The Best Hand Creams for Dry, Cracked Skin (2020)

Best Hand Creams

I fully expect readers of Temptalia have all been washing hands thoroughly and about 400 times more often than ever before, and so if you, like me, are experiencing drier-than-usual hands, let me share with you my favorite hand creams. None of these are new favorites; these are ones I’ve had on hand (that was totally an unintentional pun) for years and return to.

I am prone to eczema, especially if I let anything dry out too much (especially getting dry very quickly), so I definitely favor the first two hand creams when the situation is more dire but very much use the other two regularly (and more often for my maintenance/regular routine). I’d love to hear about your favorite hand creams for day-to-day hydration as well as more for intensive hydration needs!

Aveeno Eczema Therapy Hand & Face Cream ($14.99)  has been a go-to for years now.  I’m a huge fan of Aveeno’s Eczema Therapy range in general–I find it lives up to being soothing, gentle, and effective–and the hand cream is top notch.  The lotion is medium-weight as it squeezes out of the tube, and it spreads easily across hands without stinging the driest of areas.

It absorbs within a few minutes and leaves behind smoother, hydrated skin behind while also relieving the pain of exceptionally dry areas that were to the point of bleeding slightly.  The dry down doesn’t feel tacky, and it didn’t feel greasy, as it definitely sinks into my skin, but there has a slight velvety quality to my skin post-application.

It has also proven effective for me as actually hydrating and healing my skin over time with consistent use, but it’s effective enough that even when I forget to use it (normal behavior, less so at the moment!) it gets me through rough patches… literally.

Cortizone 10 Intensive Healing Eczema Lotion ($10.99) is another go-to I’ve always kept on hand for years.  Because it has 1% hydrocortisone, I use it whenever my skin is exceptionally dry, itchy, and red but not every day or for simply dry hands.  Based on what I’ve read and been told by doctors over the years, hydrocortisone is often effective for mild eczema symptoms and should be used as needed for brief periods (not everyday indefinitely) unless otherwise directed by one’s doctor.  As one might expect, it is also fragrance-free.

The formula is lightweight, non-greasy, and absorbs quickly and leaves behind a mild tackiness but instantly starts to soothe my skin and makes the back of my hands look infinitely smoother, less cracked, and much more able to maneuver my fingertips/hands comfortably.  It stays where it’s put, even hours later, which makes it great for day time use as I type most of my day–this way I can easily apply it to the back of my hands but avoid my my palm and fingertips and not get hand cream all over my keyboard.

Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer ($15.00) is a thicker cream that dries down quickly, doesn’t feel greasy, and has a strong, more medicinal scent (they say “light eucalyptus”).  It’s intensely hydrating, long-lasting, and absorbs fully.  I routinely use this one at night time (I keep a bottle on my nightstand in hopes of reminding myself to use it) as I dig the light scent as a relaxation moment as I try to fall asleep.  I find this to be effective even when my hands start resembling a dried out riverbed and I can start navigating through the cracks on the back of my hands.  Even when my hand care game is weak, I know I can slather this on before bed and wake up with happy hands for the next couple of days.

Kiehl’s Creme de Corps ($30.00 to $78.00) is a staple in my skincare routine when it comes to keeping body parts and hands hydrated.  I grab a mega-sized bottle at least once a year (when they’re on sale), and I keep one in my photography room to keep my swatching arm from drying out.

I like to apply it before and after a swatching session (there’s a lot of skin rubbing and product removal in-between) because it’s non-greasy and intensely hydrating, though it’s not the fastest absorbing (compared to the previous three options mentioned).  This is often the one I’ll apply and then put gloves on if I want to do some extra hand-pampering.

It’s fragrance-free, which I prefer as heavy scents on my hands are often too much for me, and as a body cream, it means I can wear my favorite perfume without worrying about the two mixing.

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I’m a knitter, so quick absorbing, actually functional and not greasy are prime for me!

O’Keefe’s Working Hands is amazing, and is one of the few truly scentless options I’ve found.

Deborah Lippmann’s Rich Girl is a splurge, but is what I keep in my purse- and it has SPF, a rare find in hand creams. It does have a light, floral and sunscreen smell.

Bar Maids’ Lo-Lo Bar is a bit more greasy, but works wonders overnight and comes in a variety of scents if that’s your thing. (A scent you don’t love is a great way to keep your hands off your face!)

Eczema prone hands, and skin in general, here too. Plus, now very dried out and sore on the backs of my hands. When I go food shopping this week, I intend on trying to get a new tube of the Aveeno Eczema Therapy formula. And I’m also going to see if I can get the Cortezone 10 cream as well. I’ve been stuck with just my bottle of Amlactin Rapid Relief Lotion since my move and the insanely fast moving uptick in the pandemic. It helps a little. But nothing like the Aveeno one!

O’Keeffe’s! I suffered from dry, cracked fingers every winter and tried every cream out there. After seeing enough commercials and reading rave reviews I gave it a try. No joke, my hands were healed within a week and it hasn’t returned in four years with continued use. I keep those little green canisters everywhere now.

I was wondering when covid-19 would rear it’s head on Temptalia haha. And yes, my hands are looking like my grandmother’s but with weaker olive undertones, so thanks for this!

Kiehl’s Creme de Corps is definitely my favorite for my body, but the Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve is my holy grail for my hands specifically. Highly recommend. I have never had to buy it full price either as the CCO in my area always has it in stock for somewhere between 15-30% off!

I know I’ve tried it in the past, but at this particular moment, I couldn’t remember much specifically (but I’m a fan of Kiehl’s generally). Definitely will have to try it again sometime!

I handle paper everyday for work (on top of being a compulsive hand-washer even before all this happened) and the best hand cream I’ve ever found for dry or cracked hands is Gold Bond Ultimate Healing hand cream with aloe. Literally $8.99 at any drugstore. I go through a 5.5 oz tube every month lol.

I second the Gold Bond Ultimate! I have a tube at work, home and my hand bag. Norwegian Formula from Neutrogena is similar, but GB is my top choice.

I’ll need to try this Gold Bond one. I’ve always liked the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula – they used to make a really good “companion” foot cream too but the last time I went to buy it, I learned it’s been discontinued, which is a shame.

I highly recommend Gold Bond Eczema Relief hand cream (or body lotion, similar formula, bigger size) even for people not suffering from eczema.

I have moderate-to-sever eczema, and also love the Aveeno Eczema Therapy tubes! Some other favorites that I return to over and over:

Gold Bond Eczema Relief, also with 2% colloidal oatmeal. Not greasy, but it only half sinks in while also forming a physical barrier to help keep moisture in.

CeraVe Eczema Creamy Oil. Yes, it’s a little greasy. But it feels good on skin. Great for bedtime or under cotton gloves.

Epiceram, which sadly is prescription only. It is formulated to replace the ceramides, cholesterol and free fatty acids,which eczema patients usually lack. It is steroid-free, fragrance-free, noncomedogenic, paraben-free, and propylene glycol-free for those who are ultra sensitive.

Does your CeraVe Eczema Creamy Oil have an odd smell? I bought a tube once and the smell made me gag: I’ve always wondered whether it was just a fluke or the norm. Everything else I’ve got from Cerave doesn’t have a smell.

I’m washing my hands so often that I dreamed about it last night! (In my dream, the place I was washing at had diluted their liquid soap and I was really annoyed about it) My hands are pretty dry and my partner’s knuckles are so dried out they’re on the verge of bleeding. Might have to get that Jack Black for us!

God, you know this has been going on for so long if we are dreaming about it!

I hope you have better, sparklier dreams tonight for sure. <3

Oh no! I can absolutely sympathize. I had a dream about rationing out hand sanitizer between roommates the other night. I don’t even have roommates! I’ve always compulsively washed my hands and used hand sanitizer but this pandemic has sent my anxiety into overdrive. It’s all temporary, though. We’ll all get through this together. I hope you don’t have any more unpleasant dreams, and I hope that Jack Black Hand Healer helps! I thought it was really wonderful last time I had it.

If you want something a little thicker and on the budget-friendly side, there’s an indie brand called Son of Suzette that sells a lotion called “Bliss Butter” and it’s divine! Some people I know wanted to try it and they got hooked immediately. It’s all natural, organic, and comes in a bunch of different styles, including an unscented kind. It’s like $6 and you get 8 ounces, and a little dab goes a long way. It’s become my Holy Grail moisturizer, not just for hands & body but for my face too. I have extremely sensitive, dry skin and it’s the only thing that moisturizes all day without leaving a greasy film. It’s been a God-send for my keratosis pilaris and works better than any lotion, medicated or otherwise, that I’ve ever tried.

Thank you for the recs! I think I need Kiehl’s in my life.

I find both Gold Bond Eczema Relief (which has 2% colloidal oatmeal as opposed to Aveeno Eczema’s 1%), and Gold Bond Psoriasis Relief (salicylic acid 3%) work really well on my slight eczema. O’Keefe’s hand version and foot versions didn’t do anything for me, but Ahava’s Dermud Intensive body, hand and foot versions have been incredible. I like those as a daily moisturizer and to keep in my daily commuter bags. (Not that I’m doing much commuting lately).

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula is hands down the best ever!!!!!
I work in the cafe of a petrol/gas station and between the constant washing and the food-safe gloves by the end of my shift the skin on my hands is all shiny and tight and they start to crack and itch and this stuff has saved my sanity.

Stacey I 100% agree with you about Neutrogena Norwegian Formula, it’s my HG hand cream for sure! I’ve worked in hospitals/doctors offices for just short of 20 years and NOTHING heals my hands like this stuff, it’s worth it’s weight in gold. They make an unscented but I don’t mind the subtle fragrance of the original. I feel like it sinks in quickly and I can go back to whatever I was doing as soon as it does so. I’ve tried so many hand creams over the years and I always end up coming back to this true love. Awesome sauce!!!

This is a very timely post Christine. Yes, my hands are suffering so much too – not just with the hand washing, but also the extra cleaning of kitchen and bathrooms, now I have the workers of the world home with me.
I really like Aveeno Eczema cream, but I can’t get the other ones here in Aus.
I also use Dermeze intensive hand cream – but it’s more of a gel (which I hate) and you use it at night. No perfume at all and it is very good.
Another one is Graham’s Eczema cream as well. It does have a scent from the ingredients, but definitely not flowery or perfumed. It is excellent.

I love the L’Occcitane hand creams. They are very rich and they work wonders on my dry hands. The Aveeno one is also very good.

I have eczema and my pick hands-down is Cerave Healing Ointment!!! When used on slightly damp skin, it absorbs quickly, lasts through several hand-washing and is non-greasy! I used it as full-time restaurant server. My brother who is a nurse also uses it after washing with hospital-grade soap. I actually used Cerave Healing Ointment on my entire body before taking a dip in the pool to prevent eczema from chlorine. Works!

(but if you’re allergic to Cerave Healing Ointment, comment and I have a whole list of other skin creams I can share)

A WARNING: CeraVe skincare and anything with hyaluronic acid (or sodium hyaluronate) can be a double-edged sword for SOME dry skin users.

Hyaluronic acid is a powerful humectant, which means that it’ll draw on water in the immediate environment. So if you use this on damp skin, it’ll draw in that water. BUT, if you apply it to dry skin and you live in a dry desert environment, then hyaluronic acid products will pull water right out of your skin, making it even drier.

So if you wash hands several times per hour like my brother and I did/do for our jobs, then hyaluronic products are highly recommended because that’s a lot of water exposure. But if you’re about to sleep in a very dry environment, you won’t be exposing your skin to water for the next 8 hours–so you skip the hyaluronic acid products. This is something I personally have to watch out for. I hope this explanation makes sense!

My favourites right now (and most of the time) are Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve and L’Occitane hand cream with shea butter (I think it’s 20% but that might be the foot one). Since the Covid 19 outbreak and the shortage of hand sanitizer (which can be rough on hands in any case), I’ve been using a wonderful product (Canadian, I think) by Saje called Safe Hands Antimicrobial Hand Lotion. It has a lovely “essential oil” scent – lavender and tea tree oils. Hubs and I also both use O’Keefe’s (and they recently launched a new “overnight” formula that I find less waxy and easier to apply as it’s in a squeeze tube).

I LOVE all things Saje! And yep, it’s a lovely Canadian brand that I feel in love with while living up in Vancouver during university. I’ll have to check out that product.

Anne, there’s no point right now because it’s sold out. I’m so glad I bought a bottle when I did. Have you tried their 3 new diffuser blends? I have 3 bottles of “Ritual”, which has replaced Daydream as my favourite blend. My daughter swears by Immune – she shares a small office with 2 other “release” teachers and has always used it in her office.

Aveda Hand Relief is my fave by far. It’s so rich and creamy, works even after you wash your hands. And the Aveda scent is divine. Smells like a spa!

My all time fave is the shea butter hand cream from Trader Joes, and my mom (who works in a warehouse and handles dry cardboard all day) loves it too. I also really enjoy the ones from Dionis, but that’s mostly for the scent.

I am so with you – my hands are really taking a beating with all this handwashing. Back in December, the weather here in SoCal got really dry and I kept getting a reaction on my neck from my usual serum and neck cream. I went for 2 weeks without using any product at all which was no good. It got so bad I went to the dermatologist. He recommended that I try Eucerin Advanced Repair Lotion because it has ceramides in it. Thankfully, it worked. I got a bonus sized bottle (21 fl oz) at Target on sale for less than 15.00. I have been using this on my hands and it is really helping. I don’t need to use much, either.

Thank you for this question! I also do not care for hand creams with much fragrance. I’m definitely going to try some of these suggestions. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream has been working great for me if I remember to use it after washing my hands.

I’m pretty much at the point that I have to put something in the rooms I tend to be in… and wish I had remembered hand cream – so my desk, my nightstand, and a side table in the family room. I am not as consistent as I’d like to be normally, but I’m definitely paying that price now!

The only thing that seems to moisturize my son’s eczema probe skin without irritating it is Vanicream… the kind in the tub with a pump. Aveeno irritated his skin so much… tried the eczema lotions and the soak in his bath. I don’t know why exactly because I hear so many people love it.

Love this post in general though! My hands are so dry from washing them. 🤣

It’s neat to see what everyone is loving (or what hasn’t worked!) and using – definitely have some I need to try in the future!

Cake Beauty Heavy Cream is my all time favorite. It’s very thick and best for use at night but I will use it during the day occasionally. It smells like delicious buttercream frosting which may not appeal to some but for me it’s very comforting.

Oh gosh – I adore Cake Heavy Cream. Sephora in Canada used to carry it, then Costco was selling 2 large tubes for less than one cost at Sephora. I’m so glad I got it there but then the brand seemed to disappear entirely. About 2 years ago, the hand creams suddenly reappeared at Shoppers Drug Mart but in much smaller tubes. I grabbed a few when I saw it. It is great stuff.

I like the O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream. It really lives up to the advertising. Also, I have used First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream with very good results. I don’t really like the smell of it, though, and it is more expensive then the O’Keeffe’s.

:So curious, I own a mini of the Kiehl’s Creme de Corps I actually use as handcream on the go. 😀

But the savior of dry hands during this time it Paula’s Choice Ultra-Rich Soothing Body Butter. I usually get very easy dry patches on my hands, non-pandemic related. Sometimes I get even wounds from dryness. The body butter is not only a great handcream, it’s basically the miracle that save my hands.

The best I’ve ever used is the Neutrogena Hand Cream. It’s thick like a balm, so nourishing, and all of my dryness has gone. I have had dermatitis on my fingers since I was 13 years old and the only thing to make it better was a steroid cream.
I haven’t had to use the steroid cream since using the Neutrogena! I only buy the fragrance free version. Amazing stuff. Look up some reviews, it’s highly rated!

Well timed information. My hands get so dry and horribly itchy from constant thourough washing. In addition, I’m just recovering from some miserable bug that lasted. 2 1/2 weeks. No testing done so no idea what it was except miserable. My hands and lower arms need extra help. Thank you.

TonyMoly’s Wonder Butter and Derma E’s psorzema cream. I get gross dry patches on my neck and those work well for me. I also use a blend of oils (sweet almond, jojoba, rosehip seed and castor.) I do these things after a shower, early morning and before bed when I’ve got time to let things absorb.

And since nobody asked (lol) Lanolips tinted balm is really nice for dry lips. Let it work while you sleep. I’d like to try their other stuff.

I have a small jar of 100% Shea butter I’ve been applying before bed and it has been my salvation during these drying times. Like you, I’ve been making do with what I have and so I’m also using up some stocking stuffer aquaphor and gold bond. I prefer the gold bond at work as the aquaphor feels like I’ve stuck my hands in a jade of vaseline, but aquaphor did relative the flaking skin between my fingers issue IMMEDIATELY ( it was all I had at work 2 days ago, I applied it and then forced gloves over it)

I get that!! I love a good nourishing, creamy CREAM of a hand cream that you feel sinking in for awhile after at night (with gloves), but day time use, I need something that absorbs quickly!

I like Aveeno handcream too, although I think using L’Occitane Milk Shea Butter Extra Gentle Soap has made a huge difference. I also like not having to touch extra plastic when washing my hands – just straight from soap to handwashing and less that might need disinfecting. When I helped my boyfriend switch all his soaps out, including using more eco-friendly dish-washing detergent and laundry detergent, he stopped having eczema outbreaks.

Our kitchen sink soaps and faucet are touchless, and it’s nice to go there and soap up and have the water off while washing. It’s made me think how useful they’d be in bathrooms, lol!

I had to switch to fragrance-free and more pared down detergent formulas, too! Tide Pods were the worst (took awhile to realize that) for my eczema around my neck.

Wow, yes!! Touchless faucets are the dream! When I worked at a hospital, I loved the foot pedal sinks, but now technology has advanced so much.

I remember seeing a really interesting sink/toilet design in Japan. There are toilets in small spaces where after you flush, the fresh, clean water goes first through a faucet and sink above the toilet before it goes to flush the toilet. That way you can immediately wash your hands with the clean water and the toilet uses gray water. Uses less water overall and it saves space!

Do either of you have recommendations for gentle-to-skin laundry detergent formulas that works particularly well on smelly laundry?

I’ve used Seventh Generation and Gain with no luck on getting out body odor smells. Regular Tide (liquid or powder) works really well but everyday I’m anxious that I’ll wake up with eczema irritation.

I use Seventh Generation, but haven’t run into the odor issue. I think washing soda might also work with sensitive skin. I’ve heard adding distilled white vinegar to laundry, or adding in a cloth bag with a few English ivy leaves or eucalyptus leaves in it, are natural ways to get rid of odors. White vinegar has helped me de-odorize vintage/thrift store items, but it’s a different type of scent being removed. I haven’t tried the leaf trick yet.

I am a big fan of Kiehl’s. I bought a 33.8 oz bottle for $52 at a sale a few years ago (regular price $78) and I’m only about an eighth of the way through it because a little goes a long, long way.

I really like Cortisone 10 too. It’s a go-to for when my childhood eczema struggles resurface. I’ve had good results with oatmeal products (Holy Snails face mist <3) for my face and would really like to try them for maintenance on my hands too, so I’ll def try the Aveeno.

The other thing that has really healed my hands since the aggressive hand washing has started is a really gentle, moisturizing hand soap. The week before Seattle’s restaurant closures I was washing my hands after basically every task at work—it was practically impossible to wash them enough working as a server. By 3/15, the day we closed, the backs of my hands were about 2/3 covered in bright red eczema blotches. Using Zum Bar goat soap at home helped them heal within a week. It’s really non-irritating and doesn’t strip any moisture out. Totally worth the less elegant experience of using the bar over my usual liquid.

My two favorites:
EMBRYOLISSE – Nourishing Hand Cream
Nivea Soft Cream

I also swear by La Roche-Posay Cicaplast B5 Soothing Repairing Balm

Prone to eczema, too. When things are bad and during the dry winter months I use a cream that you have to order at your local pharmacy. It’s not prescription, but you have to ask them to order it for you. Cutemol, it’s lanolin based, it’s very heavy and it’s freaking amazing. I use it at night because it’s too heavy and sticky for daytime use. And because of the high lanolin content it has a weird smell, but I’ve gotten used to it. It’s like… grandma in a jar.

For every day I have Bliss Kiss Simply Sealed lotion stick which is jojoba oil based. It’s almost too heavy for daytime use but the common theme between the two is that they last through several hand washings and together they are like the hand dream team. The stick smells good too, citrusy.

I used to love the hell out of Weleda Skin Food (can’t say I hate it) but since I’ve been trying to be a better vegan, I feel bad about using lanolin from the skin of sheep or creams with tallow. I’m sure tallow helps lots of us dry skin types and ppl w severe eczema and psoriasis. If you’re interested Wildwood Apothecary / April renders her own tallow so nothing is wasted or made in large amounts. Her herbal tallow creams are difficult to snag though.

Not the most obvious choice but I like Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker hand cream a lot (it has a mild but unpleasant scent though): lightweight, absorbs quickly and leaves my hands soft & comfortable for quite a few hours. Anatomicals Help the Paw is also a favorite, but hard to get unfortunately.

I have always had to wash my hands a lot. I have a kidney transplant so my immune system is compromised so I have to be extra careful about germs. I have tried many hand creams and found the best one by far is Skin Fix. I used to buy it at Target but they stopped selling it there and now the exact one I used to use is discontinued but the new version is just as good. It is now called Skin Fix Eczema and available at Sephora. I love that it is unscented.

I’m a 100% grease up from head to toe kind of gal and will definitely be combing through the comments for recommendations! I swear everything in my home has a slight film on it from constant thick hand lotions, but my skin dries out so fast without it.

Hate to be a dorky bummer but I hope this helps. My breast specialist told me OTC and Rx cortisone / steroid creams can shrink skin and cause more problems in the long run. Possibly steroid withdrawal symptoms w long term use. I’m super sensitive but I doubt any of us want to chance losing elasticity & volume. I mostly use absorbent emollient natural oils, herbal balms and heavy herbal creams/butters. I use some combo of these often: chia seed, meadowfoam, grape seed, jojoba, olive oil, avocado and wayyyy too many more to list! Those are just the basics. Not a huge fan of coconut unless I’m eating or drinking it OR the oil/butter came out of a sprouted coconut shell from Miami Fruit. It’s a drier oil that’s not always as shelf stable as jojoba.

Mountain Rose Herbs, Now Foods + a many other companies sell safe organic oils at reasonable prices. I feel silly for what I’ve spent on pricey skincare lines but some oils aren’t cheap and some clever concoctions are worth the price tag so long as they aren’t “solar infused!”

I find major relief from dry itchy skin using broadleaf plantain infused oil, comfrey (as long as it’s not on an area that might have an infection and seal it in), Calendula, sooooothing Chamomile although some ppl are allergic, Saint John’s Wort to numb burning or aches and to treat viral outbreaks, Rose infused oil rather than rose EOs that burn & cause breakouts for us super sensitive types. Basically herbs and plants galore! Lately I’m washing my hands so often I’m coating myself in straight org. olive oil bc it calms quickly. Yup, likely an Italian Mediterranean thing. 🤓

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