Hand Cream and Gloves at Night? Does it Really Work?

Gloves in bed? We can explain. Learn whether gloves can help hand cream soak in overnight

Learn whether donning gloves over hand cream overnight can help dry skin

We all remember the old trick of sleeping overnight in gloves with your hands slathered in petroleum jelly for super-softening and moisturizing. And then the annoyance of washing it all off in the morning, probably doing more harm than good with all the scrubbing it took to remove it. But does it really help to spend the night with your hands marinating in a cream, lotion, or ointment?

According to dermatologists, yes, sleeping with your moisturized hands inside gloves can help you to wake up with your hands looking and feeling renewed and replenished.

How do Creams and Lotions Work?

While you may think it’s the oils inside the best hand creams, lotions and moisturizers that work to soften your hands, it’s actually a matter of water. Hydration is what makes the difference between soft, supple skin and rough, reddened, chapped skin. Water is generally high on the ingredients list in the best hand creams.

Lipids, or oils, are constantly being released by the sebaceous glands in our skin. These lipids simply form a barrier on our skin’s surface to enable it to retain the water it needs to remain supple.

Petroleum and other oil-rich properties in moisturizers are known as occlusives. When applied to the skin, they effectively block the evaporation of the water that’s included in the lotion, as well as the natural water in our skin from the water we drink. Regardless of whatever other ingredients the cream or lotion contains, petroleum jelly and other highly occlusive ingredients are always high on the ingredients list in the best hand cream choices because they trap water into the skin, keeping it hydrated for longer periods than it otherwise would be.

Other ingredients such as humectants serve similar purposes, with humectants pulling water from the air to add moisture. Emollients are added because they make the skin feel smoother.

How the Glove Treatment can Help your Skin.

Because the essential moisturizing properties of lotions and creams depend on blocking the evaporation of water from the skin’s surface, skin will feel softer, moister and more supple for a limited amount of time after its application. However, the oily barrier eventually dissipates, allowing the water from the skin’s surface to evaporate and the skin to become dry again. That’s why even the best hand creams have to be reapplied often, especially to the hands, which are frequently washed and toweled dry, effectively removing both the lotion and the skin’s own natural oils, making dry skin on the hands a common problem.

If you apply a lavish amount of any of the best hand cream choices to your hands and then encase them in cotton gloves for a lengthy period of time—such as overnight—the oils have more time to soak deep into the surface of the skin without evaporation, helping to lock in essential water to more thoroughly hydrate the cells on the skin’s surface. This is especially beneficial in the winter, when wind and cold draws more moisture out of the skin’s surface, often leaving them dry, chapped, rough and reddened.

You can use the same method on your feet by slathering them with moisturizing lotion or a good hand or foot cream and then encasing them in socks overnight.

Exfoliating your hands and feet before trying an overnight moisturizing treatment will give you even greater moisturizing benefits. Exfoliating helps to remove the dry, dead skin cells that can otherwise interfere in the skin’s ability to absorb the oils to help retain your skin’s moisture level. If you remove the dead skin cells, all of the benefits of the best hand cream choices available today will be better able to reach the fresh new cells beneath.

Spa Gloves

While using cotton or latex gloves for your overnight moisturizing treatment does a fine job of giving your skin a replenishing treatment, also available today are specially designed spa gloves with a permanent gel lining that further helps your hands to retain moisture. Some gloves contain beneficial ingredients such as vitamins, aloe and specialty oils infused into the fabric or lining.

Be sure to wash your cotton gloves often, or discard and replace the spa gloves. Moisturizers have a short shelf life once exposed to air, and creams and lotions that are old can produce free-radicals which can actually age the hands—the opposite of the desired effect.

Resources— Harvard Health Publishing, How Stuff Works, ScienceABC.com

Share this article