Skincare expert Lesley Reynolds, known as the Queen of Harley Street, runs the Harley Street Skincare Clinic in London with her husband, Dr Aamir Khan. Patients from celebrities to you and me are given expert, individually tailored guidance on how to look after their skin, and everyone is treated like a VIP. Our hands are always first to show our true age, so as we emerge from the cold, wet and dark season Lesley shows us how to give hands that spring boost to wipe away winter’s
The easiest way to tell a woman’s true age? Her hands. Just ask Sarah Jessica Parker. She has made a career out of looking glamorous on and off screen. And, at 58, the And Just Like that actress still has the face and figure to belie her age just two years off 60.
But even her much-loved character Carrie Bradshaw cannot escape the effects of ageing hands – with fans of her latest TV series referring to them as “bony” and “veiny” and betraying signs of her true age.
And she’s not alone. Victoria Beckham, Madonna and even Kate Moss – who work hard to maintain their youthful looks – have all been photographed showing hands that tell a different story.
According to a recent report, a staggering 75% of women believe their true age is betrayed by their mitts, with 80% admitting they’d notice if another women’s hands looked old, like Sarah Jessica Parker’s and Madonna’s. A third went as far as saying they felt self-conscious on their wedding day because of their hands.
But why the obsession with our hands and what makes them so vulnerable to ageing?
Our hands (as much as or more so than our faces, neck, and chest) have the potential to become a dead giveaway when it comes to the number of years we’ve spent on Planet Earth – especially as we get older.
The skin on the backs of the hands is one of the thinnest areas, and as we age, we lose muscle tissue in the same way that the facial area loses definition. The fat also wears down, resulting in skinny sagging hands with wrinkles and prominent veins. It doesn’t help that our hands are constantly exposed to the environment and have fewer oil glands leading to weathered, sagging skin.
All those suds, squirts and sanitising over the last couple of lockdown years have taken their toll on the nation’s paws, too. Washing our hands all the time and the constant exposure to oil-stripping soap, and alcohol-based sanitisers can make even the sturdiest hands red – and irritated and dry, scaly hands do not scream youth.
The truth is our faces may look smooth and radiant because we are programmed to take good care of our complexion, but very few of us actually bother to do the same with our hands, rarely using an SPF or treating them to some TLC.
I admit it’s difficult getting excited about hands – and even more difficult spending money or lavishing care on them. But they need all the help they can get and a fortnightly gel manicure simply won’t cut it.
The good news is that, prompted by demand, there have been some remarkable developments in turning back the clock on ageing hands. After all, we live in a world where we inject pretty much every other area of our body (yep, including the vagina) with fillers, acids, and serums, so why not our hands, too?
Nowadays, most treatments that can be done on the face and neck have been adapted for the hands. From hi-tech lifts and injectables to innovative laser zappers, here is my pick of the best solutions along with some preventive measures you can take to restore your hands to babysoft perfection – so they match your face.
The hi-tech hand lift
A hand lift without scalpels? Yes, it is possible. To restore youthful plumpness, you can now kick start a new supply of collagen using an injectable called Ellanse, a special collagen stimulator. Traditional dermal fillers only address lines, wrinkles and folds but Ellanse is a collagen stimulating injectable made from Poly L Lactic Acid and works beneath the surface of the skin to naturally stimulate and boost your supply of collagen to put the spring back into ageing hands.
What happens: the backs of the hands are numbed using an anaesthetic cream. Ellanse is then injected carefully between the bone, tendons and veins on the backs of the hands. Sometimes, up to 20 micro-injections are given on the back of each hand. The results are immediate volume is restored, dilated and bulging veins disappear and ageing mitts look years younger warned that there might be a little bit of swelling for up to 48 hours after your
treatment. Even better, the results will carry on improving over the following weeks as new collagen is formed. Depending on which Ellanse option is used, results can also last up to four years and the treatment can be used on all skin types. From £500, available from most clinics.
Peel away the years
Less expensive than laser treatments and suitable for all skin types – a peel will basically make your skin act young again. It will also remove dull surface cells, improve wrinkles and fine lines, as well as help fade any discolouration. Even better, peels are quick, pain-free, and there are no needles involved.
What happens: first hands are cleansed then the peel liquid – the strength will be adapted to suit your skin type – is brushed over the backs of the hands and left for a few moments. This causes the top layer of skin to shed, triggering the living cells below to multiply and move up to the surface, in turn increasing collagen and hyaluronic production.
One to three treatments a month apart is recommended for brighter, babysoft hands.
From £250 per treatment.
Brighten and tighten
A course of IPL, is one of the workhorses of anti-ageing and can zap and lighten the dreaded age spots marks as well as improve skin tone. It is a safe, quick treatment with little downtime and compared to other laser systems is relatively inexpensive.
What happens: during the treatment, an intense pulsed light is aimed at the skin on the backs of the hands and these flashes of light are absorbed by red or brown pigment in the skin, which is then absorbed by the body. The light therapy also releases energy into the skin, which then stimulates regeneration of the cells and boosts collagen. You’ll see instant results after one treatment, but for longer-lasting results try a course of three to six treatments, spaced at least 10 days apart. It is vital that you use SPF 50 after the treatment to protect the new skin.
From £120 a session.
Top tips for youthful hands
Get gloved: always wear protective gloves when cleaning. Household products like bleach sprays and washing-up liquid can easily damage the skin’s natural PH balance and age your hands easily-Watch the water temperature when washing hands. Hot water can strip the skin of its natural oils leading to dry, chapped and cracked skin. Always use lukewarm water. Don’t rub your hands dry. Pat dry, but make sure your hands are properly dry.
If you have sensitive or inflamed skin: avoid common irritants and allergens like drying sodium laureth sulphate (SLS), often added to make soap foam. Use a gentle, unscented soap with hydrating ingredients, like glycerine, which pulls moisture into the skin, as well as ceramides, shea butter, and coconut oil. Soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, and green tea can also decrease any inflammation and irritation. Try: Soapsmith Brick Lane Rinse Free Hand Wash (soapsmith.com). This kills 99.99% of nasties while leaving hands soft, nourished, and protected; or Green People Quinoa and Calendula Hand Wash (greenpeople.co.uk), free from SLS and pH-balanced to support a healthy skin structure. It also contains moisturising aloe vera and calendula to soothe irritation.
Always use a hand cream: after washing as it will act as a barrier and help seal in hydration. Look for creams with vitamin E and ceramides to hydrate and replenish lost moisturise and prevent further moisture loss and cracking. Oatmeal is also good for soothing itchy skin and eczema while emollients and hydrators such as glycerine dimethicon, and shea butter or will help your skin.
Try a tint: if your hands are still looking a touch peaky, use a tinted moisturiser or a self-tan to disguise the signs of ageing.
For a really deep moisturising treatment: zap some hand lotion in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds. Test temperature before massaging in. Wrap hands with clingfilm and cover with a warm towel for a few minutes. Night-time is also the perfect opportunity to do an overnight hand mask – use an ointment like Vaseline or Aquaphor, and wear cloth gloves on
Wear SPF 30 or higher on the back of your hands every day: even during winter to prevent age spots and wrinkles. Those ageing UVA rays can also penetrate glass as you’re driving.
Give yourself a hand facial once a week: products that you use on your face are just as good for your hands, so exfoliate and then use a plumping mask.
Before using home peels or mixing them with other strong ingredients: always first check with an expert, your skin will thank you for it.