The Best Hand Creams Will Give You Baby Soft Skin

Rough texture and dry cuticles don't stand a chance.

hand cream
(Image credit: L'Occitane)

As far back as I can remember, I've dealt with extremely dry hands. Chronic, painful cracking and an ashy tone are my status quo. Consequently, my body skincare routine is incomplete without one of the best hand creams. This skincare staple saves me time after time, emerging from my purse more frequently than my phone, keys, and wallet combined.

Moisturizing the skin on my hands is second nature to me—and according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad, that's how it should be. "The short-term consequence of hand dryness is having uncomfortable, dry areas of the hand," he says. "Long-term, though, it can lead to infections like warts, bacterial infections like fungus, or eczema caused by dry skin."

Like all beauty products, though, not all hand creams are built the same. Not only do you want to find a formula with a texture and fragrance you like, but you also want to ensure that your hand lotion is packed with effective ingredients that provide long-term hydration. Here, Dr. Ostad and Marie Claire editors uncover which hand creams are truly the creme de la creme—pun fully intended.

The Best Hand Creams

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What Ingredients Should I Look For?

When you're looking for the best hand cream to combat dryness, look for clinically proven ingredients to boost hydration. Dr. Ostad recommends "ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help moisturize and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier." He also suggests seeking out niacinamide, because it boosts skin hydration and helps minimize moisture loss. Rich, natural ingredients like shea butter and aloe vera are also effective for irritated dry skin.

According to Dr. Ostad, there are also certain ingredients you should avoid. "Parabens, for example, can cause dryness and irritation," he adds. While he maintains that scented hand creams are no less effective than non-scented options, you should avoid fragrance if your skin is cracked or bleeding, or if you've had allergic reactions to fragrance before.

How (and When) to Apply Hand Cream

Unlike day and night creams, hand creams should be applied more often. Apply hand lotion at least twice daily, or after every hand wash. Dr. Ostad also stresses the importance of applying cream evenly, including the backs of your hands and the areas between your fingers.

Meet the Expert

Dr. Ariel Ostad
Dr. Ariel Ostad

Dr. Ariel Ostad is a triple board-certified dermatologist and facial cosmetic surgeon. A graduate of New York University, he is currently based on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at