Age-defying hands latest focus to hold onto youth

On a recent flight from New York to Los Angeles, Chris Salgardo noticed an attractive woman sitting a few rows ahead of him. “She looked like she was in her 40s,” he said. “She was beautiful with great skin. She had an overall supple complexion.”

This is a significant compliment coming from Salgardo, the president of Kiehl's USA, a skin- and hair-care company. But then he looked down and saw the woman's hands hammering away on her laptop. “They were veiny, crepey and had brown spots all over them,” Salgardo said.

Suddenly, his estimation of her age jumped at least a decade. “The hands were a dead giveaway,” he said.

The war being waged against dark spots, ropey veins and the various other symptoms of the no-longer-youthful hand is relatively recent.

The skin on the hands is generally thinner than facial skin. It has the consistency of an eyelid and may be more sensitive to the indignities of time.

For some people, the battle is being fought at night, with moisturizing gloves and thick coats of specially formulated hand creams — a skin care sector that has grown more than 60 percent globally in the last four years, according to a July report from the Nielsen Co., a marketing research company in Illinois.

Others, like Salgardo, never leave the house without applying sunscreen to their hands. Many people resort to options found only in doctors' offices: plumping fillers and other injections, along with age-erasing lasers.

Whatever the method, hands are clearly in the spotlight these days.

“The anti-aging movement has picked up a lot of steam and people are starting to focus on parts of their body other than their faces,” said Dr. David Colbert, a Manhattan dermatologist who has worked on the hands of, among others, Dara Tomanovich, the face (and hands) of the Olay Regenerist skin care line.

One of the most visible signs of aging in the hands is a loss of volume, which creates hands that look bony, with pronounced veins.

Some doctors inject the hands with fillers such as Restylane to add volume and render veins and visible tendons less noticeable.

Injections are only one of a medley of available techniques.

One nonmedical expert, hand model Ellen Sirot, says hands that have sustained the normal wear and tear can be “de-aged” without injections or lasers. Over the years, Sirot, who is in her 40s, has been the flawless television hands of countless women.

She said she hasn't cooked, cleaned or held her husband's hand in a decade. The latter activity would mean keeping her hands below her waist, which would increase blood flow and make veins more apparent.

She also moisturizes at least once an hour, soaks her nail tips in lemon juice to keep them white and has several hundred pairs of gloves in various styles and wears them almost constantly. (For the average hands-obsessed person, she is designing a kind of glove-thong that covers just the back.)