What makes a good hand cream? It depends on who you’re asking. Some people prefer a thick salve that coats their skin in buttery goodness, while others want something that doesn’t feel like, well, anything at all.
No matter your preference, there are two best practices to maximize your hand hydration game: 1) Wash your hands using lukewarm—never hot—water, which can be too stripping, and 2) Always apply your hand cream of choice immediately after washing your hands—ideally when your skin is still slightly damp. Ok, now that we’ve got that sorted, here are the best lotions for dry hands, according to our team of very discerning (cough: picky) editors.
1. Weleda Skin Food
“I’ve used this cream for years (which is apparently something I share in common with Julia Roberts). Loaded with essential fatty acids and vitamin E, it feels downright decadent when you rub it into your skin. The key is to use less than you think you need (because it is very rich) and massage it in until it's fully absorbed—at which point, all that's left behind is a subtle sheen and sumptuously soft hands. I’ve gone through more tubes of this stuff than I can count and have even started using it as a subtle highlighter whenever I need to refresh my makeup in the afternoon.”—Jenny Jin, Beauty Director
2. Mario Badescu Fruit & Vitamin A Hand Cream
“I’m a big fan of this cream from Mario Badescu because it’s hydrating (but not too heavy), helps with anti-aging, and has a light fruity scent that I find so appealing. I usually apply the cream right before bed to let all that goodness soak in while I sleep.”—Lauren Gniazdowski, VP, Content Operations
3. Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion
“I am absolutely addicted to Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion. Though it’s not specifically a hand cream, it’s what I use all winter. (During the summer, I use it to take care of my Crypt Keeper-looking dry legs). I always have to keep a mini bottle in my car, and I keep one in my tote, and now that I think of it, I keep one in my purse, too, because when I notice that my hands are dry, I can't do anything else until I take care of them. I like this lotion because it’s light enough to sink right in while still getting the job done, which is important because I'm typing all of the time and I can't wait 100 years for a hand cream to absorb. Every night before bed I apply this and some OPI cuticle oil (aka my hand winterproofing tool kit).”—Dana Dickey, Senior Editor
4. Gold Bond Ultimate Intensive Healing Hand Cream
“I swear by Gold Bond’s intensive healing hand cream. It's ultra-nourishing and glides on silky smooth. And unlike most hydrating creams that are for ‘dry, problem skin,’ this one doesn't smell medicinal—or like your grandma. (No offense, nan.) Instead, it has a lovely, sweet scent that's not overpowering, which I absolutely love. I found it one morning when my hands were feeling particularly dry (that's what I get for biking to work in New York in the fall!) but also when my newborn had spat up on my dress RIGHT before I had to leave to work. I washed it off, but I was still looking for something that would soothe my hands and would also cover up the scent of spit up. (I know, parenthood is so gross sometimes). I saw this on my colleague's desk and it did both, so I am officially a convert.”—Alexia Dellner, Senior SEO Editor
5. Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
“This is hands-down my favorite cream—mostly because it smells so damn good. After rubbing it into your skin, you're left with a faint citrusy scent that lingers for hours. It also does wonders for moisturizing dry hands without leaving behind any greasy residue. (And this has become one of my go-to gifts, since I've learned that pretty much everyone loves receiving a lil' something from Aesop.) —Dena Silver, Fashion Editor
“I am a recent fan of the Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm. 50% for the citrusy, woodsy scent and 50% for the fast-absorbing moisturizing quality. A little goes a long way, which is good because I 0% like the price...”—Katherine Gillen, Associate Food Editor