7 Best Hand Creams for Parched Hands, Bargain to Splurge, According to a Pro MUA

Stop winter from sucking the life from your hands as well as your soul…

A woman with manicured nails applies hand lotion

Photo Courtesy of Pexels

Each product featured is independently selected for review. A small commission may be earned from purchases made through links in this article. For more information please visit Disclosure.

The best hand creams in this article:

It’s that time of year again. The trees are bare and the air is cold. Frequent hand washing even with the mildest of cleansers can leave hands feeling tight and dry. I’m forever washing my hands and using hand sanitizer in my down time and on the job. Activities like cooking, dish washing, and yard work only aggravate sensitive skin more. But fret not. There is no shortage of hand creams to address your every concern. You can choose from anti-aging, brightening, protecting, nourishing and more. But which are the best hand creams?

I myself am a bit obsessed because my hands are prone to chapping especially during the low dew points of winter. A good hand cream is essential for me. There are a few attributes for which I look. I’m sensitive to fragrances so how something smells can be a deal breaker. I like fast absorbing formulas because who wants to leave greasy hand prints behind. Lately I’m appreciating the small format sizes now offered by many brands. They’re perfect to toss in a bag and the petite sizes make it easy to keep a few different options around in case you’re like me and can’t pick a favorite or get bored easily. I was recently on the hunt for something new and thought I’d share what I think are the best hand creams listed from bargain to splurge based on my experience as a pro MUA.

Each of these formulas were evaluated by using the hand cream for a duration of three weeks as needed throughout the day. Factors such as level and duration of hydration, price, availability and brand reputation were noted. It’s very important to me to use products that are produced sustainably and are free of fossil fuel based ingredients so the products that made the list are in most cases vegan, free of petroleum and produced using methods that have low impact on the environment.

Best Mass Market

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream is a classic inspired by Norwegian fishermen who protected their hands from the unforgiving elements at sea with emollient skincare preparations they made using ancient traditional recipes. Neutrogena worked with dermatologists to formulate what would ultimately become an iconic product for the brand based on those formulas.

Norwegian Formula Hand Cream is widely available at drugstores and large retailers. It comes in both lightly fragranced and fragrance free versions. It’s perfect for dry chapped hands. The cream is thick without being greasy and forms a protective barrier over the skin. Its moisturizing effects last through multiple hand washings. It contains 40% glycerin and is extremely hydrating however the formula can feel sticky if over applied.

Best Lightweight

Dear, Klair’s Daily Comfort Hand Cream

Dear Klair's Daily Comfort Hand Cream

Dear, Klairs Daily Comfort Hand Cream is lightweight and fast absorbing. It leaves no residual tackiness behind. Since 2010 Dear, Klairs, based in Seoul, has produced skincare for sensitive skin that’s eco friendly and cruelty free. The brand uses minimal essential oils. Many products in the range including this hand cream are completely fragrance free. 

It the lightest of all the hand creams on the list and practically absorbs upon contact. I found that it helped smooth cuticles and hands equally. Due to it’s lightweight texture it may not be hydrating enough for super hard working hands. 

Best Fair Trade

Natura Ekos Castanha

Natura Brasil Castanha Hand Cream

Natura Brasil is a vegan, cruelty free, eco friendly skincare brand based in Sao Paulo with over five decades of experience working to support indigenous cultures and preserve Amazonian resources. They’re a founding member of the Union for Ethical BioTrade which is a non profit dedicated to ensuring its members’ sourcing practices conserve biodiversity, respect traditional knowledge and that the sharing of benefits is equitable throughout supply chains. 

The company is industry leader in innovating sustainable packaging. The brand uses 50% recycled PET as well as 100% bio plastic derived from sugar cane for its bottles. Their refill packaging uses about 54% less material and emits 97% less residue than traditional packaging.1Mapu,(2015).Natura: the cosmetics company from the Amazon rainforest that sets the example-Technology and Operations Management The resulting refill packaging is cheaper to produce which allows the brand to pass savings along to consumers. 

There is a reason why one of these castanha nut oil based (otherwise known as Brazil nut oil) hand creams is sold globally every six seconds. The scent is soft, soothing and nutty. The vegan formula isn’t greasy.  I can’t find a single reason that would prevent me from keeping a tube around.

Best Sustainably Made

Karité Shea Butter Crème Mains

Karite Créme Mains

Karité is a brand from dermatologist Naana Boakye, M.D. who produces the line with her two sisters, a lawyer and marketing executive respectively. They purchase ethically sourced shea nuts from women run cooperatives in northern Ghana. The factory where the brand’s palm oil is produced is on the family’s farm and is fueled from by-products of the palm oil’s manufacturing. The electricity powering the plant at the farm is therefore 100% renewable and allows the factory to operate without reliance on public utilities.

While some ingredients are sourced globally the products are made in the USA near the brand’s headquarters in NJ. The cream feels soothing and rich. It has an initial aroma of tropical fruits but dries down to a slightly earthy finish. This cream is only available in 3.4 oz size while great to reside bedside or at a kitchen or bathroom counter, it may be a little large for travel.  

Best for Sensitive Skin

Pai Heavy Meddle Rescue Hand Cream

Pai Heavy Meddle

Pai is the brainchild of Sarah Brown who struggled to find products to address her newly developed skin condition known as urticaria so she made her own. Each formulation is produced in the brand’s lab at its London headquarters using organic, cruelty free, 100% natural ingredients. They are certified by COSMOS-standard, Cruelty Free International, The Vegan Society and The Soil Association. 

Pai’s hand cream is creamy yet lightweight in texture. It can take slightly longer to absorb but the minuscule wait is worth it. The scent is fresh and energizing with herbal notes from the fragonia oil. The CO2 supercritical extraction process used to obtain the brand’s Sea Buckthorn oil maximizes Carotenoid, Omega 3 and Omega 7 antioxidant retention. The carotenoids contribute a soft golden hue to the formula.

This cream left my hands feeling rescued just as promised. The scent from the natural essential oils, even though light, may be too strong for those with fragrance sensitivities. Some online reviewers didn’t feel the cream is as nourishing to cuticles as it could be. 

Best Repairing

Yon-ka Repairing Comforting Hand Cream

Yon-ka Creme Mains

Since 1954 Parisian skincare brand Yon-ka has worked with teams of experts including doctors, pharmacists, chemical engineers, biologists and bacteriologists to formulate products known for their efficacy and safety. The foundation of the brand’s products are plant extracts and essential oils. Their gluten free and mostly vegan formulas are found in the finest spas around the world.  

This hand cream smells of freshly peeled mandarins which is delightful even if ever so fleeting. The formula is lightweight but also rich. It repairs with a blend of shea butter, vitamins and plant based oils. The smallest amount, about the size of a grain of rice, smoothed into the backs of hands and around dry cuticles is all I needed. The tube is very sturdy which is great because there are no worries of leaking but consequently it’s a little challenging to squeeze out the product.

Best Nourishing

Oribe Cote d’Azur Nourishing Hand Cream

Oribe Cote d"Azur Nourishing Hand Cream

Legendary hairstylist Oribe started his eponymous hair care brand in 2008. It has grown to include body care, fragrances and products for the home. Sadly Oribe passed away in 2018 but his luxurious brand of high quality products remains. 

All of the brands paper packaging is made from Forest Stewardship Council certified materials. FSC works globally to reduce impact to the environment, promote the long term health of forests and to enforce workers rights as well the rights of indigenous communities.

Using Oribe Cote d’Azur hand cream is a sensuous experience. It envelops the hands leaving skin soft, radiant and lightly fragranced with Oribe’s signature scent which includes notes of sandalwood, jasmine and Calabrian bergamot. The cream is available in a 1oz and 3.3 oz size. The gold tube key included with the 3.3oz tube is a thoughtful detail one would expect from a luxury brand.

This cream nourishes the skin with ingredients such as glycerin, hyaluronic acid, shea butter and a blend of fractionated coconut, meadowfoam seed and sweet almond oils. It’s dermatologist tested, vegan and gluten-free.  The metal tube may be subjected to dings and dents especially if jostled around loose in a bag. Upon initial opening it can also occasionally release product without pressure being applied.  


Each product featured is independently selected for review. A small commission may be earned from purchases made through links in this article. For more information please visit Disclosure.

Scroll to Top