Are Your Hands and Arms Making You Look Older?

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In an effort to fight the signs of aging, lots of women routinely dye their hair to cover up any telltale gray, and take special care of the skin on their face to maintain a youthful appearance. Despite these concentrated efforts to conceal or delay these signs of aging, many women neglect the other two most visible and age-sensitive areas on their bodies: hands and arms.

Limiting their skin care efforts to their face is a common oversight of many women, including celebrities who are known for their youthful faces but have noticeably veiny, aging hands and arms. Simply put, signs of aging on the hands and arms add unwanted years to your appearance.
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You Can Have Younger-Looking Hands and Arms

It is far easier than you think to start having younger-looking skin on your hands and arms! Here's why: The exact same ingredients that work for your face to build collagen, lighten dark spots, fight aging, and improve skin tone will work beautifully on your hands and arms, too!

Although there may be differences between the skin on your face and the skin on other parts of your body, that doesn't change the basic facts of what the skin—from head to toe—needs to look younger, and that is especially true when it comes to protecting against and helping to repair sun damage. So, along with a good, emollient hand cream for night and a hand cream with sunscreen for daytime, you can treat (and help prevent) signs of aging on your hands and arms by using anti-aging facial products. Before bed, apply an AHA or BHA exfoliant plus a treatment product, such as an antioxidant-rich serum or a skin-lightening product.

Hands Take a Bit More Effort

During the day, the basic act of washing our hands is what makes hand care so tricky. Protecting skin from the sun is as vital for the hands and arms as it is for the face, but, unfortunately, it is much more difficult to maintain sun protection on our hands because we wash them so often. Every time you wash your hands, you wash away most, if not all, of the sunscreen you applied previously. That's why reapplying sunscreen after you wash your hands is critical, even if it's a pain. If you aren't diligent about reapplying sunscreen, your hands will appear much older than they really are.

With practice, you'll get used to reapplying sunscreen to your hands, and the results will be spectacular in the long run. Nothing else you do to help your hands look younger will mean much if you're not almost neurotic about sunscreen application.

To maximize your hand-care efforts, use an antioxidant-enhanced sunscreen during the day; to make things easier, save the bulk of your hand-care routine for nighttime. Applying a skin-lightening product, antioxidant serum, and moisturizer loaded with skin-repairing ingredients will provide you with the full benefits of those products while you're sleeping, instead of washing them off throughout the day.

Essential Steps to Beautiful Hands and Arms

To see improvement and keep your skin looking healthy and young, you must be as consistent in your hand- and arm-care routine as you are with your facial skin-care routine. Following are the key points to keep in mind when devising a daily and nightly hand- and arm-care routine:

Daytime

  • Always protect your hands and arms with liberal application of broad-spectrum sunscreen. It's the best single step you can take to keep your hands and arms looking gorgeous for years to come.
  • Brown spots can be reversed, not only by using sunscreen 365 days per year, but also by using a skin-lightening product that contains hydroquinone or a well-formulated product with an alternative to hydroquinone. Apply this product to dark spots each evening. You also may apply it during the day, if you're willing to reapply each time you wash your hands.
  • For instant relief of dry, scaly hands, use a sugar scrub. You can make a scrub at home simply by mixing plain sugar with any non-fragrant plant oil. Massage over your hands, and leave it on for a couple minutes. Next, add a bit of hand washing soap, lather up, and rinse with lukewarm water.

Nighttime

  • At night, after washing your hands, apply an AHA or BHA exfoliant (the same one you use on your face) and follow it with an antioxidant-rich serum.
  • Finish your nightly hand-care routine by applying an emollient, rich-textured moisturizer loaded with skin-repairing ingredients and antioxidants. This can be a product labeled "hand cream," a rich body cream or butter, or a facial moisturizer designed for dry skin. The specific body part designated on the label isn't as important as the formula itself.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth Everything!

There are a few more things you can do to make sure your hands and arms—especially hands—stay in the best condition possible; for example, use only gentle but effective cleansers. Avoid washing your hands with drying soaps or irritating antibacterial cleansers whenever you can. Around the house, using a moisturizing body wash, such as those from Olay or Dove, is a wonderfully smoothing yet effective alternative to traditional hand soap; plus, these tend to cost less than traditional hand soaps, which just end up making your hands feel sandpaper-dry.

Wearing gloves when washing dishes or doing housework makes a huge difference in keeping your hands in top shape. Believe us, you can get used to this, just give it a try; we promise it will be well worth it! Also, if you know ahead of time you'll be handling a lot of paper or cardboard, both of which suck moisture out of the skin, be sure to prep with a hand cream first.

And, even though we've said it before, it bears repeating: The best thing you can do for your hands and arms is to continually apply a sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater and reapply it whenever you wash your hands. A hand cream with sunscreen is great for use on-the-go because hand creams come in smaller, more portable sizes. You can keep a regular moisturizing facial or body sunscreen at home for use on your hands, and stash the hand cream with sunscreen in your purse so it's there when you need it.

Treatment Options Beyond Skin Care

When it comes to fighting aging there is only so much that a good skin-care routine can do to reverse damage once it's been done. After a certain point (and to get truly impressive results), you may want to consider having cosmetic corrective procedures performed on your hands, the same types of procedures doctors commonly perform on the face. These include:

  • Dermal fillers, including fat injections to plump up thinning, loose skin and diminish the appearance of bulging veins.
  • Sclerotherapy (the same treatment used for varicose veins) combined with dermal fillers for the hands.
  • Laser treatments to remove brown spots and build collagen.

Your dermatologist may recommend a combination of all of the above or suggest other options, depending on your specific concerns and your expectations.

No matter what methods you use to make your hands and arms look younger, it all starts with sun protection. As long as you're willing to commit to this, everything else you do that's beneficial for the skin in these areas will get you even better results—you may even be able to skip that next appointment with the dermatologist!

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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