Dry hands can be especially annoying, and sometimes no matter what hand cream or balm you try, your hands keep feeling flaky and itchy.
To figure out the best treatments, we went to the experts and spoke with dermatologists about the very best hand creams to soothe and moisturize your hands. Whether you’re already a hand cream addict or this whole regular moisturizing thing is brand-new territory, our experts have you covered.
Best hand creams for dry skin
Moisturizers for the hands, like moisturizers for other areas, ideally contain three components: humectants, emollients and occlusives, explains Dr. Hadley King, a New York City-based dermatologist.
“Ceramides and filaggrin are the building block proteins for locking moisture in and keeping the outside environment out,” says Dr. Caren Campbell, a San Francisco-based dermatologist.
EltaMD So Silky Hand Crème ($21; amazon.com)
This lotion is a favorite of King’s, who says, “The formula combines ceramides, emollients and vitamin E to nourish dry skin, and sclareolide, a plant-derived ingredient that helps to lighten dark spots.”
Eau Thermale Avène Cold Cream Concentrated Hand Cream ($15; amazon.com)
King says she’s a big fan of this product because the cream is “fast-absorbing and paraben-free.” She adds, “Their studies showed that it lasts through five hand-washings,” which is the energy we need from a hand cream right now.
Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream ($14.89, originally $18.50; amazon.com)
As one of our favorites, this cream from Weleda has been a savior for dry winter skin, plus it has a light and refreshing scent and feels expensive without actually costing an arm and a leg.
Best anti-aging hand creams
Another tip: You’re usually better off with a cream rather than a lotion. “Creams are always best for those with extra-dry skin over lotions, as they contain more of the moisturizing ingredients and less water,” says Campbell. “Lotions contain more water than creams.” And remember, she says, “White cotton gloves can also be worn at night to help keep lotions and creams on the hands and prevent them from rubbing off.”
Supergoop! Handscreen SPF 40 ($14; amazon.com)
This anti-aging cream is one of King’s favorites. “It combines sea buckthorn fruit to lighten dark spots and argan and meadowfoam seed oils to hydrate and moisturize without feeling greasy,” she says. “And the SPF 40 protects your exposed skin from UV damage.”
Soap & Glory Hand Food ($6.99; target.com)
This bestselling Target fave soothes dry hands using shea butter and macadamia oil. (And while it’s packaged in a tube, it feels like it was scooped from a tub of butter.)
L’Occitane Shea Butter Intensive Hand Balm ($36; loccitane.com)
This luxurious balm melts into hands and nails when it’s massaged in, and it’s packed with a shea butter formula that promises to nurture and protect dry, damaged skin.
The secret ingredient for extremely dry skin
“A lot of people with dry skin don’t realize they also have a problem shedding the dead top layer of skin,” says Dr. Clarissa Yang, dermatologist-in-chief at Tufts Medical Center. “So a secret ingredient I always look for is an exfoliating agent like salicylic, glycolic or lactic acid.”
AmLactin Daily Moisturizing Body Lotion ($9.49, originally $15.99; amazon.com)
This classic still packs a punch and is a dermatologist fave. “I recommend this for my patients who need gentle exfoliation and hydration,” Campbell says.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream Daily Face and Body Moisturizer ($15.13, originally $18.99; amazon.com)
This daily cream “contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid and is perfect for patients with very dry skin,” says Campbell.
Best hand creams for eczema
If you experience eczema, then you’ll want to look for a cream that’s sensitive enough for your skin but still gives you top-notch moisturizing qualities.
Cetaphil Pro Eczema Soothing Moisturizer ($13.87, originally $15.99; amazon.com)
“This is a great lotion for many patients, particularly those with normal to dry skin,” says Campbell.
Vaseline Advance Repair Fragrance-Free Hand and Body Lotion ($1.89; target.com)
This lotion repairs dry skin with microdroplets of Vaseline Jelly that lock in moisture. It was awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, which “helps individuals recognize products that are suitable for care of eczema or sensitive skin.”
Whether at home or at a workplace, hands that are doing chores or cooking — or just getting dirty — are going to need something extra, like “barrier ingredients like paraffin to keep moisture locked in,” says Campbell. Yang likes to see particular occlusives, or moisturizing agents, in the ingredient list too.
“Occlusives are much more oil-based. They help by trapping the water the humectants draw up and preventing it from evaporating,” says Yang. “Lanolin, petrolatum and beeswax are common ones.”
O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream, 2-Pack ($13.99; amazon.com)
Another one of our staff favorites, this has been a moisture-barrier builder for working hands for years. Campbell recommends it because “it contains barrier ingredients like paraffin to keep moisture locked in.”
Burt’s Bees Almond & Milk Hand Cream ($10.99; target.com)
Sweet almond oil and vitamin E in this cream work to restore moisture to dry hands, while beeswax locks in moisture.
Gold Bond Ultimate Intensive Healing Hand Cream ($3.76, originally $7.25; amazon.com)
This healing cream offers a pretty great bang for your buck, using petrolatum to help restore smooth, soft, healthy skin.
Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve ($24; sephora.com)
This salve is designed for hardworking hands and has wax-based properties that form a protective barrier on the skin, leaving the hands feeling soft.