We’re all washing our hands — a lot — right now. And we should be. It’s the best way to protect ourselves, and others, from spreading the coronavirus.

I hit the sink as soon as I wake up in the morning. I lather up — while reciting two Hail Marys — before daring to go outside. I rub hand sanitizer on my palms when I get in the car and before I exit. And up until this week, when I started working from home, before I walked to my desk at work, I’d go to the bathroom to disinfect.

So sure, I’ve got clean hands. But they’re also dry, rough, and scaly. And much to my mother’s chagrin, they’re ashy. We’re talking you must have been massaging flour ASHY!

I love almond-scented Jergens, but it’s just not enough. The hangnails are real. The itchy fingertips persist.

What to do?

I reached out to local beauty experts for pro tips on how to care for our hands in this era of unprecedented hand washing. Who knows, maybe at the end of these trying times, we’ll have silky palms in a cleaner, healthier, post-pandemic world.

Try a gentler soap

From: Ursula Augustine, owner of Ursula’s About Phace in Rittenhouse Square

Augustine suggests using a gentle, fragrance-free hand soap, like Neutrogena. “You don’t want to use [on your hands] what you wash your pots and pans with.”

Augustine also likes Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream and Burt’s Bees Ultimate Care Hand Cream. Last but not least, when washing down counters and cell phones with Clorox and Lysol wipes, it’s important to wear gloves. “Those chemicals are murder on your hands," Augustine said.

Moisturize after you wash

From: Danuta Mieloch, owner of Rescue Spa in Rittenhouse Square

Dry, cracked hands are more susceptible to infection than healthy, hydrated skin, Mieloch warns. And we can’t go and get a spa manicure right now. Her go-to moisturizers: Byredo Gypsy Water Hand Cream, Environ Body Hand and Nail Cream, and Biologique Recherche Emulsion Renovatrice Mains.

Try a hand balm

From: Steve Duross, owner of Duross & Langel in Midtown Village

Follow up washing your hands with a soothing hand balm made of natural ingredients like oils, butters, and wax. Duross & Langel’s Rescue Balm is Duross’ special concoction of sweet almond oil, hemp oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado, and beeswax. “All you need is a dollop the size of a black bean and notice your hands get better,” he said.

Duross & Langel
Duross & Langel Rescue Balm is Steve Duross' special mixture of sweet almond oil, hemp oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado and beeswax.

Use a body oil

From: Jenea Robinson, Marsh & Mane, in Center City.

Cleansers with sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, are effective but will dry out your hands, Robinson warns. Robinson turns to Abiyah Naturals Coco Mango Cream and Best Life Organics Body Butter l for moisturizing, and has this pro tip: Add a few drops of Duafe’s Hair and Body Oil for added benefits.

Marsh & Mane
Jenea Robinson of Marsh & Mane's Pro tip: Add a few drops of Duafe's Hair and Body Oil for added moisture.

Make your own exfoliator

From: Morria Winn, co-owner of Contour Body Studio in Port Richmond

Wash your hands with Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap because it’s glycerine-based and will help lock in moisture, Winn said. Winn also shared this easy recipe for an exfoliating scrub: mix two parts sugar and one part sweet almond oil, rub all over your hands, and rinse with warm water. Last, Winn said, shop your cupboards for moisturizing oils. “I like coconut because it’s less greasy. Olive, grapeseed, and avocado oils are also great.”

Moisturize overnight

From: Drea Richard, owner of Andre Richard Salon in Old City

Once you slather your hands in coconut or sunflower seed oil — or petroleum jelly if you don’t want to raid your pantry — sleep with cotton gloves or socks on your hands, Richard told me. “That locks in the moisture, and it will keep hydrated through the night,” Richard said. “You will wake up with soft, supple hands.”