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The Scented Hand Creams Getting Me Through Winter


Season 3 of the pandemic feels a lot like season 1, so it’s easy to lose track of time. It’s even easier to forget to care for your hands—but the frigid weather, combined with the fact that we’re all aggressively surfing the handwashing wave, means hand cream is a non-negotiable. Scented hand cream is a reward for your digits and your nose. Apply a thick coat at night, and luxuriate on a lightly fragranced pillow in the morning. Touch your phone, and find the scent lingering next time you pick it up to make a call. Simply put: if you already need to use hand cream you may as well find one that you love, and really good scented hand creams are so incredibly lovable. If you’re looking for a reason to give your mitts (and your senses) some extra attention, maybe you’ll find it below.

Tony Moly I’m Rose Hand Cream

It seems like nobody’s caught on to the fact Tonymoly makes the perfect dainty hand cream. Take one look at the packaging and one whiff of the lotion and tell me that Rose here doesn’t belong at a tea party, delicately fanning herself under a parasol. The fragrance isn’t overpowering, yet it sticks around just enough for people to smell it if they shake or hold your hand. Plus it’s light and absorbs quickly. It’s the perfect choice for when you want to moisturize your hands, but don’t want to commit to a heavy lotion because you know you’ll be washing them again soon.

J.R. Watkins Natural Moisturizing Lavender Hand Cream

I’ve never really tried aromatherapy, but this lotion is what I imagine it to be like. The lavender scent is calming and dries down to a heady natural fragrance that’s almost musky (J.R. Watkins, tell me your secrets!). Because she’s thick, I like using this as the last step in my nighttime routine so that I’m done putting my grubby hands on everything before I apply it. Upon waking, my hands feel baby soft and ready to catch whatever the day throws at them.

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Touch Hand Cream

Sol de Janeiro’s formula absorbs into hands quickly, which is great, plus its fragrance has an ardently devoted fan base. (It’s the same scent in their summery signature Bum Bum Cream.) If you hate winter and would trade your soul to be on any exotic beach right now, you’ll love the scent of this lotion. I swear it smells like someone left a pot of caramel to melt in the sun. And even though it seems lightweight, the formula is actually thick enough to keep your hands moisturized against the cold (even though you’d rather be somewhere warmer).

Glossier Hand Cream

Glossier’s formula is the most subtle of the bunch. You only need a little bit to fully moisturize your hands—the texture is rich, but not so rich that you have to worry about leaving oily fingerprints on your phone screen while you’re playing Candy Crush checking the news. And its scent is soft and fresh. It smells—in a good way—like clean baby. Or nice-smelling laundry detergent. Bonus points for the fact that the packaging looks great in any bag or pencil case.

Irene Forte Vanilla Hand Cream

This tiny white spatula even comes with a jar of hand cream! It is definitely a luxury, something I break out as a Little Treat, and smells and feels like vanilla icing. Using it is an experience in unwinding and making everything seem a little softer and warmer. The swanky formula, which includes calendula and aloe leaf juice, is great for dry hands. It’s probably too luxuriant for people that prefer oil-free hand creams, though.

Le Labo Basil Hand Pomade

In my books, this one’s the winner: the hand cream to end all hand creams. Though it’s technically a “pomade.” Whatever you say, Le Labo! The formula is rich, but not oily or greasy in the slightest. I’m smitten with the simple packaging and compact design, which even fits perfectly in tiny womens' jeans pockets. Even better, the basil scent makes me feel like I’m in a kitchen in the Italian countryside. If you disagree, feel free to keep quiet and let me live out my Call Me By Your Name dreams. Thanks!

—Hannah Burnstein

Photo via ITG