Whether you're a rock climber, farmer, or just someone who plays outside, consider these tips for taking care of your hands this fall.
Whether you rock climb, farm, garden, fish, backpack, or do other hard work outdoors this fall, the sun, wind, rain (and even snow) can wreak havoc on your hands. Scraped skin, callouses, and tired fingers are pretty much a guarantee. Taking care of your hands is a must for anyone who lives, works, and plays outside.
However, with a little extra care and attention, your hands don’t need to feel like they've just been sanded or smashed by a rock (which they likely have). At Green Goo, we recommend first and foremost that you use all-natural products to help soothe and nourish your hands so that your skin can recover faster.
Avoid petrolatum-based products; they do nothing to nourish the skin. And, various studies have shown they can actually be harmful. One study done in 2011 links petrolatum and mineral oil to “Estrogen Dominance”—a condition where a person has too high levels of estrogen and too low levels of progesterone. Chemicals that cause this condition include xenoestrogens; petrolatum-based products are classified as xenoestrogens. As well, an Environmental Working Group study found 22 percent of all cosmetics may be contaminated with cancer-causing impurities.
Additionally, petrolatum-products are considered “occlusive” agents, which means they seal the skin off from anything getting in or out, including moisture. A 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics study found the use of topical petrolatum ointment on low-birth-weight infants caused an increased risk for systemic candidiasis. Petrolatum-based products create a warmer, moist environment. Bleh.
So let your skin breathe and heal so you can get back to climbing or doing whatever it is you love most in the natural world!
Moisturize Your Dry Skin!
If your hands feel rough, cracked, or dry from using chalk or from jamming them into sandstone cracks or digging in the dirt or pruning your fruit trees, use a skin salve infused with healing herbs. Our Dry Skin Care salve, for example, includes sunflower oil and calendula, both of which moisturize the skin.
Did you know that sunflower oil is one of the healthiest oils you can put on your skin? It’s high not only in Omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acid, but also in Vitamin E. According to studies by the University of Maryland Medical Center, both these things are anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents, and together can reduce skin problems associated with inflammation (acne and sunburns, for example). Furthermore, linoleic acid may also rejuvenate the skin’s surface, and it enhances the development of new skin cells. Vitamin E is a strong antioxidant that may help protect the collagen and elastic in your skin, and it acts as emollient that traps moisture inside your skin, so your skin stays hydrated.
Sunflower oil also has Vitamin A, which has derivatives known as “retinoids.” Hundreds of studies have proven that this vitamin heals damaged skin, reduces wrinkles, fades brown spots, and smooths skin roughness. Prevention magazine calls this the “Best Overall Age-Fighter.” Cool! Isn’t it ironic that sunflower oil is especially helpful for repairing dry, weather-damaged skin? It’s such a sun lover!
Our Dry Skin Care products also work great for your feet! Smear it on irritated areas for immediate relief from those tight climbing shoes or sand-filled work boots.
Hand Hygiene & First Aid
When the scrapes, cuts, flappers, and those annoying splits on your finger tips appear (as they always do), get a jumpstart on healing by doing a few key things.
After a long day working hard outside, your hands will be all kinds of dirty. The combination of dirt and aluminum oxide from your climbing rope can stain your hands black, and getting that gunk off can be a chore. And after planting that fall cover crop, weeding, dead heading, etc, how do you get that dirt out from under your finger nails and out of the cracks in your hand?
It's important to wash your hand throughly at the beginning of your outdoor session and try to keep them relatively clean throughout the day if you're climbing (put the sunscreen on before you leave the house). Or, if you're gardening, be sure to wash them thoroughly when you're finished with your day. If you have drier hands, you should use a more moisturizing soap, while if you have sweaty palms, you should use soaps that better degrease.
Try our Honey & Oatmeal Soothing Bar for a gentle, healing soap. Made of organic oils and soothing, restorative honey, this soap will clean your hands without wearing on your already tired skin.
After washing and before bed, apply a salve like Green Goo’s First Aid. We like to wrap our fingers with first aid tape and/or wear organic socks or comfortable gloves (or cut a finger off an old glove) all night so the moisturizer stays in. We recommend against plastic, as that just contributes to plastic waste.
Of course we are biased, but we also know our First Aid is effective, highly portable, and one tin replaces over 25 other products that you’d normally find in a first aid kit, including antibacterial ointment. We had it FDA tested (more to come in a future blog post). We use only all-natural herbs and oils to create this product. It's naturally anti-fungal and can be used as a wound dressing to keep away infection.
Finally, we highly recommend you stay away from products containing the ubiquitous “fragrance.” The FDA doesn’t regulate the chemicals in many fragrances that come in soaps and locations, and studies have shown that side effects of some of these chemicals may include feeling tired, foggy thinking, inflammation, toxicity-induced depression, and pain, future health issues, among many other things.
Take care of your hands this season, and enjoy the outdoors!