Growing up, I suffered from eczema, but the dried out skin that ailed my joints through my childhood plagues me no more — except on my hands, where I constantly suffer with trying to figure out how to treat my dry hands, no matter what the season. There are so many ways to tackle dry skin (not counting running into Lush and crying until they give you free samples). My scaly hands dread winter but even in the depths of summer (when gloves are definitely not an option), the skin between my fingers flakes and cracks.
I understand that we all have our own personal routines that bring us pride and sense of adulthood but more often than not, other people's tips and tricks are exactly what we've been missing. Sometimes it can be as simple as switching moisturizer or sometimes it's a deep conditioning method that I could never have imagined. Even if it doesn't work, it's worth trying or adapting into your routine to make your beauty regime feel that little bit more accomplished.
Obviously, everybody's dry skin is different — mine isn't allergic to anything (it's just flaky), but some of the products I use my friends couldn't go near. Similarly, while some softening solutions are brilliant for my equally scaly mates, a too greasy option makes me break out. It's all about finding that personal balance that works perfectly for you and striking that balance means going through all the options you can.
1. Avoid Chemicals
As far as you can, avoid chemicals, as loads of chemicals will dry out your skin. Chemicals like formaldehyde (found in body washes, nail polish removers, cleaners and more) should especially be avoided. If you're especially worried, check out this list from the Huffington Post and be wary of these ingredients when purchasing products. It's easy enough to research which products have skin damaging chemicals in them.
2. Wear Gloves When Cleaning/Washing Up
If you can't avoid cleaning chemicals, then always, always, always don a pair of rubber gloves. You can always get some feathered rubber gloves to make you feel a bit more fabulous.
As soon as it's cold enough, get some gloves. It's well known that winter is bad for dry skin and wearing gloves works a hell of a lot better than shoving your hands deep in your pockets. I'm sure you can forgo texting until you get inside for the sake of your sore skin. Or invest in some texting gloves, a winter must have in my book.
4. Dry Your Hands Properly
Most hand soaps are really bad for your skin's well being, which is why we don't wash our faces with hand soap. Make sure you get rid of all remnants before continuing with your day. Unfortunately most people don't know exactly how important it is to wash and dry your hands properly.
If your hand soap moisturizes while washing, you're killing two birds with one stone. Investing in products specifically made for sensitive skin is a massive life saver. This soap from The Honest Company is made with all natural ingredients, including soothing plant botanicals.
A rough, scratchy towel is great for exfoliating but terrible for keeping your hands soft. A soft towel however, can feel like heaven. According to Cosmopolitan, you should always be using a separate towel from the towels you use on your body after a shower. Try a special facial towel (which are extra soft) to use exclusive on your hands.
7. Cuticle Oil
Dry, peeling skin around your fingertips isn't just unappealing, it's really painful. Cuticle oil doesn't just strengthen your nails but protects your fingers. If you don't want to buy one, loads of different essential oils are used for cuticle oil too.
If you can get hold of a smaller tube — a sample of hand cream or better yet, one of the Lush charity pots that come in 10ml sizes — then keep it in your bag at all times, to keep hydrated on the go. Finding the perfect hand cream can be tough, so when you find your one true match, decanting some into a smaller pot to keep with you constantly is a really good idea.
9. Don't Overexfoliate
I know it's the most tempting thing on earth, but leaving your skin sore and on the verge of bleeding isn't going to help matters, is it? According to Dr. Dennis Gross, a cosmetic dermatologist, there are some ways to know when you've over-exfoliated your skin. He shared his tips with Cosmopolitan.
"The [tell-tale] signals that you're using your exfoliator too much include: excessive dryness, irritation, redness, and sensitivity. If you see any of these signs occurring on your complexion, it's important to stop using the product immediately," Gross said.
10. But Do Exfoliate Properly
If worst comes to worse, exfoliate the dead skin off your hands with a specialized hand scrub. Although it might seem kind of fancy to have a specific exfoliator for your hands, your hands need the same type of attention as sensitive body parts (like your face). Just as you exfoliate the skin on your face, you need to remove the top layer of skin on your hands to reveal the fresh skin underneath.
In an article for SheKnows, beauty expert Nina Sutton said, "Just as you exfoliate the skin on your face, you need to remove the top layer of skin on your hands to reveal the fresh skin underneath."
11. Use a Hand Mask
Using a hand mask makes you feel like a luxurious queen and it's an excellent excuse to make your friends fetch things for you while you sit with your hands in moisturizing gloves. These gloves by The Body Shop are made with natural cotton and can be worn overnight, so you can pretend you #WokeUpLikeThis.
Eventually, you'll work out a hand care routine that caters specifically to your own scaly mitts. Until then, it's best to experiment until you find what's best for you.
Images: Courtesy Brands; Pixabay; Pexels