Finger Tips


Daniel Maier has some bits of advice on hand cream. But they are definitely not ‘hacks’.

I’d be dead without hand cream. I mean, it’s not like I once fell down a well on the moors and my hand cream went forhelp or anything. But I do think that without hand cream I would quite possibly have bled to death through my hands. They get extraordinarily dry, and quickly. A few minutes in central heating on a nippy winter’s day and it’s like that bit in a Hammer film when the someone’s immortality charm wears off and in moments they go from healthy, moist human to dusty, dessicated skeleton. My hands basically do that. The skin at the knuckles, starved of natural oils, dries and cracks and in extreme cases blood oozes through the fissures. Enjoying your lunch?

So I like to think I know hand cream, and these are some of the things I’ve learned about it.

1. Always get a metallic tube
Stuff like L’Occitane and Burt’s Bees comes in nice, aluminiumy tubes. Get these if you can. It’s not just a retro aesthetic affectation. The good thing about metallic tubes is you can roll them up to get the last dregs of cream out. Many’s the time I’ve stood at a bus stop, hands throbbing in pain, breath misting in the night air as I desperately palp a tiny wrinkle in a tube of hand cream to release the minute, unguent seam tucked within. You can’t do that with the plastic ones. The unyielding rigid bastards know they’ve got the last vestiges of cream tucked into their unreachable corners and squeeze as you might all they ever offer is a contemptuous hiss as they reinflate, tube shape intact, cream unsquirted. Squished metal tubes are also better for a small pocket, which brings me to:

2. Have a cream in every coat
It’s such a downer to be out and about and reach a wizened hand into a jacket pocket only to remember the cream you crave is in the parka hanging on the bannister at home. Plan ahead, like a squirrel secreting nuts in every hidey-hole. Go multi-cream.

3. The Back of Hand Technique
Your mileage may vary, but my palms aren’t the problem. They give me no grief. It’s only the backs of my hands and the outer edge of my index fingers and thumbs that make life a dry hell. If you’re the same, put the cream where you actually need it. I apply to the knuckles of each hand, rub the backs of my hands together and watch that sweet, sweet nectar sink in. Then interlink fingers as if enacting the denouement of the timeless church, steeple, people story to get to those awkward webby bits and you’re covered faster than Centre Court in a downpour. This way you avoid unnecessary palm creaming, something I’m saving for a chapter title in my autobiography. Which in turn reminds me:

4. Never apply handcream behind a closed door with a doorknob
Even if you take the above steps to avoid unnecessary palm creaming (let’s just call that UPC on the distant offchance I’ll need to say it again), there’ll be some collateral salving. And just like the dopey decorator who paints himself into a corner, if you shut the door behind you in the hope of some cream application privacy, you may only realise your mistake when it’s too late. When you’re desperately trying to get purchase on a door knob you can’t now turn because your hand just slicks right over it. Oh, the rising panic. You squeeze harder, but that just makes the knob more slippery. So you go counter-intuitive and try a lighter grip, which doesn’t work either. You could call for help. You could wait for the cream to sink in and the friction to return to your palms, but that would mean too much time alone with your own thoughts in an empty room and in the inability to pick anything up. What I’m saying is, don’t close the door.



5. Twin dispensers. Swerve
What? Yes, you could just wipe your hands on a bit of tissue, but we’ve moved on to something else. Those twin dispensers of soap and hand cream in apparently classy eaterie bogs are to be avoided – or the hand cream half at any rate. Of course you should wash your hands, you’re not an animal. But avoid the cream partly for the reason above – with greased hands, you’ll be unable to open the inevitable two heavy firedoors between you and your rapidly-cooling scallops on pea puree, and have to wait for someone else to open the door for you, like some kind of weirdo that hangs around in public toilets with shiny hands. Also, some of your fellow convenience users will have mistaken the hand cream for the soap. This means they’ve done their business and then applied their waste-riddled fingertips to the pump on the hand cream, which is now basically the host of Fecal and Urinary Bacteria Expo ’16.

6. Other awkward hand cream situations
Shaking hands immediately after applying hand cream is also to be avoided. If forces you either to explain that you’re not permanently this oleaginous or to apologise for cream transference as your friend surreptitiously looks for a napkin. Also anything that involved putting hands in pockets is better done before you cream up. Dipping into a woolly pocket for a wallet or change with slimy fingertips is not an enjoyable sensation. Also – and you’ll know this if you’ve suffered the cream/soap confusion mentioned above – washing your hands shortly after putting on hand cream is a deeply dissatisfying experience. The soap slides straight off your hands and you can’t lather up. It’s like trying to rub Piz Buin on an otter. And we all know what a nightmare that is.

7. What do you do with the excess?
You’ve applied too much hand cream. You have, haven’t you? It’s because you were down to the last bit in the container and it wasn’t quite worth keeping, even though you already had enough on, so you added the last bit and now it feels like your hands are made of Lurpak. Don’t panic. There is a prescribed order for getting rid of the excess. First, run the hands vigorously into each other. This is absolutely useless as both hands are already covered in cream and it just makes them red and shiny like Phil Mitchell’s forehead when he’s a bit pissed on one of those two-hander episodes of Eastenders they do at the seaside that they think are classy drama but are really quite dull and padded out with monologues that begin ‘Do you remember when we were kids…”, but you’ll try it anyway. What you need is dry areas to take the excess, so try your wrists, as if giving yourself a lovely Chinese burn. If there’s still too much on your palms, work your way up the arms to the elbows. Then, as a last resort, wipe them off on your jeans.

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