3 Daily Habits To Avoid & Treat Dark Spots On Your Hands
Dark spots (sometimes called age spots or sun spots) are one of the most common skin care concerns for folks 30-plus. They're the result of overproduction of pigment in the skin, often triggered by UV exposure, damage, and inflammation. We pay special attention to them when they start to appear on the face, but the truth is they can appear anywhere on the body, such as the neck, chest, and hands.
The hands, in particular, are a special case. Hands are more often exposed to sun than the rest of the body, making them a natural place for signs of UV damage to appear. In addition, the hands experience more wear and tear compared to skin elsewhere—which means the skin is often more dry and sensitive. This means the hands will often start showing signs of aging before the rest of the body.
Well, with the right topical treatments, you can fade dark spots on your hands. Just make sure to treat the skin gently—going too aggressive with potent topicals can leave the skin cracked, dry, and irritated. Here, the steps you can implement right away.
Prioritize antioxidant-rich hydrators daily.
The hands need more frequent hydration compared to anywhere else on the body. This is true for a couple reasons, including regular hand-washing, exposure to the elements, and the fact that skin here is just more dry naturally.
The solution here is fairly straightforward: Invest in a good hand cream and get your use out of it. At the very least, said hand cream should contain humectants (which attract water; look for hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and aloe), emollients (to bolster the barrier; look for ingredients like oat oil, ceramides, and fatty acids), and occlusive ingredients (to keep it all trapped in; look for heavier oils and butters).
However, to treat dark spots, look for formulas that also contain antioxidants, such as botanical extracts and oils, coenzyme-q10, vitamin E, and niacinamide. Antioxidants will help protect the skin from damage by neutralizing free radicals and reducing inflammation. This will help stop new age spots from forming. And many antioxidants also have brightening properties, to help fade existing dark spots.
In the hunt for a good hand cream, it's also very important to find one you enjoy the texture of—this will mean you'll actually use it throughout the day. (Let's be real: The best skin care routine is one that you enjoy because that means you'll do it!) mindbodygreen's postbiotic hand cream is creamy yet fast-absorbing; it doesn't leave hands greasy after applying, so you're able to keep on with your day as normal.
Use a nighttime retinol.
Perhaps the most beloved ingredient for aging skin, retinol has earned its place in the skin care zeitgeist. So much so that the ingredient is no longer just popular for use on the face—now it shows up in neck creams, body creams, and yes, hand creams.
For those with more severe signs of aging skin on the hands, retinol is a great nighttime treatment to utilize: It can spur collagen production, increase skin cell turnover, and offer a host of other benefits.
However, it's not without its drawbacks: The ingredient is notoriously hard to tolerate, as it can cause increased irritation, dryness, and photosensitivity (which just means you're more susceptible to sun damage). For this reason, it should only be used in the evening, and always buffer its effects with hydrating creams as well (not only at night but throughout the day!). Because of its popularity, there are several excellent hand treatments to try (such as this beauty-editor-approved option). But you can also just apply a touch of your nighttime retinol cream to your hands prior to bed, which will save you from buying a new product.
Use sun protection.
Because it can't be said enough: Sun protection is vital for the health of your skin. For your hands, there are several easy habits to adopt. The first is to apply sunscreen on the hands prior to sun exposure, along with the rest of the body. You're already using your hands to slather it on elsewhere, so it's fairly simple to just rub it in on the back of your hands as part of the process. In addition, you may want to consider wearing gloves during outdoor activities that make sense, such as gardening in the spring and summer or during winter sports. And while antioxidants can't replace sunscreen, they can bolster the effects by dealing with free radicals. So, again, it's important to use skin care products that use antioxidant-rich ingredients.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.