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Maintaining beautiful hands is important for maintaining a youthful look at any age. Your hands get the most exposure & show your age the most, so care of them is care for your age. Knowing how to maintain your hands as you age is the most outstanding way to make sure they look your best and that you, in turn, look your youngest and best.

As you enter your 20's, your hands look young and healthy for the most part. This is your skin's glory years as it is likely yours overall. While in your 20's is the best time to start preventing the effects of aging, because you don't yet have to worry about treating the effects that are already there.

Premature aging is most often caused by exposure to the sun. In your 20's is the best time to begin protecting your hands. At least twice a day, use a moisturizer with an SPF of at least 15. If you are going to be outdoors in the sun for long periods of time, apply a sunscreen with a UVA blocking agent in it. UVA rays are what cause brown spots and wrinkles. About once a week, exfoliate the skin on your hands by using a facial scrub. Removing old dead skin will help the daily moisturizer you are applying to penetrate deeper into your skin. Finally, apply an over the counter lightening skin ream nightly to your hands. This will fade minor brown spots and discoloration that may already be infiltrating the skin on your hands. Beware, though, if you are not using your sunscreen, the spots will reappear.

As you enter your 30's, your estrogen levels will begin to drop. This drop will cause more dryness in your hands than you experienced in your 20's. In addition, this is the time when the first signs of photo aging may occur (loss of tone in your skin or blotchiness). There are still steps you can take.

Each morning, when you get up, apply a moisturizing cream with a sloughing agent (lactic acid, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid). This will help to keep dead cells from accumulating on your skin's surface. After you moisturize you will need to layer on the sunscreen. Again, the sunscreen should have an SPC of at least 15 and contain either transparent zinc oxide or Parasol 1789. You will also tend to lose moisture during the night. To prevent this, apply an emollient serum to the backs of your hands about a half an hour before you attend bed. Lastly, to fade out any brown spots that have begun to show, apply a prescription bleaching cream (see your dermatologist) in the morning and then some sort of vitamin A derivative in the evening.

As you reach your 40's you skin will begin to thin out, which is a normal part of aging due to a loss of collagen in the skin. You will begin to notice more veins, wrinkles, and sun spots on your hands (if any of them look strange or change shape or color, see a dermatologist).

In your 40's you will want to change to a hand cream that contains whey protein, which has been shown to help the production of collagen. Also as always, don't forget to put on a layer of UVA/UVB blocking sunscreen. In an effort to help produce collagen as you sleep, apply a nonprescription retinol cream or Renovo. If serious wrinkles and spots continue to appear on your hands, you may have to resort to in-office dermatological procedures. Consult your doctor before making any decision about serious treatments. Many of these procedures can help reverse some of the effects of aging that all the measures discussed simply cannot prevent.

It is your face that probably gets noticed first, but your hands get the most exposure: the most exposure to people, the sun, and the elements. Because of that exposure, your hands are what is going to display your age. By taking proper care of your hands you will be able to look your best, and maybe even look younger than you thought you could. So take care of your hands, no matter what your age, and enjoy the benefits.