Lately, thanks to the COVID pandemic, we’ve all become expert hand washers. Anti-bacterial and alcohol-based products have become permanent inhabitants of our vanities and, while they’re great at eliminating traces of dangerous viruses, they’re unfortunately quite harsh on the skin of our hands, leaving it dry and itchy – or worse.
In this article we’ll explore the measures you can take to maintain healthy, oily skin and avoid those dry hands (contrary to popular belief, drinking lots of water isn’t one of them).
Let’s dive in.
What causes dry hands?
The skin on our hands is typically brilliant at its job, providing a protective barrier against harmful pathogens and harsh environments. However, too much exposure to the elements and irritants takes its toll, particularly in the winter months (and during a pandemic) when moisture levels are low and the skin is at risk of severely drying out. Lacking in natural oils, our skin appears and feels dry and itchy and can split when stretched. In the worst cases, this can lead to pain and even bleeding.
Here are some common causes of dry hands:
- Excessive hand washing
- Some soaps and hand washes
- Detergents and other cleaning products that upset the pH balance of our skin
- Ethanol-based hand sanitisers
- Cold, dry winter weather
The trick to preventing this is giving our skin’s barrier a helping hand, which in turn allows it to retain oils and stay hydrated.
What prevents dry hands? (Hint: it’s not drinking water)
Never ones to discourage a good daily intake of water, there is nevertheless no merit to the claim that drinking water will cure dry hands. While drinking water can assist with skin complexion, it does not provide any lubrication when compared to fatty acids in your diet. We recommend taking an essential fatty acid supplement to make sure you’re looking after your skin (and not just your hands) from the inside out.
Our top choice would be JS Health Triple Omega 3 Fish Oil+, which you can purchase by giving us a call.
In the vast majority of cases, dry hands are caused by the excessive use of harsh products coupled with a lack of moisture in the air. Here are six things you can do to combat dry hands.
- Switch from harsh drying soaps to a moisturising hand wash, preferably one containing cold pressed carrier oils and other nourishing agents such as olive oil, coconut oil or honey.
- After washing, dry your hands and then, while still a little bit damp, apply an occlusive moisturiser to help seal in the moisture and keep hands soft and supple. Keep an eye out for ingredients like ceramides, petrolatum and dimethicone. Hand creams containing humectant ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerine will help add an extra boost of water to your skin. However, moisturisers containing occlusive ingredients assist the concealment of ingredients.
- Prolonged exposure to water can drain our skin’s natural moisture, so protect your hands when cleaning by wearing rubber gloves.
- Hand sanitisers must contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective at eliminating bacteria and viruses. These products can be very damaging to the skin so, when you’re at home and isolating, limit your use of these products and instead use an antibacterial, pH friendly hand wash. And try to make it a habit to use a moisturiser after every hand wash.
- If you are prone to very dry skin, use a humectant base moisturiser as a delectable overnight treatment. Before bed, lather your hands with a thicker moisturiser containing heavy oils such as coconut oil or vitamin E. After application, cover your hands with a pair of soft gloves or socks, trapping the moisturiser so it absorbs more fully into your skin, and you’ll wake up with baby-smooth hands.
- For an extra treat – not just the hands but for the hair and skin on your entire body – run a humidifier in the bedroom at night. By filling the air with moisture, your skin will lock in the humidity, reducing the recurrence of dry skin so it becomes soft and supple while you sleep.
Thanks for reading and keep those hands moisturised!
Yours in Beauty,