As a guide dog handler, I have extensive experience in the area of keeping working hands soft. A guide dog’s harness material consists of leather, steel, and various heavy-threaded stitching. The harness handle that allows me to feel which direction my guide dog is going would leave heavy calluses on my hands if it was not for a specific soft-hands regimen I use frequently. It is extremely low-cost once purchasing the initial supplies.
Paraffin Wax Machine – available at most local department stores
Quality paraffin wax – will give website address
Post-paraffin wax lotion
Creamy body butter – best from Bath and Body Works
Gloves specifically for wearing with body butter
Sugar Scrub – choose your favorite scent
Paraffin Machine, accessories, and other items:
First, find the best yet most affordable paraffin wax machine within your budget. The best machine available is the Therabath Pro. It costs approximately $179.95 at the Therabath website (http://www.therabathpro.com); however, the Med Supply Store offers the same machine currently for $137.99 (http://www.medsupplystore.com). Most paraffin machines come with a sample of wax that will work for the first few dips; however, it is best to purchase extra in a scent of your choice. This is where aromatherapy can be a blessing. Lavender promotes sleep and citrus scents promote a refreshing awake feeling. The Therabath website sells post-paraffin lotion. The lotion available at TheraBath works wonders on dry hands, feet, and elbows. The dry body areas will soak up the lotion softening the tissue that will assist in turning those calluses and rough skin areas into creamy soft southern belle features. The same website offers refills of hand gloves, booties, and a facial set that will allow you many paraffin baths at a decent price.
The best body butter for hands and feet is available from Bath and Body Works. If there is an outlet nearby, purchase the products there. True Blue Spa’s Cracked Heel Treatment is the best product available for dry, rough hands and equally dry cracked feet. True Blue Spa’s Cuticle Treatment is another necessity. Both products cost $25 to $9 respectively. The Beauty Booties Moisturizing Gel socks are another item that works well. Remember these items cost anywhere from a third to half as much off retail at the Bath and Body Works Outlet Stores.
Sugar scrub, again the best is available from Bath and Body Works is another item that will help improve those hands. It helps the body as well. Choose a scent in the sugar scrubs based on your favorite scent or whatever aromatherapy mood you wish to set for yourself. Again, the outlet stores are less expensive than the retail stores.
During the first month, use the following regimen…
Use sugar scrub. If preferable, use the sugar scrub all over your body by applying small amounts while taking a bath or shower. Run the water on low to save hot water. Apply a small amount of sugar scrub into your hands and rub lightly in a circular motion covering the entire hand from front palm to back. This sloughs off the dead skin leaving hands younger in appearance as well as brighter and healthier. Should you have sensitive skin, use the sugar scrub every other night or three nights a week with the nights spread out over the course of seven days. If applying all over the body, pay particular attention to elbows, back of upper arms, and feet if scrubbing entire body. After your shower or bath, take special care exiting the tub or shower since the sugar scrub has oil and will make the tub and shower slippery.
If you do an entire body scrub, be sure to keep a check on how much sugar scrub you have in your cabinet.
Next, if you purchase the TheraBath Pro, there is no need to pre-heat the unit since it remains on and at the perfect temperature all the time. If you purchase another brand, remember to allow time for the unit to heat but not overheat or else you will be waiting for the wax to cool, which can take unnecessary time.
Wash hands and dry thoroughly in a fresh clean hand towel. Place plastic gloves and mitts near the machine to save time and enjoy the treatment. Take one hand at a time and dip into the paraffin lifting the hand out long enough to allow the wax to cool slightly before dipping again. Do this approximately 3 to 4 times to form a nice coat. Insert the hand with wax into the plastic glove and the gloved hand into the terry mitt to seal in the heat for as long as possible. Proceed with the other hand applying the same treatment. Keep mitts on hands until the wax is completely cool.
Remove the wax from hands and toss into trash. Cover your machine to get ready for the next step.
Rub hands well to ensure the removal of all the wax. This also rubs in the softening emollients from the wax. Apply a small but generous supply of post-wax lotion onto hands and rub in completely.
Prior to going to bed, apply a thick layer of True Blue Spa cuticle cream and cracked heal treatment to hands. Rub in well. Insert hands into gloves available at Bath and Body Works or similar type from a department store. Wear throughout the night and remove in the morning. Wash hands thoroughly and apply a smaller amount of cuticle treatment around nails and cuticles with a dab of cracked heel on hands to help moisturize and rehydrate your hands. Go about you day and repeat the treatment again in the evening.
One note of caution, do not use the sugar scrub all over the body every night as it might cause skin irritation. Use less sugar scrub if your hands become a bit raw. The secret to using the sugar scrub on the hands is to use a light touch when making the small circular patterns on front and back of the hand. If necessary, ask your neighborhood Bath and Body Works employee to show you how to apply on your hands. The store allows customers to sample many if not all of the products available in the store.
After the first month:
Your hands should appear noticeably smoother and softer. If you opted to do the same with your feet, they should feel much softer and without calluses at all by now. From this point on, change your regimen to once or twice a week to maintain the current softness. If necessary, go with three times a week.
Remember to replenish the paraffin machine when the wax drops below the line level. Restock True Blue Spa items and sugar scrubs while products are on sale or if you locate a Bath and Body Works Outlet Store.
Use the same regimen for callused feet, dry elbows, and as a facial. The directions facial waxes are available at Therabath’s website; however, DO NOT apply the sugar scrub on your face. Instead, opt for a high-quality facial exfoliating treatment product. Bath and Body Works in addition to other boutiques such as Belks, Sephora, Macy’s, and Ulta carry high-quality exfoliating treatment products and hydration solutions. Many stores offer free facials and makeovers. I know Sephora offers a free makeup makeover. The women at Sephora stores will be able to give you the right information regarding an exfoliating treatment best for your skin.
I still work my guide dog and use the handle. Each time I meet another guide dog handler, particularly a woman handler, the first thing they ask is how I manage to keep from getting calluses from the handle on our dogs’ harnesses. I give them the above-mentioned regimen. If one were to look and feel my hands, they would never know that I had a guide dog let alone held onto a harness handle with thick leather, heavy stitching, and a steel bar beneath the leather. Even the trainers that stop by on the way from New York to Florida cannot believe how soft my hands are despite working with my guide dog on a daily basis. This routine works wonders and best of all, it does away with the constant need to add lotion throughout the day. Once in the evening after waxing, before bed, and then first thing in the morning is all you need to keep your hands feeling soft. After the first month when your hands are at their best, a bit of Cracked Heel or Cuticle butter in the morning and before bed is enough to use twice a day to keep hands soft and supple.