About 6 months after we moved to LA, I started noticing sun spots appearing on my hands and arms. Suddenly, my pale and youthful hands looked blotchy and, well, old.
I refused to settle for this unpleasant side effect of living on the sunnier coast, and set out to uncover the best natural remedies to keep my hands looking young and pretty.
These four steps protect and heal hands, as well as reverse the damage that they suffer from being exposed to the elements. When I follow my own advice, my hands look great. But when I slack off and neglect them (as I have been lately), the sun spots and leathery looking skin come right back. So I’m getting right back on the bandwagon — I’ll be sure to post some new before and after photos in a few weeks!
4 Steps to Younger Hands
Step 1: Exfoliate
The buildup of dead skin cells on hands, as well as the dry, cracked skin that exposure to the elements can cause is a huge factor in dull, blotchy, aged-looking hands. The best remedy for this is weekly exfoliation.
I am a huge fan of natural sugar scrubs, which are far gentler and more hydrating than salt scrubs or harsh scrubs made from fruit pits or kernels. Sugar scrubs also have the added benefit of glycol acid, an alpha hydroxy acid which encourages new cell turnover, perfect for reversing the effects of sun damage.
You can easily make a hand scrub at home by combining brown sugar, organic olive oil and essential oils. But if you’re feeling lazy, there are some great all-natural scrubs to choose from. I’ve been really into the Lemon Hand Scrub from Hand Scrubs by Faith, which is made with just 3 ingredients — sugar, organic oils, and lemon essential oil. This scrub has the perfect consistency (not to harsh, not too soft), is super hydrating, and the lemon essential oil is amazing for lightening age or sun spots, and preventing wrinkles!
Use your hand scrub 1-2 times a week.
Step 2: Hydrate
Keeping your hands hydrated is an anti-aging must, but most hand creams and moisturizers evaporate not long after application, leaving you no better than before. So much of that leathery look of aging hands is simply due to parched, unprotected skin. Because of this, I prefer an oil-based balm to a typical hand cream. Balms made from organic oils and shea butter, infused with essential oils and herbs go beyond just hydrating hands to form a healing and protective layer, to soothe skin way beyond the surface and shield it from extreme temperatures and wind.
I’m obsessed with Botanical Butter, which is anti-aging, redness-reducing, and super healing for hands!
Use a balm on hands morning and night. During the day, top with a lotion with SPF (see below).
Step 3: Protect
Every dermatologist on earth will tell you that the number one best thing you can do to prevent aging skin is to use SPF. Religiously. Every day. Even in the winter. Now, I confess to being a little lax on this particular step, and man do my poor hands pay the price! If I had only used SPF daily on my hands and arms since we moved to LA, this whole problem could have been avoided. But alas, I did not. And here we are.
So don’t make the mistake I did! Protect your skin (hands, face, arms, chest) with SPF every day with a natural, mineral sunscreen, and don’t forget to reapply after washing your hands!
My current favorite is Odylique Natural Sunscreen with SPF 30. The zinc formula is entirely natural, almost all organic, and safe enough for the most sensitive of skins (you can even use it on baby!). It also has some wonderful healing and protective ingredients like shea butter, karanja seed, chamomile, and sea buckthorn, which go the extra mile to protect skin from UV damage. It’s pretty much the perfect sunscreen.
Use on hands (and any other exposed parts) daily. Reapply as necessary.
Step 4: Reveal
The last step is the most intensive, and actually works to reverse the damage that’s already been done, rather than protect skin from future damage. A super important part of any anti-aging regimen, a glycolic peel is your secret weapon for youthful, clear skin. As I talk about in 6 Steps for Anti-Aging Skincare, a monthly glycolic peel helps to remove the damaged outer layer of skin, to lessen the appearance of wrinkles and reverse sun damage. It’s a must for our faces, and our hands are no different!
A glycolic peel for your hands reveals fresh, younger, clearer skin and literally removes a lot of the damage age and the elements have wreaked. It’s best to start treatments early — if your hands are already looking vaguely reptilian, a glycolic peel will help a bit, but you may need something stronger. But for the rest of us, a 30% solution of glycolic acid once a month will do wonders.
I use Skin Obsession 30% Glycolic Acid Chemical Peel, and really like it. 30% is a nice, moderate place to start (you can go with a lower concentration if your skin is super sensitive), and I wouldn’t recommend going much higher, as the thin, delicate skin on our hands can actually be damaged by too high a concentration.
Use a glycolic peel on hands no more than once a month, for 5 minutes at night. Follow with your balm. Avoid exfoliation (step one) for several days after the peel. Make sure to use sunscreen!