October 23, 2012

Do Your Hands Make You Look Older?

by Natalie Katsman

When you hear about wrinkles and skin aging, your first thoughts are about face and neck. But the earliest signs of aging will show on your hands.

Often neglected, hands need to be regularly taken care of.  Frequent contacts with water and chemicals, sun, cold weather, gardening - all put your skin under a big stress. While hands do not have many oil glands, they will give away your age earlier than your pampered face.

In the meantime, it has been noticed that after making eye contact, the next thing people pay attention to is your hands.

What can you do to keep your hands beautiful?

  • Moisturize! Several times a day. Dry skin is easily injured and looks wrinkled.

  • Protect your hands - wear gloves when gardening, washing dishes, or dealing with chemicals

  • Use sun protection

  • Keep your hands dry. Any water left on your hands will evaporate and dry out the skin.

  • Give your hands a special treatment - herbal or oil bath - once in a while.

Here are a few suggestions for your next hand spa:

* Herbal hand bath
Bring 1 qt of water to boil and pour over 1 tbsp of herbs (you can use all of these or just one: chamomile, nettle, sage, coltsfoot, calendula). Let the infusion cool to 100-110F and soak your hands in it for about 15-20 minutes. Dry your hands thoroughly and apply a rich moisturizer.

* You can make your own nourishing hand cream.
Thoroughly mix 1 teaspoon of honey and 3 tbsp of unsalted butter. Add 1 tbsp of strong herbal infusion. This will make a very rich cream. It will take a while to absorb, but leave your hands silky and smooth.

* For dry skin use this hand treatment 1-2 times a week:

  • 1 tbsp Glycerin

  • 1 Egg yolk

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (olive, almond, or another oil of your

  • choice)

  • Lemon Juice of 1 lemon

  • 3 1/2 - 4 oz of an herbal infusion (for example: chamomile, calendula, elderflower) or rose water.

Other tips:

  • Mashed potatoes (with milk) will make a great hand mask.

  • When cooking with eggs, don't throw the eggshells away. Scrape out the remaining egg white and spread it over your hands.

  • Rubbing your skin with a piece of lemon will give the skin a more even tone.

  • After washing dishes or dealing with other alkali detergents, rinse your hands with sour milk or with vinegar-in-water solution (1 tbsp. vinegar per 2qt of water). This will help to restore pH balance of the skin.

  • Keep your hands warm. Not only for the sake of better skin, but for your overall health. Flue and colds often start with cold hands.

Tip for gardeners:

  • before digging in the dirt, scratch a bar of soap with your nails. When you are done working, cleaning your hands will be so much easier!

Nails.Just like your skin and hair, your nails need moisture and conditioning too. Here are few tips for better nails:

  • If you use nail polish, do not use acetone polish removers.

  • From time to time give your nails a break - let them be "naked" for a few days.

  • For stronger nails, soak them in horsetail infusion.

  • Olive oil that you probably have in your pantry will make a perfect strengthening nail bath (warm it first).

  • Cuticles. Removing them is not always a good idea because it makes your nails more vulnerable to infections. Yet, if you decide to do the procedure, prepare the nails first:

    • apply a rich cream to the cuticle area

    • soak your nails in warm soapy water for 5-6 minutes.

    • after drying your hands, push the cuticles back and then carefully cut them off with small scissors.

As always, topical measures are not always enough, especially if you have brittle, split or dull nails.
There are vitamins that will help:

  • Organic Silica - to speed up the growth, avoid brittle and
    split nails.

  • Essential Fatty Acids - Omega 3-6, Primrose Oil, Borage Oil, Fish Oil - for healthy and strong nails.

  • Vitamin B (particularly B5) - for healthy nails and skin.

  • Chelated Iron - to avoid vertical ridges and spoon nails.

  • MSM (Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane) - provides building material for healthy cells.

For better absorption of vitamins and minerals, take digestive enzymes or bitters to stimulate digestion and help your body clean itself of toxins.

Whichever way you choose to care for your hands, even if it is just a hand lotion from your local grocery store, use it regularly. After all, doing so many things, your hands deserve care and attention.

(C) Natalie Katsman, 2003.

Natalie Katsman is a co-founder of http://www.natural-aid.com (now defunct), where you can find fine quality aloe vera products for beauty and well-being and subscribe to HealthySkin Newsletter filled with beauty tips, recipes and information on herbal healing, skin care and cosmetic chemistry.