if you like it then you better put a cream on it
November 17, 2014 7:15 PM   Subscribe

What can I use to solve my terribly dry hand problem? I would prefer natural solutions, like oils (but coconut oil isn't working, see below the fold). I would accept unscented creams that I can buy at a drug store. I would rather not spend $45 per ounce of some lady cream at sephora. (yes, diet, water, sleep, humidifier. I'm on those things.) thanks!

I have to wash my hands many many times a day, for work. I live in Montreal, where everything is dry and all the heaters in my life are electric, so, DRYING. My hands are suffering, I have dry skin in general but this is getting ridiculous. I have started using coconut oil on them but it does NOTHING - literally 3 minutes after I grease myself up, my hands are bone dry again. I could do this every 5 minutes for an hour and nothing would change. (I don't have that kind of time.)

Also (does it matter?) i'm pregnant - so medications and other things in this realm are probably out. I looked at some of the other links on askme but the products seem so chemically (am i asking for the impossible?)

posted by andreapandrea to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (52 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if it's viable for your particular work, but I think that the real thing that works here when you have to both keep your hands clean and not destroy them is, well, gloves. Anything else, if you're washing your hands often, you're basically just going to be washing away whatever you've put on them.
posted by Sequence at 7:19 PM on November 17, 2014

Around here it's stuff with lanolin like Bag Balm which is not very fancy and has a bit of a smell but works pretty well. Crack Creme is pretty good stuff as well (not the spray, it's sting-y) and Cornhusker's Lotion is another cheap drugstore option.
posted by jessamyn at 7:20 PM on November 17, 2014

What works for me is a heavier lotion like Eucerin or Jergens, or even vaseline, and then putting cotton socks over my hands at night. If you can't sleep with the socks, try it for a couple hours while watching a movie. You could try it with pure natural oils, too, if you prefer.
posted by shortyJBot at 7:27 PM on November 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

The Okeefe's products work well for me.
posted by primethyme at 7:30 PM on November 17, 2014

Try Glysomed.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:30 PM on November 17, 2014

Naturally Nancy's is made of beeswax, mineral oil and a little bit of borax. It has no added scent but it smells faintly of butter and honey. Keeps my dry hands supple and it doesn't taste nasty when I stick my fingers in my mouth!

Edit: I order it from Halifax Seed in Nova Scotia and the shipping's not too bad even to here in BC, so Montreal should be no problem!
posted by fullerenedream at 7:32 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cetaphil, Cerave, Aveeno--all make good creams in a jar.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:40 PM on November 17, 2014

I've read that coconut oil is not always a very effective moisturiser. Some people have found that it actually dries their skin out somewhat.

My favourite moisturiser that should be available in your local drugstore is Nivea Soft. It is not unscented but it is only lightly scented, quite thick but not too greasy. I'm not sure whether it will be quite moisturising enough for your needs, but it's cheap enough that it's worth a try.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 7:40 PM on November 17, 2014

Best hand cream I've found so far is Neutrogena (unscented) hand cream. It's not perfect (parabens?) but it just works so, so well. Easy to find, too.
posted by belau at 7:41 PM on November 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

Whatever balm or lotion you settle on, slather your hands with it at bedtime and put cotton gloves on. Do this every night. It's not going to solve your daytime problem but it will heal your hands as you sleep. Anything very strong and greasy will do the trick; it needs to be able to absorb into the glove somewhat and still have enough to moisturize your skin. Bag Balm is good, and Burts Bees has a tin of similar stuff that's good and strong.
posted by Koko at 7:42 PM on November 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Cerave and weleda skin food are the only things that work for me. Especially cerave, and it's cheaper.
posted by fshgrl at 7:42 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding Neurtrogena, it's orders of magnitude better than anything else I've tried. It's an entirely different texture — not greasy at all, and soaks in really quickly.
posted by you're a kitty! at 7:42 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I swear by Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. One tube lasts forever.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:43 PM on November 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Back when I used to go to Burning Man, Corn Huskers Lotion was one of the secrets to surviving the playa without death hangnails and painfully dry hands.

If it's at all possible to wear gloves when your hands come in contact with water (or with anything that will require washing your hands afterwards), that's the best thing. If that's not possible, using something like Kerodex lotion will help create a barrier between your skin and the water/other stuff. (My husband, a bartender whose hands are in and out of icy water and soapy water all shift, has found it to make a noticeable difference in his contact dermatitis.)
posted by Lexica at 7:43 PM on November 17, 2014

Best answer: Jergen's Ultra Care fragrance-free is my favourite. It's sold at Jean Coutu (I mention this because I've had trouble finding it at other Montreal pharmacies). It's definitely not chemical-free, but neither is it horrible.

Depending on where you work, would washing your hands with a lotion-containing alcohol rub be an option? I recently started working in a hospital, and was surprised to find that even though I disinfect my hands approximately 600 times a day, they are extra smooth an moisturized on hospital days. If you can get a hold of some of the stuff they use, and if that kind of handwashing would suit your work, that might be something to consider.
posted by snorkmaiden at 7:45 PM on November 17, 2014

You want this no chemical, long lasting, almost single ingredient Zona Shea Butter.

Check out the website.

This is what you want.
posted by jbenben at 7:53 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like this CVS store brand "Dry Skin Therapy" cream - it's not too greasy, but it sort of forms a film that stays on through a washing or two. I buy the mini 1oz size to keep in my desk, but I think it comes in a larger size too.

The other hand cream I love is Lush's Helping Hands cream. It's a bit pricey, but a little goes a long way.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:58 PM on November 17, 2014

Before bedtime, I use a homemade mixture of Jojoba, lavender oil, and vitamin E on my hands (and face, actually) and it has kept the dryness at bay thus far this season. Recipe is a slightly modified version of what is here, where it's touted as a makeup remover, but obviously I've found it to be more versatile.
posted by Schielisque at 8:00 PM on November 17, 2014

Hyaluronic Acid! The best explanation I've read is here. I use this stuff on my face and hands-- by itself or before I use a "normal" cream/lotion (it helps). I also have a hyaluronic acid hand cream but I can't find it online. This is popular on Amazon (you can see people in the reviews using it for their hands) and had information in English so you can read about its safety. It's not an oily or slippery moisture-- it's just slightly damp, like how your hands feel just after you wash them.
posted by acidic at 8:03 PM on November 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Try an ointment like Aquaphor. I've found ointments work a little differently and better than lotions. I haven't tried diaper creams but that might be worth a try too.
posted by littlewater at 8:07 PM on November 17, 2014

Vaseline makes a fragrance-free Deep Moisture Creamy Formula that is my go-to hand cream. Definitely try the overnight glove/sock method!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:13 PM on November 17, 2014

I'm a breastfeeding mom (with the constant handwashing that entails...and bottle washing in hot water...motherhood is just hell on your hands) and started putting my lanolin cream on my cracked knuckles last winter. It helps. Definitely not cheap though. I prefer the Medela brand to Lansinoh since it is a little thinner and easier to spread.
posted by town of cats at 8:22 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I often get winter eczema and swear by Bag Balm. A little bit goes a very long way. Less than $10 for a tin that lasts me years. As others mentioned, I do it before I go to bed.
posted by curious nu at 8:27 PM on November 17, 2014

My SO recently got another portion of his big backpiece tattoo filled in, and was using coconut oil as a moisturizer because the lotion he'd used previously wasn't moisturizing enough-- only it didn't work. Not at all. What we eventually found via Googling is that coconut oil is not a good moisturizer, but it's a great sealant. In other words, if your skin is dry already, it won't help, but it will help to keep the moisture that's already there in.

I have no idea if this is factually correct or not, but we used a really thick unscented cream (probably Aquaphor as I think that's what his tattoo artist recommended?), gave it about 3 minutes, and then put coconut oil on over that. It worked a treat, he stopped itching and flaking, and his skin was much much happier, even in super-dry Arizona. So if you can take the time to do the double-whammy, see if that helps?
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:34 PM on November 17, 2014

I have used cocoa butter, 100%, especially the Queen Helene solid stick. I was also told that it's good for preventing stretch marks. Johnson and Johnson makes a cream version of baby oil that works fairly well and can last through a couple hand washings. I liked it, but not as much as the 100% cocoa butter.
posted by irisclara at 8:44 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding shea butter! I love this de-luxe shea butter hand cream. It moisturizes really nicely, doesn't form a weird film, and soaks in really quickly without any greasiness. I've also had incredibly good results with the Shea Moisture line but I've never tried their lotions.
posted by dialetheia at 8:55 PM on November 17, 2014

Eucerin cream and/or ointment is your friend at work - put it on after each hand washing. I've also found that straight shea butter (not mixed into a hand cream, but just the shea butter alone - available at health food stores) spread thickly over hands at night does wonders. Also at night put on a good hand cream and then gloves (nice breathable cotton gloves) over them. Also consider getting a humidifier for your bedroom to help with the dry air.
posted by Toddles at 9:10 PM on November 17, 2014

TheSweethome.com has an extensive review of hand and body lotions.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:24 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had horrible dry pregnancy hands (bleeding, cracked, it was so sad), and my Ob/Gyn said Eucerin and Aquaphor. Both are safe for baby, both inside you and outside when they nom your fingers. Lanolin stuff is good too ... And it's what most of the nipple creams for breastfeeding (lanisoh, etc) are, so pick one you like and use it on your hands too if it helps, with no worries, as baby can ingest it with no problems. (I totally used mine on my hands.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:04 PM on November 17, 2014

I wash my hands about nine million times every day and have dry skin to begin with. I have discovered the Body Shop's hemp hand cream and love it. It is a somewhat masculine smell, but the only thing that works for me. It even keeps my hands soft for several hours. I think it's about $20 for the larger tube, but I usually find it on sale. I have tried everything listed above, and nothing works like this cream. And should be totally safe for use in pregnancy.
posted by stillmoving at 10:58 PM on November 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you tried a lotion with lactic acid? Something that will gently exfoliate your hands to get rid of the dry layers and keep the new skin soft. I used to get Lac-Hydrin or a similar lotion at Pharmaprix, it's usually hidden on the bottom shelf below the fancier lotions.
posted by third word on a random page at 11:02 PM on November 17, 2014

Are you washing your hands with soap, or with emollient? If soap, that's the first thing I would change. You can get medicated emollients if you work in healthcare - this one is widely used in the NHS, talk to your occupational health dept or infection control to find out if there's a particular approved one in your workplace. Soap substitutes DO remove dirt, I would kick up a real fuss if your bosses try to insist on soap because cracked bleeding hands are far more of an infection control risk.
posted by tinkletown at 12:10 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

How about preventing some of the damage? There's a product called Gloves In A Bottle that is made for people in your situation. I know a ton of nurses who use it and love it.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 2:23 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cerave in a tub. Never before have I felt romantically inclined to a lotion.
posted by masters2010 at 3:29 AM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

The only thing that worked for my winter-dry hands was this (after buying Weleda intensive moisturize with the cotton overnight gloves included in the package; using Eucerin; straight-up slathering coconut oil from a tub; jojoba oil; shea butter from a tub): Shikai borage therapy dry skin lotion. I use unscented, original.

Lots of other lotions I tried just went into (onto?) my skin and had zero effect; others were just expensive, smelly, and burned my skin. This stuff actually worked between hand-washings and got rid of the really, really dry skin without having to glom my hands in a vat of petroleum jelly all day to keep them protected. Because winter.

Shikai actually made my hands feel better.

I'm not sure if they have it in Canada, though. Hope you find something that works for you.
posted by simulacra at 3:55 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Happy to second what stillmoving said above: The Body Shop's Hemp Hand Protector is the only cream I use too. I have severe cracked skin on my hands, especially in the winter, and this is the only thing I've found that truly helps. The odor may be off-putting for some, note. But overall, highly recommended.
posted by hijinx at 4:21 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agreed on switching the soap you use to something less drying, that will make a huge difference. Thirding the body shop's hemp hand protector if you can handle the scent, I like it but I'm not pregnant.
posted by lafemma at 5:37 AM on November 18, 2014

I have dyshidrotic eczema, which means that when my hands get dry, the skin on my palms peels horribly. It looks like birch bark. The first time it happened I thought I had somehow caught leprosy.

I use this Eucerin Intensive Repair Hand Cream. It is miraculous, and not scented. However it's not all-natural and when you wash your hands after using it, they feel slightly slimy. I don't care though, this stuff is liquid gold as far as I'm concerned.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:14 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wait, has nobody mentioned Ahava?
posted by functionequalsform at 6:28 AM on November 18, 2014

I try to avoid products that are tested on animals, so if that's a concern for you, The Body Shop has an excellent hand cream.
posted by getawaysticks at 6:28 AM on November 18, 2014

You need a product that's targeted to surgeons, made to last through repeated washings (example).
posted by rada at 6:42 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

A few years ago my elbows were so dry that the skin was cracking and threatening to bleed. Gold Bond Ultimate Healing made short work of it. I still use it once a week or so after showering and my elbows have stayed soft and smooth.

Rada, above, has a good point, though.
posted by Dolley at 6:44 AM on November 18, 2014

In order of awesomeness, I present -

Burt's Bees Farmers Hand Salve.
Glysomed Hand Cream.
posted by rippersid at 7:50 AM on November 18, 2014

The only thing that works out here in the Prairies is Body Shop's Hemp Hand Protector.
Tiny amounts are effective for several hand washes, and it's dirt cheap.
posted by Kreiger at 9:39 AM on November 18, 2014

Cera Ve has been recommended personally by dermatologist and by reddit. That is the holy grail of moisturizing creams. Cheap, effective and lauded by most people who use it.
posted by radsqd at 11:35 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

For heavy duty natural moisturizers, I recommend Weleda Skin Food for during the day, and Lush Ultrabalm for a Vaseline-like solution at night or for cracked skin.
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 1:48 PM on November 18, 2014

Get a humidifier for your house. Another option that works with some types of heaters is to put a heatproof container of water where the heat comes out, but don't do this if it could spill into the electrical parts of the heater.

Wear gloves when you do dishes or cleaning at home.

Put a thick layer of a heavy moisturizer on your hands before you go to sleep, then put cotton gloves on over that.
posted by yohko at 2:25 PM on November 18, 2014

My hands crack terribly in the winter.

For lotion, I've found using thick, solid straight shea butter helpful, but I've also found it very helpful to tweak my hand washing:
-- use less soap and scrub for longer.

(Also, when dishwashing, which I can't convince myself to do in gloves, I try to rinse the soap off my hands as few times as possible, and I think this makes a big difference, even if they stay soapy for a long time.)
posted by spbmp at 3:22 PM on November 18, 2014

What do you use to wash dishes? Dawn has a degreaser in it that always dries out my hands.
posted by theora55 at 8:25 PM on November 18, 2014

I discovered O'Keefe's Working Hands two winters ago. I used to get terrible cracking at the fingertips, around the nailbed, and at the knuckles. Working Hands has worked wonders for me. I apply once a day, right before bed.

I'm also in Canada, and have seen the product in the paint section at Canadian Tire and Home Depot. They also stock it at Lee Valley.
posted by gox3r at 9:33 PM on November 18, 2014

Hyaluronic Acid!

This is what Cerave is. It's amazing, I use the face moisturizer too and it literally plumps your face up. I can skip days even and I have the worlds dryest skin.
posted by fshgrl at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2014

Prevex or other barrier creams. Wake up, use a mild unscented/etc lotion (cetaphil or similar) and then put on your Prevex. No matter how many times you wash you will have a barrier between your hands and anything they touch. Good stuff.
posted by SassHat at 11:41 AM on November 20, 2014

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