What have you done with your hands today? Made breakfast, grabbed a coffee, tied your shoelaces? Completed endless paperwork, visited the gym or spend the morning lounging in bed?
Your hands are one of the most vital parts of the body, and you would struggle to do all of these things without them.We all use and abuse our hands every day and yet, for many modern men, taking care of them is still something we view as an afterthought.
There are so many issues that men can have with their hands: Dry and peeling skin. Thick callouses. Fingernails that are long, dirty, or yellowing. Not only are these all signs that your hands have been neglected, they’re also all massive turn-offs that could negatively impact your dating prospects.
Most men’s hands need an overhaul, and fast! So here are our top tips for proper hand and nail care for men, as well as some of the best products to keep you take care of them:
Back to Basics
One of the most basic aspects of men’s handcare, and the one that every man should know how to do at home, is to clip and file their nails. From a purely functional point of view, clipping and filing your nails will stop them from scratching you, catching on your clothes, and holding dirt and grime.From an aesthetic point of view, having neatly clipped nails will make your hands look tidier and more symmetrical.
To make your nails look as neat and as aesthetically pleasing as possible, don’t cut them straight across. Instead, invest in a smaller clipper with a round blade. The shape of this clipper will not match the exact shape of your nail, so it’s important to cut your nails at an angle and make 3-4 smaller cuts as you travel across the top of the nail.
Not sure what shape will best suit your nail? Look at your cuticle. The ‘U’ shape of your cuticle should be turned upside down and reflected at the top of your nail. This is the best way to ensure the shape of your nail will suit the unique shape of your finger.
Once your nails have been clipped, be sure to gently file them. This will help to smooth the nail edge and is also an easier and more controlled way to shape the nail.
The best time to clip your nails is after a bath or shower, as they will be softer and therefore easier to cut. Don’t get gung-ho ho with your clippers though: be sure to leave a slither of white at the top of each nail to both protect your nails and keep them looking as neat and attractive as possible.
Men often ask how often they should clip their fingernails: the answer is that every man is different and our nails will all grow at different rates. But a good rule of thumb is to trim your nails every time they reach the end of your finger pad: usually this is every 7-14 days.
Pay Attention to Cuticle Care
Whilst most men take the time to clip and file their nails, very few pay the same level of care to their cuticles. However proper cuticle care is essential if you want your hands and nails to look as good as possible.
Your cuticles act as frames to your nails, and unless they are trimmed regularly they can make your hands and nails look both dirty and unkempt.
You should aim to push back your cuticles and then clip off the excess skin every week. Hangnails can be very painful, and taking care of your cuticles is the best way to prevent hangnails from developing.
So where should you start? Well, the good news is, there’s no need to buy any specialist equipment! Most nail clippers have an attachment that helps uproot excess skin.
Use this attachment to very gently pry your cuticle skin upward so that it’s easy to trim. If it feels painful or uncomfortable then stop: this is a sign that you are getting too close to your nail bed. Once you have released the excess cuticle skin, trim it carefully with a small pair of nail scissors.
Be careful not to remove too much cuticle skin, because the cuticle actually plays a vital role in your overall nail health. It protects nails from infection, so if it isn’t cut carefully and too much is removed, it can allow bacteria and fungus to infect the nail bed. Definitely not a good look!
Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise
One of the best ways to maintain the condition of your hands is to apply a hand cream daily (preferably twice a day) and distribute the product evenly between both your hands and nails.
Men have much thicker skin than women, so when it comes to choosing the right moisturiser for your hands, it’s important to leave your girlfriend’s products in the bathroom cabinet and invest in some specialist kit of your own.
To prevent dry and chapped hands, look for hand creams that contain robust and intensively moisturising ingredients, such as: shea butter, dimethicone, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid or glycerin.
Here are some of our favourite hand creams designed specifically to meet the needs of male skin:
Whilst moisturiser is important, remember that moisturiser can only do so much: if you regularly work with your hands then the best thing you can do to maintain them is to wear protective gloves. Working on your car, yard work, and even moving heavy boxes or furniture around your house and garage can all leave you with skin damage, hangnails and torn cuticles.
If you don’t wear gloves for any heavy work, or during the cold winter months, then it will almost certainly age your hands prematurely. Moisturiser will help to protect your hands from this damage, to a certain extent, and will nourish any damage that you have already done to the delicate skin on your hands.
Avoid Hot Water
You may have been told it’s important to regularly wash your hands in hot water to kill off bacteria and germs. If you work in a hospital or other healthcare environment then this may well be true, but otherwise, it is best to avoid submerging your hands in hot water wherever possible.
Washing your hands in hot water may be great at killing germs, but it is terrible for your skin. It will strip your hands of water, leaving them feeling dry and rough.
Instead, wash your hands in lukewarm water and, if you’re concerned about bacteria forming on your skin, apply an alcohol-free bacterial hand gel after your hands have been washed, but before applying moisturiser. Consider moisturising your hands every time you wash them to reintroduce the moisture that washing removes.
When it comes to handwashing, the most important thing is the length of time that you wash your hands rather than the temperature of the water. So reduce the heat and wash your hands for a little longer instead. Use a hand soap that is alcohol-free and gentle on skin.
This is also another reason why it is important to wear protective gloves when working outdoors, as it will minimise the amount of dirt that accumulates on your hands, and therefore the number of times each day you need to wash them.
You should also ensure that you wear rubber gloves whenever you are washing the dishes, as this will protect your hands from the damage that would otherwise occur when submerging them in hot water for an extended period of time.
Towel Dry Your Hands
Just as hot water can damage your hands, so too can hot air. Whilst hot air dryers may be convenient because they dry your hands so quickly, the heat will cause untold damage to the skin on your hands.
Paper towels are bad for the environment, so we are seeing more and more hot air dryers popping up everywhere, but if you care about your hands then these are best avoided.
If you’re at home then the best way to dry your hands is on a towel. Pat the skin, rather than rub it, to avoid causing any damage or abrasions. When you’re out and about (and the thought of using a communal towel makes you feel, understandably, nauseous) simply shake your hands dry and then apply your moisturiser whilst your hands are still damp.
This will actually benefit your hands, by locking in the moisture that is already on your hands from washing them.
Don’t Forget the Sunblock!
We use our hands to apply sunblock to our faces and bodies, but very rarely think to use that same sunblock to protect our hands!
However, if you plan on being outside on a sunny day, or for an extended period of time no matter what the weather, it is important to apply a sunblock with at least an SPF 30 protection to all of your exposed skin, including your hands.
Regularly wearing sunblock on your hands will reduce your risk of suffering from sunburn or developing sun spots and other age-related skin damage. This will help you to keep your hands looking younger for longer.
It is a little-known fact that your delicate skin on your hands is one of the tell-tale spots that can give your real age away, even if your face has a very youthful appearance.
Unlike the skin on your face, it is very difficult to change or improve the condition of the skin on your hands with surgery, so it is essential that you begin taking care of your hands from as early an age as possible.
Let’s not forget that regularly applying sunscreen can also help to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, and other skin-related disorders. So not only could this improve your overall appearance, it could also improve your health!
It’s likely that you will already have a favoured sunblock that you use on a regular basis but, if not, here are some of our favourites perfect for all different types of male skin:
Exfoliate Your Hands Once A Week
Finally, if you want to up your hand care routine and introduce an extra product that will make a big difference, then the perfect product to choose is an exfoliator.
The skin on your hands is much thinner than the skin on any other part of your body. Because of its delicate nature, your hand skin is therefore much more susceptible to both damage and signs of ageing.
The best way to combat this is to remove any dead and excess skin from your hands by gently using a facial scrub or exfoliant 2-3 times a week. This will leave your hands feeling soft and supple, will remove any dead or damaged skin, and will help your hands to maintain a youthful appearance too.
Here are some of our favourite facial exfoliators, designed specifically to target male skin:
If you’re working on a tight budget, or simply don’t have the space to add another product to your bathroom cabinet, then it is also surprisingly easy to make a natural and effective exfoliant for your hands at home.
All you need to do is mix together 1-2 tablespoons of sugar with a spoonful of olive oil. Rub this solution liberally all over the back of your hands and use it to loosen any dry, dull skin. Not only is this an affordable way to exfoliate your skin, it is also the best product to use if you have sensitive skin that cannot tolerate heavily scented or alcohol-based products.
If your hands are particularly dry, or if you work outside with your hands and therefore suffer from hand skin that is heavily calloused or damaged, then you may need to exfoliate your hands more regularly.
There’s no need to wait until your hands feel dry and rough to exfoliate them: often prevention is better than a cure, and it will be much easier to treat hands that are only slightly damaged than to wait until a larger amount of damage has occurred before you try to remedy and repair them.
It’s just as important to take care of the skin on your hands has it is to take care of the skin on your face. Incorporate hand care into your daily beauty routine, and you will reap the rewards, particularly as you age.
Taking care of your hands is much easier than you think, and doesn’t have to take a lot of time either. Place a bottle of moisturiser next to your sink and use it every time you wash your hands. Trim and file your fingernails every week. Apply sunscreen to your hands and protect them when you’re working outside.
If you can make just these small changes to your everyday routine then it will make a big difference to the look and feel of your hands in a relatively short period of time.
Most women will tell you that when they meet a man for the first time they notice just two things about him: his shoes, and his hands. Don’t let your hands let you down!