It’s one of winter’s trickiest beauty challenges—keeping hands soft and smooth during the year’s coldest months. The lack of humidity and our exposure to indoor heating—which sucks moisture out of the air— leaves our hands prone to becoming dry, chapped, itchy and flaky. Or worse. “It can get to a point where skin is really unsightly: red, scaly, itchy,” explains dermatologist Dr. Paul Cohen of Toronto’s Rosedale Dermatology Centre. If Madonna’s recent predilection for wearing gloves indoors doesn’t appeal to you, read on. We asked Cohen to share his top tips for winter hand TLC.

Skin care tip: Bringing moisture back

“For people who are prone to dryness, the way they wash their hands is important,” says Cohen. Cramped office quarters bring closer contact with colleagues—great for producing body heat, not so much for preventing the spread of germs. After direct contact with door handles and subway tokens, Cohen recommends washing with a mild soap or creamy hand wash instead of alcohol-based sanitizers, which can further dry out skin.

Skin care tip: Heat warning

Avoid soaking frosty fingers in hot water when washing, “It’ll dry out your hands even more,” says Cohen. And immediately follow up with a moisturizer while hands are still damp. “Exposure to the wind and cold can really dry out the skin, like it does on your face, so you definitely want to protect your hands as much as you can.”

Skin care tip: Build a barrier

Use a cream specifically designed for hands. “They’re usually thicker than regular body lotions or creams so they’re slightly more resilient to repeated hand washings,” says Cohen, adding that choosing the right cream is critical to sealing in moisture in wind-chapped hands. Go for texture: Ingredients like Petrolatum and Shea butter tend to be the thicker components of moisturizers and better ensure long-lasting protection.

“Hands age pretty quickly,” says Cohen. Just as SPF-enriched creams shield the face and body from harmful UVA/UVB rays, you can protect your hands from
sunspots and other irregularities by moisturizing on both sunny and cloudy days.

Cohen recommends
hand moisturizers like Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Formula and Cetaphil Therapeutic Hand Cream. Opt for pocket size and toss them in your bag for easy access and apply often and generously throughout the day.

Skin care tips: Best winter facial moisturizers

Want to find the solution to dry hands this winter? Check out more of our winter skin care tips on the next page…

Skin care tip: Second skin
A final wind-resistant barrier? Warm winter gloves. Just watch for materials that may aggravate already sensitive skin. “For people who tend to have very sensitive, irritable skin, I wouldn’t wear wool gloves,” says Cohen. “Wool is one of the most irritating materials that can contact the skin.”

A cheaper investment than a pair of Louis Vuitton leather gloves? Opting for cotton gloves that can be worn at night. Simply lather on hand cream before bed and place cotton gloves overtop to help the cream penetrate well. Or wear the cotton gloves underneath rubber gloves when cleaning and washing dishes to absorb sweat and avoid contact with water and harsh cleaning chemicals.

Skin care tip: Hand signals
If you leave dry, cracked hands out in the cold skin inflammation or dermatitis can develop and cause difficulty with typing or texting, and may require a prescription cortisone cream for short-term use to soothe skin. The only nicer hand gesture? Complementing your creamy soft skin with a poppy red manicure.

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