Each day, the delicate skin on our hands is put through a disproportionate share of abuse compared with other areas of the epidermis. Every chore – whether it’s gardening, cooking a meal, cleaning your home, doing laundry, washing dishes, or bathing your pets – involves using these remarkable tools we call hands. In addition to these tasks, an extremely hands-on job or a particularly handsy hobby can quickly render the flesh on hands dry, cracked, and rough to the touch. Worse still, it can make them appear aged well before their time.
What Causes Dry Hands?
Of the three layers of skin on the human body, the epidermis is the outermost layer that protects the dermis and hypodermis from the elements. This external covering provides a waterproof barrier that wards off infection from pathogens, defends against UV light, and helps to prevent chemicals and other environmental pollutants from being wholly absorbed into the body.
Dry, chapped hands are a sign that this outer layer of skin has been compromised. While the epidermis is programmed to retain moisture, consistent exposure to these elements can quickly damage the skin:
- Water – Repeatedly getting your hands wet throughout the day – through washing or immersing your hands in water – means hands are losing moisture. Constant contact with water strips skin of its natural oils.
- Dry Air – Though chapped hands can happen any time of year, winter is particularly hard on the skin since dry, cool air draws moisture from the epidermis.
- Soaps – Designed to bond with oil and grime so it can be rinsed away, soap can be very drying to the skin.
- Chemicals in Products – Routine exposure to harsh chemicals in everyday products like household cleansers can quickly sap the skin’s moisture levels.
And once the skin barrier has begun to lose its natural oils and moisture, every time the hands come into further contact with water, soaps, chemicals, allergens, or cold and dry air, it hastens the process and makes the skin on our hands dry out much faster.
10 Home Remedies to Rejuvenate Dry Hands
Quickly return your hands to their naturally smooth and supple state with these rejuvenating home remedies:
1. Use Moisturizing Soaps
Avoid washing up with traditionally made bars of soap and astringent antibacterial cleansers since they will completely dry out your hands in short order. When purchasing hand soaps, look for brands that don’t include ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, synthetic dyes, and artificial fragrances, all of which serve to dry out the skin. We recommend Puracy Natural Liquid Hand Soap since it not only avoids these harsh ingredients, it contains vitamin E, aloe vera, and Himalayan pink salt to help proactively moisturize and rehydrate dry skin.
Another option is to make your own soap from scratch. Crafting your own soap means you’ll have total control over the ingredients within. You can use a combination of naturally moisturizing and reparative things like yogurt, oatmeal, aloe vera juice, goat’s milk, sweet almond oil, and beyond.
2. Exfoliate with a Gentle Scrub
Slough off those dead skin cells by rubbing your hands with an exfoliating scrub each week. Here are four simple recipes to get you started:
- ¼ cup of baking soda + ½ cup of softened coconut oil
- ¼ cup of brown sugar + ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons of coffee grounds + 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil
- ½ cup of coarse sea salt + ¼ cup of jojoba oil
Slowly massage all over your hands in a circular motion for about 30 seconds. Allow your skin to absorb the mixture for another 30 seconds. Rinse with warm water.
3. Keep a Bottle of Moisturizer Handy
While keeping your hands moisturized to counteract dryness is a no-brainer, what types of moisturizers will work best on our tired, overworked hands?
Most moisturizers are made by balancing three kinds of ingredients:
- Humectants draw water from the air to the surface of the skin. Examples of natural humectants include aloe vera, honey, and lactic acid.
- Occlusives work by forming a waterproof layer on the surface of the skin to prevent moisture from evaporating. Petroleum jelly is a classic occlusive agent, but beeswax, lanolin, and candelilla wax are much better alternatives.
- Emollients smooth the surface of the skin by filling in cracks and crevices between skin cells to improve softness and overall appearance. Natural emollients span plant-based oils like jojoba, avocado, and rosehip, Shea and cocoa butter double as emollients and occlusive agents.
Try this: 1 tablespoon of raw honey + 8 tablespoons of 100% pure and organic melted beeswax + 1 cup of sweet almond oil + ½ cup of rose water (or you can make your own rose water). Or, you can experiment with different moisturizing ingredients and ratios to create a hand lotion that works well for your skin.
Just as important as the types of ingredients you use in your moisturizer is the frequency of application. To really tackle dry hands, you should apply moisturizer every time you get your hands wet. And always keep a small bottle with you when you’re away from home.
4. Don a Pair of Gloves
It can be difficult to limit the time your hands spend in water or doing tactile tasks, especially if your job requires it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so whenever possible, wear rubber gloves when you clean, gardening gloves when you’re landscaping, and breathable dexterous gloves for when you work. During the colder months, a good pair of leather gloves can make all the difference.
If wetting your hands is unavoidable, wash in warm water rather than hot. Avoid the use of hot air hand dryers and pat dry with a towel instead. Apply your moisturizer within 3 minutes of washing to help retain moisture.
5. The Overnight Treatment
Applying moisturizer to your hands just before bed is the perfect time for deep hydration since your hands will be idle for a stretch of several hours. Gently massage your hands with lotion, allowing the moisturizer to absorb deeply into the skin. For extra suppleness, apply an occlusive like shea butter afterwards. Then slip a pair of old (but clean) socks over your hands to trap moisture within. Or, invest in moisturizing cotton gloves. When you wake up, you’ll be amazed at how soft your hands will feel!
6. Keep Hydrated
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is vital for healthy, glowing skin. Aim toward drinking at least eight glasses per day to help flush out toxins and rehydrate your largest organ. Don’t like the bland taste of water? Try one of these vitamin water recipes that will help you meet your daily water needs as well as deliver important vitamins, nutrients, and minerals to your body and your skin.
7. Get a Humidifier
There are several benefits of using a humidifier in the home, not least of which is a sizeable boost to skin health. Keep it in the bedroom for maximum impact whilst you sleep.
In a recent test, we identified this MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier to be the best affordable humidifier.
8. Moisturize From the Inside Out
Food is its own kind of medicine. Boost your skin’s moisture levels naturally by eating more:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Fish, flax, and fermented cod liver oil.
- Vitamin E – Nuts, seeds, avocado, spinach, and butternut squash.
- Vitamin A – Carrots, sweet potato, kale, broccoli, eggs, and apricots.
- Zinc – Pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, mushrooms, and yogurt.
And avoid eating processed sugar, refined carbohydrates, and salty foods that can cause your skin to dry out.
9. Rehydrate with Essential Oils
The botanical compounds in these essential oils can assist in the effort to soothe and heal dry, cracked hands:
- Roman Chamomile
Add a few drops of these hydrating oils to your moisturizing lotions or a carrier oil – such as sweet almond oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil.
10. Soak in Some Oats
Rich in protein, vitamin E, lipids, fatty acids, and antioxidants, colloidal oatmeal is an excellent natural treatment for dry skin. When its fine particles are dispersed evenly on the epidermis, it creates an occlusive barrier that acts like a second skin, protecting it from the elements while trapping in moisture.
Pamper your hands with an oatmeal soak. In a large bowl, pour ½ cup of extra fine colloidal oatmeal and top with enough milk to cover your hands. Let them soak in this mixture for at least 15 minutes, but the longer you leave them soaking, the better. For the full body treatment, draw a warm bath and add 1 cup of oatmeal to the water.