Beauty Clinic: What to do about ageing hands...?
Q. I have spent a lot of time outside, over many years, and my hands now have several brown patches and are becoming crêpey, despite lots of hand lotion. Is there anything I can do, apart from wearing gloves all the time, which I don't want to do? A. Brown patches (also known as liver or age spots) are a very common result of accumulated sun exposure over years. They can be as small as freckles or spread to more than half a centimetre. Hands are a key place to find them, also face and tops of feet.
They can be tan, brown or black and are usually harmless. But it is always worth asking your GP to check them out, especially if you notice them in other places too and if they seem to be changing.
UV rays accelerate the production of melanin, which gives your skin its colour. On areas of skin that have years of frequent and prolonged sun exposure, brown spots appear as melanin becomes ‘clumped’, or is produced in particularly high concentrations, according to the Mayo Clinic.
So, what to do? Since you don't want to wear gloves, applying a sun prep with broad UVA/UVB protection every day is the way to go. Remember, you will need to top it up every two hours or so for maximum protection.
You can use any good sun prep but, interestingly, several brands are now producing dedicated hand creams (which should help with the crêpeyness) with sun protection, usually from a combination of chemical and physical sun screens.
Clinique Even Better Dark Spot Correcting Hand Cream SPF15, £25 for 75ml: this claims to help fade existing dark spots (several online reviewers have seen results over days) as well as preventing the formation of new ones. And, of course, moisturising hands.
L’Occitane Almond Velvet Hands SPF15, £18 for 75ml: the brand is famous for its hand creams (among many other products) and this new best seller with the brand’s Almond Youth Complex should nourish and cherish paws.
Ultrasun SPF30 Hand, £18 for 75ml, www.johnlewis.com: A fast absorbing anti-ageing and anti-pigmentation hand cream for sensitive skin (that’s on the label), which is also water-resistant. This claims to last all day (but some experts are sceptical of such claims).
Alpha-H Protection Plus Hand Cream SPF50+, £35 for 100ml, www.cultbeauty.co.uk: As well as broad spectrum sun filters and a slightly bronze tint (not sure why), this Aussie brand includes antioxidant vitamins C and E plus pine bark extract to fight free radical damage.
Last year, we tried to find a hand cream with a physical sunscreen without success and this year the same. The only one that appeared had such poor reviews it seems best forgotten. So our advice remains to use a rich hand cream at night and apply your usual sun protection during the daytime.