During the winter months, low humidity and indoor heat wreak havoc on the hands. Dry, cracked hands are rough, red and less smooth in appearance than healthy hands. Dry hands hurt, too, causing cracking, peeling, redness and sensitivity. To alleviate the problem, purchase thick, moisturizing hand cream or make a batch of your own.
It's easy to whip up your own hand moisturizer. Melt 1/2 cup of shea butter in a double boiler and add 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and olive oil to the butter over low heat, stirring until melted. Whip with a beater until smooth, adding a few drops of your favorite essential oil at the last minute. Store in a jar and label. If you're not in the mood to hit the kitchen, you can use shea butter, olive oil or coconut oil on their own to heal dry, cracked hands.
Buy Your Moisture
Store-bought hand lotions work, too. Buy one with emollients -- such as lanolin, shea butter, dimethicone or cocoa butter -- and humectants, such as lactic acid, glycerin, aloe or urea. Emollients act as lubricants and fill crevices on skin and humectants soak up moisture from the air, increasing the skin's moisture content. The dryer your hands, the thicker your moisturizer should be. You can often buy small, sample-sized containers of many moisturizers -- so shop around to find the one that works best for your skin.
While you should always protect your hands with gloves in cold weather or when you're doing housework, you can also wear gloves when you sleep if your hands are extremely dry and cracked. Just apply your thick homemade or store-bought moisturizer to your hands before bed, put on a thin pair of cotton gloves and go to sleep. You'll be surprised at how effective this is after a few nights.