While we can certainly appreciate the calluses that come from hard work, there’s no excuse for extending a cracked, dry, or chapped hand upon first meeting. So whether you chop wood or close deals for a living, here’s how to keep your hands ship-shape—but still tough enough to take a beating.
1. Treat cracks and calluses.
Both dry weather and general wear are to blame for the gradual breakdown of skin over time. Spot treat troublesome areas with an intensive formula, and if skin is really broken, swallow your pride and apply an antibiotic ointment and a bandage.
2. Use hand cream or salve—daily.
Ditch the drugstore lotion—similar to a subpar lip balm, it’ll do nothing but butter you up with a false sense of security. A nourishing hand salve or cream, however, will serve to repair hands and fortify them against future damage. Consider this oft-overlooked grooming step as essential as applying deodorant.
3. Upgrade your soap.
Ever wonder why washing your hands leaves your skin feeling like chalk? Contrary to popular belief, soap and skin aren’t actually the best combination. Pick a gentle bar soap that cleanses with natural oils and exfoliators like oatmeal instead of the usual chemicals. And ditch the alcohol-based sanitizer, stat—there’s a better way.
4. Invest in the occasional man-icure.
Though once reserved for the ladies, the fabled manicure is becoming a mainstay of men’s grooming. Our friends at Details defend the service, saying, “…there’s no point in wearing an executive’s suit if your hands scream lumberjack.” Most salons will trim your cuticles, clip your nails (and file away any ragged edges), and buff them—which adds a healthy shine. Some salons even offer shoulder massages and, if you’re lucky, a free beer.
5. Guard hands against the elements…all of them.
You already know to wear gloves in subfreezing temps—cold air leaves skin dry and nails brittle. But it’s not just winter you have to worry about: Your hands are just as susceptible to sun damage as the rest of your skin. Though you don’t need to apply SPF to your hands as frequently as you do to your face, always opt for a layer of protection if you work outdoors or are spending the day at the beach.