Anti-aging, as the billion-dollar anti-wrinkle industry can attest, is a concern we all have. But many of us, distracted by reducing the appearance of lines on our foreheads or around our eyes, forget about our hands. Turns out these oft-overlooked workhorses can age more quickly than our faces. And unless you’re bringing gloves back into fashion, they’re pretty hard to hide. According to Jan Marini, CEO of Jan Marini Skincare Research, Inc., at least 50 percent of the sun damage we’ll get over the course of our lifetime is already ‘programmed’ into our skin by our twenties (yikes!). “Hands are one of the most consistently unprotected body parts,” says Marini. “And they’re constantly exposed to the sun, water, detergents, and a host of other elements that can cause damage.” Recently Marini shared advice about what we can do to repair damage that’s already been done and prevent more of it in the future.
Hand cream, that is, which, Marini says “can act as a protective barrier, moisturizer, and anti-aging product” all in one. You probably saw that solution coming a mile away, but how many of us are actually diligent about applying hand cream? Marini might just scare you straight: “There are two basic reasons to use hand cream. One is to prevent hands from becoming dry and irritated, and to replenish lipids and moisture lost because of washing and exposure. The other, more important reason is to protect them from cumulative sun exposure.” If you’re like us, you know by now that the hands, just like the face, need sun protection—and then always overlook your hands when putting on your SPF.
All of this left us with a few questions. Should you go with your usual sunblock, or do you need a specially formulated SPF hand product? And is a “hand cream” even essential? Or can you just use whichever body cream or lotion you have on your nightstand as a sub?
While a body lotion can certainly serve as a hand moisturizer, there’s a reason hand creams exist. They’re specifically formulated...for hands. They’re richer and designed to provide more intense moisture than body lotions, which are usually made with more water than oil (and therefore thinner). Still, with so many different products on the market, it’s hard to tell what to look for in a hand cream. Marini recommends stocking up on two types: reparative and preventative.
Apply your reparative cream every night. “Make sure the cream is packed with clinically and medically validated ingredients,” Jan explains, “that can significantly improve appearance and rejuvenate already compromised skin.” To prevent and reduce discoloration and spots, look for a product with naturally derived lightening agents like kojic acid and licorice. Creams with retinol—the over-the-counter version of Retin-A—help minimize wrinkles and encourage a smoother texture, while peptides can help give hands a plumper, less “veiny” appearance. And for really dry, easily irritated skin, look for products with high-power moisturizers like hyaluronic acid and plant-derived oils, which can help provide a protective barrier against moisture loss.
Bliss High-Intensity Hand Cream | $18
Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Intensive Hand Cream | $22
Every morning, SPF is a must. Either apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen over your reparative hand cream before you head out, and throughout the day after washing—or pick up a product with SPF built in. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, be sure to re-coat your hands in SPF at least every two hours. (And remember, your hands are exposed while driving too, even if you’re not technically “outside”!)
EVE LOM Hand Cream + SPF 10 | $35
Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl Hand Cream SPF 25 | $28
It’s clear that the biggest takeaway here is sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. (Anyone else have Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen” in their head now?) Even if you don’t feel like adding a new hand cream to your arsenal, make sure you massage in some SPF every day!