How To Take Care Of Your Hands In The Winter

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  Come winter, and a lot of people complain about dry hands. Sometimes it's just a slight discomfort and flaky skin, sometimes the skin cracks and is pretty painful. 

* Protect your hands while cleaning

     Most detergents are really harsh on the skin. I used to have cracking skin in the creases between the thumb and pointer, and they went away only when I completely switched to natural cleaning products. Using microfiber cloths often eliminates the need for cleaning products when doing light cleaning. It also makes sense to invest in a pair of cleaning gloves. I really recommend investing a bit more in a pair that is comfortable and cute, then you'll probably actually wear them. Same goes for gardening gloves. Ökotest recommends latex-free cleaning gloves (the Vileda ones tested good).

* Keep a hand cream in strategic places

   Near the sink in the bathroom and in the kitchen, where it is visible. Pump dispensers are the easiest to use. For best results, apply on wet skin. The best kind of hand cream is one that contains moisturising ingredients as well as occlusives (oils or butters). Silicones give a misleading feeling of smoothness but don't actually do anything for the skin. You can also use body lotions -- I often have a sample-sized Lavera body-lotion tube in my bag because the size is really convenient, and I haven't yet found a hand cream in a tiny tube yet.

* Products for extremely dry hands:

   I highly recommend creams with Urea (at least 5%), I think in Germany you can get one from Isana (Rossman), Balea (DM), Kneipp, Sebamed and Eucerin (10%) and Numis (10%). Apothecaries usually carry creams with Urea, or you can buy your own Urea online (it's really cheap), and add it to whatever cream you already have. Often the creams meant for the feet have more Urea in them, and of course you can use them for your hands. Weleda Skin Food is also amazing, and so is Homeoplasmine.

* Treat your hands to a hand spa

    You can make a simple scrub out of sugar / salt and oil. Then apply a thick layer of a very moisturising cream or oil and put on gloves (I have seen cotton gloves for this purpose in Müller and Rossmann).

* Switch to a gentler soap

    Avoid anything with SLS or other sulfates. I like the soaps from Alverde or Alterra. Look for soaps that are made of vegetable oils.

* Wear gloves, and put them on in time

    Temperatures around freezing point or colder are really harsh on the skin. Gloves protect your skin, and you should put them before you go out and not wait till your hands freeze. In my experience the most practical gloves are either ones that roll up small and can be stored in your jacket pocket so that you never forget them, and the ones with cut-off fingers that can be covered with a kind of hood -- so that you can use your phone without removing your gloves. There are also those tiny pen thingies that you can use for your hone, I have one that  can attach to the earphone outlet when I am not using it.

* Avoid hot water

   Hot water strips your skin of oils. Wash your hands with lukewarm water. If you must clean with hot water, put on a moisturising cream and gloves, the gloves will partially isolate your skin and the warmth will help the product to sink in.

* Give extra attention to your cuticles

    Cut off only the ones that stand away. Push them back gently with an orangewood stick if necessary. Give them an extra dose of cream. I like to use my lip balms on them.

   What are your tips with preventing dry skin on your hands? What are your favourite hand creams? Do you also forget to wear gloves while cleaning and gardening?

photo credit: ArTeTeTrA via photopin cc

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