11 Best Hand Creams to Nourish Even the Most Parched Skin
Scrubbing your hands raw? Here are the best hand creams for dry skin that have garnered rave reviews from consumers and top dermatologists.
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Constantly washing your hands, using sanitizer and simply being in dry air all play a part in drying out skin. Of course, we want to remain germ-free, but in keeping our hands super clean, we might be removing more than just germs. “Along with germs, 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 dermatologist in San Diego. But it’s not like we’re going to stop washing our hands, so what can we do? The solution is clear: Use the best hand creams. “Applying a moisturizer after washing helps restore that barrier,” says Dr. Lortscher. “If your hands are left un-moisturized after frequent washing, itching, flaking and, in severe cases, cracking may result.”
But even when the temperature warms up, dry-air problems can remain. “It’s not just the wintry weather that wreaks havoc on our hands,” says New York City dermatologist Hadley King, MD, a clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. “Low humidity and indoor heating [or cooling] can also lead to dry, cracked skin.”
While you can definitely add moisture back to the air with one of the best humidifiers, there are also products to help our skin feel better (not to mention, it’s one of the habits that make you look younger), including body butters and the best face moisturizers. For your hands, though, you should look for a specifically formulated hand cream.
You should also try to avoid irritating ingredients. “Use a mild soap and protect your hands by wearing gloves if you’re washing dishes and exposing hands to harsh ingredients,” says Orit Markowitz, MD, a dermatologist and founder of OptiSkin in New York City. He adds: “Ideally, any time that you wash your hands, you should be moisturizing afterward, especially in the wintertime.”
How to choose the best hand cream for dry skin
How do you pick a hand cream that’s up to the task? According to Dr. King, moisturizers for your hands, as well as for any other areas of skin, should contain three key components:
- Humectants, like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, to draw water into the top layer of the skin
- Emollients that seal the water in, like fatty acids and ceramides
- Occlusives—such as petroleum, beeswax, mineral oil, silicones, lanolin and zinc oxide—that provide a protective barrier to prevent water loss
In this list
- Best hand cream overall
- Best budget hand cream
- Best luxury hand cream
- Best hand cream for eczema
- Best hand cream for crepey skin
- Best scented hand cream
- Best hand cream for age spots
- Best hand cream for intense hydration
- Best hand cream for aging hands
- Best hand cream with SPF
- Best hand cream for prescription-strength relief
Best hand cream overall
Eos Shea Better Hand Cream
Loaded with natural shea butter, which comes from the nut of the shea tree native to Africa, this affordable hand cream is rich in essential fatty acids. Slather it on and it’ll last for up to 24 hours, so it’s perfect for those who wash their hands a million times a day. The formula’s amino acids provide instant hydration and also improve moisture retention. A bright citrus scent and easy-to-carry tube make it one of the best hand creams overall and our top pick.
Verified Amazon reviewer, Bri Hal writes, “I absolutely love this cream! Everything about it is perfect. The smell is so fresh and long-lasting. It moisturizes my hands and they stay moisturized even after hand washing, and it doesn’t leave a greasy residue on my fingers that gets all over my phone. The price point is amazing and a little bit goes a long way!”
Speaking of hand washing, make sure to follow with the most hygienic way to dry your hands to keep them properly hydrated, and further keep germs at bay.
- Improves skin hydration and appearance
- Extremely affordable
- Uses natural shea butter for moisture
- Light citrus scent
- Sustainably sourced and environmentally friendly
- Rich formula takes a minute or two to fully absorb
Best budget hand cream
Curel Extreme Dry Hand Relief
We had a hard time believing each tube of Curel Extreme Dry Hand Cream is about $4, because the formula packs such a powerful punch. It knocks out even the driest, scaliest skin and leaves a soft, silky finish behind.
The non-greasy formula protects skin for up to 24 hours, locking in moisture without leaving hands sticky. Reviewers rave about the universally-appealing eucalyptus scent that offers a refreshing take on the typically overpowering fragrances in hand lotions. It’s also one of the best hand creams for travel, because each tube is three ounces—small enough to pack in a carry-on toiletry bag.
- About $4 per bottle and packed with the same skin-protecting ingredients as pricier formulas
- Non-greasy finish
- Locks in moisture for up to 24 hours
- Nearly 1,500 five-star reviews on Amazon
- May bother people who are sensitive to scents
Best luxury hand cream
Tocca Crema da Mano Luxe Hand Cream
If you want to feel like you stepped into a parallel universe coated in luxurious Italian trimmings and relaxed days by Lake Como, Tocca Crema da Mano Luxe is easily one of the best hand creams. Available in a variety of lightly fragranced scents, this paraben-free formula serves up non-greasy moisture.
All you need is about a pea-sized dollop to deliver natural shea butter, avocado oil and soothing aloe to every bit of your parched palms. It’s a rich cream that absorbs quickly, so you can get back to typing, using your phone, reading or whatever else you have planned without waiting.
- Luxury packaging and formula
- Accented with the highest quality natural perfumes
- Distinctly Italian feeling
- Offered in a variety of scents
- Screw-off cap may get lost
Best hand cream for eczema
Aveeno Eczema Therapy Daily Moisturizing Cream
For the many folks who suffer from eczema, constant hand-scrubbing can be even more irritating and uncomfortable. This utterly non-greasy Aveeno cream has colloidal oatmeal, a soothing agent known to help skin retain water, while also acting as an anti-inflammatory. Other notable ingredients include glycerin and ceramides.
There are nearly 9,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, and people with eczema rave about its effectiveness, some calling it a miracle cream. It’s one of the most popular drugstore beauty products dermatologists swear by. While Dr. Lortscher says this is a choice pick for hands, he cautions against using it on your face, as it contains potentially pore-clogging ingredients.
- Awarded the National Eczema Association seal of acceptance
- Reduces eczema symptoms including itching, redness, dryness and irritation
- Pump dispenser promises no mess
- Some users found it sticky upon application
Best hand cream for crepey skin
Crépe Erase Anti-Aging Hand Repair Treatment
As hands age, skin can lose its elasticity, resulting in loose, wrinkly, thin skin that’s often described as “crepey.” This Crépe Erase treatment is one of the best hand creams that specifically targets this issue to support skin’s elastin and collagen production, plumping up skin for a more youthful appearance. One of the anti-aging creams doctors trust, the product’s TruFirm Complex uses phytonutrients including apple, dill and sage extracts to protect the skin’s structure.
- Reduces the appearance of crepey skin and lines
- Hydrating actives lock in moisture
- Plumps skin for a softer, more youthful appearance
- Silky texture
- Somewhat pricey
- Won’t reduce age spots
Best scented hand cream
Lano Rose Hand Cream Intense
This Australian brand may not be a household name, but it should be—especially if you love the best hand creams that smell simply divine. This Lano 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. Even better, Lano doesn’t test on animals, or contain parabens or sulfates. Bonus: It works amazingly well on dry feet, too, if you’re also looking for a product for your DIY pedicure.
- Expensive-seeming rose scent at a modest price point
- Woman-owned beauty brand
- 98.6% natural ingredients, including ultra-hydrating lanolin
- Cruelty- and paraben-free
- Screw-off cap can be cumbersome
Best hand cream for age spots
EltaMD So Silky Hand Créme
If you want one of the dermatologist-approved best hand creams that’s seriously soothing and smoothing, look no further than EltaMD’s hand cream. The clean beauty and cruelty-free product is stuffed with ultra-hydrating antioxidant ingredients including ceramides, vitamin E and jojoba esters. Better yet, the formula includes sclareolide, a compound derived from clary sage, which targets discoloration to reduce dark spots.
The result? Hands that look as good as they feel. It’s one of the best hand creams for mature skin and those prone to frequent sun exposure. You may want to invest in one of the best natural sunscreens while you’re at it. And for the rest of your bod, use one of these body scrubs for smoother skin.
- Targets hyperpigmentation
- Provides intense moisture
- Smooth, velvety formula
- Includes natural ceramides
- May need to apply multiple times a day
- Several weeks of consecutive use is required to see spots lighten and fade
Best hand cream for intense hydration
CeraVe Reparative Hand Cream
CeraVe’s Reparative Hand Cream is one of the best hand creams that gets the job done, says Dr. King. “This is a non-greasy cream that contains hyaluronic acid as well as three essential ceramides to create a protective barrier to lock hydration into the skin,” she says. It’s also fragrance-free and suitable for sensitive skin.
Among the thousands of glowing reviews on Amazon, verified purchaser Melba writes: “This is the best lotion I have used,” adding, “It is helping me recover from a rash I’ve had for months. It is soothing and protects my hands.”
- Moisture-boosting active ingredients include hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and ceramides
- Includes dimethicone, a skin protectant
- Restores skin’s moisture barrier
- Doesn’t burn or sting
- Small tube
Best hand cream for aging hands
DefenAge Luxe Hand and Body Cream
One of dermatologists’ best tricks for how to look younger? Keep your hands from giving away your age. “DefenAge Hand and Body Cream is my go-to for both anti-aging and hydration,” says Nashville dermatologist Natalie M. Curcio, MD. “It feels great as it is applied to the skin, relieves dryness and itching—even in dry, sensitive skin like mine—and enables moisturization that lasts and lasts; all while contributing to anti-aging and improving the look and feel of the skin itself.”
Houston dermatologist Suneel Chilukuri, MD, agrees. “This will change our ability to not only improve dry skin, but will also improve loose, crepey skin,” he says. The secret ingredient is the defensin molecules that wake sleeping skin stem cells and instruct them to produce more collagen and elastin, the building blocks of healthy, youthful skin.
- Firms and plumps skin while also calming inflammation
- Smooths and softens hands
- Very expensive, though reviewers say it over delivers on its promises
Best hand cream with SPF
Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl Hand Cream
This Deborah Lippmann hand cream packs a one-two punch against the top two hand saboteurs: cold air and UV rays, says Dr. Markowitz. After all, dermatologists want you to know that skin cancer can also appear on your hands, so use one of the best moisturizers with SPF.
This product “has broad-spectrum SPF 25 sunscreen, which protects from the sun’s UVA and UVB harmful rays,” she says, which is important as our hands are often neglected when it comes to sun protection. This product is also formulated with shea butter, avocado and jojoba oil to keep hands moisturized.
- Protects against skin cancer with SPF 25
- Brightens and evens skin tone
- Paraben- and sulfate-free
- Soft, non-greasy finish
- Users report scent is either love-it-or-hate-it
Best hand cream for prescription-strength relief
Cetaphil Cracked Skin Repair Lotion
NYC-based dermatologist Lian Mack says she is obsessed with Cetaphil Cracked Skin Repair Lotion, offering it up an effective pick—no Rx required. “The two percent dimethicone creates an occlusive barrier that prevents transepidermal water loss [evaporation through the skin’s surface] and stimulates healing,” she explains. “I personally love how this feels on my skin…I recommend this for extremely dry skin types.”
- Daily use can repair skin in one month
- Uses the compound urea to hydrate skin
- Some users thought it was too greasy
How We Chose the Best Hand Creams
As shopping experts, our only job is to help you find a winning product. We start with the research and reporting basics—what products are made of, what they look like and how much they cost—to ensure that we’re only recommending the buys that are worth your time and money. Then, we research the features that speak to the product’s quality, taking advice from industry insiders and subject matter experts on what makes a product a smart value (or worthy of a splurge). Finally, we do the work of combing through user reviews to see how real people interact with the product, and if it stands up to the test.
What is the best hand cream?
The best hand creams are designed to both deliver and seal in moisture for hours at a time. Typically, the best formulas offer rich emollients and fat-based vitamins, like vitamin E, as well as natural barriers to keep hydration locked in.
What is the best hand cream for dry, cracked hands?
Dry, cracked hands require the richest hand creams of all. Look for formulas with thicker, sturdier fat-based formulas that include natural ingredients like shea butter. If you prefer a lighter lotion, look for versions with dimethicone, which acts as a protective top layer to seal in moisture and protect skin from further cracks and scaling.
What is the best hand cream for aging hands?
The best hand creams for aging hands have added ingredients to target age spots, sun damage and crepey skin. Look for added phytonutrients and sun protection. If your favorite cream doesn’t come with a built-in SPF, try topping your hands with one of the best face sunscreens.
- Hadley King, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology, Weill Medical College of Cornell University
- Orit Markowitz, MD, dermatologist, founder, OptiSkin
- David Lortscher, MD, dermatologist
- Natalie M. Curcio, MD, MPH, MMHC, dermatologist
- Suneel Chilukuri, MD, dermatologist
- Lian Mack, MD, dermatologist
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