We put time into looking our best. We pay attention to our hair colour, apply creams and sunscreens to our faces, stay out of the sun, eat healthy and exercise. However, we need to consider that if we only focus on our face and neglect our hands, neck and chest, we can actually look older than our years.
Fortunately, it is never too late to start taking care of these often neglected body parts. Moisturizing and using sunscreen can help to get us moving in the right direction.
Why do hands make us look older? Dry, scaly skin, weak brittle nails and sun spots occur as we get older. Not only is this because of the exposure to the environment and habits, it is also because our hands naturally lose fat and elasticity. This reduction in volume under the skin creates the crepey appearance and loose wrinkly and sometimes translucent skin.
Sun spots or age spots occur from UV light from sun exposure.
What can we do to prevent and fight the signs of accelerated aging?
- Moisturize regularly during the day and after washing your hands. Consider a barrier type lotion when out in the cold.
- Protect skin and nails by wearing cotton lined gloves when gardening or cleaning with harsh chemicals. Avoid harsh soaps when hand washing. Alkaline soaps are very drying.
- Exfoliate. When you exfoliate your face and body do not forget about your hands. You can use a home made mixture of sugar, lemon and natural oil (ex. coconut oil) to remove dead skin cells off palms, fingers and knuckles. Moisturize immediately after.
- Wear sunscreen. It is important to get into the habit of wearing sunscreen every day on your face AND hands. Do not forget that you need to protect your hands while driving. Harmful UV rays actually penetrate through the glass.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids nourishes your skin and helps grow healthy nails. A diet low in some proteins, vitamin C and B complex can make nails brittle and weak.
- Get a professional manicure that includes a deeply hydrating and soothing treatment like paraffin wax. Be aware of nail treatments that can destroy the strength of your nails.
You can find procedures to help reverse the aging process on your hands. Age spots can be treated with specific creams. In Clinic treatments like IPL (Intense Pulse Light), can directly target and vastly improve the presence of sun spots (for hands, face, neck and chest).
Thin hands can be helped with in clinic treatments. Radio frequency treatments can help stimulate the production of collagen to help thicken and firm the skin.
Chemical peels can help smooth our rough and scaly skin on the hands as well.
With all of the hand washing and sanitizing that we have been doing over the past 2+ years, our hands have taken a beating. These important habits can break down the skin’s barrier function leaving inflamed skin and even areas of cuts or abrasions. These open areas provide an opportunity for bacteria and viruses to get under our skin barrier. It is important to observe how your skin is looking and if there are any signs of infection. This is especially important for diabetics or those with impaired healing functions. Do not ignore what your hands are telling you. Spreading areas of redness and discomfort is not normal.
NECK and CHEST
Many times, when completing our skin care routine, we neglect our neck and chest. This is something that many of us end up deeply regretting. Best advice is to start including these areas as part of our daily skin care.
Below are some extra steps that can help.
Consider adding a collagen supplement. These supplements ensure your body has the necessary building blocks to strengthen the skin all over your body. This supplement is especially important if you do not have a consistent healthy diet. Collagen supplements can come in the form of pills or powder that can be added to your morning coffee.
Get regular exercise. Studies have shown that exercising twice a week, at a moderate intensity can help build new layers of skin that are thicker and more elastic.
Use a medical grade Vitamin C serum. This is a powerful antioxidant that your skin cells love to use. Combining that vitamin C with a quality SPF will help you to drastically reduce the damage to your skin from the effects of the sun.
Eat a diet rich in omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. These fatty acids make it easier for your body to product collagen necessary to keep skin looking plump and tight for as long as possible. These omegas can be found in cold-water fish, avocados, various seeds and nuts and flaxseed oil.
Exfoliation. Our body has skin cells that are constantly being replaced. If you are not properly exfoliating your neck along with your face, these dead skin cells can get stuck, clogging pores and making your skin look dull and lifeless. Remember that the skin on your neck is more delicate than your face so do not be overly aggressive.
Rest and Vitamin A. Nighttime is when your body recharges. Sleep is necessary to keep your body functioning in peak form and vitamin A is necessary to keep your skin cells normal functions in peak form. There are different types of vitamin A for different skin types. Consulting a skin care specialist can help find the perfect formulation for you.
Consider in clinic treatments like resurfacing, skin tightening, chemical peels and customized product penetrating neck treatments.
No matter what your goals are for looking your best, the recommended first step is a consultation with a skin care specialist. This provides an opportunity to review your goals and to ensure that your current skin care regime is the best one for you.
WRITTEN BY: SUE WAGNER, RN, owner of SKIN APPEAL, ORANGEVILLE