Ruth Griffin - beauty: Helping your hands
My top products and treatments to prevent chapping this winter
Educational philosopher Maria Montessori said that "our hands are the instruments of our intelligence" and she's right. Our hands are incredibly hard working - they cook, communicate, care, create and work for us and our loved ones. Despite being constantly in use, however, the hands are often overlooked in skincare regimes.
Hands are the first parts of our bodies to show our true age and, often, our chosen paths in life. I always maintain that you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their hands!
Even though I work with them so much - gardening, cooking, writing and even my new passion for (very bad) DIY - I'll admit that I'm guilty of somewhat neglecting the skin on my own hands. One of the best pieces of beauty advice I was given as a teenager that I wish I'd followed, is to use SPF daily on the backs of my hands. And although I had serious dermatitis in the area as a child, I still neglect properly caring for them until, invariably, they get so chapped I am forced to do something with them.
Now, is an excellent time to pre-empt chapped, sore, dry winter hands - and with so many new formulas, overnight hand masks and hand rejuvenating glove gadgets on offer, I definitely have no excuse. Use my pick of the best products, gadgets and some handy tips to protect your own mitts this winter.
Ruth’s top tips to care for your mitts
Use rubber gloves for house work. Apply handcream before putting on your gloves and the heat generated opens the pores and leaves your hands softened. It’s like a treatment as you work!
As often as possible, use 100pc natural handwashes that are fragrance- and preservative free, this will help to stop stripping the skin on your hands. I like Dr Bronner Liquid Soap — it lasts for ages — or Elave Absolute Purity Sensitive Hand Wash Junior.
Keep handcream in your bag — I also keep a tube in my car — to make it as easy as possible to remember to use.
Use a broad spectrum SPF on the backs of hands every day, even in winter to protect against ageing UVA rays.
Remember to include your hands when using body scrubs and exfoliators.
If you have dry cuticles and pick at them (one of my worst habits), you have to use an extra cuticle oil or cream. I find oil far too slimy for daytime use, but I’ve discovered a little gem of a cream (LOV LovTender Cuticle Treatment, €9.99, pharmacies nationwide, above) that works really well.
Make like a professional salon in your own home by slipping on a pair of cotton or bamboo gloves over your handcream and leaving on overnight, or for a few hours while watching TV. No matter how bad your hands are, this little professional trick of the trade will work! Boots has lots of affordable options, such as Botanics Bamboo Spa Gloves (€6.50) and Pharmaceuticals Cotton Gloves (€3.50).
Lana del Ray makes her hands a focal point of her look using Butter London's La Moss burgundy polish, €16.95
6 of the best hand-care products
Best for hard-working hands
People who work with their hands a lot and have to wash their hands constantly (eg nurses and new mums) are often the ones that suffer the worst with dry, chapped hands and sensitivity. This handcream also acts as a barrier hand protector. It can withstand three hand washes and six dries and has 30pc glycerin to help hard working hands stay protected and hydrated.
La Roche Posay Cicaplast Hands, €7.50, pharmacies nationwide.
Newly launched in the gorgeous Avoca beauty halls, this Irish-made handcream is such a prettily packaged product - perfect for placing in the guest bathroom as both a divine-smelling decoration and a 100pc natural skin saver.
Avoca Lavender and Chamomile Hand Cream, €14.95, Avoca stores nationwide.
Best budget buy
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream (€4.50) is a deeply-nourishing handcream that is also an excellent barrier cream, and up to now, a star budget beauty buy for me. However, I have discovered something that might trump it! It is nearly identical in skin saving ingredients, has 200 applications and all for less than a euro!
Cien SOS Hand Concentrate, €0.99, Lidl stores nationwide.
Best for mature skin
Age spots and wrinkles on the back of hands are a tell-tale sign of sun damage and age. To diminish dark spots on your hands slip this into your handbag - it also has the added benefit of SPF.
Clinique Even Better Dark Spot Correcting Hand Cream, €29.50, department stores nationwide.
Shea butter is a brilliant ingredient for helping skin on the hardest working parts of our bodies - our hands and feet. This is a long-term favourite of mine, it's really hydrating and nourishing on my hands, but non-greasy and quickly absorbed. I haven't the patience for products that take forever to absorb or rub in, so this little beaut ticks all the boxes.
L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, from €10.50, stores nationwide.
Best hand mask
Overnight masks are becoming popular treatment options for our hair, face and even lips! Now, hands are getting a look in with this product. Massage into the skin, slip on a pair of cotton or bamboo gloves, drift off to sleep and wake with salon smooth skin in the morning.
No 7 Protect and Perfect Overnight Hand Treatment, €16, Boots stores nationwide
Ask the expert
Nail technician Michelle Baird works at the Amy Huberman-backed OSLO Beauty Salon in Dublin. Here, she shares her tips on caring for your hands this winter. inoslo.ie
What’s the biggest mistake women make in hand care?
Not using a cuticle oil to keep their nails and cuticles nourished, and not wearing rubber gloves to protect their hands when washing dishes and cleaning.
What should we be doing?
I would recommend women moisturise their hands every night before they go to bed. If they are chapped, use an intense handcream then put white cotton gloves on over it — this will help to put the moisture back into the skin. It is also important to use an SPF all year round.
What products do you recommend?
Alpha H Age Delay Hand and Cuticle Crème, which helps to repair the skin and it also slows down the ageing process. Another product I would recommend is Image Skincare ILUMA Intense Lightening Hand Crème (€37.50, pictured) as it is hydrating and also has an SPF 15. To keep your nails in top condition I love CND’s Rescue RXx (€21.95). It both nourishes your cuticles and strengthens your nails.
What salon treatments help the skin on the hands?
At Oslo, we do an express manicure, which includes detailed cuticle work, then we apply a sugar scrub to remove build-up of dead skin cells. Finally, we apply an intense hand crème to leave the skin hydrated and smooth. The signature manicure also includes an intense nourishing mask with heated mittens, leaving the skin smooth and hydrated.