My paws are a disgrace. How to get lady hands?
April 10, 2013 4:41 AM   Subscribe

My hands are a mess due to neglect. Dry, flaky and raggedy cuticles. I don't have spare cash or time for regular manicures - think my last one was 2 years ago. Can you recommend a good hand cream or oil that will get rid of my scales, soothe my cuticles and maybe even strengthen my peeling nails? My skin can be sensitive so nothing too perfumed but I like fancy toiletries so nothing too basic either, and I don't have time to make my own. Sunscreen would be a bonus. I'm in the UK so something available here or that ships to here. And preferably something that will fit in my handbag, or comes in full size and travel sized versions. I thank you.
posted by billiebee to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (28 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Body Shop's Hemp Hand Protector is really good. I've used it for years to treat dry skin on my hands. Not unscented - to me it has a bit of a patchouli smell - but it seems fine on my sensitive skin. My wife likes it too, and uses most of mine.
posted by pipeski at 5:04 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just about any cream/oil/balm will work if you use it daily and take the time to give your cuticles some love. Apply liberally and gently massage into the cuticle and nail - about twenty seconds per finger. I like doing this right before bed.

I have a couple cuticle balms and brush-on oils, but my go-to for cuticles (and everything else) is Nivea creme. It's cheap but feels and smells luxurious, and the scent is light and subtle. The small tins travel very well and the creme is thick enough not to leak.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:04 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I don't think you need regular manicures in this case, but getting one now to take care of all the rough bits and stuff will give you a good starting point on taking care of them from here on out.

A good all-purpose, kind of spendy but worth it product is L'Occitane's plain ol' shea butter hand cream. It's very rich and goes a long way, and comes in a pretty tube to boot. If there's a shop near you, you can go try it out before buying. Another more commonly available item might be Boots No 7 Protect and Perfect hand cream.

If you want a more targeted product, you could look for a cuticle oil, which gets dabbed on the 'moon' of your nailbed and then rubbed around the perimeter of your nail, moisturizing the cuticle. I have seen these products come in nail polish bottles, so you use the brush to 'paint' the oil on your cuticles before rubbing it in. Handy!
posted by rachaelfaith at 5:04 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like Soap and Glory Hand Food. It's fancy(ish) but you can get it in Boots!

My handcare routine is to keep some antibacterial hand gel and some Hand Food on my desk at work and periodically apply first the gel (for cleaning) and the cream (for softening), especially after washing my hands. It does make a difference, my hands are naturally quite dry but have softened up a bit after regular usage.

I have irregular (say, once every 2 months) manicures which also help.
posted by Ziggy500 at 5:08 AM on April 10, 2013

I like Paula's Choice Cuticle & Nail Treatment and Sephora Brush-On Cuticle Oil. I also really like Lush Lemony Butter but it does have a strong scent.
posted by neushoorn at 5:10 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I really like this one. It is really moisturizing and sinks in nicely...after a short while. I do not like most of the supermarket handcreams because they all seem to leave your hands covered in some kind of smoothing film but once you wash that off your skin is as flaky as before. They don't moisturize enough. Presumably because they want them to be absorbed quickly. To me that defeats the object. I want moisturizing hand cream. This fits the bill, even if it means I can't touch things for a couple of minutes whilst I massage it into my skin and let skin absorb it.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:10 AM on April 10, 2013

I like Eucerin. It's not very fancypants, it's not expensive and it works.
posted by loveyallaround at 5:19 AM on April 10, 2013

Weleda Skin Food is my favourite
posted by veids at 5:25 AM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

I find L'Occitane's Hand Cream drying, but their shea butter foot cream is positively luxurious. Go and get a manicure w/ a paraffin treatment to start yourself off right. Then, at night, liberally apply your cream off choice, put on your plain cotton gloves and leave on till morning. Make sure to wear gloves when you do dishes too, as the hot water / detergent combo is brutal on your skin.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:54 AM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: Aveda Hand Relief. Get it and a pair of light cotton gloves and sleep with this stuff on your hands. It isn't greasy, what smell it has is light clean & non-perfumey, and after one night you won't recognize your hands, it's that effective.
posted by headnsouth at 6:01 AM on April 10, 2013

Put some baking soda with your soap when you wash and it will exfoliate your skin. You can do it all over your body and face too. If you can find it, use coconut oil to moisturize, it's cheap and isn't greasy because it absorbs right into your skin!
posted by Yellow at 6:06 AM on April 10, 2013

Lush's Lemony Flutter is my favorite hand cream of all time.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:17 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've suffered from peeling nails recently and the one thing thats made a noticeable difference is dumping the emery boards and investing in a good crystal nail file. I'd tried cheap ones before and didnt notice any improvement until I splashed out on a £15 Leighton Denny file. Big, big difference, you end up sealing the nail instead of worsening the peel.

For moisturising I'm a fan of cheap and cheerful and often. I like the Solid Formula Palmers Cocoa Butter, less than £3.50 for a tub and it'll last you about 2 years. Not handbag friendly but you could easily scrape a chunk out into a smaller tub. There is a a lotion that's handbag friendly or a lotion with SPF. The lotions can be a bit strong smelling (but of chocolate!) so there is a less perfumed lotion. The solid fomula isnt so strong smelling and I've never had any version make me itchy (some products give me excema).
posted by Ness at 6:40 AM on April 10, 2013

This is probably insufficiently fancy, but I love Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream. Nothing else makes my hands feel as good.
posted by mskyle at 6:46 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've tried nearly every single recommendation on here and none of them really work for me (some are too greasy, others just don't last long enough or do enough to improve the condition of my hands). I've tried expensive, cheap and everything in between. I'm also in the UK.

The best stuff I have found, without question, is Palmer's Olive Oil Concentrated Cream.

This cream is thick, moisturizing and lasts ages. The tube is handbag-sized. You can put this on and your hands will feel good without having to re-apply soon. Usually with hand creams I feel like I need to put more on shortly after I've just put some on, but not with this. It's not greasy at all and has a very light, clean scent. And it's cheap.

Palmer's also do Cocoa Butter Cream and Shea Butter Cream. They're all good, but I think Olive Oil Cream is the best. If you don't like how thick the Olive Oil Cream is, the Shea Butter Cream is a bit lighter and Cocoa Butter Cream is slightly lighter than that.

Someone linked to Palmer's Cocoa Butter Solid. This is a great body moisturizer, but I don't like it specifically for hands. It's very greasy, which isn't really practical if you use your hands at all.

Also, if you don't wear rubber gloves when you do the washing up, try it. I started doing this and the condition of my hands improved in days.
posted by Polychrome at 7:13 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had terrible, soft peeling nails while doing water aerobics and the only thing that helped was taking pre-natal vitamins. I had noticed that when I was pg and taking them, that I had the best nails of my life, so I asked my doc if there would be any harm in taking them now (at 55). She said no, but to watch my iron intake so as not to become constipated. I had been taking an iron supplement, so gave that up as there seems to be plenty (for me) in the vitamins.
posted by jvilter at 7:14 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

The most effective moisturizer I've used on my hands/cuticles is the very un-fancy Carmex Healing Ointment. A tub (which probably contains a lifetime supply) cost me about US$4 at my corner drugstore. I just checked and it's also available in the UK.
posted by trunk muffins at 7:24 AM on April 10, 2013

Seconding the Neutrogena Norwegian Forumula - yes, it's not super-fancy, but it is incredibly moisturizing.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:33 AM on April 10, 2013

I use coconut oil, which is cheaper than hand cream and doesn't irritate my sensitive skin. I use it in the evenings if my skin's been particularly dry, and if it was really bad, I might throw some (non-beloved) gloves over a heavy layer to let it really soak in. I'd be more interested in eliminating the cause of the problem, if I could--should you wear gloves to do dishes/in the cold or wind? Use a less-harsh soap or shampoo? Eliminate a certain cleaning product?
posted by Edna Million at 7:35 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is probably insufficiently fancy, but I love Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream. Nothing else makes my hands feel as good.

I think this is great too, and use it over the fancy hand creams my mother sometimes gifts me. It's also great for my feet when my heels get rough/scaly in the summer.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2013

(1) vitamins (I take prenatals for my hair and I swear they help for both my hair and nails

(2) lanolin (as in nipple cream). Rub a bit into your cuticles briskly, then push them back (I use my fingernails to push back my cuticles)

(3) exfoliate the suckers! Pour a blob of oil (olive, coconut, whatever) into your palm and add a good amount of sugar. Rub your hands together. Rinse

(4) wear gloves to wash up

(5) keep cuticle oil at your desk and use it whenever you see it. I use a generic HEMA (Dutch Target) brand one. Frankly, cuticle oils are much of a muchness. If you're feeling fancy try OPI Avoplex.
posted by nerdfish at 8:04 AM on April 10, 2013

Also second the recommendation for a glass file! It makes a huge difference.
posted by nerdfish at 8:21 AM on April 10, 2013

I love Naturally Nancy's. It keeps me from having lizard skin. It's made from beeswax and it smells faintly of butter and honey.
posted by fullerenedream at 9:17 AM on April 10, 2013

You mentioned 'scales', and I'm going to assume this is not hyperbole but evidence your hands are as rough as mine can get, which is rough. For the cuticles and ragged skin only (try to avoid applying to peeling nails), look for a hand or cuticle (or even foot, yes foot) cream with 5-10% urea in the ingredients, plus a heavy emollient like lanolin. My skin is sensitive, but I can handle the urea, for some reason.

Since I hate spending money for below-the-neck things, my specific suggestions are cheapo drugstore options (Sally Hansen Cuticle Eraser & Balm, which is the business, guaranteed to work; even, Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Foot Cream), but I'm sure fancier versions with similar ingredients exist.
posted by nelljie at 9:40 AM on April 10, 2013

Again with the Bag Balm? Yes, because it's the best raggedy cuticle and super-dry skin cure I know! Also great for burns (after the mandatory 24-hour cooling-off period!). Rub it in till your hands aren't sticky anymore.
posted by Lynsey at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I put olive oil and sometimes coconut oil on my hands every night before I go to sleep and it makes them really soft and non-scaly.
posted by luciernaga at 10:35 AM on April 10, 2013

Best answer: My Super Frugal Bi-Weekly Hand Beautifying Method

Assemble your ingredients:

A nail brush (I actually use a vegetable brush, which I already had at my disposal and works just as well)
Olive oil
Coconut oil

1. Soak your hands in a bowl of hot but not scalding water for 5 minutes.
2. Put some soap (whatever you have is fine) on the nail brush and give your nails, cuticles and fingers a good long scrub.
3. Pour just enough olive oil into a half cup of sugar to get the mixture crumbly. If you go overboard on the olive oil it just means extra moisture, so do what works for you. Rub mixture all over both of your hands, including your wrists, for a solid minute and a half. Rinse off the sugar.
4. This is the magical part: coconut oil. It's expensive, but if you have it around you will never have to buy another lotion, body oil, shaving cream, moisturizer or conditioner again. Take a good TBSP and massage it into your hands, focusing on your nails and cuticles.
5. Dry your newly supple, soft, flake-free hands and marvel.

Also, If you're feeling spendy, Lush's Lemony Flutter cuticle butter is the best cuticle cream I've used. Still doesn't beat coconut oil though!
posted by moons in june at 4:37 PM on April 10, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks all! I will be stocking up on vitamins, a crystal nail file, washing up gloves and coconut oil. And will work my way through the hand cream recommendations. I might even treat myself to a starter manicure, and will try to keep up a regular(ish) oil/sugar scrub. My hopeful mitts salute you.
posted by billiebee at 1:49 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

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