and keep your hands silky smooth with a good hand cream.
You should choose the moisturiser for your hands as carefully as you choose your soap.
The best moisturisers for dry skin include three components: humectants, emollients and occlusives.
Humectants are substances that can attract water molecules and bind to them, helping your skin preserve moisture and stay hydrated. Some good, natural humectants that you should look for in skincare for dry hands are glycerin, honey, aloe vera, and lactic acid.
Hand creams that contain emollients help soften your skin, reducing flakiness and making your hands feel better. Plant oils, mineral oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and lanolin are all common emollients, however, when you’re looking for skincare for dry skin it’s best to avoid the mineral oils as they have been linked to several health issues and do not absorb into your skin.
Occlusives seal the water in your skin, helping it to stay moisturised for longer. Candelilla wax, carnauba wax, palm kernel, macadamia oil and cocoa butter are good options when you’re choosing your hand cream.
What To Avoid In Your Moisturiser?
So now you know what to look for in a moisturiser when choosing skincare for dry hands – what should you avoid? Look out for and avoid all the normal nasties including parabens, sodium laurel sulphate, aluminium and triclosan.
How Often Should You Moisturise Your Hands?
Once you’ve chosen a good hand cream it’s best to use it every time you wash your hands. This will help replace the moisture you’ve just washed away and keep your skin hydrated and healthy. You can also apply your hand cream first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I recommend keeping a tube of hand cream in your handbag and apply it as frequently as you need throughout the day to keep your hands soft and smooth.
Check For Allergens
Everyone’s skin is different and a skincare product that’s good for one person might not be right for another. If you’re using a high-quality soap and moisturiser but still experiencing dryness, soreness, itching or redness then it could be that one of the ingredients is irritating your skin.
Allergies can occur with any ingredient however there are some that are more likely to trigger reactions than others.
If you’re experiencing irritation then start by eliminating individual ingredients to see if it helps.
Common ingredient such as Lanolin, essential oils, citrus, parabens, imidazolidinyl urea, Quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, phenoxyethanol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and formaldehyde are all common irritants. These ingredients are commonly used in skincare for dry hands but they have been known to cause reactions in some people so they’re a good place to start.
Generally, for sensitive skin, the simpler skincare products for dry hands with fewer ingredients are the better choice.
Drink Plenty of Water
If your body is dehydrated then your skin will be dehydrated too and you’ll be more likely to suffer from dryness, flaking and itchiness. It’s all very well choosing fab skincare for dry hands but if you’re not giving your body enough fluids on the inside too then you’re in for an uphill struggle.
How Much Water Should You Drink?
You just need to drink a normal, healthy amount of water to keep your skin hydrated. For most people between 2-2.5 litres of water a day is optimal – that’s around eight small glasses or four to five 500ml water bottles. Spread it out throughout the day and try to avoid fizzy drinks and squashes as these are packed full of sugar or artificial sweeteners which are bad for your health.
Eat Healthy Fats
I also recommend eating plenty of healthy and nutritious fats that will nourish your body and your skin. Increase your intake of oily fish, eat fattier cuts of meat, buy full-fat dairy products, eat avocados and olives every day. Plus you should consume plenty of healthy oils like coconut, olive and avocado oil.
Eating healthy fats should be conjunction with a healthy whole food diet. Always aim to reduce sugar intake and highly processed carbohydrates and junk food.
My Top 3 Hand Creams
My top 3 hand creams are my “go to” products and I keep some by my bed, in my handbag and in the bathroom. You can pick these hand creams up at any supermarket, so no need to make a non-essential journey.
No. 1. Vaseline Intensive Care – Hand Plus Nail Cream
I love this because it’s also good for my nails too. If like me, your gel nails have come off and your natural nails feel weak, this is a good product to help nourish and strength them. Its made a big difference to the dry skin on my hands just in a couple of weeks.
No. 2. Palmer’s Coconut Oil Hand Cream
This is so thick and creamy, plus it smells delicious like a Pinacolada! It hasn’t got any “nasty” ingredients in it and it absorbs really quickly into your skin.
No. 3. Natural Coconut Oil
Yes, that’s right, I mean plain and natural coconut oil, the same stuff that you cook with. Coconut oil is packed full of natural fats and Vitamin E to soothe and nourish your dry hands. You can actually use it all over your body, including your face and your hair! You might want to keep a separate tub in the bathroom, rather than use the same tub in the kitchen!
Want to learn more about keeping your skin hydrated? Check out our blog post “8 Ways To Hydrate Dry Skin” here…