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Whether you have wrinkles, eczema or just working hands, these formulas are proven to heal.
We updated this article in June 2022 to add more information about each featured product, based on extensive testing done by the Good Housekeeping Institute, as well as expert commentary. Our original top-rated picks, selected by the GH Beauty Lab, have been condensed to reflect the standout formulas on the market right now.
An effective hand cream is a must for anyone, especially when you're dealing with dry air (during winter or otherwise), working with your hands or you're frequently washing your hands. "Hand creams hydrate skin, leaving hands feeling soft and looking smooth and plump," says Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab chemist Danusia Wnek. "You should see and feel the results almost immediately." And dermatologists agree: "It's so important to keep hands moisturized, as they are subject to even more environmental damage than the face," adds Gregory Brown, M.D., founder of RéVive Skincare in Louisville, Kentucky.
To help you sort through the endless formulas on the market, the scientists in the GH Beauty Lab have put dozens of the most popular hand creams through our rigorous tests over the years. GH Beauty Lab experts evaluate hand creams both in the Lab using technical instruments to measure skin hydration and on consumer testers, who report their feedback on ease of use, texture, scent, look and feel of skin after application and more. They then collate hundreds of data points to find the most effective hand creams you can buy to heal and hydrate dry, cracked skin. Here, the all-time best hand creams and lotions to moisturize even extremely dry skin, according to GH Beauty Lab testing — including drugstore and luxury buys, as well as formulas designed to target eczema, wrinkles and more.
The best hand cream for dry skin in GH Beauty Lab testing, Lab testers gave Eucerin high marks for its ability to keep hands moisturized for up to six hours, and its combo of ingredients — glycerin, urea and sunflower seed oil — helped increase skin moisturization by an impressive 51%. Not only was it the most hydrating formula, but it's also cost effective. Another standout feature of the star Eucerin formula is that it contains alpha hydroxy acids, which increase cell turnover for younger-looking hands. Lab testers loved that it is purse-size and spreads easily. "I liked that it absorbed into skin almost immediately," one noted. And the compliments didn't stop there, with others saying it "felt silky," "made my hands smooth," and even helped moisturize cuticles.
• Key Ingredients: Glycerin, ceramides, lactic acid • Size: 2.7 oz.
Of all the hand creams in the GH Beauty Lab's test, this bargain-priced Neutrogena hand healer is the only one with a gel-like formula. It improved hydration by a whopping 40% and consumers compared the smell to a fresh load of laundry. Hyaluronic acid helps add and lock in moisture, contributing to its impressive hydration scores in our Lab test. Though different than most hand creams on the market, our testers were impressed by its powerful results. Because it's not heavy, it might not be the best fit for those with severely dry, chapped hands.
• Key Ingredients: Glycerin, hyaluronic acid • Size: 3 oz.
This thick, glycerin-rich Neutrogena cream has achieved cult hand-healing status for a reason: In past GH Beauty Lab testing, it was a top-scoring formulation, increasing skin's hydration levels by 19.5%. "The best hand cream I've ever used," one consumer tester raved." More positive user feedback: "You don't have to use a lot to make your hands feel conditioned," and "Even after washing my hands, they were still moisturized."
• Key Ingredients: Glycerin, fatty acids • Size: 2 oz.
GH Beauty Lab consumer testers liked this luxurious Philosophy hand cream's citrus scent and said it absorbed quickly without leaving a tacky feeling. Users reported it softened their hands and Lab measurements showed that it was mildly moisturizing, delivering a 15% improvement. Plus, the small size can fit in almost any bag, so it's perfect for on-the-go application. "Each time I applied the cream, my hands felt super soft, smelled great and left no traces of extra product," one tester raved. If you, like some of the Lab's testers, prefer a different scent, there are five other options available: green tea and avocado, coconut and guava, Hawaiian hibiscus, fig and pomegranate and berry and sage.
• Key Ingredients: Shea butter, fatty acids, vitamin E, plant oils • Size: 1 oz.
Combat crepey skin texture on hands, including wrinkles, with Reserveage's formula, recommended by GH Beauty Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. “This rich-textured cream soaks right into skin and makes hands immediately feel silky-smooth," she says. "Thanks to the encapsulated copper peptides in its formula, it is designed to also work over time and help build collagen in skin." The icing on the cake? "It has a lovely scent which smells like a cross between cucumber and coconut," Aral notes. The formula also does double duty and can be applied on feet as well. • Key Ingredients: Glycerin, peptides • Size: 2.5 oz.
Best Hand Cream for Winter
Testers in GH Beauty Lab evaluations couldn't get enough of how soft the Dove cream made their skin feel. They rated the formula with glycerin and fatty acids best for improving the look of chapped or cracked hands, which are common in winter. With a 32% moisturization improvement after six hours, it's no surprise. As one Lab tester said, it makes your hands feel "baby soft and non-greasy after application." One even had her husband try it, and she said it seriously improved the look of his dry, "rough" hands.
• Key Ingredients: Glycerin, fatty acids, vitamin E • Size: 2.5 0z.
Aveeno's hand cream, which contains soothing oatmeal and moisturizing glycerin, was rated as many testers' favorite in GH Beauty Lab evaluations. They said it made hands look the smoothest, and it scored high for how quickly it absorbed into the skin. Not only did testers love this fragrance-free product, but it also improved skin moisturization by a notable 31%. Its thick formula provides a great barrier against outdoor elements without feeling oily. "I loved how it spread easily and didn't feel greasy after," said one tester. "My hands felt smooth and moisturized, but with no residue."
• Key Ingredients: Glycerin, oatmeal • Size: 3.5 oz.
Many testers said this rich fragrance-free Mary Kay hand cream helped make chapped hands appear smooth. The thickness many of our testers experienced is probably from the high percentage of shea butter in the formula, Wnek explains. Texture aside, online users continue to gush about how much it's helped the feeling and hydration of their hands. "I used it before bedtime and in the morning [my hands were] still soft and silky," one consumer shared. Note that this is a heavy-duty formula — some testers said the consistency left their hands feeling tacky post-application.
• Key Ingredients: Shea butter, glycerin, plant oils, vitamin E • Size: 3 oz.
For bonus anti-aging effects on hand wrinkles, turn to this Mario Badescu hand cream. "It makes my hands soft and smooth, and it smells nice," says GH Beauty Lab senior chemist Sabina Wizemann. "It's rich in humectants, emollients and occlusives to keep skin moisturized, nourished, and pleasant to touch." But the benefits don't stop there: The formula "also has retinyl palmitate to improve skin tone and boost collagen that comes in handy for aging hands," she explains. "I find it best used at night as it is a touch sticky, and the rose scent is relaxing to cozy up before sleep."
• Key Ingredients: Glycerin, retinol, vitamin E, • Size: 3 oz.
L'Occitane's iconic, decadent hand cream made with a high percentage of shea butter is a GH beauty team go-to and GH Sustainable Innovation Award winner. "This will always be my favorite hand cream — I love how rich the texture is and how deeply it moisturizes," GH's former beauty assistant says. "I have really dry skin and used to struggle with my knuckles cracking in the winter and when I worked as a server, and this is one cream that changed everything for me." Bonus: The aluminum tube is also fully recyclable.
• Key Ingredients: Shea butter, glycerin, plant oils • Size: 5.1 oz.
If you're interested in an eco-friendly, sustainable hand cream, Natura Brasil's formula is Aral's choice. "This cream’s hero ingredient is the ucuuba butter obtained from the Amazon, and Natura is dedicated using ingredients that are responsibly and fairly sourced, like the Brazil nut, murumuru, andiroba, and the ucuuba butters used in their formulations," she explains. "I like this rich butter for immediate skin softening benefits and making hands feel coated with a protective film that does not feel greasy." It also comes in an aluminum tube, which lends itself for recycling, she notes. Pro tip: A little goes a long way, so squeeze a tiny bit from the tube at a time, Aral advises.
• Key Ingredients: Plant butters, vitamin E • Size: 2.6 oz.
This indulgent Fresh hand cream, a beauty editor favorite, is small enough to tote on the go. "It’s super hydrating but not greasy and has the perfect uplifting scent," says GH beauty editor Dori Price. "I keep one in my handbag and one on my night table to remind me to apply before bed."
• Key Ingredients: Shea butter, glycerin, vitamin E • Size: 1 oz.
GH Beauty Lab consumer testers smelled a winner with this cream from Bliss, a brand that started in spas. Most found the fresh-but-not-overpowering lemon scent pleasant and even energizing. "Loved the citrus scent," one noted. "Feels like an aromatherapy cream. Invigorating for sure!" In our Beauty Lab's skin hydration test, it improved moisturization by 20%, but was a star among users: "I liked that it absorbed quickly into the skin and the scent," one shared. "I do not like anything scented, but this was pleasing and did not linger too long."
• Key Ingredients: Shea butter, plant oils, hyaluronic acid • Size: 4 oz.
What if you could sanitize and soften hands at the same time? Enter this GH Beauty Award-winning, groundbreaking Vaseline hand lotion, which kills germs sans alcohol while hydrating with vitamin E and glycerin. The formulation delivers antibacterial effects without burning or stinging and relieves dryness, Lab analysis found. “It’s not heavy or tacky, and my hands feel both moisturized and clean, which is a rare feat,” Wizemann reports.
• Key Ingredients: Glycerin, vitamin E • Size: 5.1 oz.
In GH Beauty Lab testing, users noted softer, more hydrated skin "immediately" with this Soap & Glory hand cream. Credit goes to a plethora of fast-absorbing moisturizing ingredients, including glycerin, grape seed oil, shea butter, and coconut oil. In Lab tests, it earned the third highest score for moisturization, upping it 34%. "I used the hand cream after washing my hands and it always made them feel softer and smoother," one tester said. "I cannot stand when a hand cream is too tacky or greasy and this product was neither." While there was an overwhelmingly positive response to texture, the sweet scent was polarizing.
• Key Ingredients: Glycerin, shea butter, plant oils • Size: 4.2 oz.
In the GH Beauty Lab's most recent test of hand creams, scientists evaluated 17 hand creams for their ability to hydrate skin, first using the Corneometer, a device that measures skin moisture levels. We calculated a moisture reading of bare skin, then dispensed a controlled amount of each product onto testers' forearms and measured hydration content a second time. Six hours later, testers returned to the Lab for another measurement to determine which creams actually improved moisturization. GH Beauty Lab scientists then recruited 77 women to evaluate the label-masked hand creams and report back on how the product felt, absorbed and smelled. Combining Lab results and consumer feedback, the experts crunched the numbers and found which products were cream of the crop for moisturization, texture, application and scent. In total, the GH Beauty Lab tallied 2,853 data points to find the best-performing hand creams on the market.
"Simple moisturization and sun protection are the best treatments for hands," Dr. Brown says. Here are other points to keep in mind when searching for the right hand cream for your needs:
✔️ For dryness: Seek out "humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid to draw moisture into skin, plus occlusive ingredients like shea butter and petrolatum that will seal moisture in preventing hydration loss," Wnek advises. ✔️ For wrinkles and signs of aging: "Alpha hydroxy acids like lactic acid in hand cream formulas will exfoliate dry, flaky skin and increase skin cell turnover to reveal more radiant skin," Wnek adds. ✔️ For dark spots and discoloration: "Just like the skin on your face, the best way to prevent discoloration and sun spots is to protect skin when exposed to the sun," Wnek says. After your hand cream, "slather on a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply after washing hands," she suggests.
Danusia Wnek, a Chemist in the Good Housekeeping Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab, develops and oversees the testing of skincare product categories including hand creams, night creams, serums, moisturizers, eye creams and more, utilizing both lab instrumentation and consumer feedback to recommend the best products on the market. She conducted the GH Beauty Lab's most recent hand creams test, the results of which are detailed in this article. For this piece, she collaborated with April Franzino, the Beauty Director at Good Housekeeping, who has over 15 years of experience researching, writing and editing skincare-related content, utilizing the expertise of the Institute's Beauty Lab scientists and top industry professionals such as dermatologists and aestheticians. She is an expert in all face and body skincare product categories, including hand creams, cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, sunscreens, exfoliators, masks, professional treatments and more.