How To: Care for Your “Artist’s Hands”
After any artistic session involving copious amounts of paints, spirits, solvents and glues, I look down at my “artist’s hands” when the madness of getting that idea out of my brain has subsided and think “oh my, my hands are ruined!”. I’m not saying before that moment I had hands that were particularly presentable, but after painting, cleaning and creating, they are now pretty worn. Here are some ideas and things I like to use to just give my hands a bit of TLC after the creative process. This avoids things like chilblains, splitting nails, cracked hands and eczema. Whether you’re a man or a woman, I think it’s best to take care of your “artist’s hands” when you use chemicals, paints and art supplies often.
Cleaning art supplies and yourself
Olive Oil Soap – I have a massive brick of this I got from Infinity Foods in Brighton in my bathroom. Yes, it looks like a giant bogey because of the olive green colour and its mangled shape. The nourishing, gentle cleansing, however, more than makes up for its ultra grotty aesthetic.
Sugar Soap – You can get this from loads of places and I always pick up a few from Pound shops as it’s always there. It’s slightly less stripping than turps or washing up liquid and gets through oil, grease and paint as well as anything else.
Baby Oil – Good old baby oil has so many uses, from the obvious cross over from baby to adult moisturising to uses in art. I like to give my brushes a little rub with this after cleansing to sort of condition them and get out any really dried on acrylic paint. It’s also super gentle at getting off dried on acrylic paint from nails, underneath and cuticles too, just sort of massage it off.
Coconut Oil – For the same reasons as baby oil, although, as I have pots of coconut oil, they usually stay “just for art” or “just for beauty” as I will definitely get paint cross over. FYI, I really like that Grape Tree shop (linked) there’s one in Hove and it sells really good, cheap whole foods and ingredients (tip!).
The nicest hand creams I’ve used to restore “artist’s hands”
The ones with more natural based ingredients I like a lot, with a thick, nourishing consistency that absorbs into your skin, nails and cuticles straight after washing off all the paint. I’ve used loads of different “usual high street/pound shop” hand creams that are ok, but not heavy duty enough for dealing with wrecked skin.
Liz Earle – Usually bought a very special Christmas or Birthday gifts, these hand creams have super useful pump bottles and just restore ravaged hands after art. I’d rub in a massive glob before bed on an “art night” and let it do some work.
soothe-me skincare – The much edible smell of these hand creams really dilutes the chemical smell that can linger around you after making art and using paints and solvents. From someone who’s painted in the smallest, hottest flats, that final rub-in of a good hand cream with a beautiful smell takes away the chemical smells and gives you back decent hand skin!
Neal’s Yard – I’ve always got these from the front of magazines, I’m sure many of you do too! They are so beautifully scented, like with any of the soothe-me handcreams just cover over any last chemical smells with something really morish. A bit more greasy than the soothe-me range, they are best for just before bed I think like the Liz Earle range.
A layer of paint for battered nails
Rimmel Nail Nurse – Not like I’ve tried loads and loads of nail base coats before I start. But this one is my favourite, I think I’ve maybe gone through five or six bottles of them over the years. It’s the sort of base coat that just makes your nails look good, even if they are falling apart underneath. I think male artists or those who don’t wear nail polish could also use this just as a quick protective layer when using materials that can easily be removed or hardly noticed.
Cuticle Oil – I got one of these in the form of a bottle of product, a stick and a little pot, again from the pound shop (because all good things are). Just a quick rub in with some gives that extra but of TLC to cuticles when they have been filled with black oil paint. Also helps to life off those extra flecks of piant for really cleaned nails too.
Latex gloves – I wear these quite often as I’ll paint with and mix paint with my hands. Especially useful for times when you’re short on bushes (as I always wreck mine) or have just painted your nails (also very often). Just good sense to have some on hand.
Rubber gloves – Good old yellow gloves are slightly less wasteful than a box of gloves and can be rewashed and reused too.
I hope this blog post has inspired you to take more care over your “artist’s hands” or directed you towards preventing them getting ruined while they create beauty!