How To Rescue Over-Washed, Dry Hands

Photography: Emma Palmer

“In a time when excessive and prolonged washing is the norm, it’s no surprise many of us are experiencing dry hands,” says Pam Marshall, clinical aesthetician at Mortar and Milk. “Washing our hands constantly can disrupt our acid mantle, which is an invisible film that sits on the outer layer of our skin and helps to keep it soft and smooth,” adds Pam.

Thankfully there are a few things you can do and some great products that will really help including the innovative and hardworking range from Nursem, which has continued to sell out since it launched with us in May. The brand was developed by nurses to help combat relentless hand washing.

For every product Nursem sells, the brand gives a month’s worth of free hand care to a nurse or midwife and we’re matching that to double the Nursem promise. Products that actually work and help our NHS heroes at the same time? We like it.

Read on to discover more about Nursem’s formulas and co-founder Jonny Philip’s do’s and don’ts for soothing and preventing dry, sore hands…

Don’t Use Just Any Hand Wash

When it comes to finding a hand wash, Jonny suggests using a formula with very mild surfactants. “This will help prevent potential damage to your natural lipid barrier, which helps to lock-in moisture,” he says. “The trouble with washing your hands multiple times a day is that we see an increase in transepidermal water loss which is when moisture escapes..” The Nursem Caring Hand Wash uses a soap-free formula, which is ultra gentle thanks to it’s blend of nourishing avocado oil and pro-vitamin B5.

“Always dry your hands thoroughly and pat them dry rather than rubbing them,” Jonny adds. “Avoid using paper towels if possible as they can be more abrasive on your skin.”


Don’t Skip Hand Cream

Applying hand cream after washing your hands might seem unnecessarily excessive, but it keeps dryness at bay. “Hand cream helps to soothe and protect your skin from ongoing damage and as I mentioned  before, support your own lipid barrier to prevent dry hands and lock in moisture” says Jonny. The Nursem Caring Hand Cream uses a fast-absorbing formula, which is packed with omega 3, 6 and 9, as well as manuka honey, to really soothe and hydrate.

If you’ve got some seriously stubborn dry patches, try the Caring Hand Fix. It’s an intensive balm packed with avocado oil, shea butter and oatmeal and it’s best used at night. Slather onto hands just before bed and cover with a pair of soft cotton or bamboo gloves if you can. 

Do Look After Your Cuticles

“It’s not just the palms and knuckles that suffer when it comes to dryness,” explains brand founder Margaret Dabbs. “Our nail beds and surrounding areas can also be a problem when our hands are over-washed and dehydrated.” To tackle this, Margaret suggests using a serum such as the Nourishing Nail and Cuticle Serum.

“It helps to transform dry and damaged nails and cuticles and effectively treat and protect against infection,” adds Margaret. Apply a thin layer to cover the fingernail and cuticle area throughout the day for healthier-looking nails.

nail serum-01

Do Reapply Hand Cream When You Need

To help prevent dry hands, apply your hand cream little and often – especially after washing or using antibacterial gel as its packed with alcohol (usually 60% of higher) which makes it incredibly drying. Be sure to properly rub it in and opt for one that isn’t too heavy or greasy.

“Another good habit of getting in to is introducing a little bedtime regime of applying hand cream and cotton gloves before you sleep,” says Jonny. “This is a good way of giving your skin time to repair.”

Do Exfoliate Twice A Week

Similarly to our skin, it can be tempting to not exfoliate if we are experiencing dryness but a good exfoliator will actually help. “Exfoliating your hands will also help your hand cream to penetrate the skin more easily,” says Margaret. Byredo’s Hand Scrubs work wonders for rescuing dry or chapped hands and not only leaves them silky smooth but hydrated too thanks to the natural oil-based salts.