April 22, 2024/Skin Care & Beauty

How To Make Your Hands Look Younger

To help keep your mitts feeling and looking their best, moisturize, exfoliate, wear sunscreen and eat a healthy diet

Moisturizer being applied to older hands

You work hard to keep your skin healthy and happy. You moisturize after every shower. You apply sunscreen and wear wide-brimmed hats when you’re outside.

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But your hands need protection and care, too. Neglecting your hands could lead them to look much older than you are.

“Most of us have a skin care regimen for our faces, but we often forget about our hands,” says hand and cosmetic surgeon Bryan Michelow, MD. “And that’s a mistake for two reasons — nature and nurture.”

It’s never too late to start taking good care of them. Moisturizer, sunscreen and other treatments can help get you on your way.

Dr. Michelow and dermatologist Amy Kassouf, MD, explain how to make your hands look younger.

Signs of aging on your hand

Ever wonder what causes aging hands? The answer is found in the way your body changes as a whole over time. But you can intervene in how it happens.

“Dry, scaly skin, brittle nails and dark age spots can become problems as people get older,” says Dr. Kassouf.

And you may have noticed wrinkly hands. As you age, your hands lose fat and elasticity and your skin loses volume. This reduced volume and decreased elasticity produces translucent skin that wrinkles and develops age spots.

Age spots, also called liver spots or solar lentigines, happen after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light and can be various shades of brown or black. They appear on areas most exposed to the sun, when melanin is abundant because of sun exposure. You can get them at any age, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors or use tanning beds (which are never recommended).

“We expose our hands to the sun and other noxious elements more than any other part of the body,” says Dr. Michelow.

And, because hands do so much, they get washed more throughout the day.

Frequent washing in hot water removes the natural oils that lubricate your skin and protect against dry and cracked surfaces,” Dr. Michelow adds.

What will keep my hands looking young?

The good news is there are many ways to prevent and fight signs of aging on your hands. Dr. Kassouf and Dr. Michelow explain how to keep your hands healthy and looking young.

  • Moisturize. Don’t let your hands get dried out. Make a habit of putting on lotion regularly during the day and every time after you wash your hands. Stock up and keep a bottle of moisturizer on the sink so you never forget an application.
  • Protect your skin and nails. Wear cotton-lined gloves when gardening or when cleaning with harsh soap or chemicals. Use a mild pH soap to wash your hands. Look for mild or ultra-mild versions. Your doctor may have more recommendations if you’re not sure what’s best.
  • Exfoliate. When you’re exfoliating your body or face, don’t forget about your hands. Use a gentle loofah or a mixture of sugar, lemon and natural oil to remove the dead skin and dead skin cells off the tops of your palm and your fingers and knuckles. Don’t forget to moisturize immediately after.
  • Wear sunscreen. “Get in the habit of wearing sunscreen every day,” encourages Dr. Kassouf. “A broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or higher will go a long way to prevent age spots and hand wrinkles.” Protecting your hands from UV rays can also keep your hands from looking bony and shriveled as you age. And don’t forget that when you’re driving, UV rays come through your windows.
  • Eat a healthy diet. A balanced diet with plenty of vitamins, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can nourish your skin and help grow healthy nails. If your diet is low in certain proteins, vitamin C or vitamin B complex, or if you have poor absorption, your nails can become brittle and peel or flake easily. “Make sure to eat a balanced diet full of foods that are good for your skin and contain vitamins to nourish your hands from the inside out. You can also get yourself a good multivitamin,” Dr. Kassouf advises.

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Anti-aging hand treatments

So, what should you do if you’ve noticed that your hands are looking older than you’d like? Is there a procedure to make your hands look younger? Dr. Kassouf and Dr. Michelow offer the following suggestions:

  • Correct age spots at home. You can treat age spots at home with lemon juice or an over-the-counter topical bleach treatment, says Dr. Michelow. And age spots can be improved with over-the-counter or prescription topical creams containing retinol or retinoic acid, adds Dr. Kassouf.
  • Remove outer layers of skin. You can schedule periodic treatments to remove the outer layer of skin. These include dermaplaning, dermabrasion, chemical exfoliation and laser resurfacing. These treatments help improve the texture and tone of your skin. They also help reduce wrinkles and correct uneven or irregular pigmentation.
  • Consider fat injections. “The gold standard is to take your own fat from your tummy, butt or thighs and place it into the hollow areas on the back of your hands,” shares Dr. Michelow. This treatment requires minor surgery with one or two weeks of recovery. Synthetic injections are also an option, but using your own fat lasts longer and rejection is not an issue.
  • Polylactic acid is another minimally invasive treatment option. “It’s a biocompatible, biodegradable powder that the body gradually and naturally absorbs,” he explains. Hyaluronic acid injections, as well as calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA) fillers such as Radiesse®, are other commercially available fillers that have been used to add volume to the backs of hands.

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Need a hand?

Just as important as what you can do to deter signs of aging? What NOT to do.

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is not only bad for your insides, but it ages you on the outside as well. “Smoking leads to ‘cigarette skin,’ which is dull, gray, pale and crinkly,” Dr. Michelow states.
  • Don’t use Botox®. In terms of treatments, Dr. Michelow cautions, “Neurotoxins like Botox are of no value because they inhibit muscle movement but have no effect on volume loss.”
  • Don’t have skin removal surgery. “Surgery to remove excess skin on the back of the hands carries more risks than benefits,” he says. “It’s not advisable because of scarring and the risk of poor healing.”

And when you’re looking for anti-aging hand treatments to use at home, Dr. Kassouf has some additional guidance. There are two kinds of products to use to help heal your skin. The first are humectants, ingredients like hyaluronic acid that help bind water into your skin to hydrate it. Second, there are products containing lipids or fats that are the emollients that improve the barrier function of your skin, helping to keep all of the unwanted things out.

“Both are important now more than ever for the health and beauty of your skin and especially your hands,” Dr. Kassouf emphasizes.

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