I am known at work for the fact that I always have hand cream. My hands take a beating, and I hate having them dry out and crack on me. The other day I reached into my purse for a tube of hand cream and pulled out eight (!!!) of them, even though I had intentionally left several in various places at home (my knitting bag, by my nightstand, and in the bathroom). I justify it to myself with the reminder that I’m recovering from acrylic nails, that my job has me handling fabric and money all day, and that trying to stay ahead of autoimmune issues involves a LOT of hand-washing. That said, I’ve found that not all hand creams are created equal, so here are a few that I’ve tried. As always, starred links are affiliate links, but all products are ones I have personally used, and opinions are my own.
Bath And Body Works Vanilla Buttercream Shea Butter Hand Cream: I bought a one-ounce tube of this when I was in upstate New York for Christmas in 2015, because I desperately needed hand lotion and to meet the total for my coupon. It comes in a one-ounce tube, and I still have over half left, because I almost never use it. I don’t much care for lotions that are mostly mineral oil, and even less for greasy ones that don’t absorb well and smell like plastic and cupcakes. ($4, Bath and Body Works)
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula, Fragrance Free: This is one of the most economical hand creams in my assortment, and I really wish I could tell you I hated the product on its own merits. The truth is, the product itself is fine. It’s not a good option for someone whose skin needs extra oils, because it has none. However, it’s fragrance free, mineral oil free, and absorbs quickly. It would be a perfect hand cream for my needs if it weren’t for the fact that it was my mother’s favorite when I was a child. Cutting off contact with her was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and it breaks my heart to be reminded of her. She had tubes of this stuff everywhere when I was a kid–in her purse, in the car, on the TV stand where all the junk in the house piled up, even one in her big box of sewing notions. This is an excellent cream for the price, but for me, it is less emotionally taxing to use a less effective hand cream and not deal with the reminders of a painful childhood. ($4 for 2 ounces, Target)
TonyMoly Magic Food Mango Hand Butter: I’m starting to have issues with pain in my hands as well as my knee, and this is the hand cream I reach for when I’m too sore to get a good grip on a smaller screw top. It’s in a mango-shaped bottle rather than a metal crimp tube, which makes it easier to hold onto, and the shape of the cap makes it easier to twist off. Also, unlike the obviously synthetic fragrances of most fruity body products, this actually smells like the mangoes from the tree outside my front door in St. Croix. TonyMoly was my gateway brand for Korean skin care, and I’ve moved past many of their products, but this one is staying. ($8, Amazon*)
Fresh Seaberry Nourishing Hand Cream: I got a sample of this at Sephora last week, and it’s by far the most expensive hand cream on the list. Seaberry oil, also known as sea buckthorn, is an excellent moisturizer that has been widely touted for its anti-inflammatory properties, but there’s little concrete evidence of its medicinal effects. Much thicker than the TonyMoly cream, but not quite as thick as the Norwegian Formula, this cream goes on beautifully, but the distinctly herbal smell just doesn’t appeal to me. And who in the world pays $23 for a hand cream, anyway?
The Body Shop Wild Argan Oil Hand Cream: I’m a definite fan of argan oil as an ingredient. Since I took my acrylic nails off and am trying to let my natural nails recover, I’m particularly interested in a cream that has enough oils to keep my nail beds moisturized, and argan oil does a great job there. The links on The Body Shop’s site to learn more about the “community trade” argan oil used here are broken, making it hard to research their claims of ethical sourcing, but on its own merits I have no major complaints about this cream. I will note that there is a distinct fragrance to it, which the company describes as being “the scent of wild argan oil.” To me, it just seems like a lotion smell. The one thing I would change is the same thing I would change about many others I’ve tried: that tiny little cap that is hard to grip and hard to find if I drop it. If you’re like me, less worried about fragrance than about making sure your fingernails get the same moisture as your skin, then this is definitely worth picking up. Avoid if you’re allergic to tree nuts, as it does contain almond oil. ($8, Ulta)
The Body Shop British Rose Petal Soft Hand Cream: After the success of the Wild Argan Oil hand cream, and my love of all things rose, I thought this one would be a slam-dunk. Unfortunately, where the Wild Argan Oil has significant amounts of moisturizing oils, the third ingredient in this is fragrance. All it really does is make my skin smell like roses, which is nice, but not what I want in a hand cream. Smells fantastic, but I need something more effective. ($6, The Body Shop)
Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream: First, let me just point out that the main ingredient they’re advertising here is macadamia oil. That’s derived from the tree nut and is unsuitable for people with tree nut allergies. It has a citrus-herbal scent that I find a bit annoying (not a citrus fan) and doesn’t do much to affect the dryness and roughness of my hands. To be fair, though, I would have been disappointed if I had gotten attached to a hand cream from the same company that makes the atrociously named Fat Girl Slim body products. The truth is that I’m relieved that it’s mediocre and overpriced (and also that I only have a $2 mini from Marshalls instead of investing in the full size). ($18, Bliss) .
A La Maison de Provence Fresh Sea Salt Hand Cream: I have finished off two tubes of this and have two more floating around. I snap it up every time I find it in person, which is usually TJ Maxx or Marshalls, because few local places carry the brand. It’s thick and moisturizing without being greasy, and it actually *keeps* my hands soft and moisturized instead of needing more in an hour. And the flip top is a lot more hand-friendly than a twist-off, even when I had my long fake talons. It does have a light scent to it, so avoid if you’re particularly sensitive to fragrance, but the smell fades quickly. If you’re not particularly sensitive to fragrances, this is one that I would recommend in a heartbeat. The brand also makes other formulas, but I haven’t tried them. ($7.99, iHerb)
Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream: This was recently reformulated, and not for the better. They took out the silicones and upped the percentage of urea, which softens the skin without providing much actual moisture. Not much of a selling point in my opinion. If you happen across an older tube with the blue cap, it’s worth picking up, but I’m very disappointed in the new formula. Also, they haven’t redone the tube design to make up for the softer product, so it is difficult not to get too much. This one is fragrance-free and non-greasy, but the effectiveness just doesn’t measure up. ($5, Amazon*)
Avon Moisture Therapy Intensive Hand Cream: When I was 20, I worked in a flower shop and sold Avon on the side, because I was trying to get the money to move out of my parents’ house. It didn’t work, because multi-level marketing is a racket, and I couldn’t make enough to break even, much less get ahead of my parents’ financial abuse. But this hand cream had everything I needed at that point: dirt cheap, comes in a huge tube, and kept my hands moisturized and soft through hours in water and repeated washing. It’s also fragrance free, which meant that my mother wouldn’t scream at me that I was trying to murder her anytime I used it. (Funny how she’s deathly allergic to any scented product I pick out, but used scented shampoo and dyed her hair using heavily fragranced box dye on a regular basis, leaving the house smelling like hair color for days.) I don’t use it anymore because of my ethical qualms about MLM schemes, and because the absorption rate leaves a lot to be desired, but it met my needs at the time. ($5, Avon)
Skinfood Gummy Bear Jelly Hand Cream: The packaging here is adorable, and I really wanted to love it. I tried the pineapple first, but I just couldn’t get comfortable with using a gel rather than a cream, and I didn’t like the sticky feel as it dried. The grape didn’t have that problem, but it did very little for me and smelled like grape Kool-Aid, which isn’t a selling point. I wish I could give this a better review, because it’s so cute. If I’m going to do Korean skincaretainment hand cream, I’ll stick with the TonyMoly mango. ($8, SokoGlam)
Soap and Glory Hand Food: Ehhhh. The slogan at the top of the tube says, “The most astonishing hand cream ever? You decide!” Well, I did, and it’s not. It’s not a bad product, with its shea butter and marshmallow extract. I just found it mediocre, and the super sweet patchouli floral scent was a bit much. Their Original Pink fragrance, which used to be available in an EDP, is supposedly a dupe for Miss Dior, so if you like that, you may enjoy this hand cream. I didn’t. Also, for those with nut allergies, this does contain macadamia oil. I have a mini and will not be purchasing the full size. ($8, Soap and Glory)
There are a few that I use regularly that didn’t make the list, because they’re discontinued, and I’m not going to send my readers off on that particular wild goose chase. I do wish more hand creams were available with sun protection and without coconut oil. The encouraging thing for me, though, is that while not all hand creams are created equal, I don’t have to spend a small fortune to get one that does the job.
Have a favorite that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments!