Avoid workaday hands with a little personal pampering.

This time of year hands and nails take a hammering. Outdoor activities and the sun and sea can leave skin dry and nails brittle.

Guard against this by using a good hand cream and applying cuticle oil regularly. Don't forget to extend your sunscreen to the back of your hands to ward off age spots.

Care-worn hands are ageing and make for an unkempt look so if you are doing a lot of gardening and cleaning, then wearing gloves is a good preventive measure. Even if you can't afford the time and money for salon manicures, it is worth spending a few minutes each day massaging in some moisture. Keep nails short and tidy and if you can't be bothered with polish try using a buffer for some healthy shine.

I swap between using an economical hand cream (Aveeno is a personal favourite) and something a little more indulgent and fragrant. Check out botanical brands including Jurlique, Nellie Tier, Aesop and Grown for indulgent gift giving. Trilogy's hand cream has won international awards and incorporates antioxidant-rich rosehip oil or try a cheaper product such as Apicare's honey and beeswax rich formula.


While I like the idea of using natural products, there is no denying some hand creams with petroleum-based ingredients are effective and cheap - if you're not counting environmental costs - and anyone who has had a paraffin pedicure treatment will attest to its skin softening, moisture-locking abilities. Similarly, popular lip balms such as Blistex and bathroom cupboard staples such as Vaseline illustrate how performance and price still outweigh purity for many consumers.18

If you are keen on a natural approach, look for skin soothing products with beeswax (if you're not vegan) and/or plant oils. (Do check if silicone is what is giving your hand cream its smooth feel, as with hair care this is fine for a superficial coating, but won't do much to help heal damage).

1. Talika Hand Therapy Gloves $168

Like paraffin booties on the feet, these spa-at-home gloves will leave your hands feeling intensely moisturised. They are gel-infused with a mix of warming and smoothing mineral and plant oils and can be used up to 40 times, with the ability to survive the wash. The idea is to keep them on for around 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Talika is a specialist French brand that also makes a hand exfoliator and a serum. (From Mecca Cosmetica.)

2. Orly Cuticle Oil $11.99

A cuticle oil is one thing I try to use regularly, it really helps with the ragged edges. This one even smells nice thanks to orange blossom. If you get regular manicures with the hybrid gel polishes that require an acetone soak to remove, then using something to counteract the drying effect is particularly important. (Pharmacies and department stores.)

3. Ecoya Vanilla Bean Hand Cream $29.95

Smells creamy rich for those who like a strong vanilla aroma. The small tube is handy for carrying about and the contents are packed with plant oils, including macadamia nut and coconut.

4. QTica Overnight Intense Hand Repair Balm $92

In salons this balm may be used with heat or paraffin for deep penetration, while at home it is best massaged in daily to help repair dry hands. As well as honey and beeswax, anti-ageing retinol palmitate is in the mix. (Online or for salon stockists ph 06 843 4205.)

5. Kio Kio Pacific Tiare & Ti Kouka Hand and Nail Cream $29

Pretty and not too pricey NZ-made gift line, with a delicate gardenia and citrus scent.

6. Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream $51

Clarins is known for its easily absorbed hand creams which are said to strengthen nails also. Contains dimethicone. (Brand counters and selected salons)

7. Jojoba Lemon & Coconut Hand Cream $39.90

Jojoba is included in many skincare items because it aids absorbency, but in the Jojoba Company's products it is the hero ingredient, combined here in a pump-top bottle with cocoa and mango butter and citrus scent.

8. SebaMed Hand & Nail Balm $14.30

No nonsense pH-balanced pharmacy product with a pleasing light texture ideal for everyday use. Promises to strengthen nails with keratin and panthenol. (Pharmacy stockists 0508 734 466)

9. QVS Unbelievable Nail Shiner $8.99

This decorative item costs no more than plain buffers and is gentle on nails. QVS also makes cushioned and shaped buffers and other handy manicure tools. (From QVS stands in department stores and pharmacies.)