In safe hands

Updated: Apr 10, 2020, 11:04 IST | Dhara Vora Sabhnani | Mumbai

Is regular cleaning, scrubbing and sanitising taking a toll on your hands? Experts share tips for some much-needed TLC.

Like a wistful lover longing for his beloved, we have been busy ogling at pretty manicures on our Insta feed, saving designs to opt for post the lockdown, whenever that happens. For now, even a coat of nail paint is a pointless exercise, given the constant sanitising and handwashing, and daily domestic chores.

The thing about using cleaners, detergents, dish wash (soap or liquid) is that no matter how gentle they claim to be, they can dry and corrode the skin and make the nails weak and brittle, says Dr Rinky Kapoor, consultant dermatologist, cosmetic dermatologist and dermato-surgeon, The Esthetic Clinics. Dust can cause irritation and damage the skin. "Household cleaning and sanitisation products have harmful ingredients like sulphates, alcohol, phthalates, PEG (polyethylene glycols) and other ingredients that strip the skin and nails of its natural barriers leading to dryness and cracks. Hot water can cause tears to your skin, and make it prone to rashes; hard water also damages the barrier of skin and exposes it to the risk of developing eczema and increased sensitivity," she warns.

Home rules

Dr Kapoor suggests following certain rules at home. Your first line of defence is to wear gloves, which will also keep your hands dry. "Latex gloves can cause skin allergies, so opt for plastic or vinyl ones. Gloves should be dry from the inside before you wear them. If you don’t have gloves, improvise with a plastic bag or a garbage bag. Post chores, wash your hands with lukewarm water or water at room temperature as hot water can dry out the skin. There is no need to reach for the antibacterial soap every time you are done with the cleaning; keep a moisturising soap or hand wash with ingredients like aloe vera and shea butter as it hydrates the skin. Wash your hands each time you come in contact with outside matter, or if you sneeze, cough, or touch products used by others."


Detergents and dishwash can cause scum to accumulate under the nails. "Don’t use your nails as tools to scratch, pick or clean. Do not cut your cuticles but use a cuticle remover or pusher to keep the them neat, this will help maintain healthy skin. Moisturise your hands when they feel dry. If you have dry skin, opt for an ointment instead of a cream as they hydrate the skin, regenerate the skin barrier and heal.

Watchful and careful

"Fix timings for household chores; do the dishes twice/once a day. Clean the bathroom before taking a shower," she adds. Use fragrance-free and dye-free products that are gentler on the skin. Apply a moisturiser immediately after washing your hands and post finishing a cleaning chore, every single time. "Applying moisturiser does not make your skin prone to infection or contracting a disease and does not impact the effectiveness of cleansing," says Dr Kapoor. Hydrate your nails by using vitamin E or cuticle oil, or just a moisturiser.

Manicure at home

  • Remove any polish with a cotton round.
  • Clip, file and buff your nails. This helps in prepping your nails.
  • Prep your cuticles with a cuticle remover.
  • Soak your hands in warm water with a teaspoon of sugar and the juice of half a lemon for three to five minutes. Towel-dry your hands.
  • Now push your nails back gently into a nail bed with a fresh orange stick. Do not overdo it.
  • Exfoliate your skin to remove dead skin cells with a hand scrub or honey, lemon juice and sugar
  • Moisturise and massage your hands and nails using shea butter.
  • Clean your tips with a cotton round and some acetone before you start your polish application.
  • Apply a base coat that helps protect your nails from the stains of the polish colour.
  • Apply two layers of coloured polish.
  • Finish with a top coat, ensuring that you seal the edges of your nails. This will ensure your manicure lasts longer.
  • Don’t forget to clean up any rough edges.

Nail care

  • Soak your hands in warm water and use the DIY scrub.
  • Take it to the next level with a hydrating treatment. Mix sweet almond or jojoba oil with aloe vera gel; apply it on your hands and wrap them with cling film. Let it sit overnight.

Sana Dhanani, founder and managing director, The White Door India

DIY scrub


  • Soak your hands in warm water for 10 minutes.
  • Scrub your hands with a mix of olive oil and sugar. Take two parts oil and one part sugar and mix them with a spoon. Rub this scrub all over your hands and massage into your cuticles as well. Let the oil soak into your skin.
  • Rinse after a few minutes and pat dry with a fresh towel.

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