10 Things Dermatologists Refuse to Use on Their Hands

Updated: Jan. 31, 2023

Dermatologists share the specific things they avoid—like certain soaps—for healthy, younger-looking hands year-round.

How to take care of your hands

Taking good care of your hands starts with soap and water, but that definitely isn’t the end of good hand care. In fact, dermatologists make sure not to use the following things on their hands—here’s why you shouldn’t either.


Antibacterial soap

“When I’m not at work, I avoid hand sanitizers that contain triclosan because there’s a risk of increasing the growth of multidrug-resistant bacteria—so-called superbugs. Triclosan can also cause significant skin irritation and dryness in many (including me). What do I use instead? Cetaphil bar soap.” Michelle Henry, MD, a dermatologist at Laser and Skin Surgery Center of New York.

10 Things Dermatologists Refuse to Use on Their Hands

Salon manicures

“I avoid nail polish. It’s partly because I see a lot of eyelid rashes from polish (the thick skin of the hands often doesn’t react, but this more delicate site can). And it’s partly because I’ve seen too much (mild to horrific infections from nail salons that don’t properly sterilize tools). What I do swear by for my hands: Bloxsun Sun Gloves with UV protection. I wear them in the car so I don’t need to bother with sunscreen. (I hate the tiny sun spots on my hands! I’ve been lasering them off and don’t want them to come back.)” —Laurel Geraghty, MD, a beauty-editor-turned-dermatologist in Medford, Oregon.

10 Things Dermatologists Refuse to Use on Their Hands
Olena Yakobchuk/Shutterstock

Rubber gloves

“Having worn latex gloves for many years doing research, I now avoid them since latex is so allergenic. While I never developed an allergy to latex (which comes from the rubber tree), it’s more common in people who’ve had regular exposure to rubber gloves. I don’t even wear latex gloves when washing dishes—there are many alternatives.” —Delphine Lee, MD, Chief and Program Director at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center/Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute. (Try these tips for making your hands look younger.)

pretty girl dry your nails in the UV lamp

Sunlight and UV nail lamps

“UV light from the sun or nail lamps (used for gel manicures) cause cumulative DNA damage to skin and can lead to premature aging and even skin cancer. If you want to compare the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic aging on your skin, just compare the skin on your breasts and face. The skin is the same age—only the amount of sun exposure differs. So for optimum skin health, I wear broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30+, 365 days a year.” —Fayne Frey, MD, a dermatologist in West Nyack, New York and founder of FryFace.com

Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Petroleum-based hand creams

“I don’t use hand creams with petroleum because they’re too greasy. Instead, I pick something with glycerin (like Eos Hand Lotion)—it’s super hydrating yet not greasy so you can use your hands right away.” —Debra Jaliman, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. (Check out more of dermatologists’ favorite OTC skin-care products.)

10 Things Dermatologists Refuse to Use on Their Hands


“I avoid hand creams with lanolin, which is derived from sheep wool oil. It is associated with allergic contact dermatitis in up to 2.3 percent of people, including me; it stings my hands and leaves the skin red and irritated, especially when it is dry and chapped and the skin barrier is compromised.” —Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist of Stay Skin Safe in Los Angeles.

10 Things Dermatologists Refuse to Use on Their Hands
Sergey Moskvitin/Shutterstock

Gel nails

“The gel polish, as well as the removal process dry out and damage the nail plate, leading to thinning, weakening, splitting and breakage of the nails. Once in a while is safe, but changing to new gels every two weeks is not ideal for your nails. While they leave polish picture-perfect for up to two weeks, they don’t do your nails any other favors.” —Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist of Stay Skin Safe in Los Angeles. (You’ll want to try these other 17 skin-care tips dermatologists use themselves.)

10 Things Dermatologists Refuse to Use on Their Hands


“Dry and chapped hands is really called irritant hand dermatitis. Things that make this worse, and thus to keep off of your hands, include hot air (like the car heater turned on cold hands), which pulls out skin water to dehydrate skin, leading to rough and tight-feeling skin. [I also avoid] hot water—again, this gets grease off the pots and pans and pulls out precious skin lipids.” —Cynthia Bailey, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in California. (Don’t miss these 13 things your dermatologist won’t tell you.)

10 Things Dermatologists Refuse to Use on Their Hands

Dish soap

“Harsh soaps—like dish washing soap—pull out precious skin lipids to damage skin barrier.” —Cynthia Bailey, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in California.

Father and son using wash hand sanitizer gel pump dispenser.
Elizaveta Galitckaia/Shutterstock

Traditional hand sanitizer

“I try to avoid traditional hand sanitizer, as it’s mostly alcohol and can be very drying to the skin. Instead I prefer to hand-wash with a moisturizing soap or use a hand sanitizer that has a moisturizing base.” —Susan Bard, MD, board-certified dermatologist of Vive Dermatology. Stop falling for the 37 worst pieces of skin care advice dermatologists have heard.