Learn how to make a deeply nourishing DIY hand mask. Use it as a hand cream, or pair it with moisturizing gloves as an overnight hand treatment for dry skin. When used before bed, this hand mask can help soften and repair your dry hands while you sleep.
We’re all likely washing our hands a little more frequently than usual right now. I don’t know about you, but my skin has really been feeling the effects of this constant hand washing.
Washing with soap and water is an effective way to wash away dirt, bacteria and viruses, but unfortunately it also dissolves our skin’s protective barrier as well.
Plus, when coupled with heavy hand sanitizer usage, the drying effects of alcohol can make things even worse.
Besides doubling up on hand cream, and using extra DIY cuticle oil, I also like to use a homemade hand mask to help prevent my skin from becoming cracked and irritated.
My moisturizing DIY hand mask
One of the major causes of dry hands is a damaged skin barrier. And with all the soap, cleaning products, and hand sanitizer we are using more often, it’s likely that our skin barrier could use some extra help.
I crafted this hand mask recipe specifically to address this issue. Its fluffy, whipped texture sinks into dry skin, helping to seal and repair skin damaged by excessive hand washing or hand sanitizer usage.
If you’re wondering why this hand mask looks like guacamole, we’ll get to that in a moment. This is not your typical mask recipe, and it contains unique ingredients that I have not seen used very often.
One of those ingredients is derived from avocados. But while this mask may resemble guacamole, I can assure you it does not contain fresh avocado!
The best time to use this DIY hand mask
When you hear the term “hand mask,” you might imagine a product you wash off after a certain amount of time – but this is not that kind of mask.
This recipe is not a wash-off mask. It’s extremely rich and emollient, so it’s preferable to use it right before bed as a moisturizing overnight hand treatment.
One of the best times to use a hand mask is at bedtime. That way, the ingredients have a chance to really penetrate your skin during the night.
Plus, using occlusive, reparative products at night complements the nighttime healing process. By sealing and protecting the skin barrier, you help it to regenerate while you sleep.
An overnight mask for your hands
I frequently use a layer of my homemade overnight mask to help seal moisture into my hands before bed. It works well for this purpose, but I wanted to create something made specifically for dry hands.
It was also important that I create something that helped renew the skin barrier quickly, because we’re just going start the hand washing process all over again the next day.
Think of this DIY hand mask like an overnight mask or sleeping pack for your hands. It’s even more effective if you wear a pair of moisturizing gloves overtop to really help seal the treatment into your skin.
Of course, if you prefer, you can still use this mask during the daytime as a hand balm. You’ll just want to be sure to apply a thinner layer than you’d use at nighttime.
Now, let’s get into how to make this DIY hand mask.
DIY hand mask ingredients
To make a hand mask for dry skin, you will need:
Extra virgin avocado oil
This homemade hand mask’s main ingredient is avocado oil, which helps give the mask its smooth, buttery texture. But not just any kind of avocado oil.
You’re likely used to seeing refined avocado oil in bottles, but the particular avocado oil I used is a special, extra virgin kind that comes in a jar.
This unique oil is minimally processed and retains some avocado pulp, which results in a dense oil with a texture similar to room temperature butter.
Now that you know, I can finally tell you what I originally wanted to call this recipe: a whipped avocado hand mask. I just didn’t want to put this in the title in case people assumed this recipe was just blended avocado!
Benefits of avocado oil for skin
Avocado oil was originally extracted for cosmetic use due to its high skin penetration and rapid rate of absorption.
It contains many beneficial constituents that make it an excellent choice for dry or damaged skin. This includes plant sterols, minerals, and an assortment of fatty acids that help bolster the skin’s lipid barrier.
In rats, avocado oil was found to accelerate wound healing and increase collagen synthesis. If this result translates to humans, this makes avocado oil a wonderful home remedy for dry, cracked hands.
Aside from its fatty acid content, avocado oil is extremely rich in carotenoids and vitamin E. Both are antioxidants that help contribute to avocado oil’s oxidative stability. In simple terms, this means they help stop the oil from going rancid.
One last benefit to note – avocado oil contains very high amounts of natural vitamin D. In fact, one tablespoon of this particular brand of oil contains 560% the recommended daily amount.
Substitutions for avocado oil
Unfortunately, after using and falling love with this particular kind of avocado oil, I realized how hard it is to source.
Only one brand, MIRA, appears to produce this dense, solid kind of avocado oil with avocado pulp. You might be able to find it in your local natural foods store.
The closest replacement appears to be raw, extra virgin avocado butter, which is similar in texture.
However, you can also use unrefined liquid avocado oil, which has a characteristic bright green colour. This oil is far superior to the pale yellow avocado oil frequently found on supermarket shelves.
Another good replacement is nilotica shea butter, a soft variety of shea butter with a low melting point. It has a smooth, cream-like texture which is similar in texture to solid avocado oil. They also share a similar fatty acid profile.
Though coconut oil is frequently touted as a dry skin remedy, I don’t recommend using it as a substitute in this hand mask. I find that coconut oil just doesn’t work as well as avocado oil for remedying dry hands.
On another note, avocado oil is also wonderful for hair, which makes it a great ingredient for a homemade hair mask! So, this is a great way to use up any leftover.
You might be wondering whether you read that right. Cholesterol is typically regarded as something we don’t want too much of, so why would we put it on our skin?
Because cholesterol is a part of our skin. Along with ceramides and free fatty acids, cholesterol is one of the major lipid classes in our epidermal lipids, where it plays a vital role in our skin’s health.
Among other functions, cholesterol helps maintain our skin’s plumpness, elasticity, and moisture levels, while also promoting skin barrier integrity. In fact, a disruption of the skin’s barrier function will trigger an increase in cholesterol synthesis to help repair the damage.
Since cholesterol has so many important functions, it’s a useful ingredient to supplement in any skincare routine, face and hands included.
Cholesterol powder isn’t cheap, but it’s very versatile and has an indefinite shelf life. So you’ll have plenty of time to add it to a variety of homemade skincare products. I frequently add cholesterol powder to my bedtime facial oil.
It’s not always readily available, but right now you can find cholesterol powder for cosmetics on Etsy.
Benefits of cholesterol in a hand mask
One way our skin loses cholesterol is through normal aging. But there’s another factor that depletes cholesterol on a daily basis – excessive cleansing.
Cholesterol’s ability to accelerate skin barrier recovery makes it especially useful in a homemade hand mask. It helps repair the damage caused by every day hand washing and hand sanitizer usage.
I don’t recommend skipping the cholesterol powder in this recipe, as it’s the main active ingredient that helps this hand mask work. Unfortunately, there are no easy substitutions.
Once you use cholesterol, you’ll understand why it’s so useful as a remedy for dry hands. It creates a waterproof layer over your skin that’s somewhat difficult to remove, even after washing.
But this is a good thing – cholesterol’s tenacity is what allows it to seal and heal the skin barrier so well.
Green tea wax
I’m so excited to finally use this unique ingredient. Most of us have heard of green tea extract, but what about green tea wax?
According to Skin Chakra, green tea wax is harvested from the waxy substance that covers green tea leaves. This dense, fragrant wax is extremely rich in skin benefits.
For one, green tea wax is very high in polyphenols and antioxidants, which is evident by its beautiful dark green colour. It’s so pigmented that a tiny chunk colours a whole batch of this hand mask.
As well, it contains a variety of esters, fatty acids, hydrocarbons and phospholipids that contribute to skin barrier health.
While optional, green tea wax adds a bright avocado-green colour and antioxidant benefits to this hand mask.
Skipping green tea wax won’t affect the efficacy of your DIY hand mask. If you don’t have green tea wax on hand or don’t want to buy another ingredient, you can also use matcha powder to add a hint of avocado green.
Colouring your mask isn’t necessary, so you could also just skip this step altogether.
However, if you do purchase green tea wax, I have a plethora of other ideas for how you can use it.
More recipes with green tea wax:
In healthy skin, the skin barrier helps maintain optimal moisture levels. But when the skin barrier is damaged, the skin is vulnerable to water loss through evaporation.
No amount of moisture will work if there’s nothing to help the skin retain it – and this is where beeswax comes in.
While it’s frequently used to harden homemade lotions and salves, beeswax is far more than just a thickener. It has occlusive and humectant properties that make it incredibly useful for dry hands.
The beeswax in this hand mask acts as an artificial skin barrier to lock in moisture. It also helps give the mask a thicker, creamier texture.
Interestingly, this study found creams containing beeswax to be more effective than commercial barrier creams for dermatitis on the hands.
So if you struggle with irritation or eczema, you may want to try incorporating beeswax into your hand care routine.
Vitamin E oil
Last but certainly not least is vitamin E, one of my favourite homemade skincare additives. It’s the most abundant and potent lipophilic antioxidant in our bodies, so I like to add it to my products at every opportunity.
Since vitamin E is a lipophilic (oil-loving) vitamin, oily skin naturally has higher levels. On the other hand, dry skin needs all the help it can get. So vitamin E makes a great addition to a hand mask for dry skin.
Among other benefits, Vitamin E helps protect our cells from oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation. It plays a key role in stabilizing fatty acids, especially unstable polyunsaturated fatty acids.
I always add vitamin E oil to any oil or butter I’m heating to help protect the more delicate fatty acids from oxidizing.
I added vitamin E to this DIY hand mask to help replenish low levels in dry, cracked hands. And since vitamin E oil is so viscous, it also helps protect skin from further moisture loss.
As well, it acts as an antioxidant to protect the avocado oil from oxidizing during heating.
How to make a moisturizing DIY hand mask
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for exact ingredient measurements and detailed instructions.
- Melt avocado oil, beeswax, green tea wax and vitamin E in a metal mixing bowl over a water bath.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before stirring in cholesterol powder.
- Allow the hand mask to solidify in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. This helps ensure a uniform texture.
- Whip the mask with a hand mixer until it turns light green and reaches a fluffy texture, with soft peaks.
- Transfer to a glass jar and enjoy.
Before using your hand mask
It’s important to note that this moisturizing hand mask is not moisturizing in the sense that it adds moisture, but that it helps the skin retain its existing moisture.
For this reason, you will need to make sure your hands are moisturized before using your hand mask. Using any kind of hand lotion or cream will suffice. Then, you can use the hand mask to lock the moisture into your skin.
But if you don’t have any on hand, you can still use this mask to moisturize your hands without lotion. Simply use the mask after washing your hands while your skin is still slightly damp.
This might seem like a flaw in the recipe, but it was intentional to ensure the hand mask is easy to make at home.
In order to make a moisturizing product such as a lotion, you need to add water. And whenever you add water, you also have to use a preservative to prevent mold and bacteria growth in your product.
Plus, an emulsifier is needed to mix oil and water, which would make this recipe a more complicated process.
Therefore, skipping water in the hand mask simplifies the recipe and extends its shelf life.
How to use this DIY hand mask
As previously mentioned, nighttime is the best time to use this hand mask. That way, its nourishing ingredients have all night to penetrate and repair your skin.
However, you can also use a smaller amount of the hand mask during the day to top up your skin’s protection. It creates a barrier that repels water, so this can help prevent dry skin from hand washing.
Overnight hand mask
If you’re using the DIY hand mask as an overnight hand treatment, you’ll want to apply it last thing before going to sleep.
Scoop out a generous amount and massage it into your hands and cuticles. Then, put on a pair of moisturizing gloves to lock the mask into your skin.
I like to incorporate the hand mask after my nighttime skincare routine. Before I use the mask, I apply any excess skincare products on the backs of my hands, which includes a generous layer of my favourite sleeping pack and retinol oil.
If my hands don’t feel moisturized enough yet, I’ll follow it up with my favourite hand cream before using the mask and applying my gloves.
Daytime hand mask
You can also use the hand mask during the daytime as a rich hand balm to help prevent dry skin.
I suggest using it after washing your hands while they are still slightly damp. Then, massage a small amount of mask into your hand and cuticles until it sinks into your skin.
If you apply too much and your hands feel slippery, simply wipe off the excess onto another area of your body. I frequently apply any excess product to my knees or calves.
- Place beeswax, avocado oil, vitamin E and green tea wax into a metal mixing bowl. Using a metal bowl cuts down on prep time, as you’ll be whipping the mask with a hand mixer later.
- Using the double boiler method, heat the mixing bowl in a water bath on medium heat, stirring frequently to ensure even heating. A metal whisk is useful for breaking up any lumps.
- Once the mixture is liquified and free of lumps, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Add cholesterol powder and mix thoroughly until dissolved.
- Place the mixing bowl into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to solidify. This is important – please don’t leave it to harden at room temperature as this may cause lumps to form. We want the mask to have a smooth, creamy texture.
- Remove the hand mask from the fridge. At this point it will be dark green, but will lighten once whipped.
- Using a hand mixer, whip the mask until it turns light green and reaches a creamy, whipped consistency with soft peaks.
- Transfer your hand mask to a glass container for storage.
If you don't have solid avocado oil, avocado butter or nilotica shea butter, you can also substitute liquid avocado oil. I recommend using unrefined avocado oil, as unrefined oil retains the most benefits.
You can also use another liquid oil of your choice, such as cold-pressed olive oil. However, if you choose to make substitutions, I cannot guarantee your mask will have the same texture.
If using liquid oil, add an extra teaspoon of beeswax pellets to your hand mask. And if you live in a hot climate, I suggest adding an extra teaspoon of beeswax anyway.
Shelf life and storage
Keep your hand mask in a cool, dry place away from light. Since this recipe is free of water, no preservative or refrigeration is required.
Unrefined avocado oil's shelf life is approximately 6 months at room temperature, so please use your homemade hand mask within 6 months.
More home remedies for dry hands
If you enjoyed this DIY, you might also enjoy these recipes:
- DIY Cuticle Oil with Essential Oils
- DIY Hand Sanitizer with Vodka
- Exfoliating Pumpkin Mask (makes a gentle hand scrub)
- Gentle Cranberry Scrub for Sensitive Skin (great for hands)
- DIY Honey Almond Soap (moisturizing and gentle)