Hands are as exposed as our faces and yet we hardly put any thought into skincare or protection for them. Until, that is, winter hits and they start chapping. Modern hand creams don't just boost moisture levels, they're now anti-agers too and can reduce the appearance of age spots and fine lines, and help combat eczema. From sink-side pump dispensers to balms, creams and crème-gloves, we've rounded up the best hand nourishers in the business.
1. Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream: £21 for 100ml, Clarins
Launched in 1979, this has been a best-selling product for more than 30 years and a tube is sold every 30 seconds worldwide. Put to the test, it delivered above and beyond our expectations. Not only one of the richest and most nourishing creams we tried, but it absorbs almost instantly and leaves no greasy residue. There are very few creams that can deliver on nourishment and absorption so effectively – this one can even keep mild eczema at bay. The moisturising base of sesame oil and shea butter is boosted by Japanese mulberry extract to work on minimising age spots, while myrrh extract is used to strengthen the nails.
2. Estée Lauder New Dimension Smooth + Tone Crème Glove: £30 for 75ml, Estée Lauder
Despite the name, it's not actually a glove, it’s just a cream. But it’s such an insanely effective one that you might as well be wearing gloves. A whole range of new skincare products from Estée Lauder contain its innovative “shaping” technology, which in this hand cream is designed to firm and plump the skin on the back of your hands and reduce the look of fine lines. If you invest in expensive skincare for your face, but your hands are letting you down, this is the cream to go for to improve tone and texture. It stays put in water (better than other creams we tested) and there was much less dryness after hand washing or washing up, if you've applied it in the morning.
3. Elemis British Botanical Hand & Nail Butter: £18 for 100ml, Time to Spa
The moabi butter base from Cameroon gives some serious longevity to this nail butter, acting like a moisturising glove. Shea butter delivers the essential fatty acids which help cells hold water so skin feels less dry and reduces the look of fine lines, while burdock extract, zinc sulphate and vitamin B7 work together to strengthen brittle nails. In true Elemis style, there's some effective garden herbs and florals in there too - calming lavender and camomile, and uplifting palmarosa and geranium.
4. Neom Organics Nourish, Breathe & Energise Hand Balm: £12 for 50ml, Feel Unique
It's that energy-zapping time of year when you can feel like you're walking through treacle. Cold, grey weather, short days and a tax bill just in. So use your hand cream as a therapeutic pick-me-up by choosing this uplifting, energising booster packed with grapefruit, lemon and rosemary. There are three other balms to choose from if you're already fully loaded with energy; happiness boosting Breathe & Smile, relaxing Breathe & Calm, and a restful one for bedtime, Breathe & Sleep.
5. Oskia Renaissance Hand Cream: £22.50 for 75ml, Oskia Skincare
Renowned for packing in as many natural actives and nutrients into its products, Oskia has pulled out all the stops for its hand cream. This is anti-ageing for hands at its absolute finest. It's packed with omegas for hydration and elasticity, liposomes to reduce pigmentation, gentle organic AHA exfoliators to remove dull and ageing dry skin cells, shea butter to soothe and fermented minerals (yes that is a thing) to stimulate cell renewal and deliver anti-ageing benefits. This is high-performance skincare for hands.
6. By Terry Baume de Rose Hand Cream: £32 for 75g, Cult Beauty
If you're all about the scent in your hand cream, then you won't be able to refuse this new rose-packed offering from By Terry, which includes rose butter, rose flower essential wax, rose hip oil and oil extracts of black rose and pastel rose. Not content with rose olfactory overload? This is a little bit like a tinted moisturiser for your hands, too. Soft-focus powders and skin-correcting optical prisms reflect light and tone down blemishes and irregularities in your skin tone. Ultra-thick and nourishing, it absorbs instantly and leaves a slight powdery veil of perfection.
7. Clinique Deep Comfort Hand & Cuticle Cream: £18.50 for 75ml, Clinique
A handy handbag-sized tube, this rich, restorative hand treat is one for dry, itchy skin that needs soothing. The blend of vitamins and plant extracts also helps protect the skin from the environment, and rebuild the skin's natural barrier, so it can defend itself against external aggressors like UV, central heating, wind and cold weather. Don't be put off by the glycerin content – it doesn't make this hand cream sticky at all, just beautifully nourishing and it soaks in like a dream.
8. Ark Skincare Body Beautiful Intensive Hand & Nail Cream: £20 for 75ml, Ark Skincare
Nasties-free (including no mineral oil and fragrance), this British niche-brand bases its hand cream on essential fatty acids and lipids to boost hydration and reinforce the skin's natural moisture barrier. While red algae targets age spots and keratin amino acid ensures nails are kept strong and healthy. Palmarosa, clary sage, rosemary, ylang ylang, jasmine and mimosa also give this cream a stunning fresh floral scent.
9. Baylis & Harding The Fuzzy Duck Black Pepper & Sage Moisturising Hand Lotion: £5 for 500ml, Amazon
Exceptional value for money, this sink-side, pump-dispenser hand lotion is inspired by The Fuzzy Duck, a boutique hotel in the Cotswolds. A beautiful, rich and spicy, slightly masculine scent means there’s no excuses for him to have dry hands this winter.
10. Ruby Red Hand Restoring Moisturiser: £20 for 75ml, Amazon
For natural beauty lovers, head to Ruby Red for its zero-tolerance policy towards chemical nasties; no parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, synthetic aromas and dyes. Instead there's a powerful antioxidant, the mung bean. Repairing, firming, sun damage reducing and texture restoring – these beans have been used for centuries in China and are now popular in anti-ageing beauty products. It also contains seven nourishing plant oils, neroli and parsley.
11. Kind Natured Deeply Nourishing Shea and Macadamia Hand Cream: £4.99 for 100ml, Boots
Easy on the purse strings, this smooth, nourishing hand treat gives parched skin a long drink. Despite the price tag, you're not left with a sticky, greasy residue that can be found with other inexpensive hand creams - this absorbs quickly and easily. And our tester thought her skin looked younger and smoother straight away.
12. Aromacure Eczema Cream: £14.99 for 50g, Aromacure
If your skin is of a sensitive disposition, or you have broken, cracked or eczema-prone skin, this cream should be your absolute must-buy. Having struggled with eczema on and off for years and tried every medication, cream, steroid, alternative therapy and diet, this is the one product that relieves the unbearable itching and scratching that would wake me at night. Buy it now, it will change your life!
The Verdict: Hand creams
Neom Organics delivers on incredible therapeutic benefits, Elemis is deeply nourishing and astonishingly long-lasting, while Estée Lauder can't be beaten on its anti-ageing benefits. But the award-winning, cult classic from Clarins has been a top seller for three decades and is our pick of the best.
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