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Mar 26, 2020

13 Derm-Recommended Hand Creams Because Your Hands Are Super Dry Thanks To Coronavirus Handwashing

Flatten the curve *and* keep your hands moisturized.

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Now that we're in the midst of a Coronavirus pandemic, I trust that you all are washing your hands for at least 20 seconds multiple times a day, per the CDC's instructions.


And while I'm happy to do my part to help stop the spread, sudsing up is wreaking havoc on my already chronically dry hands. My palms are rough, the skin between my fingers has the texture of sandpaper, and my cuticles are in tatters. And it's not like I don't moisturize after I wash my hands!

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It me!

To give my parched paws some much-needed relief, I reached out to some dermatologists to learn how to pick the best hand cream from the thousands that are out there. Plus, they also shared with me their favorite post-handwashing lotions, so BRB I'm gonna add these to my cart.

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Before we delve into the good stuff, let's talk about how to pick a hand cream like a pro. All the derms I spoke with recommended looking for lotions that contain some or all of the following ingredients, so write them down: humectants, occlusives, and emollients.

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Humectants draw water to the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin) from the dermis (the layer underneath the epidermis). They also attract water from the atmosphere to a lesser extent. Some examples include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), aloe vera, honey, hyaluronic acid, sugar alcohols (glycerin), and urea.

Occlusives sit on top of the skin and create a physical barrier that traps moisture so it doesn't escape. Lanolin, mineral oils, petroleum jelly, silicones, and waxes are common occlusives.

Emollients occupy rough spots and gaps between dead skin cells so the surface feels smooth and soft. If you've tried skincare products with butters, ceramides, fatty acids, lipids, and oils, congrats — you've used emollients before.

In terms of ingredients you should avoid, alcohols and fragrance are on the naughty list as they can burn or irritate your skin.

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Another point of agreement among the derms is that you want a thick formula. Creams and ointments are better than lotions, which are better than gels. So yes, you may have to wait for the product to fully absorb so your hands don't feel greasy but you probably won't have to reapply as often if you're picking a potent cream.


OK, OK, now let's get into the hand creams:

1. Cetaphil Ultra Healing Lotion with Ceramides


"This is a great drugstore option that is fragrance-free and paraben-free," says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. "It not only includes ceramides but also sunflower oil, amino acids, and allantoin. It will help to heal rough, dry, flaky patches and won’t cause irritation."

Get it from CVS for $23.99 or Rite Aid for $17.99

2. Aquaphor Advanced Therapy

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"For when my hands are especially dry, I turn to Aquaphor Advanced Therapy as a tried-and-true moisturizing ointment as it creates a protective barrier on the skin preventing water loss, restores moisture, and leaves my hands feeling soft," says Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist. "It is safe to use for all ages and can also be used for dry lips and other areas of the body that experience dry or cracked skin."

Get it from CVS for $6.99+ (available in various sizes), Rite Aid for $4.59, or Walgreens for $10.49.

3. Supergoop! Forever Young Hand Cream


"Hands get constant UV exposure that further breaks down the supporting collagen and fat," says Dr. Engelman. "I like a hand cream that incorporates UV protection, like this one. It also contains meadowfoam seed oil, among others, to hydrate and antioxidants to combat damage."

Get it from Dermstore for $14.

4. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

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"[It's] thick and traps moisturize," says Nazanin Saedi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and the director of Jefferson Laser Surgery and Cosmetic Center. "It has glycerin, which helps attract water and keeps hands hydrated!"

Vlada Doktor, DO, a dermatologist at The Dermatology Specialists in New York City, also recommends this hand cream!

Get it from CVS for $6.29, Rite Aid for $3.99, or Walgreens for $5.99.

5. Eucerin Original Healing Hand Cream


"I use Eucerin Original Healing Hand Cream often!" says Sandra Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of SLMD skincare (though you may know her better as Dr. Pimple Popper). "It’s inexpensive, contains super moisturizing ingredients, and does the job. It’s by my sink and at my bedside — best places to moisturize!"

Here's a pro tip from Dr. Pimple Popper: Moisturize when your skin is still damp from handwashing. "[This] is the BEST time to moisturize your hands because moisturizer will help to seal it in, and prevent water from evaporating on your skin and sucking the moisture with it."

Get it from CVS for $6.79+ (available in two sizes), Rite Aid for $12.49, or Walgreens for $14.99.

6. SLMD Glycolic Acid Body Lotion

SLMD Skincare

It should be no surprise that Dr. Lee is a fan and avid user of her own skincare line. "I use SLMD Glycolic Acid Body Lotion everywhere else, pretty much, which gently exfoliates and hydrates my skin."

Get it from SLMD Skincare for $35.

7. Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light

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"I like this oil because it is 100% argan oil," says Engelman. "You’re getting the highest concentration, which can be mixed or directly applied. Loaded with vitamins and fatty acids, argan oil effectively repairs skin damage and scarring. High in vitamin E, it helps heal damage from within. Because of its ability to penetrate deep into the skin, it improves skin elasticity. It is great for balancing skin hydration and the ferulic acid helps to reverse skins of aging caused by free radicals."

Before slathering your hands in argan oil, test it on a small patch of skin as some plant oils can trigger allergic reactions or lead to increased sensitivity over time, says Dr. Doktor.

Get it from Dermstore for $49, Sephora for $17+ (available in three sizes), or QVC for $92.

8. Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream


"The company performed head-to-head clinical studies against other derm favorites (including mine) — Cetaphil and CeraVe," says Melanie Palm, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Art of Skin in Solana Beach, California. The Eucerin product provided sustained moisture barrier function, and is chock-full of moisturizing agents, skin barrier–repair ingredients (ceramide-3, natural moisturizing factor), and even contains lactic acid and urea to soften skin. It provides effective moisture but not leave hands feeling greasy post-application."

Get it from CVS for $6.79 or Walgreens for $5.79.

9. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream

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"The hydrating formula seals and protects skin; formula hasn’t changed since the product was created in the 1930s, and I’ve been using this product since I was a child," says Engelman. "It has definitely stood the test of time. The best part is it can be used for hands, as lip balm, or anything that needs extra moisture!"

I have used this and stand by its moisturizing capabilities!

Get it from Dermstore, Elizabeth Arden, Macy's, Nordstrom, or Ulta for $24.

10. CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream

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"[It] has ceramides to replace/strengthen the skin barrier and hyaluronic acid to hydrate," says Dr. Saedi.

Get it from CVS for $12.99 or Dermstore for $10.99.

11. Avène Cold Cream Concentrated Hand Cream

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"It is gentle on the skin as it contains the Avène thermal spring water, which helps to soothe the skin," says Dr. Garshick. "Plus, it contains glycerin to help draw in moisture and hydrate the skin. Not only does it leave the hands feeling smooth, it has also been shown to last through five hand washings, which is very important with how frequently people are washing their hands."

Get it from Avène, Dermstore, or Walgreens for $15.

12. La Roche-Posay Lipikar Daily Repair Moisturizing Lotion

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"[It] absorb[s] well, [is] great for sensitive skin types, and leave[s] the skin feeling moisturized for a long time," says Doktor. "La Roche-Posay's product includes additional thermal spring water nutrients that also help to balance the microbiome of the skin and its pH levels."

Get it from CVS, Dermstore, La Roche-Posay, or Walgreens for $17.99.

13. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream Daily Face and Body Moisturizer

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Doktor also recommends this hand cream!

Get it from CVS for $18.49 or Ulta for $15.49+ (available in two sizes).

You looking at your hands and realizing your new hydrating hand cream is actually working:

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The reviews for this post have been edited for length and clarity.

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