They’re one of the most neglected parts of our body but the area that gets the biggest battering, no wonder hand facials are one of the hottest treatments for 2023

Hand facials - yep, that’s right, there's such a thing as a facial for your hands - are going to be a treatment option you’re going to be seeing more and more of at your local salon and spa this year. And it makes sense to treat your hands to something more than just the occasional slathering of hand cream. 

“Our hands are one of the first places to show signs of ageing because they’re constantly exposed to environmental elements, and are frequently being exposed to water and often chemicals in cleaning or sanitising gels,” explains Lauren Gibson, Hydrafacial’s UK&I Country Manager. “Most of us don’t think of regularly applying our skincare or a daily SPF to the back of our hands and this means that the skin gets dehydrated quicker and age spots and pigmentation appear far sooner”. 

And whilst you might not think it’s worth spending time and money on such a small section of your body, think how frequently they are on show. “Our hands are part of how we communicate so they are part of our aesthetics of presenting ourselves to the world,” explains Dr Sam Bunting. And making sure our hands match or look as close to how the skin on our face looks, may have other significance too. “If you work hard to keep the skin on your face looking a certain way with great skincare or skin treatments, but neglect the skin on your hands then you almost lose the potential attractiveness in the face because it doesn’t look authentic if the hands and the face don’t look like they belong to each other.”

Dr Sam continues, “most people have an internal map for this sort of thing, and funnily enough it’s one of the elements inspectors at passport control look out for ‘does this face match the rest of what I can see in terms of the age of the person’. Even if we can’t place what’s not balanced if the skin on your hands has aged exponentially compared to the face the brain doesn’t like it as much as it’s not harmonious.”

That’s where hand facials come in.

What is a hand facial?

Well as you might expect hand facials combine all the steps you would expect of a regular facial but on your hands. They are more than an exfoliation and a massage of hand cream like you might get at the end of a fancy manicure appointment (although there’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever). These are targeted treatments using the type of actives you’d expect from a thorough facial - think the best vitamin C serums, acid peels and retinoids and retinol - along with the type of facial technology you might also have experienced - we’re talking micro-needling and LEDs.

Where can I get a hand facial?

They’re starting to pop up in more and more salons and spas but we went to try two of the newest ones to come to the market.

Treatment: Hydrabody from Hydrafacial Hand Treatment

Price: £40

Available: nationwide. You can find a Hydrafacial near you via their website

Image: hydrafacial.co.uk

What is it: Brand new from Hydrafacial - if you’re unfamiliar read why Hydrafacial is the facial you need to try if you hate facials - are their Hydrabody treatments, one of which focuses purely on the hands. As with all Hydrafacials, this is a treatment that can be made to suit your skin’s needs as active skincare ingredients are added to the Hydrafacial machine to be pushed deeper into the skin for more effective results. 

Hands are given a light cleanse and then the machine is used to lightly exfoliate the skin, and draw out impurities that all get sucked into the ‘gunkie’; one of the cylinders attached to the machine, as well as delivering the active ingredients. The treatment takes around 25 minutes.

Our verdict: Beauty Director Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith says: “Depending on where you go for your Hydrabody hand treatment you may either lie down or sit up like you’re having a manicure. I lay down on a very comfortable chair with my eyes closed, but if I have it again I think I would ask to sit up so I could see what was going on. I’m one of those people who are fascinated by seeing the volume of dirt coming off my skin so seeing the gunkie jar in action would rock my world. 

"My therapist and I decided my hands need more hydration, something I’d imagine most hands need - but I could have had some anti-ageing ingredients too. After a quick cleanse, she moved the Hydrabody machine slowly over my hands. It isn’t painful in the slightest and doesn’t leave the skin looking red or distressed. No downtime is part of Hydrafacial’s huge success. At the end, my hands looked more glowy and felt like velvet however I can’t say that I think anyone would have noticed I had anything done. Maybe that’s a good thing? The results don’t last that long - a couple of days at best - but it's the nature of the beast because as soon as you leave the salon your hands are back to touching everything, washing and hitting the sanitiser bottle.  So my advice would be to have a hand facial as an add-on to either a manicure or as part of another Hydrabody treatment such as the arms treatment which can target issues such as keratosis pilaris which might give you more of an impact.

Treatment: Micro-Needling Anti-Ageing Manicure and Skin Ceuticals Hand Peel Treatment

Price: from £85 each

Available: Young LDN 

Image: Victoria Woodhall, Get The Gloss

What is it: A new way to elevate your mani is with an aesthetic treatment that you’d normally have on your face. As Young LDN is both a nail salon and an aesthetics clinic, they are perfectly placed to do this.  The Micro-Needling Anti-Ageing Manicure involves a Clinicare acid peel, microneedling with a derma pen (needles at 0.3-0.5mm depth) and a clinical grade serum with growth factors, hyaluronic acid and anti-pigmentation ingredients, topped off LED light therapy and the Skinceuticals power antioxidant serum CE Ferulic. 

The Skinceuticals Hand Peel starts with a physical scrub, followed by a gel peel, the CE Ferulic serum, a hydrating B5 mask and the Skinceuticals Tripeptide-R Neck Repair Serum, which contains retinol (the idea being that hand skin is similar to the thin skin on your neck) finished off with clinical-grade Celluma LED. With both treatments, the filing and shaping are done beforehand and the polish afterwards.

Our verdict: "I booked in for the Microneedling Manicure, but although hands look all of their 55 sun-damaged years, it was designed for people with 'thicker skin', I was told, which counts a lot of us with ageing hands out. I opted for the Skinceuticals Peel, which had many steps with clinic-strength skincare and a hand massage thrown in. 

"My hands did look and feel smooth at the end, but you quite literally need time on your hands for this. My treatment lasted nearly two hours including the polish. If you love having your nails done and are good at sitting still (not me) or are going with a friend for a good catch-up, this is a treat and the tea/cocktail menu is excellent. Having a hand facial did serve as a reminder for me to use the serums that I apply to my face in my hands and to maybe try a hand facial treatment at home."

Can I do a hand facial at home?

To a degree, yes. There are things you can easily bring into your at-home regime to up the ante to your hand care. Celebrity nail technician Michelle Class recommends regular exfoliation. “Exfoliating your hands on a regular basis really can make a difference to how your hands look. And you don’t need to buy a specific hand scrub use a face exfoliator will all the kinds of actives your hand needs and use that instead. I also make sure that I apply any excess of my face products to my hands including everything from retinol to SPF.” Michelle has lots of scrubs that she likes but you’ll often see the Dr Barbara Sturm Facial Scrub, £50 feature on her Instagram. If you have a microneedling roller (please patch test first)and an  LED mask you can deploy them as above. 

We asked dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting to show us what she recommends to do your very own DIY hand facial at home as well as her top tips for getting the most out of your hand care at home.

  • Keep it cool. “The temperature of the water you wash your hands in is not important, what’s important is the length of the rinse. So make sure that you rinse well but use tepid water.”
  • Pat, pat, pat. “You’re best off, in terms of hygiene and skin barrier function, to use paper towels to pat your hands dry rather than frazzling them under a dryer when you’re out. At home use a towel but make sure you pat dry rather than rotating your hands in the fabric.”
  • Sensible soap. “Unless your hands are incredibly dirty stay away from highly fragranced foaming cleansers and choose a non-foaming cleanser that won’t desiccate the skin barrier - the sort you’d find in the French pharmacy aisles. And you don't have to use a hand wash specifically, non-foaming body washes designed for sensitive skin work perfectly too.”
  • Go for occlusives. “Occlusive ingredients that help repair the skin barrier are essential for your hands as they lock moisture in and thicken up the skin. This has the effect of making veins on your hands look less obvious as they won't poke through as much. The type of ingredients you need to look out for are shea butter, squalane and avocado or mango seed oil.” Scroll down to see how Dr Sam recommends maximising the potential of your hand cream with an at-home hand facial.
  • Use your face products. “As long as the skin barrier on your hands isn’t compromised then you can use the actives you would use on your face, on your hands. A concoction of niacinamide, azelaic acid, vitamin C or bakuchiol will help stimulate collagen and target age spots.”.

Where to get a free hand facial

It’s also worth mentioning that if you fancy treating your hands to some TLC but don’t have the budget to spend on a fancy treatment then head to your local Clarins counter where you can have a complimentary Hand & Arm Treatment. It takes about 10 minutes (their new Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment Balm, £25.50, is one of the products used), there is absolutely no purchase necessary and you can experience some brilliant massage techniques and have a moment of you-time.