The Best Hand Creams

La Mer & L'Occitane
Bliss & Rodin
Neutrogena & C.O. Bigelow
Deborah Lippman, Jenna Hipp, Clinique
Eucerin, Crabtree & Evelyn, Ahava

Dry hands are the worst. Cracking, tight, occasionally bleeding—aside from being painful, greeting people with a parched handshake is as memorable as offering up a dead fish, a knuckle crusher, or, even worse, a kiss-my-palm, if not more so. Even if winter is still (officially) one month away, Hand Lotion Season has very much arrived. And if you weren't planning on hydrating for yourself, do it for the rest of humankind. Here’s how to put your best palm forward, and an overview at the potions it should be slathered with:

Lightweight: The longer you use Chanel Precision Body Excellence Nourishing and Rejuvenating Hand Cream, the more you’ll like it. At first, it’s not the most saturating cream on the market, but the mix of provitamin B5 for your nails and cuticles and licorice extract as a skin tone-evener means it has the big picture in mind. And after a while, your hands will feel extra smooth and smell ever so slightly like Coco Mademoiselle Chanel, which is never a bad thing.

Mid-weight: When your hands hit cracking, crocodile territory, it's time to call upon something heavier. La Mer The Hand Treatment is a paraben-free, grease-free mixture infused with the brand’s “Miracle Broth” (which is not made of chicken and celery, but rather fermented kelp, algae, and antioxidants...slightly less appetizing), which creates an emollient barrier that will see you through a day of hand-washing. But for a third of the cost, L’Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream smells lemony, absorbs quickly, and is equipped with 20% shea butter for an equally moisturizing effect.

Heavyweight: Bliss is not kidding when it calls this macadamia oil and grape seed extract formula "High Intensity Hand Cream." The citrus lotion is extra hydrating, to plump your skin all day long. If you’re not interested in leaving fingerprints on everything you touch for the next few hours, this might be one best reserved for before bed. Heavier still is Rodin Crema Olio Lusso. The hand and body cream calls itself “luxury” for how supple it will make your skin feel, and it doesn’t skimp in the design department either—the minimal black and white metal tube is even equipped with a key to ensure you get the most of your product (a key that can chicly be repurposed for your Marvis toothpaste). You also get to smell like Olio Lusso, which translates to body-warmed jasmine oil.

Powder Finish: In the not-a-trace-of-grease department, look for glycerin-rich formulations. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream is the driest moisturizer we’ve come across—almost eerily so. Aside from quieting your hand’s wintertime ailments, the only trace of this gel-like lotion you'll notice is the vanilla/baby powder scent, or not even that if you opt for the scentless variety. To feel just a little dampened, C.O. Bigelow Chapped Hands Remedy is somewhat creamier, but absorbs just as quickly into your skin. It's as if you’ve applied a mist. And the mint will cool your skin and clear your sinuses.

Velvet Finish: To make your hands feel as velvety as MAC RiRi Woo, lotions that address hands and nails seem to be the ticket. For those who prefer the scentless variety, Jenna Hipp Essential Nail & Hand Cream comes in nice patterned bottles, while Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl Hand Cream (which we’ve written about before) smells like peonies and contains SPF to keep your digits Forever Young. It's also the lotion that we keep in our desks and our bags. Taking it just one step further on the moisture scale, Clinique Deep Comfort Hand and Cuticle Cream promises to encase your palms in a 12 hour-long velvet moisture barrier.

Silk Finish: If you love Equipment shirts, you'll go effing nuts over Ahava Dead Sea Water Mineral Hand Cream, which is probably the subtlest, silkiest moisturizer we’ve ever come across. (We're kidding, but damn if it doesn't feel smooooth.) It even smells hydrating, like flowers in the rain. Crabtree & Evelyn's macadamia oil-based La Source Hand Therapy is the most floral of the silk-finish bunch. It's a bit tackier, though, prolonging the freshly lotion-ed feeling by not completely soaking in for a few more minutes than others. But we've got to hand it (sorry) to Eucerin Intensive Repair Extra-Enriched Hand Creme, whose extra thick, glycerin-enhanced formula wins the longest-lasting hydration award in this category.

And now a video we'll never ever tire of. (If you're short on time, fast-forward to the 1:29 mark.)

Photos by Mathea Millman.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • KT

    =O where is the Kiehl's Ultimate Hand Salve! I am a nurse who is allergic to handwash (yep) and this stuff has saved my hands!

    • Nina

      LOVE Kiehl's too! I've got the worst driest hands due to frequent hand washing in way too hot water (because I freeze all the time I just love my water burning hot, bad habit!). Kiehl's smooths out cracks like no other cream. Bliss High Intensity is also a favorite - the scent is killer too!

  • Charlotte MacDonald-Gaunt

    For me the best hand cream is Clarins Hand and Nail treatment, it's lovely and creamy and does wonders for cuticles as well :o). Xx

  • Jessica Rose

    I love the Crabtree range...they are really worth the money. Jess. x

  • Sarah

    Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream is one of the best moisturizers for hands. It works, and it is affordable. I have tried many hand creams in my life -- expensive, cheap, and even my own hand/body creams made in my kitchen. Cetaphil is absolutely my favorite. Shea Butter Hand Cream by L'Occitane is excellent as well.

  • CBKWardrobe

    I don't think this post could have come at a better time! Its almost as if my super dry hands could be detected from here ...

  • ikillplants

    I can vouch for the Ahava Dead Sea line. Ba. Na. Nas.

  • SAT


  • Elem

    Elizabeth arden eight hour hand treatment!

  • Devi

    no Jurlique?! Their scented hand creams hand creams (rose and jasmine are my favorite) are the BEST. They are silky, smell incredible without being too loud, and even feel great when smoothed onto my face. The little metal tubes are also sophisticated and old-school, and they are truly a pleasure to use. They make excellent gifts, as well, which is especially nice during this time of year. Gobble tov, everyone!

    • S

      I second Jurlique's hand cream in either Lavender or Rose. They are by far the best hand cream I have ever used. Feels heavy at first but absorbs beautifully very quick. And mmmmmMM they smell sooo soothing.

      I always keep a big one at home and the smaller tube in my makeup bag.

  • mjr

    the one ive been using since forever is the body shop hemp hand cream. the smell, i think, is great but is very earthy and almost medicinal but is not for everyone. but the hand cream itself is amazing.

    • thymiane

      All hand creams from the Body Shop are on sale for 50% off now. So it's only $10. I've been using the hemp hand protector for 7+ years. Love it. I'd consider it a heavyweight.

    • pamb

      The hemp is my husband's have, too. His hands crack in the Winter, and he hasn't found anything better. The scent, yes, is a bit hippie, but I use a strongly scented face oil, so neither of us can complain!

  • Em

    L'occitane is the best I've found, so far. It is incredibly moisturizing without being greasy, and lasts forever! However, I might have to treat myself to the Rodin for the sake of comparison... and my undying love for anything jasmine scented ;)

  • Steph

    The Aesop resurrection hand cream is absolutely the best, literally regenerates the surface of your hands and smells like vanilla and oranges.

  • Meliza

    The best hand cream for me - even though it's technically a baby product - Mustela Cold Cream. It works and smells awesome. Try it!

  • Jane T.

    Lavido Bulgarian Lavender had cream is the best stuff ever, very moisturizing without feeling too heavy and it smells really amazing too. I discovered it at Thompson Chemists in Soho, and I think that might be the only place in the US that sells it.

  • beautyidealist

    For me, when it comes to winter, I have to stock up on Weleda's Skin Food. It is so good on the hands and I LOVE the bright green metal tube. Please try it, I know you'll love it too!

  • Sylvie

    You missed the best one- Weleda Skin Food!

  • Angela_E

    Jurilique Rose hand creme is incredibly moisturizing. I put it on my hands at night; when I wake up in the morning, any dryness and even hangnails (!) are gone. Most effective hand moisturizer I've ever used.

  • Edie

    Fragrance House Heavy Duty Hand Cream for hands that do more than just wave . . . best ever.

  • Restless Blonde

    My favourite one is Ahava's. Used once a day and my hands are silky all the time. And this smell!!! Gorgeous!

  • hollygoeslightly22

    The Kiehl's Hand Salve is a lifesaver in the winter. The Bliss hand lotion is great and I received a sample of the Tocca hand cream (grapefruit and cucumber) that smells amazing and absorbs quickly.

  • Lauren

    Get out of my brain ITG... My favorite handcream is Ahava AND I'm wearing one of my Equipment shirts today! I've also got to say, the pairing makes sense because lotions that leave your hands greasy are dangerous when wearing silk. With Ahava, no smudgy fingerprints!

  • bluesky557

    It's so unfashionable you might DIE, but Camielle Beckman's Glycerine Hand Therapy is the best stuff I've ever used. Sinks right in, does the job, and doesn't cost a fortune.

  • daphne

    Here's my trick: massage in your favorite hand cream and wait a minute or two for it to absorb 85% and then layer a nickel sized dollop of aquaphor over your hands. Then put your hands in cotton gloves--voila! softest hands ever.

    • Cait

      I second this-- I use Aveda hand cream and then slather a thick layer of Aquaphor on my cuticles at bedtime. I have a terrible habit of picking at my cuticles and the Aquaphor keeps things relatively under control unless I am super stressed.

  • Camille Kim

    I was gonna get real upset if you didn't include the Neutrogena hand cream because it really works! Plus, it's super cheap. I was skeptical at first when my mom gave it to me (I had been using expensive hand creams), but now I'm a believer. My hands are soft as a baby's' bottom. I love this stuff!

  • Marleen

    I just pick up a whole lot of nivea hand creams when I am in a German drugstore. They are much cheaper there and if I want to apply some I don't have to be too economical.

  • B

    You need to try Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment!!! Re-purchased for many years!

  • Jennifer Monforton

    Nice picks! I've always loved that Clinique hand cream and I've tested out the Rodin- so lovely and luxurious :)

  • pamb

    Whatever hand cream you use, for an Old School treat, put Vaseline, Aquafor or your fave face oil on top and wear clean cotton socks or white cotton gloves (they still sell them, sometimes with a gel liner inside) and go to bed.

  • jordan

    weleda skin food!

  • Michelle

    I love love love the La Mer one but I'm almost finished mine! It's be a sad and expensive day when that runs out...

  • Tanya

    What about Aesop Resurrection or Reverence??!!!!

  • Lili

    For me, the only product that keeps my hands from being dry, cracked and flaky/peeling in winter is Aveda Hand Relief. I've tried everything from Neutrogena to Kiehl's to just plain glycerin mixed with a few drops of water but nothing works as well as Aveda's. Plus it smells like oranges + vanilla ice cream = creamsicle...soooo niiiiiiiiiice!!!

  • LGandaB

    It's -40 degrees outside right now. That makes me an expert on dry hands. The absolute best hand lotion is called Gloves in a Bottle. It's designed to "shield" your hands from losing moisture in the first place, and is popular with medical professionals and artists who work with clay. A little bottle costs about $10 where I live and lasts all winter. Before I discovered it my hands would get so dry that my knuckles would randomly crack and bleed; now I have kitten-soft hands all winter long. It is one of the things that most improves my quality of life during the winter- you won't regret it!

  • Abby Evans

    These look great. I love the Kiehl's Ultimate Hand Salve and the Soap and Glory Hand Food!

  • Lilly

    I like to use Pai Instant Hand Therapy Cream in the daytime and Waxelene at nightime. Pai is completely greasy-free and absorbs quickly, while Waxelene is greasy but heals my hands overnight. It's a winning combo for me. I have also recently discovered another great one by AmalaBeauty that is called Hydrating Hand Cream. Very hydrating, light formula, greasy free as well.

  • Nao

    Jenna Hipp Nail and Hand Cream comes in a pretty tube, but doesn't deliver...
    After using it for a month, my hands are SO much drier than when I use L'Occitane, Ahava's Dermud, or even Trader Joe's "A Midsummer Night's Cream" body lotion. Don't waste your money on this one.

  • coconut

    I agree, Ahava leaves sooo smooth feeling, nice scent - I've bought a deal duo package for 9$ 2x100ml - now can't live without

  • Wendy

    I Love Pamper Yourself Moisturizing Glove. It has done wonders on my dry hands and feet. I think this cream is the best on the market now.

  • Alexa

    I like the hand balm from very moisturizing.


Chanel – Precision Body Excellence Nourishing and Rejuvenating Hand Cream
Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel
La Mer
La Mer 'The Hand Treatment'
bliss 'High Intensity' Hand Cream
Rodin Olio Lusso
RODIN Crema Luxury Hand & Body Cream
Marvis Toothpaste, Ginger Mint
Rodin Olio Lusso
RODIN Olio Lusso Luxury Face Oil
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, Scented
Neutrogena – Norwegian Formula Hand Cream (Fragrance Free)
Deborah Lippmann
Deborah Lippmann 'Rich Girl' Hand Cream SPF 25
Clinique 'Deep Comfort' Hand & Cuticle Cream
Crabtree & Evelyn
Crabtree & Evelyn 'La Source' Hand Therapy
Intensive Repair Extra-Enriched Hand Creme
Jenna Hipp
Jenna Hipp Essential Nail & Hand Cream
C.O. Bigelow
C.O. Bigelow Chapped Hands Remedy
AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream