13 Hand Creams with Nearly Perfect Reviews
Scrubbing your hands raw? We all are right now. Here are a baker's dozen hand creams that have come to the rescue of countless reviewers.
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Your poor hands
When we’re not washing our (already-winter-weary) hands, we’re dousing them with alcohol-laced sanitizer. It’s all necessary since washing your hands can help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and a number of other diseases. “But along with germs, [the] soap also breaks down the natural oils in the outermost layer of our skin. This layer is protective, maintaining moisture in the skin,” says David Lortscher, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in San Diego. The solution is clear: hand cream. “Applying a moisturizer after washing helps restore that barrier,” Dr. Lortscher continues. “If your hands are left unmoisturized after frequent washing or use of hand sanitizer, itching, flaking, and, in severe cases, cracking may result.”
How do you pick a hand cream that’s up to the job? Dr. Lortscher suggests keeping an eye out for a few key ingredients:
Ceramides, naturally occurring fats in the skin that will help decrease irritation.
Aloe, well known for its skin-soothing and healing properties.
Hyaluronic acid, which holds moisture in the outermost layer of the skin.
Oil-based ingredients and emollients, such as plant oils, to help seal in moisture.
Soy, which has a variety of active components that help restore barrier function and replenish moisture, as well as provides antioxidant activity that can help to smooth and soften skin.
Of course, that’s a lot of label-reading, and not all moisturizers are created equal. Dermatologists have the expertise when it comes to skin and skincare products, from how to treat your skin during the winter to what hand cream is best for your individual situation. With the help of our experts, we rounded up the best-reviewed products on the market—the ones that earned more than four and a half stars from reviewers—so that your poor hands get some much-needed TLC.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
Best splurge: Perricone MD Cold Plasma Plus+ Hand Therapy
Loaded with shea butter, which comes from the nut of the shea tree native to Africa, this luxurious hand cream is rich in essential fatty acids. The amino acid glycine in the formula, meanwhile, improves moisture retention. It also contains phospholipids, which help aid in the skin’s absorption of those active ingredients. As one reviewer, a nurse, gushed, “It makes my hands so soft after washing them dozens of times. They don’t even look as old as they are!” Drying your hands after washing is also important, and this step doesn’t just keep them properly hydrated—it can also keep you from picking up and spreading germs. For that reason, make sure you know the most hygienic way to dry your hands.
Best for eczema: Aveeno Eczema Therapy Hand and Face Cream
For the many folks who suffer from eczema, constant hand-scrubbing can be even more irritating and uncomfortable. This utterly non-greasy cream from Aveeno has colloidal oatmeal, which is a soothing agent known to help skin retain water, while also acting as an anti-inflammatory. Other notable ingredients include glycerin and ceramide. While Dr. Lortscher says this is a great pick for hands, he cautions against using it on your face, as it contains potentially pore-clogging ingredients. People with eczema gave it stellar reviews. One called it a “miracle cream,” while another said, “I’ve used hand creams that cost twice as much yet were half as effective.” These are the drugstore beauty products dermatologists swear by.
Best for relaxation: Nails Inc. Thirsty Hands Hand Mask
If there was ever a time to think outside the tube, it may be now. Imbued with a blend of plant extracts, shea butter, and vitamin E, these funky gloves will soften and rejuvenate your hard-working hands. Leave them on for 15 to 20 minutes while you lounge on your couch. The fingertips are touch-screen friendly, so you can scroll on your phone while the mitts work its magic. When time’s up, take them off and gently massage in any leftover lotion. As one happy user put it, “In the health-care profession, I am constantly washing my hands. This mask brings my hands back to life whenever I use it.” Doing some nail DIY these days? Don’t miss these amazing cuticle oils to make your nails stronger.
Best all-around: Cetaphil Restoraderm Body Moisturizer
This heavy hitter boasts colloidal oatmeal and ceramides, as well as vitamins E, B5, and B3 to help hands retain moisture. That combination works some serious magic, leaving skin soft and smooth. Some of the many positive reviews focused on how fast-absorbing it was, while others lauded the fact that it was completely unscented, an attribute that seemed to be universally appreciated by users of this long-beloved brand. Love to exercise? This is the one beauty product you should avoid after working out.
Best bargain: Eos Shea Better Hand Cream
Money is tight for many these days, but that doesn’t mean a quality hand cream is out of reach. This product smells and feels luxe, but the price is a true bargain. Rich in sustainably-sourced shea oil and shea butter, it instantly deep-moisturizes. It comes in five scents, but we vote for the coconut—and not just because we’re all dreaming of a tropical vacation right about now. Bonus: Each purchase supports the Global Shea Alliance, which works to make a positive impact on shea farmers. One satisfied customer raved: “I was to the point of using a pumice stone on my fingers because they were so rough and dry. I’ve been using this for a little over a week and the rough patches are GONE!” It’s sold out on Amazon at the moment, but you can still get it at Target. By the way, here’s where to buy 12 things Amazon currently won’t deliver.
Best natural option: Bliss Lemon & Sage Hand Cream
A sumptuous moisturizer with a sunny, fresh scent, this truly blissful hand cream gets its oomph from aloe-leaf juice and a trifecta of hydrating oils—macadamia nuts, grapeseed, and soybean. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, it quickly absorbs into the skin for revived hands (and softened cuticles) without an oily feel. As one pleased reviewer put it, “My entire hands, including my cuticles, were just dying this winter, and this has really, really brought my skin back to health.” Plus, it’s cruelty-free and made without parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. For more cruelty-free gorgeousness, check out these vegan makeup brands.
Best for seriously dry skin: Cerave Healing Ointment
Formulated with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and petroleum, this classic hand helper with hundreds of positive reviews soothes, hydrates, and protects your skin from further damage. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic, so even if you have sensitive skin, it’ll be calming and soothing. One reviewer who gave it five stars called it a “serious treatment that works….A single application per day and you are good to go.” Know what else is amazing for alleviating dry skin? One of the best humidifiers that are worth every penny.
Best smelling: Lano Rose Hand Cream Intense
This Australian brand may not be a household name, but it should be—especially if you love hand lotion that smells simply divine. This formula leaves a silky, protective veil over skin, thanks to its main antioxidant, rose oil. The heavenly fragrance comes from that oil, not artificial scents. And while dry feet may not be your biggest concern right now, it works amazingly well on them, too. Even better: Lano doesn’t test on animals or have parabens or sulfates. Speaking of your neglected feet, here’s how to do your own pedicure in 6 easy steps.
Best travel size: Compagnie de Provence Extra Pure Hand Cream
Good things come in small packages. This little luxury is perfect for tucking in your purse or leaving in your car, so you’ll be ready to nourish your hands after making a grocery run. The non-greasy potion pampers weary hands with sweet almond, olive, and grapeseed oil, as well as honey, which has scientifically-proven healing properties. It comes in a slew of intriguing scents, including Fig of Provence and the Mediterranean Sea, but Mimosa Flower is the newest. It has a bright, mood-lifting vibe, ideal for the times. Handwashing isn’t the only thing that can adversely affect your skin. These 6 skin conditions get worse when you’re stressed.
Best for extra-soft hands: Náu Extra Soft Hand Cream
If you want an all-natural, vegan, cruelty-free hand cream that still packs a seriously soothing punch, look no further than Náu Extra Soft Hand Cream. It’s stuffed with amazingly hydrating, smoothing, and antioxidant ingredients like shea butter, vitamin E, macadamia nut and marigold oil, and squalane. That last ingredient in particular delivers spectacularly moisturizing results. The body produces its own form of squalane, called squalene, but like everything else that keeps your skin firm and supple, we produce less and less of it as we age (sigh). Plant-based squalane is essentially a nearly-weightless emollient, locking moisture into the skin without clogging pores or irritating skin. That means you’ll have baby-soft hands. Face as dry as your hands? These amazing ingredients make the best face masks.
Best according to dermatologists: La Roche-Posay Lipikar Balm AP+ Intense Repair Moisturizing Cream
This top-rated moisturizer from La Roche-Posay is the favorite of Kavita Mariwalla, MD, founder of Mariwalla Dermatology in West Islip, New York. She says that the preservation of the skin barrier and microbiome is crucial in the treatment of dry, irritated hands. What’s the microbiome? “It’s the invisible community of microorganisms, including bacteria, found at the skin surface. Intricate and diverse, this world is unique to every person, much like our DNA. Changes in the microbiome may be linked to a disruption of the skin’s natural barrier, which can cause visible signs of skin sensitivity,” Dr. Mariwalla tells Reader’s Digest. “With the help of prebiotic moisturizers, we can reduce dry, irritated skin and minimize skin barrier disruption.” This top-notch cream, which contains a proprietary prebiotic thermal water, boosts and protects the microbiome and replenishes lipids. These are the anti-aging creams dermatologists trust.
Best drugstore buy: Aquaphor Healing Ointment
Go old-school with this drugstore standby. Judging by its reviews, legions of folks with dry skin swear by it—and for good reason. Essentially a go-anywhere, do-anything skin protectant and rejuvenator, it has zero added fragrance and color, which makes it a go-to for those with sensitive skin, since it soothes not only cracked hands but also sore feet, rough elbows, chapped lips, and minor burns and scrapes with equal ease. It’s an excellent emollient, sealing and protecting the top layer of skin. “After a week of using this,” wrote one reviewer, “my skin is SUPER plump, feels like a baby’s bottom and so smooth.” Need another reason to give it a try? Aquaphor is reportedly Meghan Markle’s skin-care secret.
Best mega-splurge: Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv Intensive Smoothing Hand Creme
This posh pick contains mango-seed oil, vegetable oil, and meadowfoam seed oil. It not only saturates worn-out hands with lasting moisture but it also works to help fade dark spots. Hey, if you’re going to be putting on hand cream a zillion times a day, it may as well pull double duty. While this is a little pricier than some of the other options out there, reviewers say it’s well worth the money. “This cream is a miracle worker for me,” shared one. “I have chronically dry hands from washing constantly. It absorbs immediately and goes to work healing right away. [The] scent is not overpowering, and it’s not greasy or slick and it doesn’t leave a weird residue like so many I’ve tried. This is perfect in every way, except [the] price.” Next, discover the best eye creams worth your money.
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