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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
Emollient castanha (Brazilian nut) oil gives richness to this vegan hand cream. We love its mild yet delicious scent and how it sinks into the skin.
Enriched with vitamins B, C and E, this nourishing hand cream now comes in unscented Fiji, making it a great option for those sensitive to fragrance. It's made with squalane, glycerin and avocado and argan oils that help replenish the skin.
Best hand creams for aging hands
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.”
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.”
In this new hand cream, Sundays uses the power of aloe leaf juice, coconut oil, jojoba seed and other ultra-moisturizing ingredients to make one of the most nourishing hand creams we’ve ever tried. Our favorite part though is that it’s non-greasy and smells of bergamot.
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.)
Made with hydrating hyaluronic acid (a great ingredient for aging skin), silky argan oil and nourishing shea and cocoa butters, this new hand cream comes in six spa-like scents. You can’t go wrong with the Fragrance Originale, which shares the brand’s signature notes of amber and magnolia that fragrance its cult-favorite hair care.
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.”
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.
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.
“This is a great lotion for many patients, particularly those with normal to dry skin,” says Campbell.
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.”
Best hand creams for working hands
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.”
This healing cream offers a pretty great bang for your buck, using petrolatum to help restore smooth, soft, healthy skin.
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.”
Sweet almond oil and vitamin E in this cream work to restore moisture to dry hands, while beeswax locks in moisture.
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.