Keeping our hands clean and germ-free has been even more essential for our health during the pandemic, but all that soap also strips our skin of necessary barrier lipids, which ultimately results in dry, cracked, and itchy skin.
For those of us headed into the cold winter months, the issue of dry hands will only get worse—however, if you upgrade your handwashing ritual, then you can mitigate the negative and uncomfortable effects of constant cleaning and scrubbing.
The best handwashing practice
These days, having a healthy handwashing ritual is crucial. To maintain clean hands and supple skin, many dermatologists recommend using a gentle, hydrating soap, rinsing with lukewarm water, and using nourishing hand cream to help restore the lipids in your skin.
When to apply hand cream after washing, according to an expert
As was mentioned earlier, if you are constantly washing your hands, your skin’s lipid barrier will be compromised which is what leads to cracked and scaly skin. It may seem counterintuitive, but when water evaporates from the surface of your skin, it leaves it even drier than it was before (especially if you’re rinsing with hot water). To avoid this, restoring lipids is a must, which can be easily done with nutrient-rich hand cream.
Dermatologists recommend applying hand cream immediately after washing, but according to board-certified dermatologist Whitney Bowe, M.D., you can still lock in the moisture if you apply cream within two minutes of washing.
“If you wait too long, you miss that narrow window of opportunity to really trap and seal those nourishing ingredients in the skin before all the water evaporates off the surface, further compromising your skin,” Bowe told mindbodygreen.
“I carry a hand moisturizer with me at all times and apply it within moments of washing or sanitizing my hands throughout the day,” said Bowe.
If you’re shopping around for a new lipid-restoring hand cream, experts suggest looking for a formula with nourishing oils and butters rich in fatty acids, such as moringa seed oil, oat oil, squalene, and shea butter.
So, this winter season, keep yourself and those around you safe by continuing to wash your hands often but keep your hand cream close so that you don’t have to deal with cracked and sometimes painfully dry skin.