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Found: Younger-Looking Hands

One woman’s quest for fewer spots and wrinkles can help you fight the signs of aging, too

Dry, Red Skin

Skin needs moisture to stay soft and supple. When water in the top layer escapes, the texture becomes flaky. Water is also skin’s potential enemy because it can wash away the lipids that help hold on to moisture. Excessive hand washing can strip away these natural oils and dry out hands, as can detergents, alcohol-based synthesizers, and abrasive scrubs. Redness and chapping often follow.

To minimize your exposure to water, whenever possible, use a non-soap cleanser like Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser ($4.49, drugstores), which you can wipe off with tissue, and invest in a good pair of dish gloves. After washing your hands or having any other contact with water— shampooing your hair or rinsing vegetables, for example— think defensively and apply moisturizer. Skip to lotions, which are light, and go straight to heftier sealants— creams and ointments. In a cream, look for glycerin or petrolatum; Curel, Moisturel, and Eucerin all make good, thick ones. For an ointment, try Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream ($4, drugstores; 3). Too greasy? I rub my fingertips on a hand towel to get the residue off. If you’re battling redness, check ingredients for an anti-inflammatory like chamomile or aloe. And keep multiple tubes within arm’s reach. Sometimes hands get so chapped, normal creams won’t do the trick. Take mine, they had become chronically red, exacerbated by a prolonged period of constant hand-washing when I was caring for my husband, who was ill with cancer. My skin had become “compromised,” as Francesca Fusco, M.D., a New York City dermatologist, put it. I had scoured off its buffering lipids and needed stronger help— a barrier cream with fat molecules called ceramides (lipid-building blocks) and hyaluronic acid, a moisturizer. She recommended CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($15, drugstores), and also gave me a prescription for a more potent hand cream, EpiCeram. They began to alleviate the chapping and redness within weeks.

For maximum absorption, Dr. Fusco recommends wearing cotton gloves overnight; I found it worked— in the mornings, my hands were less dry and less red. Even more effective: gel-lined gloves like Bliss Glamour Gloves ($48, Sephora), which moisturize continuously but are so thick, they make dialing a number or flipping a book’s pages a challenge. For practical (if less spa-like) conditioning, she suggests cutting the fingers off a pair of your nighttime gloves. Wear them over moisturizer, and you can hydrate while you work.

Hands are just like faces— they gradually lose fat, or volume, over time. Without that natural padding, hand skin becomes slack, creating even more wrinkling, and tendons, joints, and veins may actually increase slightly in size. You can increase skin thickness with retinoic acid. This anti-ager improves skin texture and decrease wrinkles by
speeding up cell turnover and boosting collagen production. The prescription strength has a reputation for being irritating, but don’t dismiss it if you’ve had a bad experience.

An in-office procedure can address protruding veins. Consider a laser like DioLite, which heats and shrinks vessels in one or two sessions, at $600 each. Or, for immediate gratification, try synthetic filler, injected into the
space between the tendons. The most popular these days is a gel called Radiesse, which is used off-label for hands (it stars at about $2,000). Once injected, it stays soft and melds with surrounding tissues, lasting a year or more. On top of instant plumping, it prods skin into producing more collagen. A 2011 study at Sadick Dermatology in New York City
deemed it safe, with very minor side effects and impressive results. At nine months, 80% of the patients’ hands were improved. A call to Dr. Fusco confirmed this: “I’ve never had a bad result with Radiesse.”

 

Source: Good Houskeeping. September, 2011.

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