When it comes to your face, your anti-aging routine is a well-oiled machine: UV-shielding sunscreens, hydrating creams, wrinkle-reducing serums, the whole nine yards. Your hands? Not so much. But if you don’t have a youth-preserving plan for the delicate, oft-abused skin and nails on your hands, it’ll be a dead giveaway of your age, says Ranella Hirsch, MD, a Boston-based dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine.
Here, somethings that are making your hands look old—and how to reverse them.
1. Age Spots
The funny thing about age spots is that they actually have nothing to do with age: “Age spots are the result of sun exposure,” explains Eileen Lambroza, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology at New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center. Though sun-worshippers may get them earlier, they most commonly show up in the 50+ crowd, who’ve accumulated more sun exposure than their younger counterparts. Short of wearing gloves 24/7, you should be smoothing on a dime-sized dab of hand cream with SPF 30 before heading out the door each day—and reapplying after you wash your hands or every two hours if you’re exposed to even a little sunlight, says Deborah Sarnoff, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at New York University. Tackle existing spots with an OTC fade cream with 2% hydroquinone like Glytone Daily Body Lotion ($54), Lambroza says. Make sure to follow the directions carefully even at that low dose, since the bleaching ingredient can backfire if used improperly. Darker spots may need a 3% solution, but you’ll need a dermatologist’s prescription—and guidance—to give them a try.
2. Crepey Skin
If the backs of your hands are starting to get a crumpled look reminiscent of gift bag stuffing, use a prescription retinoid cream to improve texture and jumpstart the growth of thickening collagen, says Sarnoff. She recommends Renova ($23.49), which are pricey, but more effective than OTC retinols, she says. And, since they’re prescription-only, your dermatologist will explain how and when to use them so you get the benefits without common retinoid drawbacks like skin irritation.
3. Prominent Veins
We’ll start with the bad news: The only way to get rid of them for good is to invest in vein removal, which is exactly what it sounds like: the removal of the veins right at the surface of your skin (the deeper network of veins will do the work of taking blood to and from your hands). The good, less invasive news: heavy duty concealers like Philosophy Amazing Grace Whipped Body Creme ($31.66) can instantly cover dark veins. You’ll have to reapply after washing your hands, but it still beats surgery.
4. Scaly Skin
Nothing about dry, scaly skin says “young and healthy.” Return them to smooth-and-plump status overnight with this quick pre-bed routine: First, slough off rough, dead skin with a gentle scrub likeBare Hands Pore Minimizing Skin Firming Hand Lotion Bare Hands Pore Minimizing Skin Firming Hand Lotion ($5.99), and then create an all-night moisture mask by smoothing on a glycerin and plant oil-containing hand cream like Aveda Hand Relif Moisturizing Cream ($28.29) and covering hands with plastic wrap and putting cotton gloves on top (skip the plastic and you’ll just end up with really well moisturized gloves).