Hand care for dummies
April 6, 2008 7:17 PM   Subscribe

How do Ladies get their hands looking good?

In eight days, I start hosting my company's new PBS show (I have no idea what I'm doing, or I suspect I'd know these things already). I'm kind of an idiot about this stuff in general, but I've figured out that I should get my split ends trimmed, find some decent clothes, lay off the booze and salt, and maybe crack open the moisturizer. My hands, though, are a mess - and this is a how-to show, so they'll be subjected to frequent close-ups.

I'm a constant cook, baker, gardener, and tinkerer. I'm also pretty clumsy, and worst of all, careless. Right now, I've got a few minor nicks, dings, and burns in various stages of healing, one almost-but-not-quite healed wound (I sliced the very tip of a knuckle off on a mandoline) that's still scabby and surrounded by red skin, serious callouses on the palms, and dirt shadows around my cuticles even when I scrub with Go-Jo until I'm raw. Plus, the skin over my hands is chapped overall, very thin, and wrinkly over every joint - I'm 25, but my hands look 50.

So - what kind of Girl Boot Camp can I put my hands through in the next week to get them presentable? I know I should get a manicure - my nails are nearly non-existent and pretty ragged, but I figure they can at least all look the same - drink more water, and be more careful in general. But are there any more tricks I can use to deep-clean, smooth the skin, speed healing, and in general refine things a little? Like, can I file down my palm callouses with a pumice stone? Is there some kind of magic lotion you swear by? Help!
posted by peachfuzz to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
slow down!
wear gloves
moisturize your hands every evening
get a manicure once a week
posted by jessica at 7:22 PM on April 6, 2008

Response by poster: I should say: Treating the crusty hands as a marker of crafty street cred is not an option. Seriously, they're gross.
posted by peachfuzz at 7:23 PM on April 6, 2008

Best answer: When my hands get really dry in winter, I do the trick of slathering them with moisturizer and then putting socks on them and sleeping in the socks overnight.

Beyond that, I think you should go get a pro manicure ASAP, ask the manicurist for a regimen, and make regular appointments. This is their area of expertise.
posted by Miko at 7:25 PM on April 6, 2008

I like Earth Therapeutics Gardener's Hand repair.
posted by delladlux at 7:28 PM on April 6, 2008

Best answer: Glysomed lotion. I am rough with my hands also and this lotion is so amazing.
posted by janedoe at 7:29 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Get tins of Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream and put them everywhere (bathroom, desk, bedside table, purse etc.). Apply whenever you notice dry cuticles/ dry spots and after you wash your hands or get out of the shower. This has done wonders to improve the condition of my nails and cuticles.
posted by kitkatcathy at 7:41 PM on April 6, 2008

Best answer: Ditto Glysomed - it's amazing and inexpensive. Gold Bond's newer lotions are good too, the Healing and Softening ones - you can get those at any drugstore or grocery store. Also ditto the manicure - scheduling regular manicures for the duration of shooting is probably a good idea too. And try Neosporin on any wounds or cuts - it always seems to make mine go away faster.

Lastly, if there are any cuts or scabs you really can't get rid of in time, find a concealer that matches your skin tone perfectly and apply just a little to cover them during shooting. I wouldn't normally recommend makeup on a cut, and if it's a gaping, open wound, obviously you shouldn't use it at all, but it's probably OK to cover a scab or scar just for the duration of shooting (moisturize first so it takes the concealer better).
posted by boomchicka at 7:47 PM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Get some Eucerin Intensive Hand Lotion. It has a lot of urea in it that acts as a potent exfoliant. It can reduce the roughness and thickness of my (frequently bare) feet in less than a week, so I imagine it'll do wonders on your hands. Pay particular attention to your cuticles. Mine tend to be ragged and awful from cooking, so I use a heavier, oilier product on them (like the Burt's Bees lemon butter cuticle cream). Wear gloves to clean or wash dishes, apply cream or lotion every time you wash your hands, and get a good manicure. Think about having them buff your nails rather than paint them for a natural look that makes your hands and nails look instantly healthy.
posted by mostlymartha at 7:48 PM on April 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Ms. Vegetable suggests contacting Lush
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:58 PM on April 6, 2008

You might try Aveda Hand and/or Foot Relief.
posted by inconsequentialist at 8:08 PM on April 6, 2008

Nthing a professional manicure and Glysomed. That stuff is handcream gold.

I would also like to point out that the three most important words in the English language are not "location, location, location" but "moisturise, moisturise, moisturise." My youngest sister could repeat the mantra at the age of 4. (We trained her, but that isn't the point.) Every time you wash your hands - potty, dishes, general clean up - just moisturise. It's an easy habit to acquire, and your hands will thank you, especially as you age.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:11 PM on April 6, 2008

Seconding what Miko said - I have had good experiences putting Burt's Bees Coconut Foot Creme on my cracked, crusty hands overnight.
posted by cadge at 8:36 PM on April 6, 2008

Paraffin wax baths are fantastic for sealing in moisturizer-as well as being really relaxing. It's not terribly expensive to do at home and the heat really helps soothe any sore spots.
posted by hollygoheavy at 8:54 PM on April 6, 2008

L'Occitane Shea Butter hand cream is amazing. It is very rich but soaks in quickly (no yucky greasy hands). It smells really nice, too (very subtle).
posted by parkerama at 9:03 PM on April 6, 2008

Almost any heavy moisturizer (my favorites: Bag Balm, Neutrogena Norwegian, Aquaphor, pure jojoba oil, Lansinoh) and plain cotton gloves overnight.

My hands always look like ass, because I have kids and I'm constantly washing them. But I know it's a problem I could solve if I wanted to, because the rest of me is totally awesome.
posted by padraigin at 9:32 PM on April 6, 2008

Are you okay with your hands, as it pertains to your life?

If their condition is good enough for you (and anyone you might care for who get to feel your hands on them), why do you want to apologize for them (your hands)?

If sounds like you're going to do a show where you're working with your hands. It's be refreshing, at LEAST to see real hands do the _real work_.

Do you feel that the audience would be your peers (who may benefit from your experience) or do you see your audience as some entity that you're trying to impress and/or hypnotize into buying something from you?
posted by porpoise at 9:57 PM on April 6, 2008

My sister raves about the softness of her hands after she slathers Vaseline all over them and then covers them with plastic wrap and an sock overnight. They heal quickly, stay super soft for days, look healthy and moisturized.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:14 PM on April 6, 2008

Best answer: Eat wild salmon every day (apparently this is largely responsible for my glossy coat) and pick up some sleep gloves at Bed, Bath and Beyond or Target, and slather you hands with Vaseline before putting them on at night. Remoisturize after every handwashing and a few more times throughout the day. Pick a subtle and rosy nailcolor.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:24 PM on April 6, 2008

I started to take Omega 3 fish oil by Spring Valley, a brand found at Wal-marts. After about 3 weeks I noticed my hands and feet were becoming soft and moisturized. My heels were very dry and cracked, cuticles on both hands and feet were dry and flaky looking. It is amazing how great and young they look. I'm 46 and have started getting compliments on how young my hands look. My brother started taking omega 3 fish oil for heart problems, he noticed the same thing and he had some gnarly feet . It is amazing, my nails are stronger, yet more flexible.

So in addition to helping your heart, your hands and feet look as if they were manicured daily.

The fish oil I take is a one-per-day 1200 mg fish oil made up of Omega 3 fatty acids-684 mg, omega 3 epa-410 mg and omgea 3 dha 274 mg. I take it at night before going to bed and never experience a fishy taste.
posted by JujuB at 11:26 PM on April 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Most "moisturizers" actually severely irritate the skin on my hands, but plain Vaseline works great!
posted by Jacqueline at 11:41 PM on April 6, 2008

You can use a nail buffer to file off your calluses. You can find them most anywhere that sells nail polish.
posted by tamitang at 4:12 AM on April 7, 2008

I swear by Atrix hand cream. I don't have scabs, burns, etc. like the OP, but my hands do get really really dry. Regular use of this stuff (particularly after hand-washing) took twenty years off the look of my hands.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 7:42 AM on April 7, 2008

Best answer: I'm a fairly lazy person by nature, so when it comes to skin care, I have to find products that can be easily incorporated into my regular routine. If it becomes a big production, I won't do it, so then it doesn't matter how effective or miraculous the cream/oil/lotion/scrub/serum is. On that note, in addition to the suggestions for maintenance and night care, I'd like to add two products that have worked for me:

- An in-shower treatment. I really like this product from Bath & Body Works called Just a Minute 60-Second Manicure Scrub. I keep it in the bath and then do this while my hair is conditioning, a couple of times a week. It's a mild sugar scrub that is great on cuticles and very moisturizing -- and then, since you're already in the shower, it's super-easy to rinse off. And it smells orange-y and lovely in the shower steam, so there's a little aromatherapy bonus.

- A cuticle oil pen. Lots of cuticle creams are in jars, but they are usually thick and messy and take a long time to soak in (which is great for nighttime but not super-convenient for everyday). This pen from Sephora has a brush tip as in a bottle of nail polish, so you can "paint it on" right where you need it. I can put it on and then drive or type or do whatever, and it's absorbed in just a minute or two. I keep one in my purse and one in my airplane carry-on.
posted by pineapple at 10:10 AM on April 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hey, thanks for all the thoughts, guys! I'm equipped with nice lotions (thanks for the brand recs!) a giant tin of Burt's Bees hand salve for pre-cold weather application, cotton gloves, a nail file, and all kinds of other goodies. I'm also lined up with a manicurist tomorrow.

Thanks again for all the advice! Generally, I don't care too much about how my hands look; I think of them as good, useful tools and only take as much care as needed to keep them in working order. This TV thing, though...I mean, I'm all about seeing Real Life represented, but I don't think anyone needs to see scabs and sandpapery fingertips in HD.
posted by peachfuzz at 4:58 PM on April 7, 2008

I would only add to that to use some triple antibiotic ointments on your current wounds to speed the recovery process.
posted by nikksioux at 8:42 PM on April 7, 2008

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