Between the flu season and the coronavirus outbreak, the best advice to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands well—for a minimum of 20 seconds—and often. But all that soaping up, as well as dry air, can lead to ultra-dry skin. These 10 popular hand creams can restore lost moisture and make your hands baby-soft once more.
1. For a heavy-duty moisturizer: Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
Ready for a “maximum-strength” moisturizer? This one from Kiehl’s uses avocado oil—a source of amino acid proteins, potassium, and vitamins A, D, and E—which soothe the skin. It also uses sesame oil, which is said to quickly absorb to avoid greasiness or stickiness.
One Nordstrom reviewer sings its praises: “They aren’t kidding when they say ‘ultimate strength!’ I work in the food industry so my hands are constantly in hot water, soap, and cleaning chemicals—you name it! I started to develop dry cracks and calluses that hurt so bad I almost cried a few times. I have tried every drugstore and high-end store [lotion] for hand relief and nothing has ever worked the way this product has! The smell is amazing, the texture is amazing, and it really works.”
Get the Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve at Nordstrom for $23
2. For a protective seal: CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream
Restore your skin’s protective moisture barrier with CeraVe’s Therapeutic Hand Cream, which uses dimethicone as a sealant. The cream also moisturizes with ceramides (lipids found in the outermost layer of the skin), niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid.
One Amazon reviewer writes: “I work as a nurse so handwashing is frequent. This cream truly makes my hands feel good again without any greasy feel—quite necessary for me—and there is very little fragrance to it…also a plus for me. I carry it in my purse and can’t imagine being without it.”
3. For a quick-absorbing lotion: L’Occitane Hand Cream
This cream from L’Occitane claims to quickly absorb into the skin and lock in moisture with shea butter. It also contains coconut oil, honey, and marshmallow root extracts to keep your hands feeling super-soft.
One happy Amazon reviewer: “I love this hand cream. I have tubes of it everywhere. One in my office desk, one in my purse, one in my bathroom at home, one in my car. It’s the best hand cream for dry skin. It absorbs quickly and leaves very little greasy feel. It has a very light scent, which is great for those of us that are smell sensitive.”
Get the L’Occitane Hand Cream at Sephora for $12
4. For a sweet deskmate: Tonymoly Peach Hand Cream
Not only is this product adorable-looking in its pastel fruit-shaped packaging, it’s sweet-smelling and moisturizing for your hands. The cream uses peach and apricot extracts and shea butter to nourish dry skin, and adenosine, an anti-wrinkle ingredient, to smooth the hands.
One Amazon reviewer gushes: “I swear by this stuff! I have really bad skin during the winter. My hands crack up so badly that I used to take time off from work to heal. I found this cream and instantly fell in love! Once you pick one up, you’ll see for yourself.”
5. For a refreshing scent: Aēsop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
Balms aren’t just for your lips: This beloved one from Aēsop, which comes in a travel-friendly tube and countertop pump, is made for your hands and cuticles. Using glycerin, aloe vera leaf juice, and a blend of oils (sweet almond, coconut, lavender, and rosemary, to name just a few), this product relieves dry skin.
“This is a super hydrating hand cream that smells of citrus fruits,” one Nordstrom reviewer writes. “The [fragrance] is divine and lasts ages on the hands. It’s a bit pricey but if you’re looking for a luxurious hand cream, then this is for you.”
Get the Aēsop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm at Nordstrom for $30
6. For an exfoliating option: Burt’s Bees Ultimate Care Hand Cream
If the skin on your hands tends to flake, you may become a fan of this cream from Burt’s Bees, which claims to exfoliate with fruit acids to get your hands feeling smooth again. At the same time, it conditions with baobab oil, watermelon seed oil, pumpkin oil, and green tea extract.
One overjoyed Amazon reviewer writes: “My hands deal with cardboard eight hours a night, and I was shocked at what that does to your hands. Burt’s Bees hand cream is so soothing and actually absorbs into my skin and [my hands] feel so much better after using it. It really is the best absorbing, healing, and softening cream I’ve ever used and I have tried many others. This is my go-to product now, and Amazon’s price is the best ever, as well!”
7. For a two-in-one fix: Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream
For a cream that claims to help your nails along with your hands, you have to try this one from Caudalie. It uses grapeseed oil and vinolevure (an extract from wine yeast), grape seed polyphenols (antioxidants), and shea butter to nourish the skin.
“Bought this in the winter because my skin was getting really dried out. It’s a life saver,” writes one Sephora reviewer. “Moisturizing, but absorbs super fast and isn’t greasy at all. I have this on my desk at work and using it regularly has made my hands so much softer.”
Get the Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream on Amazon for $15
8. For a protective shield: O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream
If you have “working hands” with extreme dry patches and cracks, O’Keeffe’s has you covered. This cream repairs skin and prevents further damage by creating a protective layer that prevents moisture loss. A little bit goes a long way, so you only need a pea-sized amount per use.
One Amazon reviewer says: “This stuff works miracles on extremely dry cracked hands that come from repeated washing on my job as a registered nurse. I had thumbs that were cracked open at the cuticles and no other products or interventions were of any use. Once I got this hand cream, it only took a few days to see a major difference. My skin healed up within a week. Previously, I had tried for months with bandages and ointments. That didn’t work but this certainly does!”
9. For a medicinal treatment: Aveda Hand Relief Hand Cream
Alleviate your parched hands with this cream from Aveda. Plant oils, including andiroba (used for myriad curative treatments), soften the skin to make the hands look and feel smoother.
One Nordstrom reviewer writes: “This is hands-down the best hand lotion available. It moisturizes your hands so well without leaving them feeling sticky or greasy. I’ve tried others but always go back to Hand Relief. I love the (not overpowering) scent as well.”
Get the Aveda Hand Relief Hand Cream at Nordstrom for $9
10. For a barely-there feel: Ahava Dead Sea Mineral Hand Creams
For a product that feels lightweight but packs a punch, try this one from Ahava. There are several scents to choose from, but all Dead Sea Mineral Hand Creams use what the brand claims are “21 essential minerals,” such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, to revive the skin. It also uses witch hazel to soothe the skin as it moisturizes.
Writes an Amazon reviewer: “I go through several hand creams every winter, many of which claim to be the best and most restorative. (Plot twist: they aren’t, or aren’t effective enough for East Coast winters.) I have many hesitations about trying higher-end hand creams, but this is worth every penny. It has a beautiful texture, absorbs very quickly, and leaves hands feeling soft and moisturized, but without the greasy or oily feeling. This is perfect for what I purchased it for—a hand cream to keep at work and use several times per day.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.