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So What About Those Anti-Aging Products for Hands?

By Amalah

Hi Amy,
What’s your opinion on buying special anti aging/moisturizing hand lotions versus just bothering to religiously apply a halfway decent sunscreen with a high SPF? I currently apply neither, a strategy which hasn’t boded well for my granny looking hands. I’m sort of hoping your recommend something fabulous by Bliss or L’Occitane, but I’m sort of hoping you say don’t waste your money, No-Ad sunscreen will work just fine…but for heaven’s sake, use something! I don’t know why I keep neglecting my hands, but feel free to throw in a stern lecture and talk some sense into me.

Sunscreen and a basic, fragrance-free cheapo moisturizer, baby. Those are all your hands need. I go nuts with the fabulous products on my face, because…well, it’s my FACE, and it’s a temperamental, annoying bitch, but my ENTIRE guiding principle in all things skincare is that you go with what works. I will get just as het up over an ineffective cream that cost $8.99 as one that cost $28. Just WORK! Don’t make vague promises based on pseudo-science and the awesome power of greenteaoxidatides and proteinosity! Don’t blather on about clinical trials while showing me a rapid-fire Photoshop job on the teevee, just DON’T SUCK.
This kind of crap is REALLY prominent in the anti-aging category, because…well, our skin just gets older. Fact! The miracle product du jour is an endless cycle of marketing and hype, so I prefer to go with what works for me. And the one true anti-aging remedy I feel like I’ve managed to pluck out of all the BS is that the sun accelerates the appearance of aging, so protect yourself accordingly.
Personally, I must admit that I don’t wear sunscreen on my hands and body every day, like I do on my face. I used to be truly terrible — sunblock was something you wore to the beach, and that was it. But if I spend any amount of time outside, I MUST slather up every exposed inch or I will burn. Or get weird-looking moles. Just like my father, who has undergone surgery for skin cancer (basel cell, thank goodness) probably close to a dozen times. Screw wrinkles, I want to LIVE.
But hands have another reason to look haggard and aged, and that’s the fact that we USE them so damn much. They touch everything, including countless allergens and irritating substances daily. We wash them with public restroom water and mystery soap and engage in all kinds of blister- and callus-causing activities for fun. So if you feel like your hands deserve something fabulous, go for it. I’m just not sure that I buy the promises of the products specifically marketed as anti-aging, ESPECIALLY since a few of them DON’T EVEN CONTAIN SPF. WTF.
I used to use a great hand cream by Ahava religiously — oh MAN did I love that cream. Strong enough to keep my hands from cracking and drying in the winter, but not greasy or hard to absorb. I was a wild-eyed zealot for the entire Ahava body line, and anyone who tried to tell me that some plain-old drugstore cream worked for them…well, I’m sorry, but I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.
Oh, kidding. Kind of. And then Ahava came out with new packaging and (I suspect, but do not know for sure) that some of their products were tweaked and reformulated. My best friend and fellow Ahava addict reported dismay after her latest purchase, saying that something was different. And the next time I replenished my stash I had to agree.
I have since gone through dozens of hand creams in search of something I like. I realized that just about ANYTHING with artificial fragrance made my fingers crack and my hands feel dry and tight, at least in the winter months. I sampled stuff at Sephora and the drugstore and fancy natural products and Udder Cream and long-time Smackdown readers totally know where this is going.
Now I use Curel. Cheap, awesome old Curel. I buy a couple gigantic bottles and the whole family uses it, summer or winter. They’ve come out with a “targeted therapy” hand cream that I haven’t tried yet (it’s not available in a fragrance-free version, although I have used the Original Formula in the past without major allergy problems — at the very least it doesn’t seem like Curel adds very much fragrance). I probably will try it soon, if only because of the convenient handbag-sized tube.
Since your hands are almost always exposed to the elements and UV rays, it makes sense that we should all be treating them as carefully as we treat our faces. Hands are super-prone to sun spots, so if YOU decide to spend crazy money on a specialty hand cream, demand one with SPF in it, because that’s above and beyond the best thing you can do for them. A good moisturizer is a very close second, and while you easily can spend a lot of money on one, you can also probably find something really nice in the supermarket aisles. Keep your hands healthy and protected, and they’ll reward you by looking pretty…at least until, you know, YOU GET REAL OLD, and then who cares, you’ve got a lawn and a rake and some whippersnappers to threaten.

You may also enjoy reading these articles:
UPDATE ON: Sunscreen That Won’t Sting Your Eyes
Sunblock that won’t sting your eyes
How Often Should I Apply Sunscreen to My Face?
Why you should not wear sunscreen products to sleep
Why you should use anti-aging products in your early 20s?

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Olivia

    May 29, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    And gloves! I use gloves for just about every household chore, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms (realy important to protect hands from harsh cleaners), gardening/yard work….Gloves keep them from getting scratches, blisters, chapped and dried out. They also keep your nails looking nice.
    I’m also obsessive with moisturizing. I just use a basic hand lotion (avon brand), and I always keep a small bottle in my purse to use after washing in public restrooms. I also have some in my home bathroom and one on my nightstand to apply right before bed. I also use sunscreen when I’m going to be outside for very long.

  • Aimee

    May 29, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    I have to chime in here because over the past year I’ve been using a miraculous hand cream that really works. It’s the Norweigian Formula Hand Creme by Neutrogena. CVS makes a generic version of the same, but both are pretty cheap. It doesn’t have SPF (this is actually the first time I’ve ever heard that we should wear sunscreen on our hands), but I still recommend it for serious moisture repair. It’s petroleum-based, so it soaks in–unlike most regular lotions–and really heals my dry, cracked knuckles. Other lotions just come off the next time I wash my hands. But the Norwegian formula stays on after multiple handwashings. Also– a bonus– when I get dry patches on my face or chapped lips (especially in the winter), I just rub in a very small amount, and I don’t break out at all (and I have sensitive, tempermental skin!).

  • Colleen

    May 29, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I actually use Arbonne’s Intelligence Hand Cream and their Herbal Foot Cream. I think it’s like $15 for one of those short fat tubes (5oz maybe?…it’s at home). My skin is sensitive and I’ve never had a problem with any of their products, even the ones with some frangrance in them (seems to be a small amount or a non-irritating…I dunno).

  • TasterSpoon

    May 29, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    I love J.R. Watkins Lemon Cream Shea Butter (which I bought for cheap at Wal-Mart – don’t judge!) because it smells unbelievable and looks sophisticated on my desk. I also read somewhere that shea butter actually does something to skin cells to motivate them to repair and regenerate – don’t know if it’s true.
    But how do you people who use hand cream regularly do it without leaving finger prints on every water glass and telephone hand set and steering wheel, having a slippery handshake at work and giving yourself pimples every time you touch your face? Should I wear cotton gloves at the office? This is why I never really use the hand cream I’ve got.

  • Danielle

    May 29, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Just bought the Curel targeted hand creme. Its pretty smelly so I think there is quite a bit of fragrance in it. Jury is still out on how good a job it does because I can’t remember to put it on.

  • Cledbo

    May 29, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    I totally agree on the whole ‘wear gloves and sunscreen’ thing. Living in Australia, where the sun literally MELTS YOU, everyone except British expats are obsessed with wearing sunscreen and covering up to avoid melanomas (Brits still think tanning is a good idea). It’s winter now, so I’m wearing gloves because it’s bloody freezing outside, but before summer I will be attempting to find some cute ‘summer’ gloves – chicks in the 50s were on to something, I tell you.
    And every time I’m in the bathroom in the morning getting ready, all I have to do is picture sun spots on leathery hands to remind me to put sunscreen on them! Hands are kind of like necks – you can have a really youthful face, but if your hands or neck look old you can’t fool anyone.

  • Nicole

    May 29, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Honey, if you’re leaving fingerprints on water glasses, your keyboard, and your boss’s computer screen, you’re either using too much moisturizer or using the wrong kind. A good hand cream (I have a giant bottle of Lubriderm on my desk at all times) will absorb by the time you’ve finished massaging it into your hands and cuticles.

  • Pam

    May 30, 2008 at 9:39 am

    I use Curel on my body every morning and both Lubriderm and Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream on my hands. I CAN NOT go without putting hand cream on after washing. It’s more like a nervous tick than anything, but it drives me absolutely batty if I don’t have lotion to apply after I wash my hands. Consequently, I’m applying hand cream A LOT!
    I’m nearing 40 and my hands are pretty good looking, especially for the amount of abuse I put them through. (Home remodeling = scratches and blisters all the time!)

  • glittergirley

    May 30, 2008 at 11:47 am

    I was (and still sort of am) a STRICT curel fan because Her Majesty Amy recommended it. I LOVE the stuff, in the original formula, because it truly is non greasy and absorbs FAST, perfect for a nurse who needs to wash her hands all the freakin time.. but most importantly it works better than any drugstore brand I have ever used (and i have used a LOT) better than all the smelly stuff from bath and body works (and similar stores), and is CHEAP. I even have their special targeted stuff – the one that targets aging before it happens. It works okay, but i still love the original the best.
    HOWEVER – my brother had a tube of gold bond lotion (yeah, i know, ew, gold bond, right?) on his desk and for a while everytime i visited him I would put some on.. and eventually ended up stealing the tube/bottle from him. it is my NEW favorite. It is so creamy but not greasy, and leaves my hands feeling super duper soft. I also use it all over my body and my boyfriend mentioned recently that my skin has always been soft but lately its even softer than usual, and he LOVES it. He even compared me to a baby’s butt. Here is the one I stole from my brother:
    but yesterday I went out and bought another bottle since I am on vacation and TSA sucks for not letting you bring lotions on board.. I got the one with aloe and so far SO AWESOME. I am still a Curel fan but now i swing both ways, hahaah.

  • Fran

    May 30, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Another big thumbs up (two, literally) for the Aveeno intense relief. Saved my life this winter in Beantown. Absorbs quick, lasts for hours.

  • Maia

    May 30, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    One word: Bliss High-Intensity Hand Cream. Fine, that was more than one word. Whatever. My hands, they are like the satin.

  • Liz C

    May 30, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Do yourself a huge favor and use sunscreen on the backs of your hands. Trust me. Do it now and you won’t have to freak out about anti-aging products later. I am pushing 50 and am paying the price.
    Please learn from my generation’s ignorance! Sunscreen in your 20s and 30s is a hell of a lot cheaper than the magical-anti-aging crap-du-jour.
    I’m just sayin’, is all.

  • Suzy Q

    May 31, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I second what Liz C said. I had such lovely hands in my 20s that I could have been a hand model. 20 years later, not so much.
    Sunscreen and moisturizer will save your skin and your pocketbook years on down the line.

  • Carly

    June 2, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    I love Kiss My Face’s Everyday SPF 15 Lotion! Goes on quick and easy and I can use it all over! It’s not smelly or greasy.