Ask Grace: How Can I Protect My Hands From Winter Dryness?

Dear Grace, 

My hands are in dire need of a pick-me-up. We’re not even in the full flow of winter but they’re already dry and getting sore! This happens to me every year; the coldness outside and the heat inside makes them super dry, cracked, and not nice to look at. I use moisturiser but I don’t think it’s doing what I need. Help! 

Rebecca, 26 

I was thinking the other day about how we put our hands through so much (arguably more than our faces), yet we don’t really take care of them until something goes wrong. And when it goes wrong, it goes wrong – there’s nothing like having sore, cracked, irritated hands to make you realise just how much you use and rely on your hands. Winter exacerbates skin dryness everywhere, but as a typically dry part of the body, our hands are often the first place to succumb to seasonal dryness. The below tips and product recommendations will help you to relieve your current skin dryness, but if you follow and use them all year round, they should also help to prevent future dryness from occurring, too. 

Protect your hands

Gloves are an underrated defense when it comes to protecting your hands from the cold – invest in a  good quality pair and wear them as soon as temperatures start to fall. When working outside or with chemicals, gardening, cleaning wear outdoor or kitchen gloves to protect your hands from the elements, or from products that contain bleach or ammonia. 

Moisturise (especially after sanitising)

Alcohol based hand sanitisers are notoriously drying and frequent hand washing can have a similar drying effect in stripping skin of moisture. Just as it’s recommended to moisturise after cleansing your face or showering, get into the habit of applying hand cream after you’ve washed your hands to nourish your skin and prevent dehydration. To prevent dryness, choose hand soaps and sanitisers that contain moisturising ingredients as well as cleansing ones. 

Try overnight treatments

Hand cream is all well and good, but it wears off throughout the day so unless you reapply it frequently then it may not make the impact your hands need. Make the most of overnight downtime by applying a thick, mask-like layer of hand cream before bed and wearing a pair of spa gloves to keep the product pressed close to your skin. 

Use your skincare routine

If you really want to take your handcare seriously, then consider building your hands their own skincare routine. This doesn’t have to mean buying a whole new set of products – the hydration serums, moisturisers, and SPFs that you use on your face can do double duty on your hands. What’s more, you will find that serums and face creams absorb faster than hand creams, meaning you can avoid the dreaded lingering greasiness. SPF for hands is actually super important since they get so much sun exposure and are typically the first area to develop sunspots, but also because SPF helps to strengthen the skin barrier, which prevents dehydration. 

Treat with a balm

If you have particularly sore or painful patches of dryness, target them with a multipurpose balm like Dr Paw Paw Original Balm. The thick texture creates a protective layer, allowing ingredients like papaya, aloe vera, and olive oil to nourish and soothe the affected area. If your whole hand is impacted, consider applying the balm all over and wearing spa gloves overnight. 

Grace’s top product picks for dry hands

If you have a question for our resident beauty editor and esthetician Grace Day, tweet us at @beautybay using the hashtag #AskGrace for a chance to be featured.