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Hand-Care in a Time of Non-Stop Washing

Beauty & Grooming

From using the right soap to pre-bedtime care, here’s everything you need to know to keep your over-worked hands happy and healthy.

The events of the last few weeks have turned our lives upside down and seemingly changed our hygiene habits overnight. Experts agree that frequent hand-washing - for a minimum of 20-seconds, or two rounds of Happy Birthday - is essential to keeping safe and healthy. But, while necessary, such frequent hand-washing has not surprisingly left our hands in a sorry shape. Here’s how to show them some TLC.

Cool down

Washing our hands many, many times a day, and supplementing with hand sanitiser, may be our new normal but there are steps you can take to keep the process as gentle - but still effective - as possible. Crucially, be mindful of the temperature of the water you are using. The World Health Organization (WHO) haven’t stipulated that the water should be hot so if you’re scalding your hands you’re doing so unnecessarily. Scorching hot water will increase the rate of water loss from your lipid layer, resulting in sensitised, tight, itchy, cracked and sore skin. Turn the temperature down to a more comfortable level and your hands will be happier for it.

Be gentle

Soap is necessary to properly clean skin and effectively remove dirt and germs, but you should look for kind-to-skin formulas, especially if you already have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis which can become easily inflamed. Use fragrance-free hand soaps that produce a minimal amount of lather and, preferably, contain nourishing, hydrating and calming ingredients such as aloe vera.

Add more moisture

The downside of frequent hand washing is a sudden and severe lack of moisture. Hot water, soap and constant drying can damage your skin’s protective layer, causing irritation and making it extremely hard for it to hold onto valuable water. Once you have washed your hands, pat them with a single-use towel until they are completely dry (don’t rub) and follow with a generous application of moisturizer. Look for ingredients that are known to lock in moisture such as shea butter and hyaluronic acid which is renowned for its ability to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water; a boon for parched skin. Make sure you reach the skin in between your fingers where irritation and cracking is known to occur. We like to also keep a travel-size bottle of hand cream next to our sanitiser so it becomes habitual to moisturise immediately after sanitising.

Create a pre-bedtime ritual

Evening wind-down rituals are more important than ever as we adjust to spending so much time in our homes. Rituals bring a sense of routine to our day, which is something we sorely need right now. While you’re taking a moment to relax with a bath, or go through your evening skincare routine, why not pay some extra attention to your hands? Massage a hand mask into your skin or, if you don’t have one, use a hydrating and comforting face mask for a similar effect. Once you have removed the mask from your hands, massage in a cuticle oil around your nails to soften the skin there and remedy any hangnails, before applying a final layer of thick moisturiser and donning a pair of cotton gloves for the night. Your skin will be soothed, smooth and comforted come morning.

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