When it comes to skincare, it’s not just our faces that need to be pampered and loved. I’ve always found it easy to remember to exfoliate, lotion up my legs, and keep my elbows nice and moisturized, but for whatever reason every time I leave the house I realize that my neglected hands are drier and more messed up than any other part of my body could get. And if my hands are starting to go, then it’s all downhill from there.
Generally, I’ve always relied on getting manicures as basically my only hand and nail maintenance since I was 12 years old. After the New York Times article (and its detractors) came out about the horrible treatments of salon workers, it really got me thinking about whether I wanted to support an industry that allegedly exploited its workers, almost exclusively women of color. I’ve backed off getting manicures quite a bit in the past year, leaving my hand maintenance up to me. Besides the fact that I’m actually HORRIBLE at applying nail polish, I have the terrible and disgusting habit of picking at my cuticles, leaving my nails looking ragged as hell most of the time.
Luckily, there are little things I've found that help me take care of hands. If you’re getting gel manicures, don’t you even think about ripping those gels off when they start to peel! I know it’s a deliciously satisfying and convenient way to remove them, but you are actually stripping the top layer of your nail off along with your polish! Get your gels properly removed at the salon, or—a less expensive option—remove them yourself with a gentle at-home remover like Kocostar Gel Nail Removers, which dissolves and eases them off in a safe and painless way. They’re like little fingertip gloves that you slip on, working their magic in about 15 minutes. When you take them off, most of the polish is gone. If there’s still some residue leftover, you can use a wooden (not metal) cuticle pusher to gently and safely slough the polish off your nail.
Even when I don’t use gels, I find that my nails are way worse for the wear when I take regular polish off with nail polish remover. I mean, it’s a super harsh chemical, you guys–it melts nail polish. There’s just no getting around that. I like to give my nails a breather in between polishes, but my nails were looking particularly yellow and scraggly the other night so I decided to try Sally’s Box Friendly Milk Nail Box. I had never tried a mask for my hands before, so naturally I made my boyfriend try it as well. I didn’t read the instructions clearly on the package and just plopped the little pads directly onto my nails and tried to get them to stay on while they slid around. Luckily, my intrepid BF figured out that they were each an individual finger glove as well. Once I got them properly on my nails, I let all the squishy goodness seep into my nails and fingers. It had a pleasant milky, fruity smell, like makeup for kids from the 90s (a scent I happen to love). When I took them off, my fingers and nails were silky, soft, and smelled delicious.
I decided to top off my finger pampering sesh with some adorable Panda’s Dream White Hand Cream from Tony Moly. The packaging just couldn’t be cuter and it smells like a watermelon jolly rancher. Even better, it’s not just a gimmick — the lotion is thick, creamy, and luxurious without being greasy or oily. I'm obsessed with it! It’s just what I need to keep my hands from drying up and flaking apart in the upcoming cold months.
It can be of a pain to remember to moisturize my hands frequently, but it’s so much less of a pain than having to live with dry and uncomfortably cracked skin (fun story: one time the skin on my hands actually snagged on the inside of my gloves because they were so dry and wretched!). IF there's just one way you take care of your hands in the winter, at least remember to pop a hand lotion in your bag for your journeys!
Lourdes is a freelance beauty and culture writer living in New York City. Her best friend is her dog, Maeby, and her favorite star constellation is Lyra. She listens to Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet soundtrack more than is healthy for an adult, and she will put just about anything on her face in the name of science and beauty. She writes a blog about beauty and babies called Light in the Heart based on her love of skincare and her decades of experience as a nanny. When not busy fighting the patriarchy, she can be found wandering around, looking for food. Follow Lourdes on Instagram @lourdzilla and Twitter @lourdes_avila.