Hands have had a rough time of it recently and feet have been neglected even more than usual, with no podiatrists or massage therapists on hand to soothe and revive. It’s time to make hands happy and feet fabulous, says Jane Wolfe

If you ask anyone what their facial skincare regime is, they’ll likely launch into a lengthy list of the cleansers, toners, scrubs, serums, masks and moisturizers they employ to ensure a healthy complexion. But ask how they care for their hands and feet and you may get a blank look or at best a brief mention of slathering hand cream on once in a blue moon.

Hands in particular are currently going through the wringer – hand-washing is crucial to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but over-washing and over-sanitizing can not only dry skin but also damage the microbiome, removing the healthy bacteria that protects against disease. 

“If you were washing your face as much as your hands right now, you’d worry about how much it is stripping and drying your skin, right? So think of the hands as being just as exposed as the face,” advises Annabelle Tatner, in-house skincare specialist at natural bodycare brand WiDEYE. “The hands and face are the most exposed parts of our bodies and should be recognized as such. Treat the hands every night with a shea butter hand cream or, for really damaged skin, a rich balm.”

She adds that although keeping hands clean during this time helps us avoid germs and protect others, a good, thorough hand-washing routine will work best – ‘you don’t need antibacterial and non-eco-friendly stuff, it’s all in the technique’.

As we approach the colder months, conditions on exposed skin, such as the hands, can become worse. Add constant hand-washing and sanitizing, and already prevalent skin issues such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis will be exacerbated

Sound advice, especially considering the recent claim by Dr Andrew Kemp that the prolonged, mass use of alcohol-based hand gels could lead to a superbug ‘Armageddon situation’. Kemp, head of the Scientific Advisory Board on the British Institute of Cleaning Science, warns that overuse can allow bacteria to develop immunity, and says hand-washing is the most effective way to reduce virus transmission risk. 

As children return to learning, schools will understandably be hypervigilant about hygiene, but a survey by the British Skin Foundation asking parents of young children about the effect increased hand-washing has had on their skin found that a massive 56% of kids are experiencing skin problems associated with their hands. In addition, one in four children now have hand eczema – a significant rise since before the pandemic when this was estimated at one in five – 38% reported dry skin, 17% cracked skin, and 6% had painful and bleeding hands.

Hands on
“Over-washing and the use of hand sanitizers, many of which are alcohol-based, can strip the skin of its natural oils, depleting its natural protective barrier and leaving hands feeling dry and sore,” explains Geoff Graham, co-founder of Grahams Natural Alternatives. “As we approach the colder months, conditions on exposed skin, such as the hands, can become worse. Add constant hand-washing and sanitizing, and already prevalent skin issues such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis will be exacerbated.

“We do everything with our hands, and often don’t pay enough attention to our skin, but it’s very important that we do,” explains Graham. “Once irritating eczema or dermatitis flares up, it can be difficult to cure if you’re not regularly re-moisturizing your hands every time you wash or disinfect them.”

The brand’s C+ Cream for eczema and dermatitis is formulated to reduce itchy and inflamed skin through its ‘oil-in-water’ formula. Offering six hours of hydration, it helps restore the skin’s natural barrier and provide relief, rehydrating dry skin. The fragrance-free cream’s key ingredients include antibacterial manuka honey, anti-inflammatory calendula and moisturizing sea buckthorn oil.

Natalia Soltysik and James Brooke from Your Nuts Wholefoods, Holmfirth, have seen a marked rise in demand for hand care solutions. “We’re definitely selling a lot more hand cream because everybody is using sanitizer and washing their hands more. This had dried skin out and people want to moisturize more – they can see their hands need a bit of extra care and nourishment,” says Brooke.

The store’s go-to hand creams are Hope’s Relief, Bach Rescue Cream and A. Vogel’s Neem Cream, which although not specifically for hands has garnered good customer feedback for combatting dryness.

The most frequent hand issues the store sees are psoriasis and eczema, with a lot of mums coming in with young children who have these problems. “It can be tricky because often you have to get to the root of the issue, so we look at diet first, but unless there’s an underlying issue I would recommend using something topically, or a beauty complex or probiotics internally.”

Brooke says the store didn’t sell hand sanitizers before COVID, but stocked up due to demand. “Dr Bronner’s Hand Hygiene Sprays in Peppermint and Lavender are popular, and Alteya Hand Cleanser with Lavender is a gentle one; we also had Feel Supreme’s CBD & Aloe Vera Hand Sanitizer, which was really soft on the skin. We’ve just kept the Dr Bronner’s, which we recently got on refill and expect that to be popular.” 

Home help
With the number of people turning to home beauty treatments rising during the pandemic, this habit is likely to continue as consumers have discovered how easy and efficacious they can be. 

One brand with a range of hand and feet-specific treats, including peels, infused gloves (with removable fingertips to enable typing/texting) and booties, is BeautyPro, which uses vitamins, herbs and botanicals to improve hydration, smooth and provide anti-ageing effects.

“The skin on your hands and feet age too, just like the face,” explains the brand’s social media executive Molly Prince. “It is important to look after these areas because you will be able to achieve the same things here as you do with treating the face. By starting earlier, you are more likely to see long-term benefits, just like your usual skincare routine.”

She lists the pluses of showing hands and feet a bit of TLC as ranging from removing dead skin cells, hard skin and toxins to encouraging healthy nails, hydrating skin and last – but certainly not least in these uncertain times – providing a bit of relaxation.

“Our products are based on being innovative, results-driven and easy to use,” says Prince. “Especially during the last few months with salons and spas being closed, the product range has enabled people to still have that spa feeling but from their home.

“One of our best sellers is the BeautyPro Foot & Callus Peel because it does what it says, so consumers see the results they expect. The innovative bootie is created to help remove calluses and rough skin, resulting in softer, revitalized feet.” The peel contains natural ingredients including salicylic and glycolic acid from fruit extracts, sage, anise, lavender, olive, acerola, kiwi, banana, chamomile, gingko biloba and vitamin E.

Top toes
Your Nuts Wholefoods doesn’t see huge demand for foot care, but the owners are happy to react to customer demand. “We recently had someone request a specific foot cream from the Austrian brand Exmonte – so we got that in,” says Brooke. “Some people also have nail issues so we recommend soaking feet in apple cider vinegar with a bit of Epsom salts for half an hour every day to strengthen the nails.”

The store also offers a number of popular combination supplements for nails, skin and hair, from Terranova, Solgar and Nature’s Aid, as well as single solutions like biotin, B vitamins, zinc and l-lysine.

“The Weleda Foot Balm is very popular,” says Soltysik, “I also got a tip from one of our customers who started taking Udo’s Choice Omega Oil for her dry skin and cracked heels. She took the oil for a few weeks and it really fixed the problem, so that’s a good one if you’re looking to take something internally.”

“Removing dry skin with a pumice stone or exfoliant before it has a chance to build up is a great way of ensuring it doesn’t crack,” adds Tatner. “Again, moisturizing at night when it has time to soak in is best. If they are cracked, use a repairing balm to heal the crack and soften the skin.”

In the run-up to Christmas 2020 we are all coming to the realization that festive parties are going to look very different. We may not be allowed to participate in large face-to-face gatherings, but customers will still want to glam up their nails for Zoom-held celebrations – and there are an increasing number of less toxic options.

Explaining the thinking behind WiDEYE’s line of Five Free Nail Polishes, Tatner says: “A lot of brands have started to out three of the biggest toxins like formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin and dibutyl phthalate. We have gone a little further and taken out camphor and toluene. All of these chemicals can show up in your blood system after just two hours of polishing your nails. They can have nasty effects on the body such as disrupting hormone levels, irritating the lungs and are known hazardous ingredients.”

These more natural solutions are being added more and more to health stores’ beauty sections. Your Nuts Wholefoods recently introduced the Zao brand of nail polishes which are non-toxic, vegan and not tested on animals. “We decided to stock this brand because the colours are free from ten of the toxins most frequently used in conventional nail polishes,” says Soltysik, who adds the store is building up the brand, starting with a stand of 24 colours. 

“They have sold really well and are so eye-catching – it’s a beautiful range of colours, from pinks through to reds, then blue, green and more interesting colours. They also contain silica which is nourishing for nails. The brand uses minimal plastic too – it’s lovely packaging with glass bottles and bamboo lids.”

A reviving remedy
“Our hands and feet are the most sensitive parts of our bodies – they are rich in nerve endings, the palm and soles transmit information about temperature, touch and pressure to the brain,” explains Dr Nitasha Buldeo, skincare expert and founder of Ayurvedic skincare brand Organic Apoteke. “It’s therefore important to ensure that the skin on these areas is healthy.

“Harsh chemicals, over-washing, using abrasive materials or constant pressure can damage and thicken the skin in these areas. This then impacts their ability to sense temperature or pressure. There are no follicles on palms and soles, hence they can get dry and rough if exposed to harsh environments or chemicals.”

For a restorative home hand and foot spa therapy, Buldeo suggests massaging a mixture of 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, and a few drops of essential oil all over feet and hands until the sugar dissolves. Then wrap them in a towel, relax for 15 minutes, and rinse in warm water to leave hands and feet ‘soft, hydrated and callous-free’.


Organic Vegan Hand Sanitiser

Beauty Kitchen
E-mail:  [email protected]

B Corp certified Beauty Kitchen, halted production earlier this year to supply the NHS with much needed hand sanitiser. Following considerable demand, the sustainable beauty pioneers launched this refillable hand sanitiser spray to the general public as part of their closed loop Return · Refill · Repeat programme.

An alternative to single use plastic hand sanitiser gel bottles, this microplastic free option is an effective sanitiser made with 62% alcohol, high grade antibacterial essential oils including peppermint, and soothing aloe vera. Available in various consumer or trade sizes from 50ml spray bottles to 5L multipacks. Prices start from £9.50.


Flaya organic cleansing hand sanitiser

Flaya GB
Tel: 07544 363345
E-mail:  [email protected]

Look no further than Flaya’s cleansing hand sanitiser for a certified sanitiser using 100% certified organic ingredients. This new alcohol-based hand sanitiser with lavender and palm-free vegetable glycerin comes in a handy 50ml bottle to spray at home, at work or whilst doing the weekly shop.
With 80% alcohol, Flaya’s recipe exceeds the minimum recommended alcohol percentage (60%) by the World Health Organisation (WHO). As with Flaya’s perfume range, water isn’t used to dilute the hand sanitiser recipe. Certified organic, vegan and cruelty-free. Effective and ethical, Flaya’s ethos is to support local independent businesses. Available directly from Flaya or distributor Pravera Ltd.


Tints of Nature Hand Sanitisers

Healthy Food Brands
Tel: 01403 786460
E-mail:  [email protected]

We know the winter months can be challenging for avoiding colds and flu, and this winter even more so.  Say goodbye to dry cracked hands caused by irritating sanitiser and hello to Tints of Nature’s new range of vegan-friendly, ultra-moisturising Hand Sanitisers. Formulated using naturally derived ingredients, available in a spray and gel format. They contain between 70% – 80% organic alcohol to help reduce bacteria that can potentially cause disease.  Unlike other hand sanitisers the Tints of Nature range also includes natural moisturising and conditioning agents to nourish your hands. Perfect for using on the go and available in a variety of sizes to suit your needs.


Dr Bronner’s Organic Peppermint Hand Hygiene Spray

Healthy Food Brands
Tel: 01403 786460
E-mail:  [email protected]

Dr. Bronner’s new Organic Peppermint Hand Hygiene Spray is a must have! Just as effective as conventional sanitizers but without any of the nasty chemicals. Made using only fair-trade organic certified ethyl alcohol, water, organic glycerin and organic peppermint oil from Pavitramenthe, where we’ve worked with farmers to implement climate-friendly regenerative organic practices to build healthy soils, reduce erosion and sequester atmospheric carbon! All of this plus using 100% post-consumer recycled bottles. The pure peppermint aroma will stimulate your senses and focus your mind. Use on the go, spray on hands, surfaces and much more. Available now!


Hope’s Relief Intensive Dry Skin Rescue

Mahi Naturals Ltd
Tel:  0208 886 4001
E-mail: [email protected]

Newborns through to adults can be prone to dry skin and eczema, so help your customers find a gentle and effective range that they can trust.  No.1 in Australia, Hope’s Relief multi award winning natural skincare helps soothe and heal itchy, dry skin prone to eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.  Developed over 35 years of research by naturopaths, Hope’s Relief is an effective, natural alternative to steroid creams and other medicated treatments and suitable for long term use on skin prone to eczema and psoriasis. Formulated with Active NPA10+ Manuka Honey, Licorice and Aloe Vera, the cream is clinically proven to hydrate skin for up to 24 hours after just a single use. Suitable for newborns upwards