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Best hand cream 2021: Soothe and nourish dry hands with the best hand creams

Jade Vincent
6 Apr 2021
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Restore dry, cracked hands to their super-soft potential with our pick of the best hand cream

Want softer and more youthful-looking hands? All it takes is the regular application of a hardworking and moisture-boosting hand cream. While we invest a lot into caring for our faces, our hands are often neglected – until they become a dry, flaky mess. 

Finding the best hand cream is no easy feat, though. Heavy-duty butters leave a greasy trail on everything you touch, and anti-aging gimmicks fail to deliver on their promises. But there are some superb products out there and, below, you’ll find our handy buying guide, along with bite-size reviews of the best hand creams – so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.

How to choose the best hand cream for you

Why do you need hand cream?

Hands are one of the first places to show tell-tale signs of aging, so you’ll want to look after them. Unfortunately, daily aggressors like central heating, moisture-stripping soap and the winter weather are a fast-track ticket to dull, dry skin. A hand cream will restore and protect your skin’s natural moisture levels, to keep your hands nourished and looking younger for longer.

Selecting the best hand cream is no different to buying a moisturiser - it depends on your skin type and concern. The first step is to work out exactly what you want from your cream. Moisture-boosting formulas heal chapped hands, while more high-tech lotions aim to fade age spots and treat eczema – there’s guaranteed to be a hand cream to suit your needs.

How much should I spend?

Pricier hand creams contain luxurious essential oils (and come in fancy packaging) while budget options often scrimp on the glamour to deliver moisture to the max. It all depends on your budget and whether you’ll use the hand cream everyday or as an occasional treat.

The best hand creams to buy in 2021

1. Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Concentrated: Best budget hand cream

Price: £3.50 | Buy now from Amazon

If you’re looking for a no-frills hand cream, Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula is the perfect choice. Inspired by the healing salves used by generations of Norwegian fisherman, it’s guaranteed to soothe the driest of hands, even in harsh conditions. Thanks to its nourishing emollients and a high concentration of moisture-boosting glycerine, dry areas are instantly hydrated while the skin’s natural barrier is repaired and protected.

It must be said, the packaging isn’t exactly stylish, and the smell is on the clinical side. Using too much can leave your mitts distinctly greasy, too. Still, for under a fiver, it’s excellent value: you’ll get 200 applications from every bottle, and it comes in scented and unscented variants, so even sensitive skin types can get in on the action. Overall, Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula is a godsend for dry, hardworking hands that need immediate relief on a budget.

2. Weleda Skin Food for Dry and Rough Skin: Best hand cream for dry hands

Price: £7.50 (75ml) | Buy now from Amazon

Weleda's multi-use Skin Food is gentle enough to be used on your face as well as hands and dry areas of your body. Formulated with soothing natural ingredients such as organic sunflower seeds, wild pansy, chamomile, and calendula, the rich cream instantly gets to work nourishing dry, chapped hands that feel tight and close to cracking. That's particularly great news for digits that are constantly submerged in bleach or hand sanitiser and require an intensive hand treatment to soften them up.

Weleda even recommends application on tough, scaly areas like your knees and elbows to revive smooth skin. Overall, this £7.50 do-it-all tube of cream is a worthy investment if your skin is craving a little extra moisture.

3. Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment Cream: Best hand cream for nails and cuticles

Price: £21 (100ml) |  Buy now from Amazon

Clarins’ Hand & Nail Treatment is perfect for lacklustre mitts craving a pick-me-up. The emollient-rich cream creates a protective “glove” that leaves your skin looking and feeling soft, supple and smooth. Made from a nourishing base of antioxidant-rich shea butter and sesame oil, it’s also packed with anti-aging Japanese mulberry to lighten age spots, along with myrrh essential oil to condition and strengthen nails and cuticles.

In all, it’s perfect for chucking in your bag, or keeping sink-side to relieve uncomfortable tightness after you’ve washed your hands. However, if your hands are suffering from serious dryness you may need something that works deeper – and the strong perfume scent might not be to everyone’s taste. Still, overall, Clarins’ Hand & Nail Treatment is a great hand cream that’s just as brilliant at nourishing cuticles and nails.

4. Jo Malone Vitamin E Hand Treatment: Best luxury hand cream

Price: £44 (100ml) | Buy now from John Lewis

Jo Malone’s one of the most respected British perfumers in the business, so it’s no surprise that this Vitamin E hand cream smells as heavenly as it feels. Combining notes of pomelo and cassis, this fresh and uplifting cream will make you feel ready for Spring. The scent lingers, too, so there’s no need for perfume when you’re wearing this beauty. 

It’s made from a sumptuous blend of moisturising vitamin E, wheat germ and barley. Despite the thick, rich texture it’s surprisingly non-greasy and is quickly absorbed to leave revitalised, hydrated skin. Yes, it’s expensive but there’s no joy like unwrapping Jo Malone’s beautiful black and cream gift packaging. A luxurious treat for tired hands that deserve a pamper.

Buy now from John Lewis


5. Neal’s Yard Bee Lovely All Over Balm: Best organic and cruelty-free hand cream

Price: £27 (50g) | Buy now from Amazon

Neal’s Yard is known for its ethical approach to high-quality skincare, and its Bee Lovely All Over Balm is both natural and animal-friendly. Certified as 99% organic by the Soil Association, it’s a great multi-purpose product that can treat dry hands, elbows and more. A thick balm, it feels rich and indulgent, yet sinks into the skin fairly quickly; it can leave a greasy residue if you’re a bit heavy-handed during application, but it’ll make a great hand mask if you leave it on overnight with cotton gloves.

Our only niggle is that the jar is a bit clunky – and it’s another relatively pricey option, but you’ll feel good knowing that a fraction of the sales go to help a charity for protecting bees. And don’t worry, the cream’s organic honey is, of course, sustainably farmed.

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