A Valentine for Your Fingers

I have tried everything: regular lotion, fancy cream, “bag balm,” the old Vaseline-and-gloves-at-bedtime thing. You know: where you wake up in the middle of the night to discover you’ve pulled the gloves off because your nose itched in your sleep, and now you’ve got grease on your face and in your hair and on your pillowcase. In my experience, nothing did much good, and over the years, I–just like you–have spent way, way too much time with cracked, bleeding fingers that really interfere with what I can do in the studio–and in the office, because even typing gets painful. While having cracked fingertips doesn’t sound like a big deal, everyone who works hard with their hands knows how much it can interfere with what we do.


All kinds of things can contribute to cracked, bleeding hands and fingers. Cold, dry weather, too much hand-washing (if you’re working with something messy that you have to keep washing off), and glue. Oh, my: glue. The year I spent learning to bind books The Real Way, with sewn signatures glued into a hard cover, was the worst. The glue sucked all the moisture out of my fingers and made the skin split, and then the tail end of the needle would stab into the cracks. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. I tried gloves (I don’t know about you, but I have just the teensiest little bit of a problem trying to do much of anything while wearing gloves), I tried band-aids, I tried a thimble (I have a ton of thimbles, from regular ones to rubber ones to an antique silver one, but they’re just like gloves for me: they make me so clumsy I might as well just give up).


Several years ago I discovered super glue for cuts when I bought some liquid bandaids and read that they’re basically the same formula as the glue. While I am NOT recommending that you use it (because the medical formula is different from the stuff you buy as household glue), I’ve used it on very shallow, minor stuff, like paper cuts. But it’s not something I want to use all the time, so I kept searching.


I asked my friends on Facebook, and they’ve tried about the same things I have: bag balm/udder cream, vaseline, a wide variety of creams and lotions. And then I found this stuff:

O’Keefe’s Working Hands

I don’t know where I heard about it. Maybe someone suggested it. Maybe I read about it on someone’s website. Maybe I just saw it next to the register at the local Bed, Bath and Beyond when I was using my 20%-off coupon to buy coffee. Whatever: I bought some, figuring it couldn’t hurt to try it out–they said I could return it for a refund if it didn’t work. And wow: it DID work! I could tell a huge difference right away. After you rub it in, it feels more waxy than greasy; I use it at bedtime, as recommended, so I don’t know if it would rub off on fabric or paper. You’d have to experiment to find out if you can use it while you’re working in the studio. In my experience, though, using it at bedtime for just a couple of nights is all it takes to repair whatever damage I’ve done to my hands.


I’ve used it several times as needed, but I didn’t think to tell y’all about it until this week when my walking partner showed me her fingers and lamented that nothing was working. I came home and sent her a photo of this stuff (because of course I couldn’t remember the name), and she went out and bought some and used it that night and raved about it the next day. So I figured my good results weren’t just a fluke, and maybe I should share what’s worked for me. No, nobody’s paying me to say good stuff about this. Nobody’s sending me free tubs of this. There’s a store locator online, here, but my walking partner found it at a local auto parts store. Check big box home improvement stores and your local lumber yard, too. Here’s to pain-free fingers~~


Living the Creative LifeRicë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.




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