hand collage

In My Own Two Hands…

February 17, 2017 , In: General

My hands are artist’s hands. I am thankful for everything they can do, and grateful to be working with my hands on a daily basis. But my hands are in rough shape. 

Paint fingers, throwing hands, dry clay teaching hands, metal smith fingers. Just a week in the life…

As you can see in the collage above – I am not an artist who tries to stay clean while working. Its not my nature. I teach a wheel throwing class on Saturdays – and with 12 9-15 year olds trying the wheel of rite first time? There is NO time to wash hands. I like to paint with my fingers when I am finishing polymer. So – I am my hand’s own worst enemy.

(Warning: this post contains graphic images of distressed cuticles and dry skin. You’ve been warned….ha. )

The honest ugly truth.

I have had manicures before, sure. But honestly – too often I have raw cuticles that I do not want to submit to the chemicals, and lets face it – sometimes germs… One school of thought says if I get manicures often, on a regular basis, that I could prevent the tragedy pictured above. But – umm… expense? Upkeep? Sigh. 

So what do I use? What works? I surveyed the AE team and here are the results…  ( All opinions are our own. No free loot, no favors exchanged… the standard disclaimer. ) 

Niky swears by Aloe vera Vaseline and cotton gloves to sleep in… while Jen and Caroline prefer simple non greasy classics like Nivea and Aveeno oatmeal. Sue recommends Solar oil  – she likes it for her nails.  

Recommendations form the team

Laney –  Laney’s favorite is the Body Shop Hemp hand cream. I have used this one – it smells very nice! Extra thick… and currently on sale in the US. ( See link above)

Lesley – Lesley recommends this barrier style lotion, Gloves in a Bottle. It works a bit like an invisible glove, and also traps ones own moisture into the skin. Non greasy, it works well with other hand lotions. Especially good for ceramics and metal clay users. 

Cooky -Not surprised Cooky mentioned Bag Balm as it is a favorite of quilters everywhere. Did you know Cooky was a quilter in a previous artist incarnation? 

Lindsay: “My cuticles tear up and I get really bad hang nails that catch and bleed. I use regular old gold bond ultimate healing skin cream for normal winter dryness, and Weleda skin food on my cuticles. I slather it on them when I drive to work, since it gives me 15 or 20 minutes to let it soak in, then when I get to work I rub what’s left into my knuckles.”

Jenny – the Udderly smooth is my standard classroom lotion. Not perfumed and hasn’t ever been allergy triggering among my Ceramics students. And the younger ones think the name is hilarious. 

Pricey but worth it.

Cathy – Cathy & Cooky both say their “hands-down” favorite is the shea butter from L’Occitaine. (Pun. Had to! )

Jenny – This cuticle cream from L’Occitaine was a splurge while I was out Holiday shopping. So far I love it. Thick, not oily… and the brush applicator is very convenient. I use it at night. 

Claire: “My hands are always stressed due t0 the desinfection procedure in the lab… and additional due to all the crafting stuff I do. My nails are always quite short. I had a manicure in south korea and have to say, it was great. Still, I have not a lot ( of time) left of my day, it is not soooo good I am willing to “stuff” something else in my time. I also use L’occitane hand cream since… forever.. but my favorite is the Verveine.( verbena scent).”

Jenny’s favorites to date.

So this is my current trifecta: The Aveda smells great, but smells strong. So It isn’t what I use every time as its so scented. Its on my desk. It absorbs well, feels pretty silky. My sister gave me this for Christmas – its a treat. 

The Kiehl’s is my favorite! Its in the beading studio, and in my purse. A nice plant-y mild smell. Non greasy, silky, absorbs well. Not cheap – but so worth it. I give this as gifts – its a treat and useful, but a splurge. 

The Okeefe’s Working hands – oh I was so skeptical. Its sold in hardware stores. Mechanics and farmers are featured onto commercials. Well – shame on me. This is my night time MUST use product. Its VERY thick – like paste, but absorbs well and isn’t greasy. There have been some winters when my finger tips have split open and bled. Not fun. Thankfully this hasn’t happened… This works a bit like Lesley’s fav as its a barrier type lotion, and helps retain moisture. I need to purchase this for the “work” studio so I have access to it after teaching. 

Parafin wax hand spa


On a different hand care note – Karen loves her paraffin wax treatment. She says she uses it or heat therapy, soreness, etc – having had hand surgeries in her past… But it does leave her skin feeling great! 

As with anything – consistency is KEY! And therein lies my biggest problem. What is your favorite product? What is your hand care regimen? 



Jenny Davies-Reazor

Jenny Davies-Reazor is a mixed media artist inspired by myth, folklore and the natural world. A proud Jack-of-all-trades, she concentrated in metals and painting in art school, turned to clay during her teaching career, and is truly happiest when mixing materials in unusual ways. From clay to resin, paper to polymer... Since leaving her ceramics classroom, Jenny is always in the studio: fabricating jewelry, creating ceramic shrines and decorative tiles, and teaching in a variety of mediums. " I love sharing my passion for art, and seeing sparks light up in student's eyes..."
    • Kathy Lindemer
    • February 17, 2017

    I use Parafin wax also because I had hand surgery also. It is wonderful. Helpful hint–if you wear nail polish, it enables you to wipe the dyes off without leaving a trace when you take the nail polish off. Please find time and take care of your hands!

    • Kelly
    • February 17, 2017

    I have tried a good number of lotions but one day I received a sample of Whish body lotion in a Birchbox. It happened to be closest to me post shaving my legs so I figured I would give it a try. That stuff works better than anything I have ever had. It kept my legs moisturized for 3 straight days without an additional applicarion! It is now my go-to for EVERYTHING. I had some cracking on my toe post fracture (I guess not wearing shoes for months dries out your feet). With application it stopped the cracking and completely moisturized so that within a week all was back to normal. AND it is paraben free, sulfate free, DEA and TEA free, petrochemical free, naturally sourced and organic. <3

    • Cynthia
    • February 17, 2017

    When I get really chapped, cracked skin on my fingers (usually on the tips) or hang nails, I use one of these 2 products:
    Lip Medex from Blistex. It comes in a little blue jar, you’ve probably seen it. I figured if it can cure my chapped lips, it will work on my fingers! (it works)

    Also from Keefe’s, “Healthy Feet”. It really helps on my cracked heels, and so, it works really well on my cracked fingers, and hang nails. I just rub it into my finger tips when I’m done rubbing it into my feet.

    Thanks for all the tips. I may need to get some Kiehl’s too, to add to my arsenal!

  1. Reply

    I use O’Keefe’s at bedtime so it has time to soak in while I sleep. I have their foot cream for my summer feet. Great article. It’s nice to know there are so many great products in everyone’s price range.

    • Deb
    • February 21, 2017

    I’m probably late with my comment, but between metal work, cleaning rooms and doing laundry at the inn, then gardening in the summer, my hands are rough! I picked up a tube of Savannah Bee Beeswax Hand Cream (savannahbee.com) at a fair in Houston a few years back and have been buying it ever since. I use it at night as it is a bit greasy, but wow, it really works!

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