Hands endure a lot of daily stress. They suffer a constant barrage of washing and disinfecting with harsh and drying formulas, and are constantly being exposed to the sun. That’s where the best hand lotions and creams enter the scene.
“Hand creams are designed to restore that essential moisture, nourish skin and seal in all that hydration and nourishment, often while helping to soothe irritation and help heal cracks,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Geeta Yadav.
The base purpose of hand cream is nourishment, but the best hand creams can multitask. Depending on the reason for your hand cream search, you can discover a cream or lotion that can heal winter-worn skin, protect with SPF coverage or even reverse signs of aging with retinol– and niacinamide-infused options.
Even without the inclusion of targeted ingredients, hand creams can help keep skin looking more youthful.
“Hands tend to age as quickly as the face does, as they are exposed to the same elements, including harmful UV rays, general wear and tear and weather damage,” says Johnson & Johnson skin health research and development expert, Brenda Edison. Introducing a hand cream into your daily routine can minimize these signs by improving elasticity and moisture in the skin.
“A good hand cream will soothe your hands, leaving them soft and supple, and it will also repair and undo the damage of neglect on your hands,” says Edison.
And just as you would with a moisturizer or serum for your face, you should change out your hand creams when the season change to get the best benefits.
“Like all other skin care routines, switching products seasonally is important,” says board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Mona Gohara. “The change in weather can have various effects on the skin, especially during the dry winter months. During that time of year, as it cools down, make sure to switch to a thicker, balmier hand cream.”
What to look for in the best hand creams and lotions
When looking at the ingredient list of a hand cream, experts suggest keeping your eyes peeled for a few keywords: Emollients (like shea butter and cocoa butter), occlusives (glycerin and jojoba oil), and SPF (if using during the daytime). Emollients help to infuse the skin with moisture, while occlusives help to seal moisture in and prevent it from escaping. Also, the super-hydrating hyaluronic acid is always a good option too when you need a plumping boost of moisture.
If you’re looking for a more targeted anti-aging treatment with your hand cream, look for a few superstar ingredients. Dr. Gohara suggests seeking out hand creams with retinol, collagen and niacinamide to firm and target dark spots. Additionally, board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine Dr. Jeannette Graf recommends testing out glycolic acid.
“Over time and with aging, the skin on our hands becomes thinner and often develops brown spots from chronic sun exposure,” says Graf. “Using an exfoliating treatment, which can include glycolic acid, at night can help lighten spots and smooth the skin.”
How often should you apply hand lotion or cream?
“The simple answer is constantly,” says Dr. Graf. “I recommend buying five or six hand creams so that they can be placed in different areas and always be close.”
If “constantly” isn’t definitive enough, aim to apply lotion or creams on after washing hands or washing dishes, and even after applying hand sanitizer.
“These are ‘must’ times when hand cream has to be applied to reverse the dryness caused by water,” says Dr. Graf. (But for anti-aging formulas that have AHAs or other exfoliants in them, stick to once a day, or every other day.)
While there are hand lotions and creams that are universally soothing, uncovering the product best suited for your hands is possible. Below, with the help of experts and glowing customer reviews, we compiled the 22 best hand creams for every need.
1. The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector Cream
Dr. Yadav describes this super-rich cream as the “most nourishing formula [she’s] ever used.” She’s particularly a fan because it’s loaded with glycerin, hemp and castor oil and Vitamin E. It’s one of the best hand lotions for dry, cracked hands as its ingredients penetrate, while also providing a protecting seal around the skin. As popular as this hemp-boosted product is, keep in mind it does have a noticeable smell (some users describe as mixing scents of “dirt” and “weed.”)
2. Supergoop! Handscreen SPF 40
This Supergoop! option is the best hand lotion with SPF. The fast-absorbing, light lotion hydrates (the second ingredient in the formula is superstar glycerin), while also providing broad-spectrum SPF 40. This 2-in-1 lotion is perfect for on-the-go reapplication throughout the day and even earns Dr. Yadav’s stamp of approval.
“It’s nice to get nourishment and protection in one step,” she says. “I like applying an SPF hand cream before getting in the car — driving exposes your hands to tons of UV rays.”
3. Avène Cicalfate Restorative Hand Cream
Avène’s Cicalfate restorative hand cream is the best hand cream for eczema, sensitive skin or just anyone with chronically dry hands. Although ideal for year-round application, this thicker, balmier cream is particularly helpful come winter.
“This is my go-to for a gentle but intense dose of hydration for my hands,” says Dr. Gohara. “It’s formulated with sucralfate but also a copper-zinc sulfate complex to promote and maintain a healthy skin environment for optimal recovery, as well as the brand’s beloved Thermal Spring Water that’s clinically proven to soothe, soften and calm skin.”
4. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
This beloved hand cream was inspired by the traditional balms and salves of Norwegian fishermen, and is still the same glycerin-rich formula that was developed over 35 years ago. The clinically-proven cream has a cult following as many have found that it noticeably improves the look and feel of hands after just one application.
Research and development expert Edison uses this Neutrogena cream year-round, but particularly during winter months, as it’s one of the best hand creams for cracked fingers and hands. One reason it’s so effective is its high concentration levels of glycerin, which help skin feel soft after even a single use,
says Dr. Graf.
If that wasn’t enough, one tube has over 200 applications, making it one of the cheapest dermatologist-recommended hand creams on the market.
5. Omorovicza Youthful Hands
Youthful Hands is one of the best luxury hand creams. Not only because it’s packed with antioxidants to soften and protect skin, but also because the formula is boosted with a significant dosage of vitamin C to even skin’s tone and reduce the appearance of age spots. The cream is emollient-enriched with shea butter, sunflower oil and vitamin E to give a buttery soft feel, while also protecting the skin’s barrier against trans-epidermal moisture loss. Plus, the product comes from Hungarian brand Omorovicza, so it includes the label’s patented Healing Concentrate to leave hands looking firmer, more supple and youthful.
6. Tatcha Indigo Soothing Hand Cream
Hand cream reapplication is necessary to keep dryness at bay, but some lotions can leave behind a greasy mess that makes applying hand creams downright miserable. Tatcha’s Indigo hand cream is one of the best non-greasy hand lotions, due to its unique combo of silk extracts, squalane and glycerin for an impossibly silky smooth texture. If that wasn’t dreamy enough, the cream also has colloidal oatmeal and indigo extract, both of which are meant to calm and soothe inflamed, irritated skin.
7. Pai Skincare Heavy Mettle Hand Cream
Pai is dedicated to easing sensitive skin, so it’s only natural that its hand cream is perfect for calming and soothing the most irritated hands. The London-based brand even renamed the product to celebrate healthcare workers, who say the cream is one of their favorites. It absorbs nearly instantaneously so you can massage it in and get back to any task at hand. The formula has a trio of soothing powerhouse ingredients: organic sea buckthorn for nourishment, rosehip for calming effects and grape seed extract for softening. Pai chose the essential oil fragonia (derived from a floral shrub) for its impressive anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, as well as its sweet, spicy scent with hints of citrus.
8. Byredo Hand Lotion
And the award for best smelling hand lotion goes to…Byredo, naturally. The Stockholm-based fragrance house knows its way around a hypnotic scent, and the three options available for its hand lotion are no exception. Choose between peppery rose, musky suede, or woody Vetyver for an evocative moisturizing cream. The formula base for all three is made from nourishing shea butter, which leaves hands feeling hydrated and softened. The pump-based lotion also makes it impossibly easy to reapply throughout the day so hands and cuticles not only feel smoother but are deliciously perfumed.
9. Nécessaire The Hand Cream
This hand cream is enriched with a range of vitamins and omegas (think vitamin B3, C, E and omega-6 and omega-9) to seal in moisture and help strengthen the skin’s natural protective barrier. It’s one of the best hand creams because it’s unscented, non-greasy and offers the perfect texture that hydrates without lingering on skin. One reviewer said it best: “It does the job and then makes itself invisible. No scent, no grease no problem.”
It’s also the best hand cream for eczema, having received the coveted ‘Seal of Acceptance’ from The National Eczema Association.
10. Augustinus Bader The Hand Treatment
The scientist behind this brand describes its hand treatment as less of a hand cream and more like skincare for your hands. What makes professor Augustinus Bader’s brand so popular is its patented Trigger Factor Complex (TFC8), a blend of vitamins, amino acids and synthesized molecules that strengthen the skin barrier and encourage active molecules to actually repair damaged cells. It’s hands-down one of the best hand cream for wrinkles, or just anyone looking to restore and refresh skin. In addition to its TFC8, the formula is also the best reparative hand cream as it features hyper-moisturizing glycerin, conditioning vitamin E and shea butter — as well as honey to soothe and serve as a natural antiseptic.
11. Osea Anti-Aging Hand Cream
This potent cream is the best hand lotion for aging hands, thanks to a long list of antioxidants that visibly brighten dark spots and hydrate fine lines. The soothing hand cream also features shea butter, coconut oil and wild gigartina seaweed to protect the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Hands should be left silky, smooth and subtly scented with wild lavender.
And no one knows more about ingredients than the brand’s founder, Jenefer Palmer. She began Osea from her kitchen sink in the ‘90s, and still today ensures all the products are sustainable, vegan and bioavailable.
12. Aveeno Skin Relief Intense Moisture Hand Cream
Designed to keep hands hydrated for 24 hours, the Aveeno intense Moisture hand cream replenishes the skin’s barrier for softer, smoother hands. Safe for sensitive skin, the fast-absorbing formula offers a soothing effect. The formula is so richly moisturizing that it’s one of the best hand lotions for winter.
“I can’t go through winter without it now,” said one Amazon user. “Not only did it restore moisture to my hands, it helped all the cracks heal.”
13. L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
Boasting a rich, melt-into-the-skin texture, L’Occitane’s shea butter hand cream uses honey, almond extracts, coconut oil and, of course, shea butter to create its fan-favorite creamy formula. These nourishing ingredients not only improve softness in dry, rough hands but also protect them from further moisture loss. With a whopping 20% shea butter, it’s one of the best moisturizing hand lotions on the market, too.
But don’t just take our word for it. “It feeds the skin, not coats it, so dry skin becomes healthy, not covered in a waxy, lingering grease,” said one Amazon reviewer.
14. Burt’s Bees Ultimate Care Hand Cream
Catering to extremely dry hands, Burt’s Bees hand cream deeply hydrates skin using baobab oil — a plant-based moisturizer that is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and omega fatty acids. Also formulated with green tea extract and a blend of watermelon seed and pumpkin oils for soothing and softening benefits, this 99% natural hand cream creates smoother skin while also tending to signs of cracking. It’s beloved for its ability to repair hands nearly overnight and is helpful for even the most sensitive of skin.
“It really is the best absorbing, healing and softening cream I’ve ever used,” said one Amazon shopper.
15. Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream
Rough hands are no match for Eucerin’s Advanced Repair hand cream, which works hard to relieve dry skin with its ultra-moisturizing formula. Non-greasy and fast-absorbing by design, this dermatologist-recommended formula is also a suitable choice for those with hand eczema. The rich hand cream features shea butter and Eucerin’s unique ‘Ceramide-3’ blend, which not only softens skin but locks in moisture even after hand washing.
16. Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
An intensely moisturizing formula for repairing cracked hands, Kiehl’s Ultamte Strength hand salve combines the softening effect of a lotion with the thick texture of a salve to condition, replenish and nourish skin. It’s ideal for severely dry skin and is one of the best hand creams for working hands. Also, the salve has the addition of eucalyptus oil for a fresh scent.
One Sephora user said, “This product is a holy grail product for me. After just one use, you will notice a significant difference in the softness of your hands. I put it on right before bed and wake up with baby smooth skin.”
17. Gold Bond Ultimate Intensive Healing Hand Cream
Another deeply nourishing option, this intensive hand cream repairs impossibly dry hands with its hypoallergenic and dermatologist-tested formula. This aloe-boosted drugstore hand cream is perfect for hands that always feel stripped of moisture after hand washing. It’s one of the best lotions because it’s quick to absorb and should feel non-greasy. Plus, the under-$4 price tag of this hand cream is nearly impossible to beat.
18. EltaMD So Silky Hand Crème
Equipped to combat dryness and keep your skin feeling silky-smooth for hours, the EltaMD So Silky hand cream is enriched with antioxidants and ceramides to create healthier hands. Designed as a solution to fine lines, discoloration, free radical damage and dryness, the creamy formula melts into the skin for an ultra-soothing experience. It’s the best lotion for frequently washed hands because of the formula’s ability to hydrate skin for up to 12 hours per application.
19. Caudalie Hand & Nail Cream
Caudalie is the epitome of effortless French beauty, so naturally, the brand’s hand cream is luxurious. It features Vinolevure, the brand’s trademarked antioxidant grape polyphenol blend, to repair and protect skin. The fair-trade shea butter and avocado hand cream is also fortified with additional vitamins and antioxidants for baby-soft hands and lasting comfort. It’s also beloved by fans for its sweet citrus scent, thanks to notes of Seville orange, orange blossom and orange wood.
20. Juice Beauty Green Apple Age Defy Hand Cream
Perfect for those with mature skin, the Juice Beauty Green Apple Age Defy hand cream targets fine lines and wrinkles on the hands using a rejuvenating blend of soothing aloe, jojoba oil and shea butter. Also featured in this anti-aging hand cream is vitamin C, which helps fade hyperpigmentation, and peptides to promote firmness.
Juice Beauty was also one of the early brands in the ‘clean beauty’ world – launched by founder Karen back in 2005 when organic and natural formulations were much less prevalent. Since its origins, Juice Beauty has been innovating in the natural space, and only uses products, like the green apple in this cream, from West Coast-certified organic farms.
21. By Terry Baume de Rose Hand Cream
Renowned for its luxurious texture, the By Terry Baume de Rose hand cream uses rich ingredients such as rose extract, rose butter and rosehip oil to treat hands and elbows to rich moisture. This lavish blend of ingredients gives the hand cream its iconic and classic Baume de Rose scent that stays with you all day. The unusual concoction of butters and waxes can regenerate skin, making this a must for tired, overworked hands.
22. Juara Coconut Illipe Hand and Nail Balm
Created for hard-working hands in all forms, the Juara Coconut Illipe hand and nail balm pampers tired and dry skin with a conditioning blend of coconut oil, sea algae, oat bran and buriti oil. If that wasn’t moisturizing enough, the balm adds in an additional hydration trio of shea, illipe and wild mangosteen butters. Together, these deeply hydrating ingredients hydrate and plump the skin and can help target fine lines, wrinkles, torn cuticles and hyperpigmentation. The product can even be used on elbows, feet and any other dry spots, making it one of the best body and hand lotions around.