Have you never struggled with dry hands when handling playing cards? If whilst reading this title you are wondering how this could be such a problem… You are lucky… And I envy you 🙂
But if you are one of the not so lucky ones… Like me…
… Keep reading, because in this blog we will explore:
Quick fix (or, Short term solutions for dry hands)
Long term addressing of the problem
Adapting your card practice
The biggest enemies of your skin
Your skin’s best friends
Let’s start with the short term solutions.
In this section we will discuss temporary solutions.
They will NOT solve your ‘dry hands’ problem forever, but as immediate actions, they can save your next performance.
Hand cream could be a double-edged sword. It will either help or will cause more problems.
I would not advice to pick a random cream off the shelf on your way to a gig.
Select it with precision and test it at home prior to your performance.
Hand creams may actually not be the best creams for dry hands when handling playing cards. Because hand creams are designed to create a layer of protection on your hands, which in some cases remains very slippery, even after the cream has been absorbed by the skin.
So, even though your hands will no longer be dry, they will slide on the cards, and not have the right grip to perform sleights. The cream I have found to work best for me is the generic Nivea cream (the one in the big blue circle box). This cream is thick; it is not specifically designed for hands and leaves no residue. I would recommend to keep applying the cream during the day. As often as you want. ‘More’ will not harm.
But don’t apply it right before your performance. Allow a few minutes for the skin to absorb it, before you start handling the cards.
You can use some magic products, such as Octopalm. But you need to be really careful if this is the option you choose. Octopalm is very strong and can make your hands too sticky. The substance can then get transferred from your hands onto the cards and make them partially sticky as well. This can be damaging to your performance, as it may be a reason your shuffles to appear sloppy and give the impression that the cards you use, are dirty.
Again, you would need to apply those few minutes prior to your performance. Applying them several days during the day would help too.
As a bonus, you can choose your favorite smell. Even amazing perfume oils, such as CREED are available online for a very small price.
Your card and business card souvenirs will carry the aroma for a while, mystifying not just their mind, but also their nose 🙂 You will need to choose the oils wisely though. Lavender or rose oil may not be suitable reminder, if your audience is younger.
Some people may find PJ gives them suitable temporary grip. But generally PJ has a drying effect on the skin if used long term.
ADAPTING YOUR CARD PRACTICE
What happens if the motorway is closed?
We use the country roads.
It may take us longer to reach the destination… And it may not be as convenient, as driving on the motorway. But yet, it is better to use them, rather than stay and wait until the motorway is open again.
What I am trying to say, is that there are also alternative ways to deal with your ‘dry hands when handling playing cards’ problem. Especially if you only experience this problem occasionally and you can’t predict when it will happen.
You can test and practice moves that would save the day if your hands lose grip whilst performing.
For example, when my hands are dry, I find separating rough and smooth cards almost impossible. But if I slightly bend the corner of the card whilst separating it, this helps tremendously. I don’t need to do that when my hands are fine. But I am always prepared to use it, when I need to.
If your routines require more challenging moves, you may need to plan ways to misdirect the audience, so that you can do a ‘sloppy’ move without being caught. Would it be:
- A joke,
- A question,
- Jumping to a different (quick) trick,
- Or reaching for your magic wand.
Plan this in advance. Be ready for every situation.
It is always good to ask yourself the question, ‘What if…’.
What if you have done everything that usually works, but you have still failed to succeed with your double lift or a card change.
Don’t be angry with your dry hands. Just plan an escape route for such situations!
For example, you can pretend that the failure was part of your plan. Then you will need to present a different form of revelation, which may not be as impressive as the original one, but will be safe to use and one you can always rely on.
The key here is: Plan in advance. Don’t rely on improvisation, because if dry hands are a recurring thing for you, the adrenaline may prevail and you may panic, if you are not ready with an alternative reaction.
LONG TERM SOLUTIONS
This section would be helpful to those of you who would like to understand more about the general skin and hands health, and who would be diligent to work towards more permanent solution of the ‘dry hands when handling playing cards’ problem.
We will discuss about the TOP ENEMIES and BEST FRIENDS of your hands.
My number one ENEMY of your hand’s health is…..
Oh, I will probably get crucified here…
But my ABSOLUTE NUMBER ONE ENEMY is the EXCESSIVE HAND WASH.
As a society we have a huge knowledge about the microworld around us. We just need to turn the TV on and there will be numerous adverts about cleaning and antibacterial products. We have almost put an equal sign between chemicals and cleanliness.
Don’t get me wrong. Hand wash is extremely important, and it is an act of respect to the people around you.
But using antibacterial hand creams or alcohol gels is extremely damaging to the hands, because these products kill the helpful flora of the hands and destroy the fat cell protection which you are designed to have, this way causing the skin to become thin and dry.
They can help if you are in a hospital environment or had someone else’s blood spilled on you, but why not use normal hand soap in normal life circumstances?
So, my first suggestion for a best friend of your hands is: The normal, non-antibacterial hand soap.
My number TWO enemy to the health of your hands is… Ta, ta, ta, ta… The FAT FREE DIET.
Because to have healthy skin you need some vital vitamins, such as Vitamin B, E, A, C, and some minerals, for example Zink. Even if you eat a lot of food, that contains them, most of these best friends of your skin will never be absorbed by your body if you are on a fat free diet. Because they are fat-soluble.
So, in order to improve the health of your hands and prevent dry hands when handling playing cards, you need the help of these two best friends:
- Good diet, including all the vitamins and minerals, that your body needs.
- Fat and collagen
And my number THREE enemy to the health of your hands is.. The COLD WEATHER.
Everyone has a different body response to cold. If you tend to feel cold more than the people around you, it is likely that your hands will lose grip more often than theirs.
I am not going to go into detail, explaining why, but I will give you some tips on what you can do.
- Rub your hands before the performance (This will warm them up and improve your grip)
- Massage your hands when you are at home (This will increase the blood flow. The blood will deliver more nutrients to your skin, and nourish it)
- Use natural oils whilst massaging your skin (There is a huge selection of aromas which you could find pleasant. As a bonus, both the massage itself and the oils, help relaxation, improve mood and boost creativity). Some oils are sharper and can have an invigorating effect on you as well. Choose these if you feel tired or haven’t slept well.
And it is time to say a few words about
This can help you if/when you have had no time to prepare for your performance, you have no hand cream near you, nor time to apply it.
If you perform at a posh location, it is likely that you will be able to find a hand moisturizer in the restroom.
(Well, I am a lady… I am not sure what is the situation in the male restrooms, but it is always worth checking, because the moisturizer will take the edge off the dryness)
A good tip is to have a small box of cream in your pocket or magic case, which is easily accessible even in the last minute.
And my last by NOT least tip.
If you feel insecure and think that your dry hands when handling playing cards may not allow you to perform effectively, just select different routines for this specific performance.
Remember, that your success is not defined just by the mastery of your sleights.
Showmanship is what will make your performance unforgetable.
To raise your performance from ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’ to awesome and astonishing, you need CONFIDENCE.
Taking a step back is not giving up.
It is actually a step forward, because you can use it as a lesson.
It will help you plan how to deal with the situation in future, in a more particular way and will guarantee your success next time.
With my best regards,
Do you have any tips for dry hands when handling playing cards? Please a comment in the section below.