Anti-ageing tips for beautiful hands

No matter how many expensive elixirs we lather onto our face in order to reduce those fine lines and wrinkles, without proper care, our hands are the first to give our age away.

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The skin on the hands is much thinner than on the face, and the small amount of collagen that keeps it plumped and perfect can quickly break down, leaving behind that unforgiving crepe-like texture.

But do not despair. Though you will never disguise the signs of ageing forever, there are tips and products out there that will keep your hands and nails beautiful for longer.

Daily hand care
From sun damage and cold weather to regular washing, our hands take more of a battering than most areas of the body because they are so exposed. For this reason, daily care is essential if they are to stay in tip-top shape.

Try to moisturise your hands regularly - at least daily and preferably after each wash. This will not only keep your skin smooth and hydrated for a more youthful appearance. If you are a housework whizz or a gardening fanatic, wear gloves when working to avoid drying the hands with detergents and help prevent rough, callous patches. An excellent tip for those with hard-working hands is to massage in an exfoliant (the one you use for your face will work fine), paying attention to areas such as the knuckles.

Look after your nails
As we age, our fingernails tend to become dryer and more brittle, which means they're more prone to splitting and flaking, not to mention those unsightly ridges on top.

Moisturising your hands daily will help to keep them properly hydrated, but if you've already got nail issues, there are ways to correct the problem.

A protein or polyester resin formula (available from pharmacists) massaged into the base of the nail will help to strengthen very brittle nails, while buffing the surface with a very gentle emery board will help to smooth ridges. Thereafter, polish with the smooth side and coat the nail with a ridge-filling base before adding colour.

For flaking nails, filing is essential. File the nail down and then buff the top layer at the tip to leave a smooth, even surface, and finish with a strengthening polish.

Best buys
We all know the world of skincare is big business, and that means beauty companies continue to search for the latest 'miracle' anti-ageing ingredients for hands as well as face.

If you are willing to splash a little cash on your hand cream, both Restylane (£18) and Clarins offer excellent products. The Restylane Hand Cream contains rice extracts that help to protect your skin's anti-oxidative shield, and the makers say it also increases keratin, strengthening your nails.

Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream (£26) is a consistent best-seller for the famous skincare brand, and is ideal for protecting hands against chapping. Shea butter and sesame oil extract provide the moisture to reduce the signs of ageing, and myrrh extract works to strengthen those brittle nails.

If you're not prepared to part with quite so much cash in the name of youthful fingers, however, there are a number of more reasonably-priced options available.

Try The Body Shop's Hemp Intensive Hand Butter (£11), which both softens and protects hands, and is ideal for those with very dry skin as the hemp seed oil works its heavy-duty hydration magic. For all you outdoorsy types, their Wild Rose Hand Cream (£5) not only moisturises, it is specifically designed for mature skin, helping to reduce the appearance of brown spots while protecting the skin from sun damage with SPF 15.

And for hand anti-ageing on a budget, you can't beat Nivea's Q10 Plus Age Defying cream. Coenzyme properties aid the skin cell's natural repair and restoration, leaving them smooth and firm, while UVA/UAB filters battle the effects of daily sun damage, helping to hold back the years.

What's your must-have hand cream? Let us know below...