Like the neck and décolletage, the hands often get forgotten about the during skincare application process, and yet they are susceptible to sun damage, harsh climates, weather changes, and, of course, added stressors like constant washing and the use of hand sanitizer. As a result, the hands are among the first places on the body to show signs of aging. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken at home and in office to restore a more youthful appearance. Here’s what you need to know about taking care of your hands.
When to Start Caring for Your Hands
Just as age can influence your skincare routine, caring for your hands should start sooner rather than later. Genetics and environmental factors will play a factor in the aging process, but there is one culprit in particular that can expedite the process — say it with us — sun exposure. “Everyone should take care of their hands by wearing a sunscreen of SPF 30 or above daily,” says Lauren Chmielewski, MD, a New York City-based board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon.
Some of the most common aesthetic hand concerns include:
- Uneven skin tone (think: age spots and hyperpigmentation)
- Uneven skin texture (i.e. thin, crepey skin)
- Volume loss
- Visible veins
Dr. Chmielewski says that “most patients who seek rejuvenation of the face are also candidates for hand rejuvenation.” The reason? “Both areas are highly visible and sun-exposed,” she explains. While each patient is unique, crepey skin, noticeable veins, and more prominent tendon protrusion are more common after the age of 40. For many, hyperpigmentation and age spots from years of sun exposure and other environmental factors will also begin to appear.
So, what's the best way to address these concerns? We're breaking down the professional and at-home options:
In-Office Hand Rejuvenation Treatments
Popular in-office hand rejuvenation treatments include filler and fat transfer (for volume loss), chemical peels (to fade hyperpigmentation), and laser therapy (to improve skin tone and texture). For patients concerned about age spots, Dr. Chmielewski recommends a treatment protocol of topical bleaching agents, chemical resurfacing, and/or laser therapy. “Resurfacing or laser therapy may require several sessions to achieve the desired effect, but they are usually curative,” she says of the results.
If you are looking to restore volume, there are two ways to achieve it. “The first is volume restoration with dermal fillers such as Radiesse® or Juvederm®,” she explains. “The second method of restoration is with autologous fat transfer.” Depending on the type, volume restoration with dermal filler can last up to one year. Fat grafting, meanwhile, may require more than one transfer, but it is a “permanent solution to volume loss,” Dr. Chmielewski shares.
While there is no single procedure that fades dark spots and improves volume at the same time, a combination of in-office therapies and at-home care (more on that below!) can create long-term results. “With the removal of exposure, most topical treatments have long-lasting effects,” Dr. Chmielewski notes. This means limiting time in the sun and avoiding abrasive irritants (think: harsh cleaning agents and excess hand sanitizer).
At-Home Hand Care
As we often preach, sunscreen is a daily necessity — but it’s not just for the face. “Unprotected sun exposure is a no-no,” Dr. Chmielewski says. But SPF isn’t the only protection your hands require. “If you work in extreme environments or with harsh products, gloves should be worn to protect your hands,” she adds. And, in case you needed another reason to stop smoking or vaping, she says smoking should be avoided “since it is generally caustic to your health, including the appearance of your hands.”
Whether your are looking to supplement in-office treatments or prevent aging at home, here are a few tips:
- Stay Hydrated: Adequate water intake is just as important for the hands as it is for the rest of the body. “Dehydration and thinning skin on the back of the hand lead to an aged appearance,” Dr. Chmielewski explains.
- Eat Well: A diet rich in antioxidants can help your body stay healthy and keep you glowing.
- Moisturize: “Frequent moisturizing can keep the skin healthy, hydrated, and prevent chapping,” Dr. Chmielewski says. This is especially necessary in cold, dry climates.
- Use Skincare: Vitamin A isn’t just for the face. “Using a topical retinoid on the backs of the hands is a great way to increase skin turnover and improve skin quality,” she says.
As with any anti-aging routine, it’s far easier to prevent than it is to correct. Proactive measures like applying sunscreen, wearing gloves, and avoiding extreme environments from an early age can help keep the hands looking younger longer. For those experiencing signs of aging, in-office procedures such as filler, laser therapy, and chemical peels can turn back the clock. Be sure to consult with a board certified provider to determine the best treatment protocol for your needs.
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