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Please Help, My Hands Are Unbearably Dry From All the Washing!

Illustration for article titled Please Help, My Hands Are Unbearably Dry From All the Washing!
Photo: Nazmi Zaim (Unsplash)

It’s hardly the biggest problem we’re facing at the moment, but a complaint I’m hearing over and over again is that, with this newfound fervor for hand-washing, people are suffering from dry skin. Like I said, not the biggest problem out there, but it can be uncomfortable up to downright painful! Also, dryness caused by increased hand washing could lead people to stop washing their hands and we don’t want that.

So let’s get you guys some help! Good news: I am a person who is extraordinarily vain about her hands AND ALSO is sensitive to many scented hand creams—I’ve got you covered.

The Best Hand Creams for Regular Use

For the uninitiated, not all hand creams are created equally. Some are on the greasy side, leaving your hands annoyingly slick after applying, and some others are quite thick, which means they don’t absorb quickly enough to let you get on with the important business of using your hands to, you know, live your life. (Don’t entirely write off the thicker creams, though. We’ll get to that!)

Illustration for article titled Please Help, My Hands Are Unbearably Dry From All the Washing!
Photo: Clarissa Watson (Unsplash)

For home use, I find that a pump dispenser is the easiest way to deliver much needed moisture to my just-washed hands. Put a bottle on your sink ledges (bathrooms, kitchen, maybe one on the nightstand or on your desk at work?) for easy access and a visual reminder to lube up.

Aveeno products are great just in general, but I like this formula for a frequent-use hand cream because it’s lightweight and absorbs quickly.

However, a tube of hand cream is worth getting in addition to a pump-style cream so that you can stash it in a gym or laptop bag for moisture on the go. Dove’s DermaSeries hand cream is unscented and gets high marks for absorbing quickly.


Dove also offers a cream in the same line that’s designed to help soothe inflammation caused by eczema.

The Heavier Dutier (go with it, okay?) Stuff

For regular use, a lightweight, unscented hand cream is ideal. There are times, however, when a thicker formula is needed—just be aware that when you apply a thicker cream, you’ll want to do so at a time when you can chill and let it absorb for 5-10 minutes.


This Cetaphil cream comes recommended by a friend of mine from Colorado. You know what it is in Colorado? It is DRY!

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream is a little pricey but be aware that a little bit of this stuff goes a long way—you’ll get your money’s worth.


The Big Guns

Heavy duty creams are great, and will be enough for most people who are suffering from dry hands. But if they’re not getting the job done fast enough, or if your hands have started to crack from dryness, skip straight ahead to very thick hand treatments like Flexitol Moisturizing Relief or Vaseline Clinical Care.


Ointments are also great for treating badly chapped hands (and lips, and elbows, and etc etc etc.) Some to check out are Aquaphor, Vaseline, and Bag Balm.


If you opt for a very thick cream or an ointment, you may also want to buy a pair of white cotton gloves to don post-moisturizing, which will help to speed up the absorption of thick hand treatments.

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person

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