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Though most skincare focuses on the face, below-the-neck pampering shouldn't be overlooked. It's particularly critical for areas regularly exposed to the outdoor elements—namely, your hands. "Hand cream is important to use daily, especially with our recent increase in washing," board-certified dermatologist Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, tells Byrdie.
There's no shortage of products out there for remedying dry skin, but if you've landed on this page, you're probably on the hunt for the crème de la crème. So, what makes a good formula? We appreciate hand creams that contain nourishing, moisturizing ingredients like plant oils and natural butters, along with antioxidants such as vitamin E and niacinamide (vitamin B3).
Additionally, Dr. Madfes says, "Hand creams with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and squalene absorb quickly." And if you have notably reactive skin, you may want to steer clear of lotions with alcohol or added fragrance.³
Meet the Expert
Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, is a New York-based board-certified dermatologist specializing in chemical peels, facial rejuvenation, and general skincare. She is an attending physician at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a member of several professional societies, including the American Academy of Dermatology.
Without further ado, these are the best hand creams for pampering your paws.
Best Overall: La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Hands
Strengthens skin barrier
Doesn't smell great
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast is a favorite of Dr. Madfes, and we can see why. Containing niacinamide, shea butter, and the brand's signature thermal spring water, the lightweight formula nourishes dry hands, soothes irritation, and strengthens the skin barrier.
What's more, this fast-absorbing French hand cream isn't greasy or sticky and provides up to 48 hours of moisture. Whether your hands are cracked from frequent washing, chapped from cold winter weather, damaged from sun exposure, or just in need of some TLC, you really can't go wrong with Cicaplast.
Active Ingredients: Niacinamide, shea butter, thermal spring water | Size: 1.7 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Budget: Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
A little goes a long way
Neutrogena's highly concentrated Norwegian Formula has been a staple for decades. This no-nonsense, wallet-friendly hand cream contains a heaping dose of the humectant glycerin to hydrate and smooth dry skin.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin | Size: 2 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: No
Best Drugstore: O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream
Doesn't spread very easily
Formulated with dry, cracked skin in mind, this concentrated drugstore hand cream contains hydrating glycerin and tried-and-true emollient mineral oil. O'Keeffe's Working Hands not only moisturizes but also protects the skin barrier from future damage.
Active Ingredients: Glycerin, mineral oil | Size: 3 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Splurge: Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
Aesop Resurrection flaunts a splurge-worthy formula and an intoxicating scent. This high-end hand balm nourishes with sweet almond oil, coconut oil, and natural butters, leaving softer skin and a woody-citrus aroma in its wake.
Active Ingredients: Plant oils, cocoa butter, shea butter | Size: 2.6 ounces, 17 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Luxury: L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream
Several scents available
Contains synthetic fragrance
We're also big fans of L'Occitane's luxury hand cream. Containing a medley of plant oils, nourishing honey, and almond milk, and housed in a timeless aluminum tube, the fancy French formula provides silky-smooth skin while evoking five-star-hotel vibes.
Active Ingredients: Plant oils, honey, almond milk | Size: 1 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best With SPF: Supergoop! Handscreen SPF 40
No synthetic fragrances
Since your hands get almost as much daily sun exposure as your face, you're wise to use a sunscreen-infused formula. Supergoop! Handscreen offers broad-spectrum SPF 40 protection while targeting hyperpigmentation and loss of firmness.
Active Ingredients: Avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octocrylene | Size: 1 fluid ounce, 6.7 fluid ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Mature Skin: StriVectin Anti-Wrinkle Volumizing and Rejuvenating Hand Cream
Minimizes fine lines
To combat fine lines, dark spots, uneven texture, and other signs of aging, reach for StriVectin. This expertly formulated hand cream contains everyone's favorite humectant, hyaluronic acid, plus antioxidants to hydrate, boost radiance, and tone your skin.
Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, vitamin C | Size: 2 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Consistency: Monat Body Care Silky & Soothing Hand Cream
Contains synthetic fragrance
Monat's take on hand cream contains a top-shelf blend of glycerin, shea butter, and plant-derived oils, like olive, coconut, and hydrating baobab. The silky-smooth formula is lightweight yet luxurious, absorbing quickly and leaving you with supremely soft skin.
Active Ingredients: Shea butter, plant oils, glycerin | Size: 2.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Nourishing: Benton Shea Butter and Olive Hand Cream
Can feel greasy
Containing a heaping dose of premium-grade shea butter, plus olive oil, glycerin, and botanical extracts, Benton hand cream offers deep nourishment and long-lasting moisture.
Active Ingredients: Shea butter, olive oil, glycerin | Size: 1.7 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Scent: Glossier Hand Cream
If you prioritize a good scent, you'll love Glossier's hand cream. Infused with the brand's premier You fragrance, it combines a musky base with a creamy, salty heart and spicy, woody notes on top. This sounds like a lot, but we promise it's not overpowering.
Active Ingredients: Meadowfoam seed oil, coconut extract | Size: 1.7 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Aromatherapy: Nubian Heritage Lavender and Wildflowers Hand Cream
Potentially too large for a purse
Infused with a botanical blend of lavender and wildflower essential oils, this hand cream offers calming aromatherapy while nourishing rough, dry skin with shea butter.
Active Ingredients: Shea butter, glycerin, essential oils | Size: 4 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best K-Beauty: Sur.Medic+ Super Ceramide 100 Intense Protection Hand Cream
Strengthens skin barrier
Not enough moisture for super dry skin
We're also loving this natural hand cream from the Korean brand Sur.Medic. The pharmaceutical-inspired aluminum tube is filled with replenishing ceramides, moisturizing olive oil, hyaluronic acid, and adenosine to target fine lines and other signs of aging.
Active Ingredients: Ceramides, olive oil, hyaluronic acid, adenosine | Size: 1.5 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Travel-Friendly: Dionis Goat Milk Skincare Hand Cream
Contains synthetic fragrance
You'll be glad to have a tube of Dionis on hand when you're on the go. Boasting a blend of protein-packed goat's milk and healing honey, it nourishes, moisturizes, and replenishes dry skin without leaving a greasy residue.
Active Ingredients: Goat milk, honey | Size: 1 ounce | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best for Hands and Body: Alaffia Coconut Reishi Hand and Body Cream
Works on hands and body
Fair Trade ingredients
Size isn't practical for body lotion
Alaffia Hand and Body Cream combines coconut oil with adaptogenic reishi mushroom extract to hydrate, nourish, and protect your skin from head to toe. The Fair Trade formula is exceptionally creamy yet super easy to blend.
Active Ingredients: Coconut oil, reishi extract | Size: 8 ounces | Byrdie Clean: Yes | Cruelty-Free: Yes
Best Countertop: Ouai Hand Lotion
Contains synthetic fragrance
Looking for something to place next to your sink? You can't go wrong with Ouai. This 16-ounce pump bottle contains a skin-soothing blend of avocado, jojoba, and rosehip oils to lock in moisture while gracing you with a refreshing citrus scent.
Active Ingredients: Avocado oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil | Size: 16 ounces | Byrdie Clean: No | Cruelty-Free: Yes
The best hand cream overall is La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Hands (view at Amazon), a dermatologist-recommended formula full of skin-loving ingredients like shea butter, niacinamide, and thermal spring water. On a budget? Go with Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream (view at Walmart), which calls on a high concentration of glycerin to hydrate and smooth dry skin.
What to Look for in a Hand Cream
When choosing a hand cream, antioxidants are always a plus. "Antioxidants work by reversing and preventing oxidative stress aka free radical damage," says Sonya Dakar, skincare expert and founder of Sonya Dakar Skin Clinic. "Think of antioxidants as an insurance plan for your skin. They protect you from future damage as well as help reverse damage to your cells." Antioxidants can help with premature aging, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation, all of which our hands are particularly exposed to. They are also super anti-inflammatory.
If you are purchasing a hand cream to tackle the all-too-common issue of dry hands, seeking a cream that nourishes the skin should be a priority. Hydrating ingredients including shea butter and coconut oil help keep the skin nourished and help fight dry, cracked skin.
Just like any skincare product, there are different hand cream formulas to choose from. In winter (or dry, colder months), opt for a heavier thicker cream or ointment (don't worry, we've listed those that don't leave a greasy residue on your hands). In the summer months, opt for a lighter-weight hand cream. And of course, year-round, always opt for a hand cream that has SPF when possible.
Which hand cream is best to tackle fine lines and wrinkles?
When looking to tackle fine lines and wrinkles, opt for a hand cream with antioxidants. As discussed, antioxidants help prevent and reverse premature aging, giving your skin a fighting chance against pesky wrinkles. Also, opt for a hand cream with SPF to fight any damage the sun may cause which can also lead to fine lines.
What ingredients should be avoided in hand cream?
Avoid exfoliating ingredients in hand creams that can further irritate dry or chapped skin. You'll technically want to avoid harsh ingredients altogether if you have sensitive skin, such as alcohol and fragrance.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Theresa Holland is a skincare aficionado and freelance copyeditor specializing in cosmetics, wellness, and lifestyle. For this article, she interviewed a board-certified dermatologist for product recommendations and insight into formulations. She considered dozens of products from myriad brands, combed through ingredients lists, and referenced peer-reviewed resources before making her final selections. From the above list, she has personally tested Neutrogena, O'Keefe's, Monat, Supergoop!, Dionis, and L'Occitane. Theresa covers skincare, makeup, and haircare at Byrdie.