I’m a bit of a hand cream addict. There’s not a week that I don’t have at least 2 hand creams in my purse not to mention all the drawers in my home that I have little hand cream tubes stashed. The weather has turned in the past few weeks, the air is extremely dry and my skin has really felt it. Extra help with moisture has been essential for me on all fronts. Last year I put together a list of my favorite hand creams that I had in rotation. Today I have a roundup of some new ones that I’ve been putting to the test including three designed more for men (thanks to my husband for testing some too).
When it comes to hand creams, there are three things I look for: good packaging, quick absorption, noticeable hydration. While I don’t mind feeling the moisture, I like treatments don’t have a greasy feel or silicone-like slip in the finish. On scented hand creams, I’m all for a good one with fragrance because it lifts the mood but sometimes I want something fragrance-free so it doesn’t interfere with my perfume. For my husband, he doesn’t like any of the ones I have that have girly scents. He has used and likes the one from Kiehl’s, but it’s pretty emollient and he’s been asking me to find him something that has a quick dry time.
Up first is my favorite hand cream formula ever, L’Occitane. I’ve been hooked on L’Occitane since a family friend gifted me a tube of the regular Shea Butter version to help me with my peeling cuticles and dry hands. The regular Shea Butter is extra gentle and perfect for those with sensitive skin and noses. It’s also thick and ultra hydrating. This one is L’Occitane’s best-seller and comes in a few different size options. There are some value sets which give you a price break, so before you buy, definitely check out the sets like this Hugs & Kisses Duo or this Hand Cream Trio (there are larger value sets too).
I’m super picky when it comes to scented body products so it’s somewhat of a miracle that I’ve loved every single L’Occitane scented hand cream. The options vary in thickness and texture depending on formula, but all are pretty much the same in terms of hydration. There are two whipped formulas in the Shea Butter Whipped* and Melting Honey Whipped* (review here) both have 25% shea butter and have a lighter texture but are very moisturizing.
Amande (Almond) is one of the few that doesn’t have shea butter. It’s made with almond oil and has an emollient and thinner texture. It’s a favorite of mine but the scent is pretty strong. The Collection de Grasse scents (reviewed here) are also stronger in fragrance, many of which are very floral.
By far, my favorite is the Pierre Hermé x L’Occitane collaboration. I’ve stocked up on the Pierre Hermé Hand Cream Trios because you save $7 by purchasing the set, and it also comes packaged in a cute limited-edition tin which makes it perfect for gifting. Pamplemousse Rhubarbe is a warm well rounded grapefruit. You can smell the citrus but the rhubarb makes it softer, warmer and not as sharp as a true grapefruit. Jamine-Immortelle Neroli is a very soft gentle jasmin and citrus mix. I normally don’t like wearing jasmin scents, but this one is very soothing and I adore it. Miel Mandarine is soft orange scented hand cream. It’s got a creamy roundness to the scent because of the honey in it. All three are hydrating but have a quick drydown and leave the hands feeling silky smooth. There’s no greasy feel and it absorbs super quick (quick as in less than 30 seconds).
L’Occitane wins for most fun packaging designs, best formula for sensitive but dry skin, and widest variety of scents and ingredients to suit your preferences and needs.
Next up are the Molton Brown Hand Creams*. I’ve been a fan of the line for a long time (long before most everything was reformulated or scents renamed). Their current line up of their hand creams are just as good as L’Occitane but the Molton Brown has different scents and packaging. There are currently seven scented options, some are called Replenishing Hand Creams and others simply Hand Creams. I tested all the scents and formulas and they perform the same. They have a fast absorbing texture that is not too thin but not too thick. Hands feel moisturized and smooth. With scented body products there’s often a hit or miss, but in this case there’s not a bad one in the entire lineup. Scents are noticeable and last a decent amount of time. My top three favorites are Gingerlily, Pink Pepperpod (also available in this cute holiday cracker) and Ylang-Ylang.
The latest launch is the Alba White Truffle line which consists of a Hand Treatment and Hand Exfoliator. You can buy them individually or in a boxed duo gift set (prices are the same whether you buy separate or together). These are scented with nutmeg, olibanum and vanilla and they smell absolutely delicious without being overpowering or too sweet. The formula of the hand cream is a lot richer than the other ones in the Molton Brown line. It’s very very moisturizing and you can definitely feel the strength of it. It does absorb fast and doesn’t leave a greasy feel although you can feel the moisture. It’s a pampering kind of treatment that I really like. The best part of this line is the Hand Exfoliator. I’ve had scrubs with pedicures before but never on the hands. This is new to me but I’m hooked. The scrub gets rid of all the dead skin and build up and leaves the hands feeling refreshed, moisturized, ultra smooth and just so much better. I would love to use it everyday but that would be overdoing it. I’ve used this 1x per week and my hands feel like dead weight has been lifted off that I didn’t know was there. If you’re looking for a hand duo for someone who already has almost everything this is a good option as it just launched in mid-October and is relatively new.
Next up are some other brands that have one formula or scent of hand cream. Many are either skincare or fragrance lines.
Eve Lom Hand Cream with SPF 10 is one of the most gentle hand creams I’ve tried that’s unscented. If you’re super sensitive to any fragrance or simply don’t like it, this is a good option. The formula is on the thick side so a little goes a long way. It absorbs quickly.
Nuxe Rêve de Miel is the most lightweight in texture that I’ve tried. I’m a fan of all things Nuxe, I bought mine in a duo set from Paris, but you can buy the individual tubes online (currently there’s a sale online at Nuxe). It has a soothing but very soft and gentle honey scent.
Ole Henriksen Empower Hydrating Hand Cream* is a new formula from Ole Henriksen. It’s a lightweight super absorbent hand cream that strengthens and protects the skin. It also has Willowbark which is a natural exfoliant (salicylic acid) to sheds dead skin cells and stimulate new cell formation. I like that it absorbs fast and the moisture lasts a long time. Even though it has a natural exfoliant I was relieved to find it didn’t make the skin peel or pill. It has a super lightweight clean scent. It makes the hands look smoother instantly. (Also available at Sephora.)
Leif Kakadu Plum and Macadamia Nut Hand Balm* is a super hydrating emollient hand treatment. It smells really good like macadamia and it’s so good I almost want to eat it. This one is larger than most of the tubes I have but still works to fit inside my purse. I would say it’s as moisturizing as the Kiehl’s but has a thinner texture. I really like the Leif as a cuticle treatment too.
Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream* is hands down my favorite treatment hand cream. The Indigo line is really good for sensitive, dry or itchy skin. It has a lightweight refreshing sakura-like scent to it. I would recommend it to anyone for any skin type. If you don’t want to buy the full size without trying it, Tatcha has it in a smaller Travel Size. It’s also available in a mini in the Soothing Indigo Mini Set. If you want the full size there’s a Aiiro Soothing Duo set that has the hand and body cream.
For men, I’ve been on the hunt for a good basic hand cream designed more for men versus something that is unisex. When it comes to skincare, packaging is key for my husband. It has to look good and have easy to use packaging. He won’t use anything pink or girly-looking. The Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve comes in a small size in the Men’s Starter Set and my husband likes it and uses it daily. It is very hydrating and when it comes to waiting for something to absorb into the skin, my husband (Andrew) wants it to be fast (he doesn’t like waiting). With the Kiehl’s, he will apply it to his hands or feet. Any excess is rubbed off onto his arms or on a towel. I also like it because it’s very good for super dry skin is unscented and even though it’s emollient I find it dries within a few minutes. It’s available in a number of holiday sets and bundles where you can save like this trio.
Andrew’s been a fan of Baxter and Jack Black, so I ordered both for him to try. He’s a fan of the Jack Black Cool Body Moisturizer because it has a nice clean scent and feels refreshing. He says it applies well and absorbs into the skin quickly without feeling greasy. The Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer comes with a lot of high ratings on online reviews. It’s also been recommended by many of my female readers. I had high hopes that my husband would like this one because he’s a fan of the line. After trying this – he felt it too emollient, too thick and he kept wanting to wipe off the excess from his hands. I thought he was in one of his impatient moods and tried it myself. He was right. I also found it very thick in texture and a bit sticky. The benefits of the Jack Black are that it’s very very hydrating. It soothes dry spots instantly. There is a slight menthol scent to it but it fades. I let it sit for as long as I could to see if it would dry down. It never did but I found I could tolerate the texture as an overnight treatment. It makes the hands look visibly smoother and in the morning they look and feel a lot better.
Baxter of California is a men’s grooming line my husband discovered at the Birchbox Roadtrip event earlier this year. He’s been a fan of everything he’s tried so far and has some of the value sets on his holiday wishlist. A couple reviewed in this monthly favorites post here. I ordered the Hydro Salve Hand Cream which is a white cream in a squeeze tube. This one is his favorite because it adds noticeable hydration but dries quickly. It leaves the hands feeling moisturized, fixes dry cracks and soothes the skin without any greasy residue. I tried it as well. On one of the days I had some issues with cuticle dryness (some were starting to crack). Within minutes my hands felt instant relief and by the afternoon, my cuticles were almost healed. The description of this one is “Packed with aloe, shea butter and avocado oil, this unscented moisturizing cream hydrates and helps repair very dry skin. Infused with vitamins E, C and B5, the extra thick cream delivers nutrients to rough and chapped areas.” It’s exactly as described.
There are several I did test in store that had very high ratings online in customer reviews but that I didn’t like enough to purchase. I’ll mention three briefly. Ahava Mineral Hand Cream came highly recommended to me by several readers. I bought this during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and had very high hopes. I couldn’t tolerate the smell and the while formula dried quickly it had an almost silicone-slip to my hands that I couldn’t wait to wash off. Deborah Lippmann Rich Girl Hand Cream also came highly recommended to me. I liked the formula but found the scent overpoweringly sweet. La Mer The Hand Treatment is a cult classic. I actually splurged on a tube many years ago and used it up. I considered repurchasing recently but found the formula overpowering in fragrance. I also found it felt very emollient, almost greasy. I do think it will be good for super dry hands or an overnight treatment.
That wraps up my roundup of hand cream testing for fall to winter. If you’re in the market for a new hand treatment especially in this dry weather, my top picks include:
Most variety and best formula:
L’Occitane and Molton Brown
Best unscented options:
L’Occitane Shea Butter, Eve Lom and Baxter of California
Most intense for super dry skin:
Kiehl’s, Jack Black, Molton Brown Alba White Truffle and Leif
Most lightweight texture:
Nuxe Rêve de Miel
Best for sensitive skin/instant relief:
Personal favorites for scented hand creams:
L’Occitane x Pierre Hermé (all three)
Molton Brown Gingerlily
Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black
Husband’s favorite for men:
Baxter of California
There are a number of really good gift sets this holiday. I can’t get over how good they are this year. You can find the brands above at a number of different retailers but some products and sets are exclusive to the brands own retail website. All the products are linked above in the reviews to where you can buy them so you don’t have to click around to find things. Many times it’s easier to shop at larger retailers but if you’re looking for good deals or savings, I’d recommend researching ones that sound interesting to you, make a list and bookmark websites. A lot of the individual brands will have savings and gift with purchase offers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday – so while it might be a bit of extra work to shop, I do believe it will be worth the effort. I’ll have a roundup of promotions, codes and deals on Friday and Monday so stay tuned.
I think skincare or scented products are often
tricky to gift to people, especially if you don’t know them extremely
well. I think hand creams fall into the more neutral category. I’ve
gifted L’Occitane for years and it’s always well received. There’s been
confirmation in this conclusion since those I’ve gifted the hand creams
have always repurchased what I’ve bought them, they often buy as gifts
for their friends as well.
As usual, I’ve love for you to share what your favorites are. Please let
me know in the comments!
Press samples included in the feature indicated by a *. All others purchased by me.