You’re constantly putting your hands to work, from typing on your computer to texting friends to stirring your food-filled pot to washing dishes. And, of course, this means washing and sanitizing your hands often because they touch so many surfaces, leading to dry—even irritated—skin. While there’s no at-home foot spa equivalent for your hands, these mighty tools deserve care and attention, too. The easiest way to do that is to incorporate a hand cream into your routine to keep your hands feeling moisturized and silky smooth.
We tested 18 of the top hand creams from the most popular names in skincare. The Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve(available at Amazon) won our Best Overall title for its light, pleasant fragrance and quick-absorbing formula that left behind a velvety finish that lasted for hours. The Jergens Ultra Healing Hand & Body Cream(available at Amazon) snatched our Best Value spot because of its non-greasy, moisturizing feel for an extremely low cost per use.
These are the best hand creams we tested ranked, in order:
Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
Jergens Ultra Healing Hand & Body Cream
Aesop The Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
Bath and Body Works Hand Cream
Nécessaire The Hand Cream
Ahava Dead Sea Minerals Cream
Eucerin Daily Hydration Hand Cream
Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Cream
Chanel La Créme Main
Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Cream
Aveda Hand Relief Moisturizing Creme
L’Occitane Hand Cream
Glossier Hand Cream
The Body Shop Hand Cream
O’Keefe Working Hands Hand Cream
Aveeno Skin Relief Cream
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream
Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve
Every product on this list worked well to moisturize my hands, but the Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve stood out among the crowd. The first thing I noticed is how convenient its squeezy tube packaging and flip cap dispenser are. Though “salve” in the name may conjure up images of a thick ointment, let me assure you that this is a creamy formula that’s thick enough to deeply moisturize dry, cracked hands but lightweight enough to absorb into the skin with a gentle massage. After a minute of letting this sit on my hands, I could still feel it on my skin, but it wasn’t too greasy or slimy nor powdery or like there was a film coating my skin—it just felt like my hands, but better.
The moisturized feeling lasted well throughout the day, despite a few hand washings. I have no doubt that the 2.5- or 5-ounce tubes would last you quite a while. I tested the latter size and it’s a bit too bulky for my purse, but it’s easy enough to store at home or at work on my desk. (The smaller one, naturally, should be more portable.)
In terms of fragrance, this one has a slight eucalyptus scent, thanks to its inclusion of eucalyptus oil, but it doesn’t linger and it won’t overpower the aroma of the food you’re eating or the perfume you’re wearing. I could only notice it when I first applied the cream to my hands and if I held my hands close to my face thereafter, but if you’re very sensitive to scent, you may prefer a different fragrance-free product. All told, though, I think most people will find Kiehl’s rich cream worthy of its price per ounce for its superior moisturizing properties that the brand attributes to shea butter, avocado oil, and sesame seed oil.
The Jergens Ultra Healing Hand & Body Cream feels just as great on the skin as our Best Overall once absorbed, but it has a thinner consistency that’s even easier to rub into the skin. While some hand creams feel like a film over your hands, this one, like the Kiehl’s, felt like my hands, just healthier with the added hydration. The standout result of using this moisturizer is not only how silky my hands felt after, but how it didn’t leave my finger grips or palms feeling oily, like many others further down this list did. After applying each product, I continued on with my workday, which includes a lot of typing, and it drives me crazy to feel any greasiness (or, conversely, chalkiness on my keyboard as I’m clicking away).
Without knowing exactly what makes up the “fragrance” ingredient listed on the bottle, my guess is that this slightly sweet, clean-smelling scent is influenced by shea butter, one of the main ingredients. If you’re sensitive to fragrance, this may be too strong for you, as it lingers until washed off and you’ll catch a whiff of it even when your hands are nowhere near your nose. I love the scent, so it didn’t bother me one bit, but I can foresee this being a drawback for those with sensitive skin or noses.
My own qualm with this cream is its octagon-shaped, twist-off cap. While a small detail, I noticed throughout testing that several hand creams have this cap shape and that the points of the octagon scratch at my already dry and irritated hands when I’m opening the bottle for some relief. (On the other, er, hand, it makes it slightly easier to tighten back on with lotion-slick fingers.) Still, you can get by this downside by purchasing the 6-ounce tub instead of the 3.4-ounce tube, though you’ll forfeit the portability of the smaller size.
For its thicker texture, much less noticeable aroma, and better packaging, I’d recommend the Kiehl’s over the Jergens for the majority of people, but both products are stellar in my book.
Hi, I’m Jessica, the beauty editor at Reviewed. I’ve tested all things skin-, makeup-, and hair-related for our beauty section. I’m not actually a germaphobe, but my friends joke that I am because of my incessant need to wash my hands before touching my face or popping a snack in my mouth. I wash my hands (though not always for the full 20 seconds the CDC recommends) about 10 times a day, give or take. As you might expect, my hands get quite dry, especially in the colder months in Boston, which is why I was excited to test out all 18 of these top-rated products and find the absolute best.
There are tons of hand lotions and creams out there. After looking through best-seller lists and reading reviews, I narrowed the playing field to 18 options at varying prices from brands you already know and love. From there, Reviewed’s senior scientist, Julia MacDougall, created a calibrated rubric of targeted questions, which I filled out upon using each cream. I used one lotion per day to isolate the experience as best as I could and I rated the hand creams based on the following attributes:
Feel: Does the hand cream feel too oily or too dry? Does it feel heavy on the skin after absorbing in? Do you need a lot of cream for your hands to feel moisturized?
Longevity: How moisturized do my hands feel after letting the hand cream settle in for a minute? After an hour? After six hours?
Packaging: Is it easy to get the hand cream out of its container? Do you end up getting cream all over the container during use?
Smell: Does the cream have a smell? Is it pleasant or unpleasant? How powerful is the scent?
What Should You Know About Hand Creams
Like any other skincare product you’ll buy, you want to consider the current state of your skin and your desired end result when purchasing a hand cream. If your hands lean oily or sweaty, you may want something with a gel-like consistency that absorbs into the skin right away and leaves behind a powdery feel. If your hands lean dry, you may want something that contains oils to give your hands a slick feel that won’t dry down but instead leaves long-lasting moisture.
You’ll also want to think about smell. Avoiding fragrance is a safe bet if you’re worried about a product scent being too overpowering (so as to conflict with your perfume) or lingering too long on your skin. But part of the appeal of wearing a hand cream may be the smell for you—after all, there’s a reason why a place like Bath & Body Works offers hand lotions in the same scents as its candles and body sprays.
Lastly, you’ll want to think about the times of day you’ll tend to use the hand cream. If you only plan to apply a hefty dollop of it at night and then leave it behind on your nightstand, you won’t need to worry about bulkier packaging, nor might you care as much about how greasy it feels and for how long after applying. But if you want to apply as needed throughout the day, you may want a compact, easy-to-open tube that fits into your bag or pocket and a formula that absorbs relatively quickly (an attribute that we gave higher weight).
Lucky for you, our list encompasses a wide variety of options, and we’re positive that even if our top two don’t appeal, there’s one on this list that’ll suit your needs.
Other Hand Creams We Tested
Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm
The texture of this Aesop Aromatique “balm” has the consistency of a lotion and lies somewhere in between the Kiehl’s and the Jergens in thickness. It spreads with ease across the hands and dries down to a soft but slightly tacky finish after a minute or two. Similar to the Jergens, I noticed that it left behind less oil on the pads of my fingers and palms than others on this list, which is why it’s higher up on this list. I tested it in the fragrance “Resurrection,” which has a subdued citrusy, herbal aroma that didn’t bother me, but also didn’t draw my hands closer to my nose like the heavenly-smelling Jergens.
Your only option for purchasing this balm is in the 2.6-ounce slim tube with a twist-off cap or as a 16.9-ounce pump bottle container as part of a duo with a hand wash of the same size and scent. This also comes in a “Reverence” fragrance with smoky, earthy notes that is available in the same sizes.
The Bath & Body Works Cream, which I tested in the scent “Rose,” surprised me with its buttery smooth texture. It’s easy to spread and made my hands feel softer in an instant. My palms and fingertips felt oilier than I’d prefer, but that was typical of many others lower on this list. Once it settled in within a minute or two, the comfortably powdery feel this left behind on my hands made up for it. This lasted as well as the majority of creams on this list with my hands still feeling moisturized after several hours.
I also adored the fresh, floral scent that sprung from this rose-covered tube. If all of the 20 other fragrances offered in this hand cream are as pungent as this one, though, those with sensitive noses should beware. While I loved it, the scent lingered the whole time I wore this.
This cream comes in a meager 1-ounce tube with that same octagon twist-off cap that I didn’t love on the Jergens. But the upside of this lacking quantity is that it’s very easy to tote around in your pocket or purse, as its slim tube fits in the grip of your hand.
If fragrance-free is the only way you want to go with hand cream, look no further than this one from Nécessaire. I adore the creams higher up on this list, but this one earned a spot on my nightstand after testing. It has a consistency that’s a tad thicker than our top picks, which I like for overnight wear, but it’s still easy to disperse over my hands and quick to absorb into my skin. It leaves a healthy-looking sheen on my nails and skin without staining my clothing (none of the hand creams stained, but the shine of this one made me cautious at first). The moisturizing effect of this cream lasted a couple of hours, but my hands were mostly back to their normal dry state after several hours and a few hand washes.
This is only available in one size, a 2.2-ounce squeezable tube with an easy-to-grip, ribbed cap. The fragrance-free claim is, well, accurate. It doesn’t smell like much of anything at all, nor does it smell like unmasked chemicals. This could be your answer for your sensitive skin or nose.
The first thing I noticed about the Ahava Dead Sea Minerals Hand Cream is its heavy perfume-like scent. The ingredient list includes “fragrance” but the product description on the brand’s site does not expand upon this, so I’ll try: It’s a salty, baby powder-esque odor that objectively does not smell bad, but after wearing its unrelenting stench on your hands for a few hours, makes you, well, describe it as an “unrelenting stench.” Maybe I’m dramatic—my roommate thought it smelled nice and clean. Ahava offers more Mineral Hand Creams in other, defined scents (“sea-kissed,” “cactus and pink pepper,” and “spring blossom”), which may appeal to you (or me) more, but I haven’t tried them.
Moving past the smell, I loved the velvety feel of this moisturizer hand cream on my skin. It reminds me of the Nécessaire in its texture, but the Ahava leaves less oil on my hands and instead offers a dry-touch finish that helps the hands to feel less damp.
You can find the Ahava cream in a compact squeezy tube in 1.1 and 3.4 ounces—the smaller uses a spin-off cap and the larger flips open, and both are easy to use.
The Eucerin Daily Hydration Hand Cream is the only one we tested that contains SPF to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays—important because hands are exposed to the sun as much as faces are, yet are often overlooked even on beach days. Even if that info wasn’t on the label, the smell gives away the SPF—the lotion has a very mild but classic sunscreen odor to it. It performed just like other creams on this list with a spreadable, creamy consistency that instantly moisturized my skin.
For every cream on this list, I rubbed it inadequately enough to cover my hands and then continued massaging—it wasn’t part of my test, just a habit of mine. For most of the hand creams, this action didn’t matter, but the Eucerin lotion started to flake under the friction. The ‘pilling’ wasn’t as bad as others further down the list, but it disappointed me. Overall, I think this fills the bill if you’re looking for an affordable hand cream with sun protection, and that extra layer of protection may outweigh the flaking if your experience is like mine.
This comes in 2.8- and 8-ounce squeezy tubes with flip caps, and the smaller is a great size for throwing in your bag for on-the-go use.
The Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Hand Cream isn’t anything to write home about, but it gets the job done. I loved its fresh, clean scent and the gel-like texture that left behind a matte finish to my skin. Its non-greasy claim held up during my testing, though I thought it felt a tad too dry after a few minutes on my skin. If you have oily skin or sweaty hands and are usually resistant to hand cream for those reasons, this could be your way in. After all, just because your skin is oily, does not mean it doesn't need moisture.
Like the Eucerin and others on this list, it is a great size for your work bag and it has a convenient squeezy tube and flip cap for easy access. The hand cream only comes in a 3-ounce container, but Gold Bond sells a similar moisturizer in larger sizes that don’t specify that they are for the hands.
Do I think you need to spend a pretty penny on hand cream? No, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, either. The Chanel La Créme Main has a silky smooth, lightweight texture that’s easy to massage into the skin and quick to absorb. It left my hands feeling soft, but because of its thinner consistency, wasn’t quite emollient enough to smooth over my dry patches. Still, I’d enjoy the status of pulling a container labeled “Chanel” from my purse and happily use this up. It has a light, sweet scent that you won’t notice after a while, and it doesn’t leave any oily residue on palms or fingertips—both attributes that lead to this fading into the background of my day, as I prefer a hand cream to do.
The La Creme Main comes in a slim, squeezable, egg-shaped bottle with a cap that comes all the way off of the container to reveal a small hole through which you dispense the lotion. You’ll only find the hand cream in a 1.7-ounce bottle and it comes in two other formulas, one that is thicker in texture and one that includes anti-aging ingredients.
Crabtree & Evelyn has been synonymous with hand creams for me since childhood, probably because my mom always had a few laying around. (I’m still sad the brand discontinued the lavender fragrance.) When I applied this to my skin, I forgot how creamy it was—it reminded me of the Jergens or Necessaire with its ultra-silky texture, but unlike those two, it dries down to a slight powdery-feeling texture. It’s not bothersome at all and I think this could be another great candidate for those with clammy palms.
I purchased the rose-scented bottle, and if the other 16 or so scents are similar, you can expect a mild odor that’s barely noticeable once rubbed into the skin. You can find most of the Crabtree & Evelyn Hand Creams in 0.8- and 2.5-ounce squeeze bottles with flip caps.
Texture-wise, the Aveda Hand Relief Moisturizing Creme is reminiscent of the Kiehl’s with a thicker consistency than the Jergens and others on this list. It spread onto my hands well and gave the velvety results I was after, but my hands felt a little too damp and slippery even after a few minutes of massaging it in. I think many people could enjoy this, especially if they have very dry hands, but with a higher-than-most price, it falls further down the list for its performance that doesn’t measure up to our Best Overall.
As for the smell, it’s a sweet, herbaceous aroma that you can only smell when your hands are close to your face. This is available in 1.4- and 4.2-ounce bottles and you can purchase it in a “cherry almond” scent, as well.
The L’Occitane Hand Cream made my skin feel soft, but not silky. It’s a thicker lotion and it dries to a matte-like finish. The one I tried did not identify the fragrance on the packaging, but listed it as an ingredient. If the other four scents that L’Occitane carries are like the cream I tried, you can expect a light, pleasant smell that fades once the cream is thoroughly rubbed into the skin.
My gripe with this hand cream is its octagon-shaped, twist-off cap, which is similar to the Bath & Body Works or Jergens one, but even smaller, making it harder to grip if you already have lotion on your hands. In fact, I had to pull down my sleeve to grip the cap without irritating the cracked skin around my index finger and thumb. Still, this might just be a “me” problem, so if you find yourself wanting to purchase, you can grab a 1- or 5.2-ounce squeeze tube.
Glossier went for it with this darling, millennial pink, palm-sized container. The cream itself left my hands feeling well-moisturized at first, but the finish felt chalky (a much more intense version of the powdery quality others on this list boasted) and made it unpleasant.
I also felt that the packaging, while cute, is not the most functional. The rectangular base is squeezable and the product dispenses through a hole that’s covered by a rounded flip-up cap, but I’m not sure how you’d get all of the 1.7 ounces of cream out once you’ve used enough that there’s not much left in the squeezable part.
Still, I ended up addicted to the smell of this by the end of the day I tested it. It’s clean and has a slight spicy-sweet note that hooked me the same way the brand’s Glossier You perfume did—though these are not the same fragrance. I’d use this up (as best I could from the container) but wouldn’t repurchase it.
I’ve purchased The Body Shop’s body butter in “Shea” more times than I can count, which is why I was excited to get my hands on (no pun intended) the hand-cream version of this scent. Despite adoring the smell in the full-body cream, it was too overpowering for my hands—I can’t imagine how you’d like this if you tried a fragrance from the 13 others offered that you didn’t enjoy.
The formula itself glides onto the hands and settles quickly to a comfortable, non-greasy finish. It doesn’t feel quite moisturizing enough for my dry hands, but it’s adequate. Along with the smell, the other downside was its cap, which has the same octagon-shaped nuisance that others on this list have. All but two of the hand creams come in 1-ounce squeeze tubes.
The O’Keefe Working Hands Hand Cream is one of two hand creams I tested that came in a tub rather than a squeezable tube or container. Right away, I decided I’d prefer this in tube form, as I grabbed too much when scooping it up with my fingers. The good news is that it comes in a tube, but the bad news is that I tried that about a year ago and was not a fan. Interestingly enough, I liked the formula in the 3.4-ounce jar better, though this could be a placebo effect of getting to scoop it out (and therefore overapplying), or me remembering the 3-ounce tube version as being worse than it was.
The most troublesome aspect of this thick, tacky cream is that it pilled up on my hands as I tried to massage it in. After a while of wearing this, and wiping the little white bits off my palms, my hands felt smooth to the touch, but it wasn’t worth the annoyance.
The only thing you need to know about the Aveeno Skin Relief Hand Cream, which touts colloidal oatmeal as its skin-soothing ingredient, is that it flaked up terribly on my hands when I used the same amount of formula for this as any of the other lotions. The consistency of the cream was silky, so I wasn’t expecting the dry, flaky result I got.
The Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream feels more like an ointment or balm than a cream. It comes out clear (like petroleum jelly or Aquaphor) but turns white as you massage it into your hands and took about a full minute for it to feel adequately rubbed in. The end result was a heavy feel that was like a soft film over my hands. This may work fine for overnight treatment or to apply only on the backs of your hands or dry spots like the elbows, but I’d stay away from putting it all over your fingers and palms if you plan to use them right after.
From first look when I opened the tin, the only reason I knew Nivea Creme is not cream cheese is because of its mild perfume scent. It is thick like a balm and tough to massage into the skin all the way. After rubbing for a minute or two, you’ll start to feel the cream absorb into your skin, but it stays white, indicating that there’s still excess formula. The only way I’d suggest using this is if you put it on your hands under a pair of cotton gloves to wear overnight as a treatment. You could probably only keep this at your bedside anyway, as the container is approximately the size of my face … i.e., not portable at all. (A 6.8-ounce tub is also available.)
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