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Using hand cream?

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Woody1999, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. Woody1999


    Dec 13, 2015
    Birmingham, UK
    Hi all,

    I've recently started studying bass full time at a conservatoire here in the UK, and over the last few months I've noticed the skin on my hands really starting to deteriorate - getting really dry, cracking, and dead skin on my fingertips.

    I've always put a lot of thought and effort into playing with the minimum pressure required, something I practice both for tone purposes and to help look after my fingers, but despite that I still feel like I'm ripping my hands to pieces.

    Today I borrowed a dollop of hand cream from my flatmate as I was finding it too painful to get through my normal practice, and it has (temporarily?) helped to relieve the pain, but I'm wondering if this will work in the long term.

    Has anyone got any experience with using hand cream and playing 6-10+ hours a day? I'm concerned about losing my callouses or shortening string life in particular. I'd really appreciate any input that anyone can offer.

    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  2. I use this....
    It's a bit gooey until it dries. Unfortunately the best solution for me was always Krazy Glue. Dries rock hard but perhaps not the healthiest thing to apply to a split fingertip.
    I use hand cream a lot especially in winter and just wait a 1/2 hr for it to soak in/dry up before I play.
    I will always prefer to buy a new set of strings if I kill them than play in pain and I'll bet 6-10 hrs of playing per day you'll have no worries about your callouses.
    Please ignore the new string part of my post if you play upright. :)
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    My doctor recommended CeraVé moisturizing cream (not the lotion) for my super dry hands.

    Great stuff. Doesn't clog your pores, no greasy mess left over and leaves feeling smooth and soft within a day or two.

    I suggest applying it multiple times a day, especially after washing your hands.

    You also might try gloves since you're playing so many hours.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
    Ryno1330 and Roland GR 88 like this.
  4. Thanks for the tip ^^^^^ :)
    Stumbo likes this.
  5. O'Keefe's Working Hands is the best stuff I've ever found for chapped hands and cracked fingertips, usually due to the dry winter air. One application per day (right before bed, then washed off first thing in the am) is all I ever need, and usually only a couple/few times per week.
    I wouldn't feel comfortable handling an instrument with any kind of lotion or cream on my hands.
    Thumb n Fingers and Chad Michael like this.
  6. devnulljp

    devnulljp Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2009
    BC, Canada
    Admin on the D*A*M Forum
    I use horse hoof conditioning cream on my fingers, mostly as a holdover from playing classical guitar -- it's great for your nails.

    quindecima likes this.
  7. Woody1999


    Dec 13, 2015
    Birmingham, UK
    Yeah haha not sure my wallet would appreciate dropping £150 on a new set of helicores every time I put on hand lotion! Luckily about 75% of my work is on bass guitar for now.

    I've ordered a tub of O'Keefe's Working Hands cream as it was fairly cheap, and will give it a go putting it on every night before bed, and if there's still residue I'll wash it off in the morning.

    Thanks for all the replies, I'll let you know how I get on!
  8. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    I would ask what sort of strings are you using?

    I have experienced an allergic reaction to nickel wound strings on my fingertips in the past, but switching to stainless steel strings stopped it happening.

    If the skin on your hands is going dry, certainly using some handcream, like an E45 or something from the Body Shop should keep them moisturised. Obviously look at other factors which may cause dry skin, like how much you wash your hands, how much soap you use (especially if you hand wash dishes), even going out in the cold & re-entering a warm building (get some gloves?).

    If the dryness continues, then I'd say that you may need to visit your local GP, and discuss it with them (the NHS is a wonderful thing!).
  9. Woody1999


    Dec 13, 2015
    Birmingham, UK
    Last few years I've been using Elixir Nanowebs on my electrics and D'Addario Helicore Lights on my upright. Haven't experienced any different reactions to different strings either, so hopefully it's not an allergy thing!

    I picked up some O'Keefe's Working Hands cream for a fiver off Amazon, I'll see how that works for me. What I should mention is that I do wash my hands a fair amount as I can't stand them feeling clammy from the cold - would that affect how much my hands dry out?

  10. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    Don't wash your hands before going out in the cold. The hand cream just basically replaces the hands' natural oil that was removed by the soap.

    If you really have to wash your hands, wear gloves or mittens.

    In the summer, you should be okay.
    jallenbass and Woody1999 like this.
  11. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    +1 for O'Keefe's.

    The backs of my hands (around the highest knuckles) were very mildly frostbitten when I was young. I've suffered every winter with my skin around that area drying out and cracking deeply when I would make a fist. O'Keefe's completely resolves this issue and really doesn't leave you hands feeling too greasy or slimy like moisturizing creams do.
    eldorado2001 likes this.
  12. I'm a rock climber as well, training 3x/wk and going through a ton of chalk. I use this stuff a few times per day. Maintaining calluses hasn't been a problem (the trick for me is keeping them supple enough so they don't crack or peel), nor has playing.

    ObsessiveArcher likes this.
  13. EatS1stBassist


    Apr 15, 2016
    So cal
    You are over practicing. Your hands/fingers are trying to communicate to you. :rollno:
  14. Woody1999


    Dec 13, 2015
    Birmingham, UK
    I'm one of three bass players on a 100+ person jazz course, and it's the time of year where everyone is getting their recital bands together - if I had the opportunity to play less right now then I would take it, but for the time being I'm just doing my part.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  15. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    Yes, washing your hands does tend to dry them out. In addition to removing dirt, it removes any oils on the surface of your skin. As others have said if you must wash your hands that often, use lotion before you go outside and wear gloves.
    EatS1stBassist, Atshen and Woody1999 like this.
  16. bbh

    bbh Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2011
    Udderlying fantastic cream. Google search it. Used it when chemo was messing up my skin.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  17. Do you live in a properly humidified environment? Dry homes promote dry skin. In the winter I would annually get a psoriatic rash on my abdomen. Since we started using humidifiers, and ultimately a whole house steam humidifier attached to our HVAC system I've not suffered with my winter rash. It's great for my acoustics which can hang on the wall without worry of drying out.

    Also... To make it easier on your hands, perhaps you might try a product on your strings called "Finger-Ease"; essentially a string lubricant. I use it religiously on my electric guitars but find that it works great on bass when the strings feel like there's too much friction or drag.

    Good luck.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  18. Woody1999


    Dec 13, 2015
    Birmingham, UK
    Thanks for the advice. I'll see if I can find that old pair of gloves I shoved somewhere in the back of my wardrobe!
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  19. I was told super glues were first used by combat medics for cuts and wounds and were considered non-toxic in that regard. Untrue??
  20. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Best for dry hands IMO is Neutrogena Hand Cream. Had an issue for awhile with cracking hands. Went through about four different creams before I finally went to see a dermatologist. He took one look and said: Keep your hands clean and dry and use the fragrance free formulation of Neutrogena hand cream cream three or preferably four times a day. Use a dab about the size of the nail on your small finger. A little goes a long way.

    Problem cleared up in a week.

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