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Julie Kay: Her Struggle Against Aged and Sun-Damaged Hands

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Sun Protection for Body
May 4, 2010 Reviewed by JulieKay 24 Comments

Do You Believe in Fairies? Say Quick That You Believe. If You Believe, Clap Your Hands! ~J.M. Barrie

The Age of Aquarius… Let the sun shine. Let the sunshine in, the sun shine in. To those of us who remember these lyrics/melody from Hair, I apologize if I’ve tossed them out to rattle in your heads the rest of the day (or longer). It’s May and the sun is shining and it’s always the time of year I grow melancholy for a good soak in the sun. I do miss a good tan and the honest sun soak that achieves the look. Although those gamma rays have been proven deadly, I always felt so much healthier with an all over tan. Ironic, huh. Did I use sunscreen? I didn’t then, and I still don’t. I want to learn how. I feel quite helpless in this day and age, and I know it must sound quite lame. What I do now is avoid the sun. One extreme to another. This is soooo me! But not a great solution in any case. I could use some good simple advice in this arena. I’m always willing to learn.

The sun did so much more than make my skin produce melanins. If I had a breakout, all I did was sit outside with a perfectly scrubbed face and point it directly sunward for 15 minutes a day for three days or so in a row. I’m telling you, it was my best cure for a breakout! Incredible to admit. Today when I take my Vitamin D3 supplement because I don’t get enough direct and continuous contact with the sun, it is swallowed with an imagined bittersweet taste. This is irony! It is recommended that we humans lay in the sun “naked” for 10-20 minutes each day for a proper intake of Vitamin D3. Can you imagine; can you really imagine!? I’ve thought about it; more than casually, trust me- it poses so not a pretty picture.

Which brings me to today’s point:  My hands. While my face and décolleté escaped the ravages of sun damage, I knew a dozen years ago that my hands were beginning to expose me for every single ray. That and genetics. I partially have my mother’s hands. My mother always had old hands And to the detail-oriented child this Aquarius was (is) I simply was aware. I’ve referred to my mother’s Polish eyes when speaking my life-long dark circles, for example. So, it wasn’t unusual for me to stare at her hands as they really began to age and be stricken. They were puffy and the skin looked like snake skin. They didn’t look, even to a daughter, like hands I wanted to hold. When my own hands began to lose elasticity, I felt dismal. I have small slender hands that I’ve always been proud of. I don’t polish my nails, but I keep them short and even. My wedding ring is my only jewelry. During my sunning days (yeah, yeah, okay- YEARS!), my hands were right out there! But they were gorgeous. Nice brown hands, long slender fingers.  Suddenly, in my mid 40s, I was seeing frailer pinkish snakeskin appendages. Hands that I was either going to have to hide constantly or figure out how to correct. Big time. But what and how, and where. Oiy!

I’ve spent hours researching products online and used dozens of hand lotions- few have any impact beyond making my hands feel greasy and/or overly fragrant, to downright smelly. I got serious when I bought StriVectin-HC for Hands about six years ago. It claimed to be developed solely for the hands and was concentrated. When I read: “The Skin on the back of your hands is not the same as the skin on your face…StriVectin-HC Ultra-Concentrate Cream For The Hands restores the texture of thin, parchment-like skin on the back of the hands…” I was sold. The truly good advice I got from the packaging, which I still use today, was to put a small dob on the back of one hand and then rub the back of the other hand against the dob, as not to waste any product. I used StriVectin-HC faithfully for three to four months (or longer, the tube was near empty). I kept telling myself the damage was too great to see improvement too soon. It would take time. Naïve. I finally had to admit nothing was happening. I reject StriVectin-HC.

I moved on. I bought several hand lotions online. Lancome, Bliss, Adovia mineral hand cream, Uskincare Healing Hands with echinacea, Robanda anti-aging hand treatment with gatuline whitening and retinol.

One I like is Nourish Younger Hands Cream. The ingredients include nothing harmful and some wonderful things like mallow, ivy and black willow bark. Works with good oils including sunflower, jojoba and emu. Nourish even manages a peptide, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, which satisfies my cosmetic active trigger! The fragrance is fascinating, and I quite like it. After using this lotion for a few weeks, I actually felt I was building up substance beneath the thin skin of my hands. Not much and probably not noticeable to others, but there was a texture change. To date, Nourish is my favorite “dedicated” hand cream, and I recommend it.

However, my favored routine to date, day or night (or in between) is as, I finish my facial routine, I add a dob of moisturizing product  (whatever potion I may be using on my face) on the back of my left hand and work it with the back of my right hand, then with my palms, work it well up my arms. I do this as often as possible. My hands look better today than five years ago, but I still wish for better every day!

For it was while working the nuisance of my hands that the horror of my arms was revealed. I don’t know why I was so shocked. The loss of elasticity doesn’t stop at our hands. Especially for us *past* sun worshippers. This is a true case of hindsight being 20-20. We dry up. Sahara. No built in oasis here. It’s as simple as that. Tanning magnifies what age is going to present naturally. A huge decrease in hydration. Here’s where hydration as a dedicated practice becomes my mantra. This is why I added my arms to my Burt’s Bees Orange Essence soak in the shower. The good news: I caught my arms early. A year ago they showed a marked snake pattern. Today if I care for them regularly, I can stave off this effect. I’m fairly certain this is an impact of sun damage, but I would be interested to hear from readers who have aging skin on their arms and hands who haven’t had a particularly strong past in the sun. Heck, I’d like to hear from both sides: Sunnies and Shadys- What works for you and your hands (arms, elbows)?

So heads up. Use your body lotions now you 20s, 30s and 40s, and you’ll be ahead of the pack by loving your skin- all of it- now. You 50s and 60s are probably working on it, and I’d like to hear what works (and doesn’t) for you.  ~Peace… Julie Kay

StriVectin-HC Ingredients:

Water, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Dimethiocne, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Behenyl Alcohol, Isopentyldiol, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Saccharomyces/Xylinum Black Tea Ferment, Cetearyl Methicone, Glycereth-26, Ammonium Acryloyl Dimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Crambe Abyssinica Seed Oil, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Diacetyl Boldine, Barley Extract, Soybean Sterols, Sandalwood Extract, Phellondendron Amurense Bark Extract, Phopholipids, Linoleic Acid, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben.

Nourish Ingredients:

Aqua (Water), Emulsifying Wax NF,  Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe) Leaf Juice,  Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba), Emu Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil (and) Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Camellia Sinensis Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract,  Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract,  Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Acetyl Hexapeptide-3, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Extract, Saccharum officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharinum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Auranium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus medica limonum (Lemon) Extract, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry) Extract, (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Allantoin, Ascorbyl Palmitate Vitamin C Ester, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Salix Nigra (Organic Black Willow Bark) Extract, Sodium Hydroxy Methyl Glycinate, Germall Plus

  • August 4, 2011

    by Julie Kay

    I only used the exfoliator once, felt it was too harsh on the tender skin on the backs of my hands- and, yes, the skin has thickened some... not much, but some is something! Let's keep us informed. ~jk

  • August 4, 2011

    by Junko

    Oddly enough Julie I'm currently I'm using the same. AM & PM cream but not the exfoliator and I think it's actually thickened the skin on the back of my hands. Not totally happy about the sunscreen in the AM cream or the Retinol. Always, always the search of better...

  • August 4, 2011

    by Julie Kay

    Unfortunately I discovered the same thing, but good news! I am now using Zo Skin Health Oraser Hand Care System. It has a day and night cream and a sugar-based exfoliation mixture. I found a good deal on it at Nordstrom's... $50 for a $90 set. With dedicated use, I have seen good results as well! I believe Zo is under the Obagi umbrella product line. Thanks for asking! ~jk

  • August 3, 2011

    by Junko

    Julie, I went to look for this hand cream and it looks like they don't make it anymore? Went to your skin energizer site and they're not listing it and neither does the Nourish site. Is this still your favorite? If you're using something better now can you tell us what it is?

  • July 19, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Naja - Sorry I missed your reply at the time it was posted. Thank you so much for all the info. I'm going to try a TCA peel but think I'll wait until October. It's just too hot & sunny right now so I'd rather wait until I can wear long sleeved tops so I don't absentmindedly expose my arms to wickedly strong sun.

  • July 18, 2010

    by oneshotfl

    I'm 50 and always loved the sunny outdoors. Living in FL, is really bad for your skin. At about age 27 I stopped tanning my face and neck by using a high SPF sunscreen and wearing a hat. My chest will still tan despite the sunscreen and now I'm getting freckly patches on my hands, shoulders and arms and losing pigmentation on my chest as evidenced by light and dark patches.

    I just tried the Pro Vita-K creme on the backs of my hands a few days ago. They are noticeably lighter already - I'm thrilled. Am trying Porcelana on my jawline and chest. Don't see a diff yet but I just started. Haven't been able to find anything about whether the Vit-K cream is OK for your face???

  • June 30, 2010

    by Julie Kay


  • June 30, 2010

    by Naja

    Hi Jaysie,

    I would recommend that you only purchase your TCA peel from The formulations and quality can differ widely among other manufacturers. I have purchased from this company for years and can attest to its quality. makes very potent peels and other clinical antiaging products. They offer TCA in stengths of 12.5%, 20% and 30%. Each is available in trial sizes as well as larger sizes.

    Since you have used relatively mild peels, you may want to start on the lower end of TCA and work your way up. If I were you, I would probably purchase a trial size or half an ounce of TCA 30%. TCA 30% can easily be diluted down to lower strength levels by the addition of water. That's the most economical way to try different strengths of TCA and determine what works best for you without having to purchase these different strengths all individually.

    Please keep in mind that TCA is significantly more powerful than any stength of glycolic acid and has mid depth penetration. Nobody's skin ever looks pretty after a TCA peel. If you cannot stand for your skin to look ugly, red, dark and flakey, then this is not the peel for you. As part of the process, the skin usually frosts (whitens), later darkens, looks like leather and feels like paper. It takes much longer for the dead skin layers to flake off than glycolic acid, especially on the body where the skin is tougher than the face (i.e. more than a week).

    Because I am rather hardcore, I use 30% straight and undiluted on my body (never the face!). It does wonders on stretch marks and rough discolored skin. I treat my elbows, knees and feet quite regularly with excellent results.

    Keep in mind that the best results are obtained with a course of treatments (monthly in the case of TCA) until the desired results are obtained. It's not a one shot deal. You have to be patient, find a formulation that works best for you (trial and error) and be consistent in order to see real results.

    TCA should also be applied in layers (2-3) to clean, dry and unmoisturized skin. Let the solution dry in between layers, be very conscious of the time and work quickly. Afterwards, rinse with cold water and apply petroleum jelly, olive oil or emu oil. There can be quite a bit of redness and/or irritation with TCA. Don't use active clinical products (i.e. vitamin c, AHA), scrubs or other exfoliants (brushes, loofahs) on skin that has been recently treated with TCA. Wait at least a couple of days. Don't exfoliate, wax, shave or pluck hairs prior to a peel to your body.

    Start off by going to and reading up on the different types of chemical peels, their stenghths and pH numbers, how they work and what to expect. The company provides very good information, directions and a video on the peeling process. Learn as much as you can before trying this yourself.

    You can also have a dermatologist or licensed esthetician apply a TCA peel for you.

    Most of all. Don't get discouraged. This stuff works!

    Currently, I am also working on my neighbor's hands and lower arms, which have a ton of age spots and melasma.

    Good Luck!

  • June 28, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Naja - What strength TCA would you recommend for a hand/arm peel? I have fair but resistant skin and have used glycolic (30%) and lactic (40%) peels from time to time in the past. I've also used glycolic 15% products on my face with no problems and currently use the Glycolix body lotion. My hands & arms are very aged looking with crepiness, dryness, and age spots. Would appreciate any suggestions as it sounds like you have quite a lot of experience with peels, though you may have very different skin than I do. Thanks!

  • June 28, 2010

    by Naja

    You're welcome Julie.

    Chemical peels sound scary, but they're really no big deal. The Glycolix elite pads are pretty gentle and are designed for use by "regular folks," not estheticians. They look like the old Stridex medicated pads. The TCA and full strength glycolic acid peels sold by platinumskincare are much stronger and are designed for use by estheticians or someone who's very familiar and comfortable with peels.

    It may be better to start off simply with the Glycolix elite pads and work your way up to more agressive peeling at a later stage. Glycolix elite pads are actually designed for the face, but I use them everywhere. The pads retail for less than $30.

    Amlactin Moisturizing lotion costs even less money and the active ingredient, lactic acid, is milder than glycolic acid. It's a godsend in the winter when skin is often very dry, rough, dull and scaly.

    Chemical peels were instrumental in removing significant discoloration, spots, scarring and melasma from my face and body. They definitely work and make my skin looks much younger.

    Just take your time researching and deciding what to do.


  • June 27, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    Naja! Thank you for the detailed advice. I copied it into Word to print it out. I have never had a "peel" of any sort, so this is quite a leap for me. But I will begin my breathing exercises and when my heartrate slows I'll read through your steps again. =) I was watching an episode of Nip Tuck a couple years ago w Jacqueline Bisset. She asked for a full hand peel, and I went "hmmmmmmmmm." Now you're providing me full guidance for this- THANK YOU! I'm nervous as a cat, though... ~jk

  • June 27, 2010

    by Naja

    What I recommend is a combination of (1) TCA & glycolic acid peels, (2) Cellex-C Body Smoothing Lotion, (3) high SPF sunscreen with antioxidants.

    1. TCA is Trichloroacetic Acid. It is stronger than glycolic acid and is considered a mid strength peel. It is excellent for deep peeling sun damaged, uneven and rough skin. I use it on my face and body, including hands and feet, and honestly don't find it any more irritating than glycolic acid. It's not painful when used as directed. It comes in several strengths and can be purchased directly from, which provides great directions. You shouldn't do a TCA peel more than once a month. In between TCA peels, use glycolic acid pads, such as Glycolix Elite Treatment pads (10%, 15% or 20%) at night on your hands. These pads are actually moisturizing and the product is meant to be left on overnight. You can purchase from and

    2. Cellex-C Body Smoothing Lotion. This product contains 15% L-Ascorbic Acid, a very potent antioxidant, and can be used on hands. It is pricey, but works very well. Vitamin C boots collagen production, neutralizes free radicals, smooths and firms the skin and lightens skin discoloration. You can purchase from and To save money, I go to eBay. Just be sure to confirm the expiration date first and check the seller's ratings.

    3. Use a high SPF sunblock/suncreen that contains antioxidants and leave it in your car along with a pair of driving gloves.

    4. I also recommend the use of Amlactin Moisturizing Body Lotion or Cream as a regular daily moisturizer. It contains 12% lactic acid and is available without a prescription at any store. I usually get it at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Costco and This is a highly moisturizing and gentle product, which does an amazing job of smoothing the skin and fading discoloration.

    Good Luck.

  • May 30, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    Susan- I keep trying to answer you here with a link to Nourish Younger Hands, and I can't seem to make it stick. I think it's the link. I apologize. But to answer your question (w/out the link), I've only bought it online at SkinEnergizer. If you try it, let us know how it goes! ~jk

  • May 30, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    Gauhar- your English is perfect. And I understand about not applying sunblock- I am still not using it. We might have a safety net, though, when it comes to our automobiles. I was discussing this with my husband, and he said car companies use safety glass with built-in UV filters. This brought back a memory of when I first ordered transition lens in my eyeglasses- y'know the ones that get dark in the sunlight automatically? Well, the folks at my eye dr office told me this wouldn't happen in my car because of the filtered glass. I honestly don't know how well we're protected, especially from UVA rays, but we're not getting hit with the full blast. ~jk

  • May 30, 2010

    by Gauhar

    I am also concerned about my hands and I even wanted to buy UV fingerless gloves like these

    I heard they are very popular in Japan. They even wear UV sleeves. To me, with two small kids, driving in UV gloves would be easier than applying a sun block. Sorry for my English.

  • May 29, 2010

    by Susan

    Can Nourish be purchased at a store or must it be ordered on-line?

  • May 9, 2010

    by Angela

    Julie, thanks for reminding us that our hands need lots of TLC. My hands and arms up to the bicep are darker than the rest of me - and my left arm is slightly darker still than the right due to driving. I use Porter's Hand Lotion that does wonders for dry skin, however it provides no sun protection, so I've been searching for a non-greasy lotion with chemical-free SPF that I can carry with me when I'm outdoors or out for a drive. I tend to wash my hands frequently - even when I'm outdoors - so I need to constantly reapply the SPF.

    And Marta, I hope you are able to jump start the trend of driving gloves. Though I think I would feel compelled to buy a convertible to go with them.

  • May 8, 2010

    by marta

    Its time driving gloves came back in fashion. Very Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

  • May 8, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    You're absolutely right, Mark. It's UV-A rays that do the deadly damage and that is not deflected by glass. I hadn't considered how much it hits our hands driving, though. This answers some things, and is definitely something all of us need to be aware of. Thank you, Mark. ~jk

  • May 8, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    Jaysie- I dont know what a TCA peel is, but it sounds painful. And I used Nourish a good 4 months before I saw good results. I'm w you, sleeping in gloves... I've thought of it and I dont think I could sleep. I'm something of an insomniac and any little thing will trip that off. I have upped by B intake the past two years. That might be helping w the creams. Ive begun using a separate B12 to my B-complex, actually. Wow, so many aspects. Thanks for the great comment. ~jk

  • May 8, 2010

    by Mark

    Julie- Great post! A nurse at my dermatoligist office gave one of the greatest tips - albeit simple. She told me we get greater exposure to our hands because they are also exposed to the sun when we drive. I immediately began to take notice and she is right - the sun beats thru the windshield on our hands gripping the wheel when no other body part gets it - no matter the time of the year. She said she always keeps a tube of sunscreen in each vehicle and applies it every time when she gets in - a dab on the back of one hand and then rub with the back of the other so none is wasted and your palms are left clean to grip the wheel. The daily exposure however small, adds up over the course of time and this is a very easy, small way to counteract the damage. I hope this helps.

  • May 8, 2010

    by Jaysie

    Julie - I'm over-50 and while I was never a sun worshipper, I grew up experiencing numerous bad sunburns to my fair, dry skin simply because sunblocks didn't exist and I loved to swim in the summer. I didn't start using sun screens until my mid-30's and by then I realized I should cover-up when out in the sun, not romp in a bikini.

    I'm still searching for a miracle hand cream as I have the same issues you do, all the way up the arms. In fact, I'm considering a TCA peel on my hands and arms to jump start a rejuvenation. The only thing that gives me any sort of result is to slather on vaseline after a shower and put on gloves, but I find it a bother to do that every day or even at night - it's just so weird to wear gloves to sleep - and it doesn't address the arms. Periodically, my elbows will get very dry and a bit scaley and I've found rubbing in Rex Eme cream a few times a day for 2 or 3 days will take care of it. I also find that upping my B-vitamin intake, mostly the B6/folic/biotin/B12, also helps with that problem.

    I may just have to try the Nourish since you've seen some actual skin thickening, however slight. I too would be keenly aware (and excited!) if I saw such a result after only a few weeks. Thanks for posting about this!!

  • May 7, 2010

    by Julie Kay

    That's perfect, Laura. Being aware is your best advantage. ~jk

  • May 7, 2010

    by Laura

    I'm 28 and put sunscreen on the backs of my hands as religiously as I use it on my face and decollete. Reading TIA for the past year has made me careful about sun on those places but I never thought of it before! I'm working hard to prevent sun damage although I accumulated plenty in my first 27 years, I'm sure.

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