While seasonal changes can certainly affect your skin, if you have a job that requires you to constantly have your hands submerged in water (or you're just germ-conscious), keeping your hands from cracking is a year-round battle. But as long as you're armed with the best lotion for frequently washed hands and a few helpful tips, you can help prevent the worst dry skin symptoms from manifesting.
It's no secret that you'll need to counteract all of that washing with a hydrating hand cream, but there are some super-soothing ingredients you can look for to make sure you're really getting the job done. Generally, you'll want to choose a thicker cream that combines humectants, like glycerin, ceramides, or lactic acid, which attract moisture, with occlusive ingredients, like silicones or beeswax, to lock in said moisture. Emollients that instantly smooth skin, like shea butter, can also be helpful.
Whenever possible, applying lotion immediately after washing your hands is best. You should also try to use hand cream every night before bed. In extreme cases of dry, cracked hands, you can even put on a pair of cotton gloves to make sure the lotion is fully absorbed while you sleep. And while wearing gloves at home is optional, once the temperature drops, wearing gloves outdoors is non-negotiable since the dry, cold air further can cause further dryness.
Here are the best lotions for dry, cracked hands to keep your skin soft all year long:
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1. Overall Best: O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream
This thick cream was designed to protect hands from damage, but it's also strong enough to repair hands that are experiencing moisture loss in the form of dry skin and cracks. O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream pairs humectants with occlusive ingredients to form a protective barrier on skin that seals in moisture and prevents it from evaporating. You can also get it in a tube, depending on your preference.
O'Keeffe's is an overwhelmingly popular choice on Amazon with over 7,500 five-star reviews. "I'm a dental assistant, so I'm washing my hands constantly all day long, and that mixed with winter weather causes painful cracks near my nails and just terrible-looking dry hands," wrote one reviewer who gives the cream five-stars. "At night, I rub this in thoroughly to my hands and elbows, and it's like magic when I wake up — no more painful cracks."
2. Best For Sensitive Skin: Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream
Perfect for super-sensitive skin, Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream has a seal of acceptance from the National Eczema Association. The formula is free of most common irritants, including dyes, fragrance, lanolin, parabens, sulfates, and formaldehyde. In fact, Vanicream is so gentle, it's even suitable to be used as a face moisturizer. To help soothe and moisturize every skin condition from your standard dry, over-washed hands to eczema and dermatitis, the rich cream uses purified water and petrolatum to create a barrier that moisturizes skin and prevents water loss. Another thing that makes it so great for sensitive skin types is that it soothes itching and redness, in addition to repairing cracked skin and flaky patches. Also, this huge pump bottle will last you ages, and you can apply it from your head to your toes, if you wish.
Vanicream has over 3,500 five-star reviews on Amazon, many of which say it's perfect for frequent hand-washing. "In the winter and when I wash my hands often, my skin gets so dry it cracks and bleeds. This moisturizer helps tremendously," reported one reviewer. Another commenter wrote, "This winter I was suffering from extremely dry skin already from pregnancy coupled with the cold air and excessive hand washing that comes with having to pee every 30 minutes. This lotion literally healed my dry, cracked and raised wind burned hands in as little as 2 applications."
3. A Lotion That Actually Shields Hands From Water: Gloves In A Bottle Shielding Lotion
The Gloves In A Bottle Shielding Lotion is the next best thing to wearing gloves when your hands are submerged in water. Rather than focusing on ingredients that restore moisture, this lotion uses its own technology to prevent your skin's natural oils and moisture from being washed away. The lotion actually bonds with the dead skin cells that sit on the outermost layer of your skin to create an invisible shield that doesn't wash off, but instead, naturally wears off in four to 12 hours.
Plus, it's another favorite on Amazon. One reviewer commented, "I'm a nurse, so my hands are tortured daily by gloves and washing. This stuff is amazing —it lasts, and it doesn't feel greasy. My hands have never felt better and I love knowing there's an extra layer of protection on them."
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