As a child, I thought my mother’s hands were perfect (I still do). They were smooth and soft, always cool, dry, and comforting. Long, thin fingers with perfect nails. She rarely painted her nails and they were a soft pink with fine cream colored tips, filed to oval perfection. She did not spend a lot of time on her hand care routine, but she did apply lotion and filed her nails regularly.
Something went wrong for me, though. It started one year in elementary school when I rode my bike to and from school every morning and afternoon. All winter long, I rode in the dry cold until my hands literally cracked. The winter weather had so dried out the skin of my exposed bike riding hands that all of my knuckles cracked open and bled, even all the way down through my thumb to my wrist. It was painful and not very pretty. My mother had me apply Vaseline in thick coats and don cotton gloves to sleep in. This was our traditional soft hand routine, I learned. I hated this routine, but it did eventually heal my hands, though I imagine it would have would have been better if I had actually worn gloves when I rode my bike to and from school. Because it happened each winter for about three years (the total time I rode my bike to school). Ever since then, my hands have been prone to drying out and cracking, especially in the winter.
Not only do I tend to have dry hands, but I often work outside – in the garden, on the farm – and so often have dirt embedded under my nails (which I always keep quite short) and small cuts and nicks on my hands from scraping them. This outdoor work in the soil, combined with frequent hand washing when making soap and cleaning up after children really dries out my skin, especially in winter and spring.
So to attempt to remedy all this, last winter I made some hand salve from some of the oils we have on hand for soap making. I ordered a few more that I thought would be better for moisturizing and healing hands. By the end of last year, we were selling the salves.
This year, I have been religiously applying them to my hands, legs, and even face as the cold weather came in and settled. They have been wonderful and comforting. Even still, the week I forget to apply the salve, one of my knuckles cracked open. I am sure I’ll never have hands as nice as my mother’s, but I am embracing what I have – and enjoying pampering them a bit this winter. Do you have any winter hand care practices? Let me know!
You can find our salves in our on-line store – quite affordable as a little goes a long way, they last quite a while. www.farmerjanesoap.bigcartel.com
You can also make your own with a few simple things you might have around anyway. Here’s an easy recipe:
1 T beeswax (pellets or grated chunks)
6 T coconut oil (or shea butter or whatever moisturizing oil you want, or combination of oils)
few drops of vitamin E
few drops of your choice of essential oil (optional)
Melt the beeswax with the coconut oil (or other oil) in a glass bowl set over boiling water. Once melted, stir in the vitamin E and essential oils. Pour quickly into a container of your choice.
Notes: 1.) plastic containers may melt when exposed to hot oils. I like metal tins or glass better, but glass tends to break if dropped. You can get good containers (and essential oils) at Mountain Rose Herbs. 2.) It may be hard to clean the bowl with melted beeswax and oils. If you cannot dedicate this bowl to making salves, wipe it well with paper towels when you are done, then wash thoroughly with very hot water and dish soap.