By Brittany Anas
It’s not just smile lines that reveal one’s age: Often your hands are the first to show signs of time’s passage.
“Skin on the backs of the hands is thinner than facial skin, making it more susceptible to aging changes,” explains Shilpi Khetarpal, MD, dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “There is also very little fat on the back of the hands, so when the skin starts to lose collagen and elasticity from sun exposure, it becomes very noticeable.” She explains these changes can appear as dry, wrinkly and crepe-like skin, with prominent veins and tendons showing.
Hands that are active in the outdoors, whether tending a garden or switching gears on a bicycle, are also susceptible to sun spots. The age that such spots start to develop depends on how much sun exposure you’ve had over your lifetime.
Helping Hands Topically
Since sun exposure is such a crucial factor in the way your hands look, sun protection is the best place to start. Khetarpal suggests slathering on a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day. That even includes those days when you don’t spend much time outside: Remember that your hands are exposed to the sun when you drive and even tinted windshields generally don’t block out all of those damaging rays.
It’s also important to use a moisturizer every day. “The hands are exposed to the elements much more than other areas of the body, so it’s very important to keep them hydrated and moisturized,” Khetarpal says.
You may use masks regularly on your face. But they can do wonders for your hands, too, helping brighten the skin so it looks more youthful, says Pearl Dworkin, a licensed esthetician and holistic nutritionist in Cupertino, California.
For a mask to treat sun-damaged hands, Dworkin suggests mixing one tablespoon each of raw honey and organic plain yogurt along with a half-teaspoon of sea buckthorn oil, five drops of frankincense oil, five drops of helichrysum oil and four drops of carrot seed oil. Apply the mixture to the back of your hands and leave it there for 15 minutes before rinsing well and massaging in tamanu oil.
Protecting Hands from the Inside
The skin on your hands may not be all that needs fixing. Brittle, discolored nails tend to occur over time, and Khetarpal says that can make one’s hands look older than they should. She suggests taking supplemental biotin, a member of the B-complex vitamin family that helps support both nail and skin health.* Flax seeds contain the omega-3 fatty acids, which also promotes healthy skin.†*
In fact, your overall diet contributes mightily to skin support. Ditch the sugar and load up on foods such as olive oil, red peppers (rich in vitamin C) and moderate amounts of dark chocolate. Hydration is also crucial; green tea and plain filtered water are your best bets.
Camara says acupuncture is a great way to bring more blood and circulation into the hands. For self-care at home, Camara suggests applying pressure to certain acupuncture points, such as Pericardium 8 in the center of the palm in between the second and third fingers. She also warns about what products you use on your skin, saying, “You should avoid products that contain any chemicals or toxins.”
Your hands work hard for you. Some tender loving care will keep them looking youthful for years to come.
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.