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hand protection tips

Winter brings with it all kinds of cozy delights: snowmen, hot chocolate, and warm sweaters.

Of course, winter presents its challenges too. Along with scraping ice off the windshield and trudging through snow, your skin can suffer. And busy, working hands take a fair share of this suffering. In fact, dry, rough hands are just about as synonymous with cold weather as snowmen.

To keep your hands soft and supple this season, follow these 10 tips:

1. Wash With Lukewarm Water

washing hands water

Is everyone around you coughing and sneezing? Make sure you wash your hands. Keeping hands clean will go a long way in keeping you healthy.

But, if you’re tempted to turn that water up to extra hot to kill any germs when washing your hands? Don’t.

For water to kill bacteria, it would have to be hot enough to scald your skin.1 In other words, turning that faucet up to hot won’t necessarily do much to keep you healthy this winter. What it will do is leech moisture from your hands – leading to an increase in roughness and the potential for cracking. Even worse? Cracked, dry skin tends to harbor bacteria more.2 Yikes!

So when washing? Stick with lukewarm water.

2. Avoid Harsh Soaps

In keeping with the “washing” theme – it’s important to note that many soaps can be harsh on the skin.3 This includes soaps you find in public bathrooms and even common antibacterial soaps.

The truth is, soap is useful for helping to remove bacteria so that it can be rinsed away. And antibacterial soap isn’t necessarily any better at this than regular old soap.4

So, when washing hands, opt for gentle, moisturizing soaps. You can even use a body wash! These gentle cleansers can help preserve your skin’s integrity and prevent skin damage.

3. Get Addicted To Hand Cream

applying cream to hands

Make hand cream your best friend during the cold weather months. Moisturizing consistently will help stave off dryness and add an extra layer of protection to your skin.

If you’re used to using a lighter lotion in the summer – switch to a heavier cream when the seasons change. Thicker textured creams will target rough spots and help lock in moisture.5

You can also look for ingredients like niacinamide. Niacinamide is a B vitamin that helps stimulate the production of ceramides – moisturizing molecules your body naturally produces. Niacinamide also encourages protein synthesis, which can help prevent the development of crepey skin.6

4. Stash Moisturizer Everywhere

Put a bottle of moisturizer by the sink. Keep travel-sized hand creams in your car, your purse, and your office desk. In the winter, your hands can’t get enough moisture.

Apply moisturizer after washing your hands, and throughout the day, to keep skin soft and smoothe. And keeping it handy everywhere will help ensure dry skin doesn’t become a problem.

5. Exfoliate

Hard-working hands are nothing to be ashamed of. But dry winter skin can lead to unnecessary roughness and chapping. To keep a buildup of dead, dry skin at bay, it’s essential to keep hands well-exfoliated.

6. Deep Condition With Olive Oil

For an extra dose of moisture during the week, try deep-conditioning hands with olive oil.

Olive oil contains oleic acid – a fatty acid that works to keep skin well-moisturized.7,8

Simply massage the oil into your hands after cleansing. Then, wrap hands in plastic wrap and cover with mittens or socks. Leave on for thirty minutes (or overnight) to reap the moisturizing properties of olive oil.

7. Wear Gloves

Biting winds, blowing snow, and cold temperatures can all wreak havoc on your hands. So don’t buzz out of the house without slipping on a pair of gloves first. That extra layer of protection will not only keep you warm – it’ll help keep the elements from damaging your skin.

8. Use Gloves When Doing Dishes

Speaking of gloves – be sure to wear a rubber pair when you’re scrubbing away at that cookie sheet. Abrasive dish soap, combined with hot water temperatures, can put your hands at risk for dryness. So, slip on a pair of gloves before diving into that pile of dishes!

9. Use a Humidifier


In the winter, it’s dry outside and it’s also dry inside. Running that heater all day long will do a lot to sap any humidity from the environment, and this can lead to dehydrated hands.

To restore a little moisture to the air and prevent skin dehydration, run a humidifier.

10. Don’t forget sunscreen

You might forget that your hands need sunscreen (they do) and you might also forget that they need sunscreen in the winter.

UV rays continue to penetrate through the atmosphere even in the deep winter months.9 So even if it’s snowing, don’t skimp on sunscreen.

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