Cream of the Crop continued...
If you prefer to skip pricey creams, experts say to aim at least for daily use of a simple moisturizer. That alone will improve the appearance of your hands.
"Your hands really need more moisture than any other part of your body because they are exposed to the elements more, all year long, plus you are washing them frequently, which also tends to cause a loss of the skin's protective oil mantle," says Marmur.
While a moisturizer won't reverse sun damage or create new collagen, it can leave skin looking plumper and more youthful. Some of the ingredients in these products include shea butter, macadamia nut oil, olive oil, vitamin E, and glycerin. Since all moisturizers work more effectively when applied to skin that is slightly damp, use them after a shower or bath or after washing your hands.
Moisturizing products containing a healthy dose of these key ingredients include:
- Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Hand Cream with gylcerin and alpha-hydroxy acids, offering moisturizing and exfoliation (2.7 oz/$5.49)
- Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Hand Cream with Vitamins E and A, delivering protection that lasts through multiple hand washings (3.5 oz/$8.69)
- Nivea Smooth Indulgence Hand Cream with macadamia nut oil and glycerin (3.5 oz/$5.99)
- Skin Milk Hand Lotion with SPF 15, milk proteins, and retinal palminate (4 oz/$4.99)
- Terralina Body Lotion with olive oil and shea butter (8 oz/$28)
What about all those topical treatments promising skin lightening? The key ingredient is hydroquinone, but dermatologists are split on how helpful it can be. "For some people they work wonderfully well -- and significantly lighten the brown spots; for others, they don't work at all," says Marmur.
More worrisome is that some studies have begun questioning the safety of hydroquinone. In 2006, the FDA announced a proposed ban on over-the-counter hydroquinone products, based on lack of data for safety or effectiveness. And though the ban has not been put in place, some doctors advise skipping this treatment, while others approve of its use while under a physician's care. "At this point you are much better off going with a professional treatment -- it's quicker and safer," says Goldberg.
Doctors agree one key to keeping young hands looking young is to avoid direct sunlight. The next best thing is to coat your hands with a good sunscreen several times a day.
Among the newest and most protective products are sunscreens containing Mexoryl SX (ecamsule), developed by L'Oreal, and Helioplex, a technology created by Neutrogena. Both offer long-lasting protection from UVA and UVB rays responsible for brown spots and wrinkling. Sunscreen products to look for include:
- Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 45 Daily Moisturizer (1.7 oz/$11.99)
- Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SunBlock SPF 70 (3 oz/$9.99)
- L'Oreal Dermo-Expertise Revitalift UV Daily Moisturizing Cream with Mexoryl Sunscreen SPF 15 (1.7 oz/$22)
- Lancome UV Expert 20 with Mexoryl SX Daily Moisturizing Cream SPF 20 (3.4 oz/$35)