Thanks to the pandemic, constant hand washing has become a significant part of my daily routine. I mean, of course I’ve always washed my hands regularly and thoroughly—my parents taught me well as a kid, and I still cannot sit down to eat my meals without first cleaning my hands, thank you mum and dad. But surely I am not the only one who used to do more of a quick-ish rinse after a rather speedy soap lather in the “Before Times”? Now, I go through hand soaps noticeably faster than before, and I always have a few backups stored in my bathroom cabinet thanks to the traumatic experiences of the first lockdown, when everyone panic-bought hand soaps, pasta, and toilet paper in bulk.
When the pandemic first hit, I washed my hands so often and for such prolonged stretches of time that they got unbelievably dry—my skin was red, itchy, and flaky, something I had never experienced before. They even started hurting while I washed them, and after a while there were red hives on top of the flaky, cracked skin. My mother, who has always suffered from extremely dry hands, was my savior back then, as she recommended a few super helpful products and hacks to give hands some extra attention.
It seems I am not the only one struggling with this new normal of washing your hands and using hand sanitizer for what feels like every second of the day. Lately, more and more beauty brands have launched extra bougie hand care products, including soaps, scrubs, creams, and even fancy hand sanitizers with extra pretty packaging. And I’m all for that—putting an extra shot of luxury into an otherwise tedious and boring routine makes it so much more enjoyable and fun. So, here are five ideas to make your hand care routine go from tedious to bougie!
1. Choose a Bougie Hand Wash For a Daily Dose of Luxury
I’m pretty sure the main reason for my hand eczema was that horrible “medical grade soap” I got during the first wave of the pandemic. My thinking behind that ill-advised purchase was that it would probably be extra effective against the virus, which of course is nonsense. Any old soap or liquid hand wash does the trick when it comes to removing traces of the virus or other germs, since these foaming products have both oil- and water-dissolving qualities. This is also why they work effectively on their own as long as you wash and dry your hands meticulously, so you really only need hand sanitizer when you don’t have access to soap and water. I’ve seen some people wash their hands first and then use hand sanitizer after, which needlessly dries out the skin.
Given the current need to wash our hands what feels like a hundred times a day, why not treat ourselves to a luxury hand wash in order to make this Groundhog-Day-esque ordeal more rewarding and fun? So many beauty brands are currently coming out with bougie hand washes and soaps, many of them specifically formulated to soften and hydrate stressed-out skin. Natural beauty brand Aesop, for instance, has a whole selection of gentle, deliciously scented hand washes on offer—their Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash contains sea salt and tangerine oil, meaning it smells super refreshing and invigorating.
2. Find a Hand Moisturizer That Is Just Right For You
This seems like a given, but I personally had zero experience in finding a hand cream that would fit my needs, since I never needed to continuously moisturize my hands before the pandemic. I found out the hard way that many heavier creams tend to take forever to sink in, so as someone who needs her hands to type away on my laptop all day and who hates a greasy keyboard, this was a no-go for me straight away. Certain hand creams for very dry skin also leave behind these unappealing white streaks, especially those from natural brands that don’t use silicones or similar texture-improving ingredients.
If you are looking for a great hand cream that fits your needs, make sure to first determine what your needs actually are. You may only experience mild symptoms of dryness, and so a simple hand lotion that sinks in extra fast may be the perfect choice for you. Very damaged or dry hands need heavy hitters like shea butter or lanolin that provide both moisture as well as protection from further hydration loss, but then it can be tough to find a fast-absorbing product. The Jurlique Rose Hand Cream smells delicious and makes me happy when I sniff my hands throughout the day, while the L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream remains a forever favorite for very dry hand days. If you prefer an organic hand cream, I highly recommend the Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream, which is one of the few organic hand creams I’ve tried that actually absorbs into skin without leaving any residue.
3. Scrub Away Flakiness
Once or twice a week, I get really bougie with my hand care and do a full beauty routine, including exfoliating them with a sugar or sea salt scrub. If you struggle with flakiness, using an oil and sugar/salt scrub is really one of the best things you can do to gently remove dead skin cells, while also nourishing and moisturizing your hands.
Some brands have released bougie exfoliating products specifically for hand care, but in all honesty, you can just use a regular body or face scrub, preferably a sexy one that feels lush and smells lovely, like the Clarins Exfoliating Body Scrub. You can also just mix your own hand scrub, using either 2 tbsp. of coarse sea salt or sugar and add 1 tbsp. of olive or melted coconut oil. The Aesop Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash contains tiny pumice beads, so it can wash and exfoliate your hands in one go!
4. Wrap Them Up For Extra Softness
This may not be the sexiest thing in the world to do, but I promise it works like magic if your hands are seriously dry and damaged. After gently washing and exfoliating them, pat them dry and then smother them in the thickest, heaviest hand cream or balm you can find. I usually even add a few drops of oil into the cream for an extra moisture kick—almond, coconut, jojoba, or rosehip oil work fantastically well for this!
Then, once your hands are thickly covered, throw on either a pair of thin gloves or, if you want to do what German grandmothers have done for many decades, use a pair of thick, extra soft socks for this. Now, here in Germany most drugstores also sell extra thin cotton gloves made specifically for this purpose, but the sock trick is absolutely fine if you can live with your significant other and/or roommate laughing at you. Lean back and relax while the hand cream has time to sink in and do its magic, or leave the gloves/socks on overnight to wake up to extra soft, silky smooth hands. I know that most drugstores now also sell those ready-made plastic glove treatments, but the sock version is so much cheaper and environmentally friendly!
5. Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Very few hand creams have an added SPF value, and since we wash them so often these days we tend to forget to apply a proper sunscreen on our hands after every wash. But our hands are in fact highly vulnerable to sun damage. Just like our face, our hands are almost never covered up, so they constantly get bombarded with harmful UV rays. This is why hands usually show a person’s age the most—after the neck that is, because we tend to forget to apply sunscreen there too. As a result, age spots and premature aging on hands and wrists can become a big problem once we hit our 40s, and the best way to prevent this is to be diligent about sunscreen application right after washing our hands.
This is also a great way to repurpose sunscreens that just didn’t work for your face. Very often, they are absolutely fine for the rest of our body, just maybe not elegant enough for the face, or they sting our eyes. So, just use them to protect your hands and keep them looking smooth and youthful for longer.
Have you done anything to bougie up your hand care routine since the pandemic hit? Share your fave products you’ve discovered!