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.