Caring for your hands and nails is as important as caring for the skin on your face. Our hands are exposed to all sorts of harsh elements every day, from the sun’s damaging UV rays to chemical irritants found in household products and bar soaps.
Wash and dried, your hands have worked hard for you and it probably shows. Follow these tips to for proper hand and nail care and keep your hands looking young.
Hand Care Tips
- Avoid using hot water when washing hands.
Hot water strips the skin of its natural oils, leaving it dry. Use warm water instead and wash with a moisturizing liquid cleanser. If you prefer bar soap, look for soap that contains moisturizing ingredients, such as glycerin, petrolatum, soybean oil or sunflower oil.
- Keep your hands moisturized with a hand moisturizing cream.
Moisturizing creams make your hands look plumper and younger, albeit temporarily, by drawing water into the skin. While any cream or lotion will do, hand creams are best suited for the job as they are non-greasy and easily absorbed by the skin. Use the hand cream throughout the day and before going to bed.
- Wear a hand cream with sunscreen of SPF30 or higher during the day.
Sunscreen helps protect your hand’s delicate skin from sun damage. Remember to apply 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every 2 hours thereafter or as needed.
- Wear gloves when doing chores.
Wearing gloves keeps your hands from becoming too dry and chapped when working with water. Hot water, in particular, strips your hands’ natural oils, leaving them dry and chapped. Wearing gloves also minimizes your contact with abrasive chemicals found in some cleaning products, which can cause redness, itchiness and dryness.
Nail and Cuticle Care
- Keep your nails and cuticles moisturized.
Rub a little of your moisturizing cream or petroleum jelly into the base and sides of your nails and into your cuticles. Keeping your nails and cuticles moisturized helps them to be pliable and less at risk for cracking, tearing and hangnails. If your cuticles are extra dry and prone to cracking, consider applying cuticle oil into your cuticles at night to keep them moisturized.
- Massage your fingertips daily.
Massaging your fingertips increases circulation to the skin around the nails, keeping them healthy and less prone to cracking and peeling.
- Keep the length of your nails “just right”.
Aim for nails that extend just 2 to 3 centimeters from your fingertips. Nails that are too long are more likely to tear or chip or may harbor bacteria, while too short nails may not be enough to protect your fingertips.
- Eat healthy for healthy nails.
Include foods rich in biotin or vitamin B7 in your diet in order to help prevent brittle nails. Foods rich in biotin include green peas, soybeans, sunflower seeds, brown rice, walnuts, oats, bulgur and brewer’s yeast
- Be gentle with your cuticles.
Don’t push your cuticles too far back; leave them as is as much as possible. Use a cuticle pusher to gently push the cuticles back if you do. Don’t cut your cuticles; trim only the part that has started to lift away from the nail. Don’t pull or tear hangnails lest it leads to infection. Cut them with a nail clipper instead to prevent any break or damage on the cuticle.
- Keep all your nail implements meticulously clean.
Your nail tools can transfer bacteria and other microbes, which could lead to an infection when it enters a break on your skin.
- Treat tears and ingrown promptly.
Treat ingrown nails as soon as possible. Disinfect any cuts or tears to the cuticle to avoid infection. If a cuticle or nail is inflamed, disinfect the skin with an antibacterial or antifungal agent.