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How to Make Hands Look Younger — Dermatologists’ Best At-Home Tricks

Plus, learn what's making them look older in the first place

What if the secret to turning back the hands of time lies in… our hands? They’re an oft-forgotten body part — especially regarding that all-important sun protection. Wrinkles and sun damage aside, as we age, our skin also thins and loses laxity, causing veins in the backs of our hands to look more prominent and making our hands and ourselves appear older. “It’s easy to forget that our hands are as visible to the outside world as our faces, but putting in some effort to take care of our hands can ensure they don’t show their age any sooner than expected,” says Jodi LoGerfo, DNP, APRN, FNC-BC. So if you’re wondering how to make hands look younger, keep scrolling.

What actually makes our hands look old?

mature woman's hands

“The most important reason our hands tend to show our age is a result of unprotected sun exposure,” says Dr. LoGerfo. “UV light makes hands photo-age the same way it does our face, with lines and wrinkles, loss of volume, dryness and roughness, visible veins, freckling and solar spots, easy bruising and pre-cancerous or cancerous growths,” she adds. 

Damaging sun exposure could come from the most unexpected places. “We drive our cars with our hands on the steering wheel, soaking up the sun day in and day out and likely without the application of daily sunscreen,” says Erika Luren, MA, MS, NP, founder of Parasol Aesthetics, Dermatology & Wellness. 

While you can circumvent some things that make hands look old, others are inevitable. “Extending beyond the general loss of fat, collagen and elastin, which makes them appear thin and veiny, our hands also lose a natural humectant chemical (hyaluronic acid),” says Luren. “If genetics prevail, another dastardly sign of aging hands are the crumbly brown bumps that look like warts but are actually a benign growth called seborrheic keratoses, which we aptly nickname ‘barnacles’ in the dermatology world.” 

Now that we understand why it happens, it’s time to figure out what to do about it! 

What can we do to make hands look younger?

Dermatologists pinpoint several ways we can turn back the ‘hands’ of time, and some of these may surprise you.

1. Enlist anti-aging serums

woman putting serum on hands for youthful looking hands
Anna Efetova/Getty

Anti-aging serums made with retinol, vitamin C, niacinamide, glycolic acid and hyaluronic acid can work wonders for hands. “Apply these to the backs of your hands in the same manner you would your face,” advises Luren.

Retinols: When applied to the skin, topical retinoids “increase collagen production, encourage the production of new skin cells, increase cell turnover and decrease atypical cells. They can also lighten hyperpigmented lesions on the hands,” says Dr. LoGerfo.

Niacinamide: Studies have shown that niacinamide, can help to erase hyperpigmentation and sunspots and improve fine lines and wrinkles. 

Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid is a water-soluble alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from sugar cane. It is one of the most well-known and widely used acids in skincare, found in cleansers, masks, toners and moisturizers, and used as a chemical peeling agent. “This versatile AHA works by increasing cell turnover, breaking up the bonds that hold the skin cells together, and allowing those dead skin cells to slough off,” says Dr. LoGerfo.

Glycolic acid also encourages your skin to make more collagen, essential for keeping skin firm, supple and plump while improving elasticity. While plumping skin, glycolic acid also helps increase skin’s water content, enriching skin’s hydration. “Overall, it is a great anti-aging treatment because it helps improve fine lines and wrinkles, as well as enhance skin’s tone and texture, which could be great for the treatment of aging hands,” she adds. 

Related: Collagen for Women: Adding To Your Smoothie May Make Skin Look Years Younger

Hyaluronic acid: This is a naturally occurring substance in the human body, primarily in the skin, joints and eyes. It is crucial in maintaining moisture, promoting elasticity and providing cushioning in these tissues. In skincare, hyaluronic acid is commonly used as a hydrating ingredient due to its ability to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. This makes it an excellent moisturizer, helping to plump the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and create a smoother, more youthful complexion.

2. Moisturize daily

mature woman rubbing lotion on hands

It’s never too late to start moisturizing. Not only can it prevent future aging, but it can reverse some of the damage already done. Follow your serums with a rich night cream or lotion containing ceramides “because it acts as a natural mortar between the bricks of our skin cells, to keep them intact and moisturized,” says Luren. Also, look for creams with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin or shea butter to keep the skin hydrated and supple. Since we frequently wash our hands, it’s best to do this before bedtime so the soap has time to soak in. 

Related: Skincare’s Best-Kept Secret For Hydrated, Plump + Glowing Skin Instantly? Glycerin

3. Apply an overnight hydrating mask for hands

You can combine a few teaspoons of castor oil — a seed-pressed plant oil known for its hydrating properties — with shea butter and apply it to your hands (especially focusing on rubbing it into nailbeds, cuticles and dry areas between fingers). Then, put on a pair of gloves and sleep with the mixture on as it seeps into the skin. You’ll wake up with softer, less wrinkly skin in the morning.

Related: Castor Oil Proven to Regrow Hair on Head, Eyebrows + Eyelashes — For Pennies A Day!

4. Slather on sunscreen

Protection from the sun, including sunscreens and protective clothing, is the first line of defense against photoaging for hands. “Remember to put broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) on your face, neck and hands daily, even on cloudy days,” advises Dr. LoGerfo.

Related: “I’m a Dermatologist: This Is Why It’s So Important to Wear Sunscreen Year Round”

5. Slough off dead skin cells

Regularly exfoliate your hands to remove dead skin cells and reveal fresher, smoother skin. “You can use gentle scrubs or chemical exfoliants containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs),” says Luren. 

6. Slip on some gloves

78-year-old Dolly Parton famously wears flesh-colored fingerless gloves, and while there are varying theories as to why, some have said it’s because she doesn’t want to show the world her aging hands. And while glittery gloves like Dolly’s aren’t always practical, you can wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from harsh chemicals, detergents and hot water during household chores. You should also wear gloves as much as possible during harsh winter weather and when exposed to environmental stressors to save the delicate skin on your hands. 

7. Stay hydrated

“Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out,” advises Luren. Those eight glasses of water a day will go a long way in keeping your hands looking young and healthy.

8. Massage your hands

Hand massage

It’s the most fantastic feeling when you get that post-mani hand massage, and it can actually be helping you more than you think. Regular hand massages stimulate blood circulation, promote lymphatic drainage and improve the overall appearance of your hands.

9. Consider professional treatments

Explore professional treatments such as chemical peels, laser therapy or microdermabrasion to address concerns like age spots, wrinkles or uneven skin tone. “Chemical peels involve the application of a caustic chemical to help remove skin layers causing skin regeneration and tightening, as well as improving skin color and texture,” explains Dr. LoGerfo. 

10. Make healthy lifestyle choices

To support overall skin health, maintain a balanced diet rich in vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. “Additionally, try avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as these habits can accelerate skin aging,” attests Dr. LoGerfo. 

For more hand tips, click through these stories:

What To Soak Dry, Cracked Hands In To Make Them Soft, Smooth and Beautiful Again

How to Apply Self Tanner Without Staining Hands + Easy Ways To Remove It if You Do

Dermatologists Weigh In on the Best Ways to Smooth Crepey Skin On Face, Neck, Hands + Arms & Legs

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