Considering the work they do, it’s no wonder our hands seem to age faster than the rest of our bodies. But there are several things you can do (and a few you shouldn’t do) to keep your hands looking young.
Most of us have a skincare regimen for our faces, but we often forget about our hands, says hand and cosmetic surgeon Bryan Michelow, MD. And that’s a mistake for two reasons — nature and nurture, he says.
What happens as your hands age
“As we age, our skin thins and the fat in the back of our hands diminishes,” Dr. Michelow explains. “The reduced volume and decreased elasticity produces translucent skin that wrinkles and develops age spots.
In the meantime, our hands take some rough treatment.
“We expose our hands to the sun and other noxious elements more than any other part of the body,” Dr. Michelow says. And, because they do more, hands get washed more throughout the day. “Frequent washing in hot water removes the natural oils that lubricate our skin and protect against dry and cracked surfaces,” he says.
How to make hands look younger
So what should you do if you’ve noticed that your hands are looking older than you’d like?
Dr. Michelow says there are three ways to keep them looking their best.
1. Treat the surface.
You can have a big impact on hand appearance with an easy but effective hand-care routine:
- Protect: Use sunscreen (SPF50 or higher) and reapply frequently. Wear gloves for prolonged outdoor exposure or when cleaning.
- Moisturize: Keeping hands hydrated is the key to counteracting crepey skin. Apply lotions or creams frequently throughout the day. This will help your skin retain its elasticity.
- Exfoliate: Dry skin is dead skin, Dr. Michelow says. He recommends using a simple mixture of lemon and sugar to exfoliate and tone your skin. Follow up with a lanolin cream.
- Correct: You can treat age spots at home with lemon juice or with an over-the-counter topical bleach treatment.
2. Work with the skin’s layers.
You can have periodic treatments to remove the outer layer of skin. These include dermablading, dermabrasion, chemical exfoliation and laser resurfacing.
These treatments help improve the texture and tone of your skin. They also help reduce wrinkles and correct uneven or irregular pigmentation.
3. Consider fat injections.
No, it’s not for everyone, but if you really want to make the skin on your hands look fuller and more youthful, fat injection is one of the best ways, Dr. Michelow says.
“The gold standard is to take your own fat from your tummy, buttock or thighs and place it into the hollow areas on the back of your hands,” he says. This treatment requires minor surgery with one or two weeks of recovery.
Synthetic injections are also an option. However, “using your own fat lasts longer and rejection is not an issue,” Dr. Michelow says.
Polylactic acid is another minimally invasive treatment option. It is a biocompatible, biodegradable powder that the body gradually and naturally absorbs, he says.
What not to do: 3 don’ts
1. Don’t smoke. Smoking is not only bad for your insides, it ages you on the outside as well. “Smoking leads to ‘cigarette skin,’ which is dull, gray, pale and crinkly,” Dr. Michelow says.
2. Don’t use Botox®. In terms of treatments, Dr. Michelow cautions, “Neurotoxins like Botox are of no value because they inhibit muscle movement but have no effect on volume loss.”
3. Don’t have skin removal surgery. Surgery to remove excess skin on the back of the hands carries more risks than benefits, Dr. Michelow says. “It’s not advisable because of scarring and the risk of poor healing.”
Ultimately, the right mix of treatments depends on your needs and goals. But everyone can benefit from taking better care of their hard-working hands.