When it comes to age, hands are a giveaway. Pamper your paws and turn back the clock
A dash of hand cream, a spot of polish and perhaps the occasional visit to a nail bar… If this describes the extent of your hand pampering dedication then you are certainly not alone. Last year we spent a staggering 10 times more on facial moisturisers than on our entire hand care routines – that’s everything from polish to creams. So it’s no surprise that anti-ageing experts and make-up artists have heralded our poor under-loved hands as the ‘new face’ when it comes to revealing our true age – and our commitment (or lack of it) to grooming.
‘No matter how flawlessly your make-up is applied, how swishy your blow-dry is, and how expensive your outfit was, dishevelled, uneven, ridged nails will spoil the look,’ says make-up artist Lee Pycroft, who works with Hollywood A-listers such as Cate Blanchett and Naomi Watts. ‘Groomed nails can pull together an outfit like no other beauty trick. Just a quick buff, file and a sweep of classic polish is often all that’s needed, and also means you can get away with being sloppy in other areas. Somehow, going make-up-free looks chic when teamed with gleaming, short, ruby-red nails.’
The truth is that unlike other oft-neglected body parts – wobbly thighs, bumpy arms and stubbly legs – our hands are not so easily hidden. They are endlessly on show – so worth paying some extra-special attention to.
Apply these tweaks to your beauty routine for paws to be proud of…
‘Nail colour is the key to knocking a few years off your hands,’ says Carolyn Sears of cult nail brand Zoya. ‘Brights, like fire-engine red, orange and shocking pink, only draw attention to your hands – fine if you want to show them off, but not so good if you’re feeling self-conscious about age spots and lines. Opt for soft, muted shades such as pale pink, tan and clear polishes. Also, keep nails a classic oval shape and don’t let them get too long.’
‘Although you may imagine that the ultimate treat for your hands would be to cover them in expensive face products, they need their own dedicated beauty workforce,’ advises dermatologist Leslie Baumann. ‘The skin on the tops of hands is far thinner than on other parts of the body, and as hands are constantly exposed to the rigours of water, sun and cleaning products, they tend to get dry easily. You need ultra-rich creams that would be far too heavy for the face. Look for natural ingredients like shea butter, jojoba and vitamin E. I’d recommend stashing various hand creams in easy-to-get-to places, like your handbag, on your desk and by the sink. That way you’ll get into the habit of using one several times a day.’
One of the beauty world’s most underrated products is the buffer. Like Botox for your nails, a buffer will instantly smooth away lines and ridges, and create a gleaming base for polish. You don’t need a complicated four-step buffer either; a two-step one like Jemma Kidd’s Miracle Shine Buffer will do the job perfectly. Limit your buffing to once a fortnight however – to prevent nails becoming too thin.
When it comes to sun care, get into the habit of treating your hands like your face. If it’s hot enough to apply a sunscreen to your face, you should also apply the same factor to the tops of your hands. Always upgrade your hand cream to one with an SPF 15 throughout the summer months. And finally, make the most of the dreary winter season by using a retinol night cream. Retinol is proven to plump up the skin and minimise the appearance of uneven pigmentation and sunspots, but because it makes your skin more sun-sensitive it’s best used at night, and not during the summer months.
‘The secret to chip-free nails is to get your base right,’ says nail guru Marian Newman. ‘Even if you have polish-free nails, sweep over some nail polish remover to provide an oil-free, squeaky-clean base for your lacquer to adhere to. Next, use a clear base coat, which will help to blur away ridges and imperfections and make your polish stay the distance. After you’ve picked your colour, top it off with another clear coat, and try dragging the brush over the tip of your nails to seal in the colour against the dangers of chipping. Finally, re-apply top coat every few days.’
Cheat the clock
One accessory your hands can do without is unsightly sunspots – the result of both natural skin ageing and too much exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Make a beeline for products with glycolic or lactic acid, both of which have been shown to minimise the appearance of stubborn age spots, by stimulating the skin’s cell rejuvenation process. If you’re in search of more drastic measures, speak to a cosmetic surgeon about laser resurfacing, glycolic peels or microdermabrasion. ‘I’m a big fan of the latest Fraxel laser,’ says Dr Dan Goldberg from the Hurlingham clinic. ‘We have achieved amazing results on the face, chest and hands for age spots and premature ageing. I would then use Restylane Vital to add volume and put plumpness back into the skin.’