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Skin Science

5 Benefits of masks for dry, cracked feet and hands

Woman applying moisturizer to her dry, cracked feet.
Liz Thompson
Liz Thompson February, 12, 2020

Freelance writer, green beauty expert, coffee drinker, beach bum wannabe

As the weather gets colder, life starts getting cozier. Sweaters move from the back of the closet to the front, refreshing classics like lemonade are set aside for steaming mugs of cider and lighting scented candles just feels right.

However, there's one decidedly less comfortable part of the cold season: whether it's dry, cracked hands or a red irritated complexion, no one likes dry skin. You may break out a moisturizing face mask to restore your skin's suppleness after a windy day, but what can you do about dry, cracked feet and hands? As it turns out, there's a mask for that too.

You deserve to feel as comfortable in your skin as you do wrapped in your favorite blanket. Here's how masks can keep dry, cracked hands — along with the rest of your skin — feeling fresh as spring, even on the coldest days.

What makes masks for dry, cracked feet and hands different?

If a mask does the trick for your face, why not just use a face mask for your feet or hands? While traditional masks offer plenty of benefits, from clearing breakouts to diminishing fine lines, the skin on your face is different than the skin on the rest of your body.
Woman wearing socks in bed

For starters, the skin on your hands and feet is thicker than the skin on your face. Plus, these body parts see a lot of action — walking, working out, washing — throughout the day. They may need some extra TLC. Once winter arrives, that once monthly mani-pedi simply won't cut it.

Reach for a mask with soothing ingredients like oats, which can heal irritated skin and relieve tightness. Cracked heels and fingertips can appear practically overnight, and oats are perfect for calming irritation and discomfort on the spot.

But a truly effective hand mask or foot mask does much more than soothe skin — it also delivers a dose of intense moisturization. Keeping skin moisturized means that it's less likely to crack and split the next time you step out into dry, harsh air. Ingredients like shea butter offer rich moisture to protect dry skin from the outside elements.

Are masks for dry, cracked hands and feet better than moisturizer?

There's nothing like a rich moisturizer to keep skin feeling smooth and healthy. The only problem? It's not very effective if it can't get through the top layers of dead skin cells.

That's where exfoliation comes in. Oats soothe and heal skin, but they also support your skin's natural exfoliation processes to keep feet and hands soft and smooth. This allows emollient ingredients, like butters and plant oils, to penetrate deep within the skin and lock in moisture. Exfoliating can smooth out dry, callused areas, but be careful — if the skin is broken or irritated, rough sloughing may only cause more damage.

There's certainly nothing wrong with layering on thicker moisturizers during colder months. Just make sure to include exfoliation in your regimen so those rich ingredients have a chance to work where they're really needed. Think of masks and moisturizers as the dynamic duo for keeping dry, cracked hands and feet soft and supple all winter long.

When is the best time to use masks for dry skin?

While winter is the season of dry, cracked feet and hands, these beauties are effective year-round. Lay a mask on your hands and feet whenever you're experiencing dry, rough skin.

If adding one more thing to your already packed schedule seems like a lot to manage, take advantage of the fact that masks for hands and feet only take a short 10 minutes to work. Even better, the results are almost instantaneous. Waiting for your coffee to brew? Lay on a mask. Checking your email? Give your heels some healing time while you do.

Winter should be cozy, not uncomfortable. Reach for a mask whenever stepping outside threatens to leave your skin parched to get silky smooth hands and feet in any weather.

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