Here’s a question I get quite often: What do I do about dry hands? I know the issue that some magicians are talking about. You go to do an overhand shuffle and your thumb just slides across the top card like glass on glass. Suddenly, you’ve lost all your magical powers because of your dry hands, what do you do?
Well let’s start with what not to do: STOP LICKING YOUR HANDS. If your waiter brought your food and licked his hands before he grabbed your plate, seriously, what would you do? Not only will this gross your spectators out, I’m sure that you’re putting who knows what in your mouth. Playing cards are as filthy as money. So, enjoy your Coronavirus.
So, if you have extremely dry hands during a performance, a more inconspicuous method of getting some moisture onto your hands is to blow into your fist as if your hands are cold on a chilly day. This will give you a very temporary amount of tack on your hand to execute whatever sleight you need. But no matter what, doing something like this just prior to a sleight is a pretty big giveaway. So both of these options are less than ideal.
In my experience, I’ve never had the issue of dry hands for any performance. My adrenaline is running high and my heart rate is up for a live show. With the stage lights up while wearing a three-peice suit, I’m usually quite hot. Because of this, my hands always have just the right amount of tack. However, I have experienced dry hands during practice. I feel it especially in the cold New York winter months. After trying pretty much every hand lotion out there over the years, I’ve found that Aveeno hand lotion is just right. It’s not too greasy. It dries fast and leaves my hands in good shape for at least an hour or so. Other lotions or products wear off right away or leave a greasy residue that’s even worse than having dry hands.
Here are two other solutions to try that I’ve heard good things about from other performers. Golden Touch Lotion is a favorite among some top pros. I can also personally recommend Sortkwik. Twenty years ago I had a job as a bank teller and Sortkwik allowed me to count money like a Columbian drug lord. I always carry a container of Sortkwik in my performance bag in case I’m ever in a situation where I have a performance and I need the extra help.
Some other things to consider: stay away from cheap soap. There’s something about public restroom hand soaps, and cheaper hotel soaps that drain ALL moisture from your hands. I avoid soaps like this before a performance at all costs. Also, here’s a lesson I learned from my dermatologist many years ago: drink more water. It sounds obvious, but most people forget to do this during the day. On the day of a show especially, I make sure to stay hydrated to keep my hands in good shape.
One last point about your hands. In my show, I have a 4K camera pinned on my hands for about an hour. I’m touching my spectators hands, I’m placing things in my hands and asking people to watch closely, etc. etc. All of the focus is on my hands (and my gorgeous face). Be sure to keep your hands in good condition. Somehow, I’ve managed to make it though my entire life without ever having a manicure. However, it LOOKS like I get them once a week. I’m lucky and my hands are just naturally in good condition. However, if you have hangnails and long dirty fingernails, flaking skin, calluses, or any other issues, give your hands some TLC prior to a show. Your audience should be focused on the amazing magic you’re performing, not your dirty hands.
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By the way, here’s a link to my latest video:
I’m a big fan of Corn Husker’s Lotion (you can find it on Amazon). Moisturizes and leaves hands just a bit tacky to help with sleights.
O’keefe’s Working Hands is great on the cuticles, although too greasy for use on the rest of the hands. Twinlab’s Na-PCA had been a boon for me. I’m 63, and am old enough to miss my youthful, supple fingers. Everyone’s will become dry at some point, so take Jason’s advice and take care of your hands. It should go without saying (but it won’t) that you should drink lots of fluids, as well.
I am cursed when it comes to my hands. If its cold, my fingers may as well be made of glass; if its warm, I create enough sweat to fill a jug.
Fortunately, I found a solution… (add ominous music here)
I found that on a blog, so I just copy and paste and it :
“As I mentioned earlier, I don’t want to lick my finger just before second dealing a card, it’s an obvious tell to magicians (and fast company) and it lacks finesse. Of course, there are solutions. For example, if you can have a cold glass of water next to you, you just move it and the vapor that forms on the outside of the glass will give you enough moisture to make a perfect second deal.”