If you are washing your hands frequently and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers as directed by the CDC, your skin is probably much drier than normal. It may even be starting to crack or feel sore. That’s because washing your hands with harsh soaps strips the skin of its natural oils and can compromise the skin barrier, explains dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. Of course, this is no reason to avoid these necessary precautions, which is why she recommends picking up a hydrating hand cream.
When it comes to texture, heavier creams or balms are better than lotions for frequently washed hands, says Dr. Gohara, whose job requires countless washes. Look for creams with humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, which attract and trap moisture, as well as emollient ingredients like shea butter to soften and soothe, she adds. If your skin is sensitive, avoid fragrance or essential oils as these can exacerbate irritation.
Slather it on whenever your hands start to feel tight to avoid painful cracking and immediately after every wash. The ideal window for application is within a minute of washing, Dr. Gohara notes, adding that she applies hand cream constantly throughout the day for extra protection. And with the right formula -- one that absorbs quickly, leaves skin soft not sticky, and doesn’t have an overwhelming scent -- you won’t even notice you’re wearing it.
From affordable drugstore finds to some splurge-worthy picks, plus one pharmaceutical-grade product, we’ve rounded up the best hydrating hands cream for frequently washed hands below.
One of Dr. Gohara's favorite hand creams, Avène Cicalfate has been shown to provide continued relief through multiple washes. The brand's proprietary thermal spring water provides an instant calming effect while sucralfate speeds up the repair of very dry, cracked hands.
This stuff is a bestseller for a reason: Packed with nourishing shea butter, soothing honey, and softening almond oil, the creamy balm penetrates quickly and provides immediate comfort without the greasy feel you've come to expect from rich creams.
This feels quite different than other hands creams, thanks to its hero ingredient lanolin. Commonly used to heal wounds and burns, it creates a silky coat on skin that locks in moisture and protects against daily aggressors.
While this hand cream is known for its anti-aging properties, it also works wonders on rough skin. Hyaluronic acid provides lasting hydration, vitamin B5 works to repair the moisture barrier, and a powerful blend of peptides strengthens the thin skin on the hands. The formula is fast-absorbing and fragrance-free.
The star ingredient in this hand cream is argan oil, which is packed with omega fatty acids, vitamin E, and linoleic acids. Together these work to hydrate skin and soften dry patches. Plus, because of its composition, argan oil is not too light, not too heavy, and has a fast absorption rate.
All of Skinfix's products are designed to help heal, replenish, and maintain the skin barrier with pharmaceutical ingredients. So believe us when we say this hand cream means business. The ultra-rich formula uses soothing colloidal oatmeal, nourishing almond oil, and healing allantoin to treat symptoms of chronic dryness, dermatitis, and eczema.
Another heavy-hitter for intense dryness, this ultra-rich formula provides a great barrier against the elements and uses soothing colloidal oatmeal to relieve tight, itchy skin. Also nice? Despite its thick consistency, the cream absorbs surprisingly quickly and leaves no greasy residue.
If you're willing to spend more for a hand cream, consider this one from African Botanics. Packed with a blend of nourishing oils and butters that are sustainably-harvested from South Africa, this stuff feels as luxurious as it looks. What's more, it combats dark spots and wrinkles with plant peptides and stem cells.
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