Don't Forget Hand SPF


The last installment of SPF You Didn't Know You Needed (for now): hand cream dedicated to sun protection. Alex Beggs investigates:

I greet summer with a mix of enthusiasm and ugh: Hell yes it’s beach read/sneaky margarita season; ugh I have to shave my legs on a regular basis. I love to work on a nice summer glow, but I never glow-for-it without SPF: in my makeup and on my body during long runs and days at the beach. But I never thought about my hands, which are just as crucial to cover with SPF as everything else, year round. Whether your daily outdoor activity consists of walking from your apartment to your car, or your apartment to your mailbox (baby steps, agoraphobes), you need to be slathering on the SPF, and I mean ALL OVER. Beach or no beach.

“Some of my most common laser procedures in my office are skin rejuvenation of the face, neck, chest, and hands,” Dr. Robert Anolik, the trusty, Goop-approved dermatologist, told me. Since I’m trying to live a laser-free life right now, Anolik recommends an SPF of 30 or higher, unless you really make sure to cover your hands completely and then some with SPF 15. So, “apply sunscreen every morning to the face, neck, hands, and—for women with exposed décolleté—the upper chest,” he said (ooh la la), “These areas undergo substantial UV damage to the DNA, elevating the risk for skin cancer. It's easy to spot the spots on hands, and they are very telling of someone's real age.” I’m no doctor but he is, so listen to the man! I tested out all of the best hand creams with SPF 15 or higher on the market and looked for the creams that moisturized my dried-out hands and don’t smell overwhelmingly like sunscreen...

The Straight-Up

Clinique Even Better Dark Spot Correcting Hand Cream Broad Spectrum SPF15
This had the most significant sunscreen scent, which made me wonder if you might as well be just using the same Coppertone you take to the beach. The Clinique cream went smooth with the texture you want from an everyday, high-usage hand cream, but once it dried, it was just that sunscreen scent, clashing with my Lean In perfume (top notes of peppercorn and blood of men). It’s a solid, basic, completely fragrance-free otherwise, but left me wanting more.

The Illuminating

La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Hand Cream SPF 15
Ooo-eee, this was a fancy one. You can tell because the bottle has bling: little silvery caviar bubbles that really made me crave caviar, so I sent out Jeeves to pick some up from the bodega—they were out. A rich (and not just the price point), velvety hand cream that gives your hands a subtle sheen and soaks in pretty quickly. La Prairie’s only flaw is its heavy floral scent. It was just too heavy, too rich-old-widow, for me. But you might like it!

L'Occitane Immortelle Brightening Hand Care SPF 20
I love closing my eyes and spraying L’Occitane’s Immortelle Precious Mist to set my makeup for the day—it’s like an angel spit on your face—it has an incredibly light, clean scent, which the Immortelle hand cream shares. The texture of the hand cream is very lightweight though, so if you’re someone who doesn’t want a glove-like hand cream, this is for you (just make sure to wear enough). For me, it wasn’t creamy enough to make my dry hands feel mega-moisturized (the air in my office is super drying, so much that you need a humidifier by your desk, so I mean business here).

Ever Light Beam Hand Cream SPF 18
I always love the choice of SPF 18. It just sounds so totally random and recently legal. Ever’s Light Beam was the most unscented of the group and perfect for those who hate even the slightest hint of summer flowers (you monsters!). It’s light and unfussy, not the cure for those weird cracks between your thumb and pointer finger, but good for slapping on before you head out to start your day.

The Force Field

Supergoop Forever Young Hand Cream with Sea Buckthorn Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 40
LOL, sea buckthorn, which is what kept the Little Mermaid’s skin so milky, apparently. Supergoop, at an admirable SPF 40, is a force field. But SPF 40 still means you have to reapply every few hours. It felt velvety and smooth going on, with a subtle sassafras, root-beerish scent that I imagine if you wore with Philosophy’s French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream could make a float! The scent dissipates really quickly, though. I think this one is perfect for someone like my sister in Houston, who’s stuck in her car for like 45 minutes just to get to Whataburger, where the sun sneaks through her windows and can still really mess with her skin. Monica, are you listening? Wear sunscreen on your hands and boob-area, please!

The Perfumed

Clé de Peau Beauté Hand Cream SPF 18
Clé de Peau’s floral and fruity, romantic scent made it in my top two favorite hand creams. There’s a hint of jasmine, peony, cherry blossom or some other unidentifiable flowers, but it’s fresh and fleeting, not strong and overwhelming. I’d squeeze out too much, so I’d spread the leftovers on my neck and chest, as the doctor ordered. It goes on smooth, and it made my hands—which haven’t been used for manual labor since 2006—feel luxuriously moisturized and soft (aka their favorite state).

Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl SPF 25
I confess: I really didn’t want this one to be my favorite because the Rich Girl name was just too much for me, but maybe it’s ironic? The scent is that stepping-out-of-the-shower shea-butter-soap clean. The texture? Rich and creamy for the depths of winter and the over-air-conditioned days of summer. And at SPF 25, it’s ahead of most of the competition, protection-wise. The only thing I didn’t love was the design of the bottle, which you twist and then the cream comes out of this hole [shifts eyes], and when you re-twist the bottle to close it, a little extra smidgen of cream remains—so if you’re not careful, you might get hand cream all over your purse. But at least it’s in good company with all of those stray popcorn kernels.

—Alex Beggs

Photographed by Tom Newton. In case you didn't know, you need sunscreen for your lips and hair, too.