We tested 10 hand creams: here are the best for healing and protection

grid of hand creams with various background colors

By Victoria Giardina

Much like your decadent moisturizers with SPF and ultra-soothing body lotions and body butters, using a smooth hand cream to help soothe the skin is always a good idea.

However, it’s not something we typically resort to unless we have severely dry and chapped hands — as is the case with lip balm — but, in reality, we should be using these travel-friendly skincare essentials more frequently.

“The most important feature of hand creams is the ability to adequately moisturize the skin,” Kristen Miller, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Spectrum Skin and Laser, told the New York Post. “Thick creams or ointments work best.”

I’m someone with a fully carved-out skincare routine (read: best eye creams review), so critiquing top-rated hand creams on the market was right up my alley.

To help you streamline your shopping experience, I outlined the 10 best hand creams worth your time and money. While some picks lean more luxury, keep in mind that the best hand cream for you comes down to preference. The best hand cream for you is dependent on your skin care concern(s) and your preferred formulation of choice.

Additionally, you’ll want to check out our FAQ section for Dr. Miller’s tried-and-true shopping tips — including what to look for — when purchasing your next favorite hand cream.

How we tested:

Ahead, take a look at the criteria I kept in mind when assessing the best hand creams on the market. Pro tip: trying new formulations is a great idea; I love having one in my work tote and a different brand in my crossbody bag to try something new from time to time.

For reference, I tested out each hand cream at least 10 times each for two months straight. Below is a list of criteria — characteristics I kept in mind — while assessing each brand of hand cream:

  • Viscosity: Breaking down chemistry-grade terms, viscosity references how thick and sticky a hand cream is. Ideally — for super dry and chapped hands — you’ll want a hand cream to have a high viscosity but lay low on the stickiness, ensuring that it’ll blend nicely.
  • Fragrance: Depending on how sensitive your skin is, you’ll want your hand cream to have no fragrance — at most, a subtle, non-irritating scent.
  • Irritation levels: Of course, if a hand cream happened to irritate or “sting” my sensitive skin, it didn’t make the cut — plain and simple.
  • Efficacy: Above all else, you’ll want to feel like you’re getting something out of your hand cream. If I felt like I had to reapply more later on, that particular formulation may have not been as good as some others.

Best Hand Creams

1. Best Overall: L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream, $13 to $30

There’s truly nothing like the L’Occitane Shea Hand Cream — even the tube is of the highest quality. Inside this travel-friendly vial, you’ll find the most nourishing formulation with a lightweight, easy-to-blend finish that’s honestly so impressive. It’s formulated with a high concentration of shea butter — that’s a dreamboat for dry skin, BTW — and will leave your skin feeling well-quenched for hours on end.


2. Best drugstore hand cream: CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream, $10

When it comes to skincare, CeraVe never lets me down. I didn’t expect its top-rated Therapeutic Hand Cream to be any different and it’s the most simple, fragrance-free option you’ll find for just $10. Its moisturizing properties help maintain the skin’s barrier, too, and bonus points for its inclusion of skin-boosting ingredients hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.

3. Another great drugstore option: Gold Bond Healing Hand Cream, $4

I’ve been using the Gold Bond Healing Hand Cream for years and it’s the best option you’ll find that won’t break the bank. For just $4, it’s amazing what this healing, aloe-infused hand cream can do. It impressively contains seven moisturizers and three vitamins to help nourish dry and even extra-dry skin. Yes, you should add this one to your cart, if nothing else.

4. Best luxury hand cream: Chanel La Crème Main Hand Cream, $55

OK, I know what you’re thinking: $55 on a hand cream? No way! However, once you try the luxuriousness that is the Chanel La Crème Main Hand Cream, you’ll understand why the designer’s skincare essential is a go-to for many department-store shoppers.

This hand cream is truly how the royal live, with the most blend-able, spa-scented formula my hands have ever witnessed. I’ll repeat — it’s a splurge — but hey, it’s worth the grab if you use hand cream often.

5. Another great luxury option: Augustinus Bader The Hand Treatment, $47 to $55

Another luxury-grade option is Augustinus Bader’s The Hand Treatment. Much like its high-line skincare, it’s not just lightweight and easy to blend but it’s extremely fast-absorbing — an impressive quality that makes this one worth the splurge.

White white peony extract for a subtle scent and vitamin E to amp the nourishment up a notch, it’s worth the buy.

6. Best hand cream for dry skin: Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream, $5 to $14

Real story: I tested a few different creams for a middle-school science experiment (in Petri dishes, the whole deal), and Eucerin ended up ranking above all others. To this day, I still stand by that — making it an excellent choice for dry skin.

Even better, you can bundle and save, or purchase one for just $5. I can’t emphasize enough how well this works for the price and how smooth your hands will feel afterward.

7. Another great option for dry skin: Kiehl’s Since 1851 Ultimate Strength Hand Salve, $27, original price: $32

Legacy brand Kiehl’s Since 1851 has an ultra-thick Ultimate Strength Hand Salve that’s fairly priced and comes in a monstrous-size tube for you to place on your nightstand for all-day nourishment. With notes of avocado and eucalpytus, I found myself loving the scent (and, it works wonders on dry and sensitive skin alike).

8. Another great option for dry skin: Aveda Hand Relief Hand Cream (1- or 2-Pack), $24 to $52

Aveda has been a go-to brand for me for a while, and its Hand Relief Hand Cream is now one I readily use. The only con to this product is that the fragrance may be bothersome (it’s one of those hit or misses that, transparently, comes down to scent preference), but other than that, it helps moisturize my hands for hours on end, allowing them to feel soft and well-quenched after.

9. Best hand cream with a subtle fragrance: Ulta Beauty Sleep Tight Hand Cream, $6

Perfect to use at night (or anytime of the day, let’s be real), the Ulta Beauty Sleep Tight Hand Cream not only has nourishing effects but also calming effects, too. For just $6, this subtle fragrance remains one of my all-time faves. The best part? It’s formulated with consciously crafted, vegan ingredients.

10. Another great option with a subtle fragrance: Dionis Blood Orange Hand & Body Goat Milk Cream, $10 to $12

My dad always steals the Dionis Blood Orange Hand & Body Goat Milk Cream (it’s sitting on his at-home desk currently) and there’s a good reason for that — it’s thicker than most, so it’s great for dry skin, and has a fresh scent that gives you the just-washed-my-hands feeling, but in hand-cream form.

Impressively, it’s also backed by nearly 1,300 rave reviews on Amazon for its non-greasy, feel-good formulation.

An FAQ on Hand Creams

Ahead, Miller gives us the 411 on what to look for in a good hand cream — including ingredients — that’ll help you make your decision among our 10 very best.

What are the benefits of using hand cream?

Of course, hand creams offer soothing relief when used on a consistent cadence. But, there are more benefits than you may think, especially if you have a skin condition.

“Regularly moisturizing your hands prevents dry skin which can lead to painful cracks and fissures, and in some circumstances trigger eczema,” Miller tells The Post.

What ingredients to look for in a hand cream, according to a dermatologist

The short answer? You’ll want to look for emollients.

“Emollients can help soften and trap moisture in the skin to maintain hydration,” Miller explains. “Some examples include cocoa butter, shea butter, lanolin, petrolatum and mineral oil.”

What ingredients to avoid in a hand cream, according to a dermatologist

“Hand creams that contain possible irritants or allergens such as fragrances or essential oil should be avoided as they can worsen dryness and even trigger a rash,” Miller notes.

For a quick test, apply a dime-size amount of hand cream to the palm of your hand to check for possible irritation.

Do hand creams offer sun protection?

“Hand creams mainly serve to moisturize and repair the skin on your hands and do not typically contain SPF,” Miller notes.

Importantly, you’ll want to apply sunscreen to your hands at the start of the day and reapply every two hours to protect against sun exposure.

What should I look for in a hand cream if I have dry or chapped hands?

The golden question. As mentioned, emollients are the most important ingredient for cracked or chapped hands.

“Examples include cocoa butter, shea butter, lanolin, petrolatum and mineral oil,” Miller lists. “These help trap moisture within the skin the maintain hydration and soften dry, cracked skin.”

More, these ingredients also help create a protective barrier on the skin surface. “Humectants such as glycerin, urea, and alpha hydroxy acids can draw moisture to the skin to improve hydration,” she adds.

Source: nypost.com


At Spectrum Skin and Laser we utilize the latest technologies and techniques, often in combination to best improve your results. Dr. Jeremy Brauer has remained at the forefront of these technological advances since the beginning of his career, and looks forward to meeting with you to discuss your needs. To schedule a consultation, please schedule below. 

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