I love winter for its hot tea and fires and scarves. However, I'm not so fond of the chapped, dry hands that it can also bring. Anyone else? This winter, I've been more trying to be more active in taking steps to prevent the painful cracks and chapped skin that often seems to arrive each January. Here are five ways you can ward off winter hands too.
Start in your shower. While I'm intrigued by some of these new spray-on-in-the-shower lotions, I have my own secret weapon: coconut oil. I keep a jar of this homemade sugar scrub made with coconut oil as well as a small container of straight coconut oil in my shower. Right before I turn off the water, I take a handful of either one and slather it all over my body. The scrub provides moisture and exfoliate while the straight coconut oil just gives me skin-saturating moisture. You know how they say you should put on moisturizer within 30 seconds of getting out of the shower to avoid evaporation from drying your skin? When you've slathered coconut oil on your skin IN the shower, you don't need to worry about this countdown clock. Your skin is already supple with sealed-in moisture. I buy mine in bulk, but look for any coconut oil that is cold-pressed and unrefined. And no, you won't end up smelling like a coconut.
Embrace dishwashing gloves. I fully admit - I am actively counting down until my kids are tall enough to reach the sink to adequately complete the dishes, but in the meantime, it's often me behind the bubbles. Beyond the fact that it's not one of my favorite tasks, I've come to realize that it wrecks havoc on my poor hands! Hot water + soap + scrubbing = no good for my hands. I often have a pair of dishwashing gloves under the sink, but only recently have I been remembering to actually put them on and let me tell you - it's made a HUGE difference. I use a cheap-o pair of gloves from Target, but these fancy red ones from Glovables might make it even easier to remember to put them on each night.
Move the lotion out of the bathroom. I used to buy one bottle of lotion and keep it in my bathroom. But lately, I've come to realize I - not surprisingly - don't spend most of my day in my own bathroom. So if I'm going to keep my hands moisturized, I need hand lotion in the places I spend the most time. So this winter, I picked up two additional bottles of my favorite lotion (I've been loving this one that provides deep moisture without greasiness) and stashed them around my house. This means I have lots more opportunities and reminders to re-moisturize during the day.
Hit trouble spots hard. Have you ever had your skin get so chapped that it cracks? In the past, I used to put off dealing with a rough cuticle or one of these initial cracks until later. Now, I don't delay. I know that a timely response to severely chapped areas of my hands will hopefully prevent a painful crack and weeks of trying to repair the damage. To do this, I keep heavy-duty Aquaphor's Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment all over the house. The tube dispenser makes it easy to use on lips, cuticles, heels or knuckles, and the scent-less formula makes it suitable for both me and my house full of boys.
Heal and repair while you sleep. Nighttime offers a double benefit for taking care of your winter hands: 1) you aren't doing anything so your hands won't get stripped of their natural moisture and 2) you have 5-8 hours to deeply treat and repair your hands. I like to keep a serious hand moisturizer like Eucerin's Intensive Repair Enriched Hand Creme or Curel's Ultra Healing Hand & Cuticle Therapy by my bed to throw on right before I pull up the covers. This is not the time to worry about greasiness or if a lotion is "too" moisturizing to prevent you from opening doors or checking your phone. Look for a rich, hydrating hand creme and slather on plenty of it. I'm also dying to try these awesome reusable paraffin gloves from GloveTreat. You throw them into your microwave for 90 seconds and then slip them on before your Netflix binge session, resting in the knowledge that you are giving your winter hands a spa-like treatment while you are catching up on your favorite show. I'd call that a winter win-win.
How to you deal with dry, winter hands?
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