The 5 Best Hand Moisturizers

We think about our face and remember our legs and arms, but we often forget about our hands.

Finding the best hand moisturizer to protect and renew your skin isn't a difficult task, but you do need to know what to look for and why.

Why Moisturize?

Your hands need love and attention, too.

Wrinkles, veins and pigment discoloration are all signs of aging.

Cracked and dry skin tell you that your hands are not as healthy as they could be.

It's easy to remember to moisturize your hands after problems arise, but using hand moisturizers all year long can further prevent unsightly and even painful conditions worsened by weather, age and daily washing.

Why Can't I Just Use My Body Moisturizer Instead?

All moisturizers are not created equal.

Would you put foot cream on your face? Probably not.

Your face is more sensitive, and your facial pores are more likely to clog. Foot creams tend to be harsher to combat tough skin and penetrate thicker dermal layers.

The same principle applies to your hands.

Each moisturizer is formulated to address the specific needs of that particular skin type.

They consider factors like skin layer thickness, pore types and general sensitivity.

Those factors influence what combination of ingredients would address specific beauty needs and usage frequency.

Hand moisturizers are often thicker than body moisturizers.

They also tend to absorb faster because we need the use of our hands immediately.

The main purpose of a hand moisturizer is to hydrate and then seal moisture in the top layer of skin to keep skin healthy and soft.​

Types of Moisturizer

There are three main types of moisturizers:

  • Ointments are semi-solid and help reduce skin's water loss to retain hydration. Their consistency protects skin from damaging conditions while active ingredients attend to injured skin. This is great, but the downside is that they often leave skin feeling greasy.
  • Creams are thick and contain less oil, so they leave a less greasy finish. Their thickness often makes them slower to absorb into your skin, but they also help your skin retain soaked in moisture better and for longer.
  • Lotions are thinner than creams as they contain higher concentrations of water. The benefit is that they tend to absorb faster. However, you may need to reapply often.

Which one you should use depends on what existing conditions you're trying to repair (cracked skin, redness) and the extent of the condition (normal dryness versus extreme dryness).

Lotions and creams are great choices for everyday use while ointments are best saved for reparative use with severely damaged skin.

How to Use Moisturizer

While you can apply any of the three types of moisturizer at any time, it is highly recommended to apply your chosen product after showering and washing your hands.

The warm water opens up your pores allowing the oils and other active ingredients to soak in deeper.

This timing also allows for that additional moisture to be locked in by any barrier formed by the product.

Applying your product prior to going outside could help prevent additional skin damage. The product provides an extra layer of protection, especially against extreme weather conditions.

Ingredients to Look For

Emollients: These help retain moisture by penetrating your skin and creating a barrier that shields skin from the elements. Shea butter, natural Vitamin E, hemp and grape seed oils and avocado oil are common choices in today's beauty products.

Sun Protection: UVA and UVB protection is just as important for your hands as it is for your face. Harsh rays from the sun can make your hands look older by damaging skin, which results in wrinkles and discoloration.

Unfortunately, many hand moisturizers that offer traditional SPF protection don't work well in other key areas, such as retaining moisture or absorbing quickly.

However, Vitamin C can protect against sun damage while Vitamins A and E found in shea butter can help repair skin damage while strengthening cells.

Collagen Boosters: Collagen is what gives your skin structure. When it breaks down, wrinkles and fine lines begin to show. Collagen boosters like Vitamin C, shea butter, and retinol or retinoid help promote collagen production to rebuild skin's elasticity and firmness.

Natural Antioxidants: These plant-based compounds fight free radicals that damage skin. They often serve dual purposes, such as also reducing redness or inflammation.

Eidelweiss, green tea and grape seed extracts, as well as Vitamins A and E, are common antioxidants found in moisturizers.

No Drying Ingredients: Phthalates, sulfates, and parabens can cancel out hydrating ingredients by worsening dryness.Just as you wouldn't apply any old lotion to your face, don't just settle for what you put on your hands. When it comes to hand moisturizers, we know you want to soften, protect and renew.

The good news is there are many products out there that address all of these. Check out our picks for the best hand moisturizers to see for yourself.​

Reviews of The Best Hand Moisturizers

L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

This creamy balm won several beauty awards in 2012, including the Essence Readers' Choice and the InStyle Best Beauty Buys.

With a 20% shea butter formula, this hand cream packs intense hydration that is non-watery, rich and weightless.

While there is no SPF rating, the vitamins found in the shea butter can help repair sun damage.

The coconut oil, honey and marshmallow extracts absorb quickly into the skin with instantly noticeable softness.

This extract blend also repairs cuticles, too! You can pick this hand moisturizer up in Original Shea Butter, Zesty Lime, Vanilla Bouquet or Delightful Rose.

This cream is long-lasting, even standing up against repeated hand washing, making this pricey tube go a long way.

While it's not the most expensive hand moisturizer on the market, the combination of benefits with minimal drawbacks makes this hand cream one of the best.

Things We Liked

  • Award-winning brand and formula
  • 20% shea butter content for hydration
  • No phthalates
  • No leftover residue

Things We Didn't Like

  • A bit pricey
  • Tubing is not durable
  • No SPF

Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream

Often with dry, damaged hands come dry and damaged nails. It's important to have a formula that combines ingredients to help both causes.

Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream was specifically designed to improve both at the same time.

Its antioxidant-rich formula contains sweet orange, grape seed extract, and organic avocado to fight off free radicals that promote skin damage.

The avocado and grape seed works double-time with the shea butter to provide long-lasting moisture that repairs, regenerates and nourishes skin and nails.

The product is thick and creamy, but quick absorption prevents an oily or greasy residue. The cream's scent can be dividing.

While not overpowering, at times it smells like natural citrus, and then at other times, it smells more artificial and perfumed.

Things We Liked

  • Adds shine and protection to nails
  • No oily or greasy residue
  • Cruelty-free and no animal ingredients
  • No parabens, sulfates or phthalates

Things We Didn't Like

  • Perfumed, citrusy scent
  • Small tube size for price
  • Metallic tubing prone to leaks and breakage

Burt's Bees 100% Natural Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Crème

Sweet almond oil and natural Vitamin E moisturize dry hands leaving them soft and supple.

Natural clay gives the product structure and gives it a very thick, whipped-like consistency.

Beeswax protects the skin's surface from cold, heat and other drying factors while sealing in moisture for long-lasting conditioning.

The almond oil also leaves skin with a light nutty fragrance.

Due to the neutral fragrance and its 100% natural ingredients, this formula is especially non-irritating for severely chapped or damaged skin.

Many people even opt to include this product in their first-aid kits as a burn cream.

While the cream does take a longer time to absorb, just a little dab goes a long way and minimizes any greasy residue. Massage in only a pea-sized amount at a time and thoroughly work into skin.

Things We Liked

  • No drying parabens or phthalates
  • Seals in moisture for long-lasting effect
  • Silky finish
  • 100% natural ingredients

Things We Didn't Like

  • Made with real almond oil (a common allergen)
  • Slow absorption
  • Small jar (2 oz.) for the price

Pre de Provence Enriched Hand Cream

Like the L'Occitane Hand Cream, Pre de Provence has a 20% shea butter content, giving the product a thick, creamy consistency.

The shea butter also works with added Vitamin E and sweet almond oil to quench dry skin to nourish, protect and moisturize without leaving behind a greasy feeling.

Due to the high shea butter content, this product also helps to restore and maintain skin's elasticity and tone while also repairing sun damage.

The ultra-rich formula absorbs quickly into the skin to provide deep moisture and promote healing.

Rosemary extracts help soothe skin conditions like eczema and cracked skin. Sunflower oil contains antioxidant properties that help fight the signs of aging.

While the ultra-rich formula provides deep moisture and promotes healing, it doesn't absorb instantly.

Though, taking the time to warm up the product in the palms of your hands can make the application smoother and help with faster absorption.

This cream is available in three scents: Verbena, Lavender and Original. Because of its calming aromatic properties, the lavender option makes for a great nighttime hand moisturizer.

Things We Liked

  • Non-greasy
  • No parabens or colorants
  • No animal testing
  • Subtle fragrances that don't overpower

Things We Didn't Like

  • Thickness makes it hard to squeeze out
  • Non-durable tube
  • Slower absorption

The Body Shop Hand Protector

Unlike these other hand moisturizers, The Body Shop Hand Protector is more of an ointment, leaving behind a slight residue that stays on the skin for hours.However, it's not meant to absorb completely like a traditional hand cream or as fast.

Beeswax provides a protective layer that traps in the skin's natural moisture as well as the hydration provided by the hemp oil.

The hemp oil also soothes pain associated with cracking and dryness. It also delivers small amounts of vitamins and minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, folate and Vitamins B-6 and E.

These work to rejuvenate and restore damaged skin.

Retinyl Palmitate works as a gentle exfoliator that promotes the turnover of dead skin cell for the generation of new ones, which aids in repairing cracked skin.

Allantoin also aids in this process by providing extra hydration and protection by fighting off skin irritants, keeping the new skin cells healthy and vibrant.

If you can wait the extra 10-15 minutes for the salve to absorb fully, then it makes for a truly effective hand moisturizer.If not, it works great as a nighttime or occasional treatment to promote faster healing of severely damaged and cracked hands.

Things We Liked

  • Softens and relieves very dry hands
  • Protects against damage
  • Up to 24 hours of hydration
  • Non-irritating
  • Dermatologist tested and approved

Things We Didn't Like

  • Earthy smell
  • Extra-long absorption time
  • Slight residue leftover

Conclusion

Offering the best value in terms of price, function and feeling is the Pre de Provence Enriched Hand Cream.

This moisturizer packs much of the same benefits as its more expensive counterpart, L'Occitane 20% Shea Butter Hand Cream, but at half the price.

The shea butter content hydrates skin and improves elasticity and tone. Natural extracts help soothe and repair damaged skin.

The main drawbacks were that it absorbed a bit slower and that the tube was a little harder to work with, but those seem negligible when considering the savings.

Picking the proper hand moisturizer is just as important as selecting the right moisturizer for your face or body.

There are plenty of quality products out there, but they're not all the same.

Knowing their differences and what you're hoping to accomplish with your regime will help guide you in selecting the right one for you.

Image credits: Amazon.com​