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  • What to do with ageing and sun damaged hands
  • Dr Natasha Cook

What to do with ageing and sun damaged hands

What to do with ageing and sun damaged hands

When it comes to your face, your anti-ageing routine is a well-oiled machine: UV-shielding sunscreens, hydrating creams such as my Concentrated Hydration+, and wrinkle-reducing serums, (AHAs, BHAs, Niacinamide and Vitamin C).

But when it comes to your hands? There's not so much. It's easy to forget them so they end up worse off. But if you don't have a youth-preserving plan for the delicate, often abused, skin and nails on your hands, it'll be a dead giveaway of your age. 

7 steps to sensational skin on your hands 

  1. Prevent the age spots.

The funny thing about age spots is that they actually have nothing to do with age. Age spots, (those brown blotches that are also known as liver spots) are the result of sun exposure. Yes, that’s rightnothing to do with your liver either.

Though sun-worshippers may get them earlier, they most commonly show up in the thirty-five-years and over crowd. These are people who have accumulated more sun exposure in their early years and simply didn’t think about protecting the skin on the hands. And, as you probably know by now, I’m a big fan of the mantra ‘early intervention is prevention’.

Short of wearing gloves 24/7, you should be smoothing on a coin-sized dab of sunscreen SPF 30-50 (a good zinc-based one) before heading out the door each day—and reapplying after you wash your hands or every two hours if you're exposed to even a little sunlight.

This is especially important if you’re driving. Those UVA rays still get through glass so you’re getting damage on your hands. Better still, invest in driving gloves. 

The earlier you start, the better. As I’ve highlighted before, the damage comes out years later. 

  1. Treat the age spots with laser.

OK, so you may not have been good at sun protection in your youth. How do you get rid of those unsightly marks and brown liver spots? The single most effective treatment is using the BBL laser. Usually two treatments, two to four weeks apart does the trick.

The Sciton BBl also has the added benefit of switching on the anti-ageing genes in the skin (proven by studies from Stanford University). On top of that, it boosts the collagen, improving the skin texture and thickening it up.

  1. Use Vitamin A on the back of your hands.  

If the backs of your hands are starting to get a crumpled look reminiscent of gift bag stuffing, use a prescription retinoid cream to improve texture and jump-start the growth of thickening and boosting your collagen.

I recommend Retin A, Retrieve or Stieva A. These are prescription, but far more effective than the over the counter retinol and retinaldehyde lotions and potions. The active molecule that works in the skin is the retinoic acid form of Vitamin A. This is only available in the prescription variety.

The over-the-counter ones have retinol and retinal palmitate and retinaldehyde. These molecular forms of vitamin A have to get converted into retinoic acid in order to work and there is no guarantee if this happens, let alone to what extent. 

It’s one of the reasons I don’t make a vitamin A serum as I know the prescription one is better. As a dermatologist, I have a responsibility to offer my patients the best and the most credible products on the market.

Since they're prescription only, your dermatologist will explain how and when to use them so you get the benefits without common retinoid drawbacks like skin irritation.

I tend to recommend to start using them every second night: apply a pea size spread over both hands. You can use with a hand moisturiser, but wait until it has absorbed.

Retinoic acid (retrieve) will also help fade and prevent brown spots as well as protect and promote collagen and elastin productiona real multitasker.

  1. Smooth and plump scaly and sun damaged skin.

Nothing about dry, scaly skin says 'young and healthy.' Return them to smooth-and-plump status overnight with this quick pre-bed routine:

Use my Concentrated Micropeel which contains clinical strength AHAs (lactic, glycolic, tartaric and citric acids) and BHAs (15% salicylic acid). This easy-to-use product will see removal of dry, sun damaged skin in no time. 

We’ve increased the volume of solution in each sachet to 1.3 ml so you can treat your face, chest and hands. I call it a 'fandacial.' You simply wipe away the damage using it as a treatment once or twice a week. Let the solution fully dry and absorb into the skin.

  1. Hydrate your hands.

So whilst we are on the topic of at home tips for your hands, here’s what I recommend as an intensive rehydration tip for dried out hands: Neutrogena Norwegian formula hand cream. It’s loaded with glycerinone of my favourite humectants to give you that extra moisture boost. Rub a generous layer into the hands, then apply damp cotton gloves over the top for 30-60 minutes. The wet gloves accelerate the absorption of moisture into the skin. 

  1. Take Vitamin B to help aid brittle nails.

Water or chemical exposure, seasonal weather changes, and even genetics, can all lead to brittle, breaking nails. Taking B vitamin biotin (also known as B7 and Vitamin H) improves nail strength and reduces brittleness after six to nine months, according to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Also, I recommend loading up with zinc. It’s great for hair and nail growth. Zinc is especially high in food groups like oysters.

  1. Don’t trim those cuticles.

Popular nail shapes and shades are constantly changing, and keeping up with them is a simple way to make hands look more youthful. Right now, shorter nails are the norm; keep your nails no longer than a quarter of an inch beyond your fingertips. However, please be careful of your manicurist. Don’t let them trim your cuticles away. Your cuticles are your friends; they stop bugs and irritants getting in under the skin which then will cause your nails to grow abnormally and make the skin at the base of the nail inflamed and damaged. I never let my manicurist play with my cuticles outside of gently pushing them back.

I hope these tips help you to have healthier, more youthful hands. Keep following me to learn about all things skin. I’m always on the hunt for new information to help my community look and be the best they can be.


  • Dr Natasha Cook

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