Now that nails are getting dressed up in lace, moon-manis and look-twice lacquer shades, hands have to be ready for sudden omigodLOVE! attention. No raggedy cuticles and rough dry skin allowed, even if you keep your nails bare. Winter's a pain, but here's how to beat it so your hands are in holding shape for Valentine's Day:
1) Use a gentle liquid or cream hand soap. If within minutes of washing and drying your hands feel like the skin has shrunk five sizes, your cleanser is way. too. harsh. Try McBlooms Moisturizing Cream Hand Soap ($18, McBlooms.com) -- the Canadian company knows from frequently-washed hands. Fruits & Passions Pear-Peony hand soap ($13.50 at fruits-passions.ca) softens with fruit extracts and glycerine. CO Bigelow Lemon Hand Wash ($12, bathandbodyworks.com) is a nicely moisturizing formula with an amazing, happy-day scent, and is available in a soap-and-hand-cream duo to put by your sink -- see the third point.
2) Condition cuticles with oil. If your cuticles are terribly dry, best run your hands under warm water, pat them almost dry, then massage around nails with olive oil, body oil, or cuticle oil such as Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition Green Tea + Soy Cuticle Oil ($7.77 at well.ca) -- which you want to keep in your purse so it's handy during the day. Cake Milk Maid Mani-Cured On The Move is a great hand-care set that includes perfectly portable wee sachets of cuticle conditioner ($22 USd at cakebeauty.com); their hand cream is yummy too if you like dessert scents. Jane over at Daly Beauty reminded me how much I also like OPI Avoplex Cuticle Oil To-Go ($10.95; opi.com); its brush-tip applicator is a snap to use enroute to someplace that's else. Okay, L'Occitane's convenient Shea Beauty Balm in Vineyard Rose ($18 at loccitane.ca) isn't an oil, but it's lovely and especially good for air travel.
Note: freshly conditioned cuticles make your hands look like you've just had a manicure (as long as your nails are nicely shaped, but that's another post).
3) Apply hand cream when hands are slightly damp. Moisturizers don't add moisture, they help keep it in. And it's okay to put some on after hand sanitizer dries on your skin. Kiss My Face Hand Alert Rosemary + Mint ($9.26) softens with AHAs and natural extracts, oils and shea butter, and protects with titanium dioxide SPF. Also awesome for hands in a quick-absorb, no-greasy-film way: surprise, Weleda Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream (SRP $16; $14.59 at well.ca), or Pomegranate (SRP $17; $15.69 at well.ca), which smells great, too; and L'Occitane en Provence Shea Butter Hand Cream (a dab will do; $30 at loccitane.com) -- fantastic. Trivia: apparently L'Occitane sells a tube of Shea Butter Hand Cream every 10 seconds, worldwide.
Keep a hand cream in your purse, one on your desk, one by the kitchen sink, one by the bathroom sink and one on your nightstand. Oh come on. How many pairs of shoes do you have? Lipglosses? Lip balms? Please. Your hands work hard, and they help form that first impression when you reach out for a nice-to-meet-you greeting, right? They need love. Love=good hand cream.
4) Indulge in a hand scrubtwo or three times a week. Naturally I'm a fan of Tips Nail Barâ€™s delightful Bod-Tini Skin Quenchers Polish in Yuzu-Tini (125 g, $15.95), a juicy grapefruit and sugar scent. Love the lotion, too.
Crabtree & Evelyn's Citron Honey & Coriander Hand Recovery scrub ($25) is also divine -- if you're shopping for it, you might as well pick up the wonderful hand cream in the matching scent. What's one more? Besides, both are 20% off right now, here.
You can also make your own hand scrub with olive oil and granulated sugar. Elisa commented on this story with a facial scrub recipe of jojoba oil and brown sugar she loves for her very dry, sensitive skin; of course it would absolutely work for hands too, at the same time as the face, right?
Staff wanted to call this post "Hand Job." I said no.
Sporty half-moon mani by Leeanne Colley, Tips Nail Bar. Photo via Fujifilm Finepix 300EXR digicam.