The Best Ways to Get Dead Skin Off of Your Hands

Manual and chemical exfoliation gets rid of dead skin.
... Marili Forastieri/Photodisc/Getty Images

A little dry skin happens to the best of us; but if your hands are starting to look downright reptilian, it’s time to take action. Those layers of dead-skin buildup are more than just an embarrassment when facing your manicurist -- they can actually prevent moisturizers from penetrating and softening the skin. A little gentle exfoliation is the best way to get rid of that crusty, dusty skin, as it is noninvasive, safe, inexpensive, and easy to do at home.

Fill a bowl with 4 tablespoons of white granulated sugar, brown sugar or table salt. Avoid using rock salt or larger granules.

Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the bowl and stir the mixture using a whisk. If a thinner scrub is desired, add more olive oil 1 teaspoon at a time until the solution reaches the consistency you desire.

Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the scrub mix and place it in the palm of one hand. Rub your hands together gently to begin exfoliating off the dead skin. Rub the backs and sides of each hand and in between the fingers. Continue massaging for at least two minutes.

Rinse your hands well using warm water until all granules are gone. If your hands feel greasy, wash them with a tiny drop of mild cleanser.

Pat your hands dry using a towel.

Apply a lotion containing a 5- to 12-percent solution of alpha-hydroxy acid, beta–hydroxy acid or glycolic acid to your hands every night before going to bed. These acids help to detach any remaining dead skin cells from your hands and speed cell turnover, according to Dr. Christiane Northrup.

  • Store the unused hand scrub in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Add fragrance to the hand scrub by adding two to three drops of the essential oil of your choice before you add the olive oil.
  • Repeat the exfoliation process every other day.
  • Avoid making more than two or three days worth of scrub at a time, as the sugar and salt will dissolve over time, removing the exfoliation property.
  • Apply moisturizer to your hands after rinsing off the scrub; this will lock in moisture. After applying moisturizer to your hands before bed, slip on a pair of clean cotton gloves and sleep with them on to increase the moisturizing action.

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.