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close up of womans hands
Credit: Science Photo Library

We put a lot of effort into the skin care routines dedicated to our faces, necks, and chests, but we often forget about our hands, which are actually the first body parts to show the signs of time. Luckily, tending to them—and keeping them soft, supple, and free of dark spots for longer—is simple with a few preventative tips and tricks. Ahead, dermatologists share their advice for taking care of your hands, now and always.

Hands First

Like the skin under our eyes, the dermis on our hands is thin and fragile. However, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman notes that (unlike our eyes) we tend to pay less attention to hand care and divert all of our efforts to our face. Due to this, our hands age "faster." "They are often just as exposed to the sun and environmental aggressors as our faces, but we don't protect them as diligently with SPF, makeup, and other blockers," Dr. Engelman explains. What's more, we use (and move) our hands even more than our faces. Think about it: We touch, grip, and wash our hands constantly. It's this constant motion that drives the formation of fine lines and wrinkles, and exacerbates others signs of aging, like dryness, dullness, and uneven texture.

Moisture Matters

A committed hand-care routine is key to keeping this area smooth and line-free longterm. The first step? Your hands should be adequately hydrated at all times—which is easier said than done. According to cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green, hands lack sebaceous follicles, which means they do not naturally produce oil. To remedy this issue, Dr. Engelman recommends layering products for optimal hydration. "First apply oil, then a moisturizer or cream," she says. "Oils will penetrate deep into the skin, delivering active ingredients that can reduce the effects of aging. Moisturizer creates a barrier for the skin, locking in the moisture and any products that were used before it." Looking for a lotion to try at home? We like L'Occitane's Hand Cream (from $12, sephora.com), which boasts nourishing shea butter.

SPF, Always

Sun protection is equally, if not more, important. While you might not think that your hands are in direct contact with the sun, if you drive, bike, regularly go on walks, or have an office with bright windows, they do. That's why Dr. Green says to remember to use and reapply SPF—we like the hand-centric Supergoop! Handscreen SPF 40 ($38, sephora.com)—to this area regularly. Doing so will help prevent the formation of sunspots, while also protecting the hands against other signs of premature aging, as well as skin cancer. Dr. Green also recommends being mindful of just how much sun your hands get over time. Even when layered with moisturizer and SPF, prolonged exposure adds up, she says; with that in mind, she suggests wearing gloves while gardening or performing certain chores (like washing dishes) that may expose your hands to drying chemicals.

Reverse Damage

If your hands have started to show any tell-tale signs of aging or sun damage, consider a laser approach. Both Dr. Engelman and Dr. Green agree that in-office procedures, like Fraxel, can effectively restore the appearance of youthful-looking hands. "You can also achieve immediate textural improvement with injectable hyaluronic acid (like Restylane Lyft), which plumps fine lines and wrinkles, smooths skin's complexion, and adds volume," Dr. Green notes. Another laser worth considering? The Candela Alex-Trivantage. "It's a treatment used to remove sunspots in as little as one to two sessions," she continues. "After treatment, a scab will form and then heal, removing the discoloration from the skin. This is an excellent, non-invasive option for spot treatment on the skin and helps the hands look youthful, rejuvenated, and healthy."

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