If your hands look anything like ours right now, you’re seeing some raggedly cuticles, dry nail beds, rough palms—you get the picture. But just because temps outside are beyond cold, that doesn’t mean your hands need to succumb to Old Man Winter. Here’s a super easy five-step plan to polishing those fingers back to their normal, hydrated state. When you’re all done, you may be tempted to ditch those mittens and show off gorgeously soft hands. (But, don’t. It’s cold!)
1. Watch your washing habits.
Yes, washing your hands with hot water will get rid of germs, but it also zaps out all of your skin’s moisture. Try to avoid super hot water (showers, too) in the winter, if you can, using an antibacterial soap to counteract the lower water temperature.
2. Enlist the almighty shea butter.
Shea butter is still the ultimate moisturizer, says Tammie Umbel, founder of Shea Terra Organics. “With all the interesting emollients hitting the market there are still none that defeat the softening powers of 100 percent pure shea butter,” she explains. “Massage shea butter into your hands after each washing to protect yourself from moisture loss.”
Dry skin is generally dead skin. To get rid of it, you must regularly exfoliate, Umbel says. She recommends using a hand scrub to slough off all that excess: Her pick? Shea Terra’s Moroccan Shea Butter Hand Scrub ($18, sheaterraorganics.com), which contains finely ground pumice that doesn’t dissolve like sugar (so it lasts much longer than your typical sugar scrubs).
4. Check your labels.
Many lotions and soaps contain alcohol, which is super drying. Always check ingredients on beauty products before you make that purchase—you definitely don’t want to be using something that’s going to make your dryness worse.
5. Mask it.
If all else fails, try a hand mask. Umbel suggests mixing Shea Terra’s Kigelia Africana Masque ($28, sheaterraorganics.com) with some honey and wrapping up hands in cheesecloth for 30 minutes. Rinse, then rub in some oil or shea butter when you’re done.
Read more: 5 Moisturizers That Changed Our Lives