It’s a widely held belief that the hands are the first parts of the body to show significant signs of aging, but they also reveal a life well lived, says Erin Kleinberg, founder of hand care and candle brand Sidia. “We talk with our hands and communicate through touch and feel, so I think now is the time for hands…because we’re all reentering society,” she says. So it makes sense that the hand care industry has exploded in popularity and innovation.
Hand care products have been around for centuries (if not longer). But, until recently, they’ve been pretty basic, lacking the artistry, innovation, and efficiency we’ve come to expect from face-focused skincare.
“Skincare has become so saturated and consumers are looking for new, more thoughtful ways to treat other areas of their body – beyond the face and neck, beyond an all-purpose body cream” , notes Amy Welsman, founder and CEO of hand care brand Palmlaunched in early 2020.
Welsman discovered that the hand sanitizer industry lacked natural, luxurious formulas that smelled really good. She created an exclusive formula (the signature of the brand Antibacterial hand gel), and immediately found success; sales have increased fivefold since launch. The brand later expanded to include a range of hand care products, including a multi-purpose probiotic hand balm and exfoliating hand soap, as well as a handplenty (sorry) of upcoming additions, including hand-specific sunscreen.
There’s no mystery behind the boom in the hand sanitizer category in 2020 – and it seems to have deepened consumers’ attention to their hands in general.
“I think hand care is something that we all quietly obsess over in our private moments as we get older, but it’s certainly become a larger topic of conversation,” says Nadine Abramcyk, co-founder and brand manager. for Tenoverten, a New York nail salon that also sells its own line of polishes and hand care products. The brand launched its (as they describe it) “skincare for your hands” range in 2018, a collection that now includes a brightening hand cream enriched with hyaluronic acid (designed to target age spots and dryness), a brush-on, an overnight hydrating hand mask, and even a hand serum (anti-aging serum), specially designed to treat and prevent the first signs of aging.
Before the marketing hoax alarms start ringing in your head asking if a specific hand serum is really necessary, consider the basic benefits of a serum: they typically have a high concentration of active ingredients, produce deeper absorption than creams and generally feel light and sink in quickly. Isn’t that just the description of the hand cream of your dreams?
Sidia’s Kleinberg thinks so. “There is a very visible void for a non-greasy hand cream,” she points out. “We’ve spoken to so many people who have refrained from using hand cream due to its oily and mild nature, so we’ve created this perfect clean formula in serum form so more experienced users can layer a heavy cream, but for those who can’t stand waxy greasy creams, they can enjoy the lightweight, fast-absorbing, non-greasy power of our foamy serum, then go on their way by touching their laptop, hair or eating an apple without having to wipe their hands on a napkin.” Next to Hand SerumSidia (named after Kleinberg’s grandmother) has also launched a gel-based hand scrub, designed to remove dry skin, ideal before applying serum and/or hand cream.
Another company that is innovating in the hand care category is Soft Services, whose whole philosophy is to treat body care with as much care as skin care. In September, the treatment-focused brand launched Theraplush, a repairing nighttime hand balm enriched with anti-aging primer retinol and soothing colloidal oatmeal. Beyond dermatologist-approved ingredients, Soft Services has also opted for a ritualistic approach with its product; the formula is housed in a nifty refillable container with an easily removable lid meant to simplify the user experience, even with balmy hands. The treatment is also deliberately waxy, meant to linger on the hands and cuticles, creating a protective, restorative veil overnight while the actives do their job.
At $58, this treatment is hardly a standard hand cream; and yet, price aside, it’s already proven hugely popular, being sold out on the brand’s website. (Not to mention the accumulation of many outspoken fans, including Fashionista’s own beauty director.) Hands, it’s clear, are no longer a secondary or forgotten sector of the beauty industry. .
“Hand care is the next frontier in body care, especially when it comes to protecting our skin from the signs of aging,” says Welsman. “Today’s consumer is very concerned about the health of their skin from an early age – they practice preventive measures earlier than the previous generation… Many studies show that there has been a significant increase cosmetic hand treatments in dermatology clinics, such as fillers and laser treatments, which is proof that people are not only interested in this category, but spend a large part of their budget beauty to younger-looking hands,” adds Welsman.
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Dr. Geeta Yadav, board-certified Toronto dermatologist and founder of Veneer Dermatology, notes that while her patients have been inquiring about in-office procedures for years, she has recently seen a particular increase in awareness of these procedures and requests for manual treatments. “Lasers, like Fraxel, and professional chemical peels are popular options for correcting the signs of aging on the hands, specifically fine lines and dark spots caused by sun damage,” says Dr. Yadav. “These powerful exfoliating treatments resurface the skin to reveal healthier, younger-looking skin underneath,” she adds.
She also frequently uses an injectable filler called Radiesse, which uses calcium hydroxylapatite to restore volume to the backs of her hands. “Skin thinning, laxity, and loss of volume quickly age the hand; plumping it up is a very effective rejuvenation option,” she notes.
What does Dr. Yadav think of the products in this hand-focused boom? “I wouldn’t say hands on skin need particularly unique ingredients — those that have worked for years in face care formulas (and recently popped up in body care) will do the trick,” she says.
Like most dermatologists, she only recommends a few key products for her hand-focused patients: sunscreen, exfoliator, and moisturizer. The most important of these, however, is also often the most overlooked: sunscreen. As for the face and the body, it is crucial that the sunscreen is worn regularly, every day also on the hands.
“Hands often get as much sun exposure as our faces, but our faces get all the love when it comes to skincare,” says Dr. Yadav. She recommends putting sunscreen on the backs of your hands (as well as your face and neck, of course) before you leave the house. She loves hand creams with sunscreen, so you naturally incorporate SPF into your daily routine. On that same note, Tenoverten recently launched a broad-spectrum, lightweight, hand-focused SPF hand cream called Protective sunscreen ($39) designed to hydrate while protecting with SPF 30 mineral sunscreen.
For exfoliation, Dr. Yadav recommends something like Daily peels from Dr. Dennis Gross. “When you use chemical peels in the form of wipes, it’s easy to quickly go over the backs of your hands after doing your face and neck,” she adds.
When it comes to moisturizers, Dr. Yadav emphasizes that skin is skin, saying, “You can effectively treat your hands with products you use on your face and body.” So if you use a retinoid or sunscreen on your face and you have some left on your fingertips, go ahead and massage it into the backs of your hands as well. Simple enough. That said, if you don’t mind the investment, a well-formulated hand cream (ideally with active ingredients, like AHAs, vitamin C or SPF) is a helpful indulgence, she notes.
Overall, the growing hand care category illustrates the power of a niche, especially in the crowded and often confusing beauty market. “I certainly think there are some misleading products on the market in the beauty space, but there are also some surprisingly brilliant niche products in the hand care category that make a big difference when used in the right way. consistent,” says Abramcyk. For Welsman, the rapid success of Paume is proof that hand care is not just a passing fad. “There is a market for more luxurious skincare products for the hands; it’s not just a trend or a replica of the pandemic, but an important category that’s here to stay,” she says.
What else might emerge in this area? For Kleinberg, an element of personal care is a priority for consumers: “Our hands are actually our most valuable asset, they are underserved and unloved,” she says. But it also provides for even more specialized products. Tenoverten’s Abramcyk agrees: “I think the more solution-oriented products haven’t even hit the market yet, I imagine they will target specific hand-related skin issues.”
Another trend to expect in hand care is a greater democratization of price levels. “I believe the hand care category is becoming the next big category,” notes Abramcyk, “but it will become more accessible and not just live in the realm of luxury.”
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