Reccommend me a hand lotion?
December 31, 2018 3:33 PM   Subscribe

I normally have rather good skin, but some combination of getting older and it just being wintry and dry out is bothering my hands. I have no idea what makes a good hand lotion, let alone what would work well for me specifically. Help?

I am half Italian, half English by ancestry and have what my (English side) mother always called "olive oil skin." It's kind of a blessing, in that I tan easily, burn rarely, and also just generally have a smooth, healthy, not-chapped hide. It tends to be not too dry, not too oily, although I do sweat easily (not sure if relevant). My skin is on the smoother, thinner side for an adult cis male (which is what I am) but not, I think, extremely so. I don't tend to form calluses. I've never really felt the need to moisturize regularly because my skin just pretty much performs as expected pretty much of the time, yay! Also I'm male and have been socialized as a male, so I haven't had a whole lot of skincare-related conversations in my life.

My general impression of the skincare industry has always been that it's mostly hokum and if you need that stuff, finding a good solution probably involves a lot of trial-and-error and word-of-mouth recommendations. I have however, mostly thanks to MetaFilter, picked up the notion that people online have somewhat recently done an end-run around the skincare industry and sort of reverse-engineered moisturizing to the point where it is now possible to look at one's skin and make a pretty good guess as to what it needs and what products would be suitable for it. I'm hoping to tap into that hard-earned wisdom here.

I'm really just looking for something for my hands that I can keep by the sinks and rub into them after washing so that they don't get so dry and chapped in the winter. Something relatively inexpensive and easy to come by, I hope? I don't think I have especially picky or difficult skin, but in the last few days things have gotten dry enough that the pads of my fingertips have started to crack and bleed and that's really not cool. Looking at them right now they seem to have sort of sealed up and at least stopped bleeding, but still. I will mention (in case it means anything to anyone) that when it comes to topical medications, white creamy ones tend to irritate my skin whereas clear oily ones tend to soothe it.

Anyway, what might work for me here? If you need more information about my skin, let me know and I'll try and provide it as best I can. Any recommendations?

(Before you ask, I do run a humidifier in my bedroom but I'm not about to try and humidify the entire house.)
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The to Health & Fitness (40 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I moved from a humid climate to a dry one and had to deal with lotion for the first time. I use CeraVe and it works extremely well, especially on my hands. I’ve found that it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave that greasy feeling.
posted by notheotherone at 3:37 PM on December 31, 2018 [4 favorites]

I have eczema and often have dry hands, neck and elbow joints. I use Aveeno regularly and it is superb. The blue capped stuff is very moisturising, the green cap is a little lighter. In the UK you can get it in Boots and Tesco and various other places. I believe you can also get it in the US.

The stuff my various relatives with dry hands also swear by is Neutrogena Norwegian hand cream. It doesn't work for me but YMMV.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:38 PM on December 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

as a dude I've always dug aveda's hand cream. it's a little pricey so this winter I've been using gold bond ultimate healing aloe.

Ii keep one by the couch and one by my desk at the office. I don't like to use it immediately after washing hands as it takes a few minutes to absorb. I prefer to do it when I'm sitting somewhere for a bit.
posted by noloveforned at 3:39 PM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

I like Eucerin Advanced Repair Light Feel lotion. Absorbs well, doesn't leave my hands feeling greasy.

Have tried a lot of different lotions, and this is my current favorite. I usually put it on when I'm watching TV at night.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:41 PM on December 31, 2018

Kiss My Face's aloe & olive oil lotion is a nice general-use lotion. It doesn't profess to have any particular fancy qualities but it moisturizes well without greasing you all up and has a neutral, pleasant scent.
posted by little cow make small moo at 3:42 PM on December 31, 2018

Seconding the CeraVe recommendation - it works well, is unscented and not greasy. You can get it at Target.

Ive had this in my Amazon cart a few times and never actually bought it, but O’Keeffe’s Working Hands gets rave reviews and seems to be more heavy duty than regular hand cream. It might help if your hands are already cracked and bleeding.
posted by Shal at 3:48 PM on December 31, 2018

If you're open to a non-lotion suggestion, in the winter I replace the pump soap in my bathroom with Cerave Hydrating Cleanser. It's not cheap but it keeps the skin of my hands moisturized, and most importantly never cracked or bleeding, far better than any lotion I've ever used.
posted by telegraph at 3:57 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

CeraVe is great, and so is Aveeno, but the very best lotion for my hands I've ever had is DECIEM's Hand Chemistry. I'm in my 40s and my hands were just starting to look and feel dry and textured, and regular lotions just weren't helping.

I've tried a ton of different hand creams, and this is one is just astonishingly good. Like, based on what it's done for my hands, the "untreated / treated" before-and-after pics on their page are probably 100% real. I got the smallest size at first and a week later ordered the biggest size. I'm never giving this stuff up and have started using it on my forearms as well.

It's pricey but you only need a very small amount, once in the morning and once in the evening.
posted by erst at 4:06 PM on December 31, 2018 [6 favorites]

I like Aveeno too (the green one), and I also sometimes rub coconut oil into my hands and cuticles when they’re particularly dry (or when I have some left after dumping a lump in a frying pan) - but that’s not a non-greasy option.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:07 PM on December 31, 2018

Nthing CeraVe products, they're at pharmacies and grocery stores all over.

I have to wash my hands (it feels like) a zillion times a day at work using the company's harsh antibacterial soap, and I keep this in my bag and office:

If the pads of your fingertips are cracking and bleeding, try to avoid harsh soaps such as institutional anti-bacterials, they will strip the oils from your skin, break the natural lipid barrier (that CeraVe seems to fix) and allow them to dry out even more. Try using a gentler option, like the CeraVe hydrating cleanser telegraph mentioned. Another similar one is Cetaphil cleanser. Most pharmacies will also have a generic that works fine right next to them on the same shelf.
posted by zdravo at 4:10 PM on December 31, 2018

I would not be without Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Lotion. It's inexpensive and available everywhere. A few years ago my elbows got dried out and cracked to the point that I was alarmed by how deep the cracks were. Gold Bond Ultimate Healing every morning and night completely healed them inside of a week. I keep a pump bottle in my bathroom and one near the sink in the kitchen. I've also taken to wearing rubber gloves when I wash the dishes. It helps a lot.
posted by Dolley at 4:15 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

the body shop's hemp hand protector is good value for money! it's like 12 bones - works, soaks in quick and lasts forever. is a staple in our household.
posted by speakeasy at 4:40 PM on December 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also use the Gold Bond (eczema relief formula, in my case) -- I get cracked and bleeding hands in the winter and it's the only thing that helps that's not appallingly greasy! I have some expensive fancy moisturizers too, but Gold Bond is what helps my hands.

If you can handle something thicker that takes longer to soak in, the thickest Eucerin is what they tend to use in hospitals; and chapped-handed Midwesterners in the know use Cornhuskers' Lotion, or Bag Balm (originally for cows with cracked udders), or Badger Balm (which is basically bag balm that smells nice for human retail). I can only handle putting those on before bed, though, or before sitting down to watch an hour of television; I haaaaaaate how long they take to soak in. If you're hardcore, you could put on something like bag balm before bed and then put on white cotton gloves -- any cheap pair, doesn't matter -- to hold the moisture in and warm your hands for better absorption. (Also works for feet! But most people have socks handy and don't need to go find some dang gloves to buy.) Spa-type stores sometimes have white cotton gloves specifically for this use, or I'm sure you can find some online.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:44 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a woman, but I like Nivea for its neutral fragrance. CeraVe, in the tub, is great. Lubriderm has a lighter texture. Eucerin classic is the hardcore stuff, very thick, takes forever to dry, but would maybe work in bed at night. When it's not going to get all over your phone, etc. Aveeno is pleasant and neutral.

You can buy trial sizes of most of these and see what you like.

If you rub the lotion together with the backs of your hands together you don't have to deal with weird oily fingers while it dries, although given your fingertips maybe that's not something you want.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:44 PM on December 31, 2018

Eucerin and Corn Huskers Lotion. Everything said so far is true. Eucerin is more of a normal hand cream in terms of feel, just heavier-duty. It reminds me of really thick Jurgens. That will be your everyday by-the-sink lotion. Corn Huskers is different. It's not something you just put on and rub in. Like Eyebrows said, it's a process. But it works. Your hands feel great afterward. That's what you'll need to heal up the cracks and get back to normal.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:14 PM on December 31, 2018

I have horribly dry hands (and especially dry cuticles for some reason). I love Nivea's Soft moisturizing cream. A small dab absorbs quickly and doesn't feel greasy.
posted by Lycaste at 5:52 PM on December 31, 2018

another non lotion suggestion: shearling gloves/mittens; the residual lanolin will help.
posted by brujita at 6:04 PM on December 31, 2018

Moisturizing is one of the things the skincare industry actually knows how to do, so you're in good shape!

FWIW, I don't like lotions because they make my hands cold (high water content) and sticky. If you're interested in a thicker texture, Shea moisture makes a nice, thick hand cream that will still go through their pump bottle. The little blue Nivea tins are very common, cheap, and good for portability. Straight up shea butter is nice and melts at skin temp but not as easily available.
posted by momus_window at 6:10 PM on December 31, 2018

These Aquasentials cotton gloves are nice because the fabric contains some stretch material; many cheap 100% cotton gloves you find you'll need to hand wash and/or air dry or they'll shrink into tiny baby gloves.

Find some non-greasy lotions you like for daily use and then go full greasy hardcore at night under gloves. In no particular order, hardcore thick moisturizers that have worked great for me at night: Bag Balm. Aquaphor Healing Ointment, its store-brand copies from Walmart/Target/etc, its slightly fancier CeraVe copy. Plain petroleum jelly/petrolatum, which works great for layering over a thinner moisturizing lotion, since as an occlusive petrolatum seals moisture in but doesn't add much moisture itself. Lanolin for cracked nipples. Unrefined coconut oil. Plain shea butter. Unflavored vegetable shortening AKA Crisco.

And if you use a smartphone/tablet in the evenings, get a cheap stylus you can you use with your gloves on, because after you've slathered yourself in moisturizing marinade for the night you WILL suddenly remember a text you need to send or a phone game you want to play, and sans stylus you'll need to wash your hands or immediately get grease all over your phone.
posted by nicebookrack at 6:13 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I put Curel Ultra Healing on a scar once and it was gone in days. I say this because I used to think like you have about skincare (and therefore spent forty years doing nothing) but I am coming to believe I was wrong. Curel also does work for dry winter skin and I have been using that this winter.
posted by eirias at 6:29 PM on December 31, 2018

Yup, Aveeno. Especially the Intense Relief version with the blue cap and blue stripe on the bottle. It's available everywhere, reasonably-priced, not-scented, and most importantly, It Just Works. When I first moved to Colorado I thought I'd have to find some special fancy lotion to keep my skin from cracking in this unforgivingly dry place, but nope--Aveeno has been perfect.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:54 PM on December 31, 2018

Do you need a commercial ‘product’? If you have ‘olive oil skin’, have you simply tried olive oil right out of the shower? Or Shea butter? Or a combo? For me, they work just as well as anything mentioned above.
posted by MountainDaisy at 7:04 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've been on a similar quest, and my hair stylist has recommended Helping Hands by Lush.

At $21 for 3.8 oz., Helping Hands is not inexpensive. Plus I haven't tried it yet, so I can't vouch for it.

However, the endorsement of someone whose hands are subjected to chemicals, latex gloves, hot water, cold water, etc., says a lot to me. (Plus she was recommended Helping Hands by a nurse, who have equal street cred, hand lotion-wise.)
posted by virago at 7:56 PM on December 31, 2018

All good recommendations above. Believe it or not, applying The Body Shop Cocoa Butter Body Butter to my hands faithfully every night before bed has done a lot to tame my eczema and winter dry hand issues. Burt's Bees' body lotion with milk and honey is also nice.
posted by gudrun at 8:33 PM on December 31, 2018

Many winters of chapped hands have given me a fondness for Eucerin brand hand lotion. It's expensive, however, and I've found its store-brand knock-offs pretty darn effective.

Regular use keeps me from getting those cracks in my fingertips. When I forget (or don't start soon enough in the season) I get cracks that are very difficult to heal. You didn't ask, but I'll volunteer: what works best for those is a small dab of petroleum jelly on the fingertip, one bandaid bent over the finger, then one or two more circumferentially to hold it in place. Replace the petroleum jelly everytime you change bandaids.
posted by wjm at 9:01 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’m partial to straight up unrefined Shea butter. It’s rich and buttery and great to heal winter skin chapping. I use this one from Alaffia.
posted by Champagne Supernova at 10:22 PM on December 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

Cerave is good, La Roche-Posay Cicaplast mains is better in my experience. They both form a nice protective layer over the skin.
posted by stinker at 10:35 PM on December 31, 2018

Seconding O'Keeffe's Working Hands. This from much time working with drywall compound and (you shouldn't do this!) scraping the the last of the concrete out of the wheel barrel by hand. Also, winter construction projects.

The Working Hands makes it easier to crochet without catching the yarn on every bit of rough skin.

I do like a shea butter soap like Shea Moisture for regular usage. I keep some in the kitchen and bathroom.

Petroleum jelly will do in a pinch.
posted by TrishaU at 3:55 AM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

My go-tos are original Nivea and Gold Bond Ultimate Healing, though in general most moisturizers with a thick, buttery consistency work well for me.

Since your skin seems to react better to oil-based ointments, you might really like Aquaphor. You may also want to focus your search on moisturizers with fewer ingredients in case your skin is sensitive to fragrances or other added ingredients.

Hand lotion hasn’t quite gotten the Big Skincare treatment - yes there are a zillion lotions and some of them are pricier and some of them have farfetched claims, but you’re probably not going to find $60 jars of creams that claim to contain miracle ingredients and need to be layered with three other products every night. You’ll find a lot of effective stuff in the $5-15 range at any drugstore.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:49 AM on January 1, 2019

I hate hand lotions very much, because most of them are smelling quite strongly and take forever to soak-in/dry.
Did you ever have to touch the computer mouse of somebody with a serious hand lotion addiction? Euuugh!!
I love Burt’s Bees Ultimate Care with Baobab oil. It soaks right in, smells non-offensively and leaves my skin very smooth. It’s also quite expensive but you don’t need much. I find that the cheaper I go, the longer the lotion takes to dry. If drying times are not your concern various animal remedies like bag balm are very nice on the non-smelly front. The less stuff and fragrances are in there, the better it probably is for your skin long-term.

In the end it’s a highly individual decision but you can try all of the suggestions here eventually ;-)
posted by mmkhd at 5:27 AM on January 1, 2019

I use Aveeno (green or blue) on the daily - I've tried so many hand lotions, and this is one of the few whose texture and scent doesn't annoy me.

If I've been lax and my hands are getting bad, I use Working Hands. I don't really enjoy its texture (which is why I don't use it daily), but it fixes everything right up. It sounds like you're at a point where this would help heal your hands, and then you can use something lighter (Aveeno or otherwise) to keep things from drying out again.
posted by pemberkins at 6:52 AM on January 1, 2019

My fingers stopped cracking and bleeding when I quit using liquid soap. Now I only need to moisturize occasionally.
posted by kate4914 at 7:03 AM on January 1, 2019

If you live near a trader joes, they have a $5 lavender lotion that is AMAZING. Non-greasy, sinks in fast, doesn't make my hands feel drier, smells great and works. I buy it for the office and it's become so popular that people literally visit my desk just to use the lotion.

If you don't live by a trader joes, jergens Original Scent Dry Skin Moisturizer is also cheap and has the same non greasy consistency I like.
posted by amycup at 12:15 PM on January 1, 2019

I am another one who haaaaaaates most lotions -- if applied to my face, they break me out, and if applied to my hands, I just feel gross. Two I have liked:

For general body use: Lush's Dream Cream -- olive oil and cocoa butter, scented but very light and inoffensively so, sinks right in to dry skin. A little expensive, but it lasts for ages -- I buy maybe one container every year or so.

Specifically for cracked, bleeding, or very dry hands: Paintbox Soapworks' Bookkeeper's Butter. Seriously, this is great. I handle a lot of paper and I often wind up with chapped hands, particularly in winter when it's cold and wet outside. A tiny pot lasts *forever* even if I also use it on my (very dry and callused) feet, and it's somehow not greasy despite being so dense. And it also smells nice. You do have to order direct from the maker, but she is lovely -- and also makes fantastic soaps, if you need to make shipping a package worth your while.
posted by halation at 4:48 PM on January 1, 2019

Nthing straight shea butter. I find it a bit greasy for by-the-sink daytime usage, but when I remember to rub it into my (dry after dishwashing, 40-something) hands just before bed, I awake with wonderfully soft, restored skin. For night use, I highly recommend.
posted by marlys at 5:03 PM on January 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

+1 for MountainDaisy, nicebookrack, Champagne Supernova, and Marlys' suggestions of a natural product such as olive oil, shea butter or coconut oil. The coconut oil absorbs in quickly/doesn't feel greasy after a minute. If you try it, start with a small amount, like a teaspoon. I don't believe the suggestions that your body/skin absorbs nutrients from the natural oils (coconut, shea, or olive). Coconut oil will work better in your intended application, wash your hands and then apply it. I've heard some people use coconut [cooking] oil but they suggest buying the unrefined, extra virgin coconut oil.
posted by dlwr300 at 5:38 AM on January 2, 2019

I came here expecting this to have already been mentioned! My holy grail is the L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream. It seems pricey at first glance for the size of the tube ($12 for 1oz), but it lasts forever and a day. It's also available at Sephora and Nordstrom, and I've had luck buying it on Amazon as well. I have eczema and have tried most everything mentioned above, and this is my favorite. My husband is a convert as well.

They also sell a larger tube that is much more economical and would probably work if you plan to leave it next to the sink but more cumbersome for carrying around.
posted by BlueBear at 9:03 AM on January 2, 2019

I always find myself going back to Neutrogena Hand Cream. I prefer the unscented. One tube lasts forever, since you only need a tiny bit. my hands get super dry and bumpy in the winter, and this stuff usually clears that right up.

If you are near a Trader Joe's, this Head to Toe balm is pretty great, too -- I slather it on at bedtime, because it tends to be a bit greasy for daytime use.
posted by sarcasticah at 2:02 PM on January 5, 2019

Response by poster: I settled on a combination of Working Hands by the sink and Original Eucerin by the bed, and I have normal hands again that no longer constantly seep blood.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:01 PM on February 7, 2019

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