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How to Care for Hands and Nails During Winter

Updated on January 23, 2013

Good Skin Care Is Vital in Winter


Keeping Hands and Nails Healthy and Attractive all Year Long

Many of us give careful consideration to our winter skin care routine for our faces, but our hands and nails are seen just as often by ourselves and others. Dry indoor air robs our bodies of needed moisture and the biting cold air outdoors takes its toll on exposed skin.

Learning how to care for your hands and nails during the cold weather months requires determining which products best suit your needs and then establishing an ongoing regimen of thoughtful skin and nail care.

Use a Gentle Cleanser for Hands and Nails


Gentle Cleansing Is the First Step in Winter Hand & Nail Care, Skin Care

During the cold and flu season, that time of year that coincides with the cold weather months, you are likely to be washing your hands many times a day. Depending on the type of hand cleaner you are using, especially any antimicrobial soaps or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, these hand cleansing sessions rob your hands and nails of important moisture.

One way to reduce the drying effects of hand washing is to choose a gentle cleansing product. Avoid antibacterial soaps and cleansers; they've been proven to be no more effective at reducing the spread of harmful germs than plain soap and water. The most gentle cleansers for your hands are those that contain no soap

Hand Creams, Nail Care Products

Moisturizing is the Key to Healthy Hands and Nails

It's important to replace the moisture your hands and nails lose in the winter. Even though nails are sheets of flattened, dead cells, they are 18 percent water. Dry skin and nails occurs not because your skin is stripped of oil, but of its natural moisture content.

After each time that you wash your hands, you should be replacing lost moisture with a moisturizing cream. Pat your hands dry after washing, then massage the cream into your hands, making sure to cover the areas between fingers and your cuticles. To get the most benefit from the moisturizer, apply it to your hands within 3 minutes of them coming into contact with water. This allow the moisturizer to seal in an extra bit of water to your skin.

Creams and ointments are the preferred forms of moisturizers for winter hand and nail care. They provide more protection to your skin than do lotions.

For extra healing moisture or to promote the softest skin on your hands, soak your hands for no more than 10 minutes in lukewarm water before bedtime. Pat dry. Apply a moisturizing cream or ointment to hands and nails, then cover hands with lightweight white cotton gloves. When you wake up in the morning, you'll be amazed to see your hands looking healthier and feeling softer.

Keep Your Hands and Nails "Summer Perfect"


Cold Weather Nail Care Tips

  • Prevent brittle nails by avoiding the use of harsh detergents or chemicals; wear rubber gloves when hand washing dishes or cleaning with chemicals.
  • Use thick creams on hands and be sure to rub into cuticles too.
  • Biotin, or vitamin B7, can help to promote softer, stronger nails that are less prone to breakage.
  • Cover your hands when you will be outdoors in cold weather. Even the brief walk from your car to the door of the store can cause your nails to become brittle when the weather is cold and dry. If one or more of those nails comes in contact with something hard, like opening the car door, those brittle nails will easily snap and break.
  • Use non-acetone nail polish remover when taking off nail polish. It is less drying to your nails and the surrounding skin.
  • Every few weeks, remove nail polish and allow nails to be natural for a few days. This allows the nails to "breathe" and become moisturized.

Bonus: Cold Weather Foot Care


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    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Landocheese, appreciate your read and comment. I have already begun my dry skin regimen for hands and nails so that my habit will be ingrained when the cold weather comes.

    • landocheese profile image


      5 years ago

      Interesting comment about avoiding antibacterial soap. I have heard this many times as well. Thanks for the timely article as we head into the dry season.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Innerspin, what a great idea! I've got my moisturizing supplies in a cabinet, but next to the sink they will go.

      Thanks for the read and the comment.

    • innerspin profile image

      Kim Kennedy 

      5 years ago from uk

      A timely reminder, our hard working hands need extra help during the winters months. I'll be putting some moisturiser next to the wash baisin to jog my memory.


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