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The Hands Have It

My daily lack of sun exposure makes me stand out — and not in a good way — at my local beach club, but it also has a positive side effect: I get a lot of, “Wow, you look really young.” Makes me feel good, of course, but as careful as I am with my face (daily 30+ SPF moisturizer, wearing hats, avoiding the sun between 11 and 3), I have not been as stringent with my hands. They show my lack of care, especially in the winter.

About two weeks ago I looked down at my dry, cracking hands and my brittle, peeling nails and decided to do something about it. Several things, actually. First, I went out and bought non-latex rubber gloves for dishwashing and other wet tasks. Then, I started wearing warm gloves whenever I left my house even if I was only running to the car for two seconds. Finally, I started slathering my hands with lotion after every handwashing — something a germaphobe like me does a lot. I started lotioning up before bed, too. The results have been incredible.

My nails are growing! This is unprecedented! And not only are they growing, but they are strong, shiny, and healthy-looking. I never had nails. Ever. Not once in my adult life except for a brief foray into wearing fake ones, and that exercise ended in a plastic surgeon’s office. I broke one and, since my hands were always wet, ended up with a nasty fungal infection under the nail. I cried when the plastic surgeon was removing my ENTIRE nail not just because it hurt, but because I knew I was going back to having stumpy nails.

Yes, water has been my downfall in all this. I waitressed my way through junior high, high school, and college, so my hands were always in a bucket of bleach and water or pickles or coleslaw. Then I got married, got a house, and started cleaning my house. Again, my hands were plunged into buckets of water used to clean bathrooms and floors and sinks that held my handwashable dishes (we didn’t own a dishwasher) and sweaters. And then came my two kids who required baths, hairwashing, and handwashing. They also dirtied lots of stuff that needed handwashing like bottles and binkies. Oh, and I started washing my hands constantly, too, since I didn’t want to be the one who got them sick.

Since I’ve started this experiment, I’ve noticed not only longer nails, but also better skin, too. I’ve almost completely eliminated the dry, wrinkly look on the top of my hands and the cracks in between my fingers and thumb and on my knuckles. My hands don’t look like they are 60 anymore! It’s a wonderful thing.

This hasn’t been easy, although in the grand scheme of things it’s not really huge, but still. As someone who is always rushing around, taking care of my hands is a mental chore. It takes conscious thought for me to stop, put on gloves, and take care of my skin. But I am doing it. The first of several resolutions for this year. No, it’s not getting more sleep or teaching myself Spanish — two of my other resolutions for 2012 — but it’s something. And this year, since I am being kinder to myself and focusing more on the positive instead of the negative, that’s really something.

How about you? What are your resolutions? I’d like to know.

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