When Madonna was photographed last year with heavily wrinkled hands sporting bulging veins, the tabloids had a field day, proclaiming that she had “the body of a teenager but the hands of a grandmother.”
At the time, I remember looking down at my own hands, wondering how much longer I had until I too would be judged for owning a set of gnarled, withered claws. Thanks very much, paparazzi.
As snarky as the stories were, they did bring attention to the difference in the way our hands age compared to the rest of our bodies.
“Women spend decades looking after their faces, but ignore their hands,” says R. Stephen Mulholland, a cosmetic plastic surgeon in Toronto who specializes in face and hand rejuvenation. “With aging comes a loss of fat in the hands, which makes them look bonier and causes veins to become more pronounced. Skin becomes thinner, broken capillaries show, and brown spots appear from UV exposure.”
The best anti-aging treatments for hands can’t be done at home. These include using a fractional laser treatment like Fraxel or Affirm to stimulate collagen growth; applying Intense Pulsed Light, which improves discoloration and brown spots; and even taking your own body fat (from your hips or stomach via liposuction) or a filler like Sculptra and injecting it into the backs of your hands to give them a more youthful, plumped up look. Pretty intense steps to take, but they do give great results.
For those not ready for full-blown hand rejuvenation, there are still things you can do: Make sure to slather sun protection on your hands, seek out a good retinol cream to help stimulate collagen growth, wear gloves when driving or working outdoors, and keep hands well moisturized and cared for.
I’m a hand cream junkie, and can think of few affordable luxuries more pleasing than having a lovely, rich hand lotion to toss in my purse. Here are a few favourites.
Lancôme Absolue Hand ($47) promises to soften skin, protect against UVA/UVB radiation and improve the appearance of age spots.
Non-greasy Dermalogica Multivitamin Hand and Nail Treatment ($36) contains retinol to boost collagen production.
Bath & Body Works Enchanted Orchid Hand Cream ($12) moisturizes hands and cuticles with natural shea butter and aloe.
J.R. Watkins Apothecary Red Clover Hand & Cuticle Salve ($9) is a rich ointment containing salicylic acid to relieve tired hands.
To restore softness, try Liz Earle Naturally Active Skincare Hand Repair ($29), which conditions skin with essential oils such as chamomile and lavender.
Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme ($17) is a super-emollient cream made with sweet almond oil and grapefruit.
Borghese Illuminare Brightening Hand Serum ($18) uses licorice root to help brighten skin tone and fight discoloration.