Spring is the season for planting. Summer is all about being outdoors. Along with both come healthy helpings of dirt, sand, heat, and hardship for the formerly soft skin of your hands. Luckily, you don't need to shell out a wad of cash for a professional manicure or curative skincare service to rescue skin, cuticles and nails. Rather, try these handy at-home helps that work just as well—and cost next to nothing!

Want soft hands? Avoid these 3 irritants

Before we address intervention, we can first talk for a moment about prevention. While most of you is probably "under wraps"—at least during work hours—your hands are mostly left totally exposed no matter the season. However, the more you can do to minimize contact with these three common skin irritants, the less intervention you’ll need to perform later on to restore softness and moisture balance.

  • Sun: Sun ages skin, causing dryness, sunburn, spotting and wrinkling. Here, sunscreen and lotion are your hands' best friends.
  • Hot liquids: Hot water and other liquids quickly dry skin—and can burn. Warm water works just as well without the nasty side effects.
  • Barehanded work: Whenever possible, wear gloves for gardening and other tough labor. Your hands and nails will thank you heartily for it.

Try these at-home hand treatments to restore moisture balance and softness in as little as a few minutes.

1. Lighten your hands' load

If you’ve been outside without sunscreen or gloves, the skin on your hands probably feels dry and looks dark and rough. This at-home treatment costs just pennies and delivers instant results.

What you need

  • The juice of half a fresh lemon
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp baking soda

What to do

  • Combine all three ingredients together in a shallow bowl.
  • Gently coat both hands fully and use each hand to massage the mixture into the other.
  • Wash with warm water only (NO soap).
  • Repeat as needed.

Why it works

  • The lemon juice is a natural lightening agent.
  • The honey is a natural moisturizer.
  • The baking soda is a natural exfoliant.

2. Sugar 'em up

A teaspoon of sugar is good for more than just getting medicine to go down. It also makes a great hand restorative.

What you need

  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp olive or other oil

What to do

  • Cup one hand and pour the sugar into it.
  • Next, pour the oil over the sugar.
  • Now, use your free hand to work the mixture into your other hand for 30-40 seconds.
  • Allow the scrub to remain for another 30-40 seconds.
  • Rinse with warm water, then repeat on the opposite hand.

Why it works

  • Sugar is a natural exfoliant.
  • Olive oil is a natural moisturizer and hydrator.

3. Do a deep restoration

Sometimes you just need to take a little extra time to restore from the inside out. This deep restorative will accomplish that and more!

What you need

  • A pair of soft mittens or gloves (or even old socks)
  • A thick extra-moisturizing hand lotion or oil (Vaseline also works well here)

What to do

  • Coat your hands with the thick moisturizing hand lotion or oil.
  • Put on the gloves.
  • Go to sleep.
  • Get up and remove gloves.
  • Marvel at your soft hands!

Why it works

  • The moisture soaks deep into skin overnight.
  • The gloves make sure the moisturizing agent goes exactly where it is most needed.

4. Make a mask

Masks can perform miracles—anything from tightening to lightening to brightening to moisturizing and more. One of the best natural aids for all of the above is the simple avocado.

What you need

  • Ripe avocado
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • Essential oil (if desired)

What to do

  • Either mash the avocado and mix in the other ingredients by hand, or use a blender or food processor to achieve the same.
  • Coat hands thoroughly with equal parts of the mixture.
  • Leave for 15-20 minutes (using gloves or old socks if desired).
  • Wash away with warm water.

Why it works

  • Avocado, olive oil and honey are natural moisturizers.
  • Honey and yogurt are natural smoothing agents.

5. Turn back the clock

For anti-aging, it doesn’t get much better than this all-natural recipe. (Eating these items can offer extra support too!)

What you need

  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or you can make your own with the same amount of raw soaked almonds and a blender)
  • 1/2 cup dairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise

What to do

  • Mix all ingredients together in a shallow bowl.
  • Use each hand to work the mixture into the other, not neglecting cuticles and nails.
  • Wait for 15 minutes.
  • Wash with warm water.

Why it works

  • Almonds are one of nature's "superfoods"—they’re nutrient-rich and packed with antioxidants and exfoliants.
  • Milk is a natural exfoliant due to lactic acid.
  • Mayonnaise is one of the best natural moisturizers due to the oil and egg yolks.