“Washing your hands regularly is definitely a good thing, but it can definitely take a toll on your skin, and leave them dry and cracked. Here’s what you can do to give them some extra love.”
Like everyone else out there, we’ve been washing our hands a lot more lately. Given the current state of affairs, there’s no denying that that’s a very good thing and what you should be doing and need to do in order to keep yourself—and others—healthy. The CDC has made it clear that handwashing is essential, and, when not possible, using antibacterial hand sanitizers is the second best option. But there’s also no denying that all of that extra washing can and does take a major toll on your hands. We’re talking dry skin that can quickly become chapped, cracked, and even painful. “As a scientist working on skin care products for almost 20 years, hand washing and using hand sanitizer are absolutely the right things to do,” says Jeff Rosevear, founding scientist and Head of Product Development for Skinsei. “Unfortunately, doing both of those things as frequently as we’re all now doing can really make your skin dry. Both can strip your skin of natural oils and disrupt your microbiome” he explains. So, what’s the solution? Since it’s definitely not to stop washing, we came up with three other ways to show your hands a little extra love.
- Turn down the temperature.
The hotter the water, the more drying it is, stripping your skin of its essential oils. And while yes, you definitely want it to be warm for germ-fighting purposes, you don’t need it to be scalding. “Warm to lukewarm water is still very effective at removing germs,” says Rosevear. FYI, the same applies when you take your showers, too. While an extra hot one may feel good, it’s not doing your skin any favors. One easy tip: If the mirror in your bathroom is steamed up post-shower, the water is too hot.
- Hydrate at bedtime.
You can and should be applying a hand cream after your wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. (Yes, every single time.) But along with that you can also use the overnight hours—a time when you don’t need to be using your hands—as an opportunity to load up on some really intense hydration. Try reaching for a cream, or even a richer balm or ointment, that would otherwise feel way too greasy to use during the day. Slather on a thick layer all over your hands, then pop on a pair of cotton gloves or socks. As ridiculous as this sounds (and yes, will look) this technique will help trap moisture in the skin so that it should feel better when you wake up, says Rosevear.
- Keep an eye out for these ingredients.
There’s no shortage of top-notch hydrating ingredients to look for, but two of the best in this instance are glycerin and niacinamide. The former is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture to and holds it in the skin. Ideally, you want to look for a moisturizer that contains glycerin as one of the first ingredients on the list, says Rosevear. Niacinamide can also be beneficial because it’s anti-inflammatory and can help tone down redness, a major boon for dry, inflamed skin. Pair that with hydrating glycerin for a one-two-punch for chapped hands.