The best hand creams for 2021 - as chosen by Mumsnet users
Cold weather, repeated hand washing and eczema can all cause the skin on your hands to feel tight, dry and painful. Luckily help is at hand, with this round-up of the most nourishing hand creams money can buy – as selected by the most rigorous testers we know, Mumsnet users.
1. L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, £21.50
L'Occitane hand creams – and the shea butter one in particular – were the clear favourite on our forums. And it seems their popularity isn't limited to Mumsnetters, with a tube of Shea Butter Hand Cream selling every three seconds since its launch in 1994.
Nourishing and hydrating, it's also nice to know that the shea butter used in this hand cream was made through fair trade with women’s co-operatives in Burkina Faso, West Africa.
Now you can get the very last drop out of your tube with a specially-designed magic key.
“I've got the L'Occitane hand cream tubes in my handbag, at the side of the bed, in the bathroom, and in the living room. They're the only thing that makes my hands soft, makes them smell nice, and doesn't leave them greasy. A little bit goes a long way.”
“L'Occitane lavender hand cream – I have eczema and this is the only thing that helps. The winter weather makes my hands bleed and this really hits the spot!”
“After years of searching, I can declare the best hand cream in the universe to be L'Occitane Very Dry Skin Shea Butter hand cream (the one with 25% shea butter). Nothing else is comparable and I’ve tried everything.”
Amount: 150mlBuy now from L'Occitane
2. The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector, £12
Though its smell is somewhat divisive on Mumsnet – some love the fresh grassy scent, others don't enjoy it at all – our users are pretty united on the efficacy of this hand cream.
It soothes and replenishes chapped skin from the very first use. Made with hemp seed oil from France, it's also vegetarian.
“Body Shop Hemp cream is the best for very chapped hands.”
“Body Shop Hemp hand cream works miracles with my hand eczema.”
Amount: 100mlBuy now from The Body Shop
3. NIVEA Soft Moisturising Cream, £6.55
Cheap, cheerful and suitable for sensitive skin, this hand cream is an extremely popular choice. Not least because you can smooth a bit onto your face, elbows, and anywhere else that feels a bit dry.
Enriched with jojoba oil and vitamin E, it will help heal dry, sore skin and prevent it from drying out in future too.
“If you’re after something cheap, I’ve always found NIVEA Soft amazing. It works wonders for my skin and gives me a natural glow.”
“NIVEA Soft is fab – and cheap.”
“I say NIVEA Soft on all these threads and no one takes any notice. Saying that, no one thinks I'm 54 either!”
Amount: 300mlBuy now from Amazon
4. Rituals The Ritual of Dao Night Balm, £9.90
For a luxurious feel – without a high-end price tag – Mumsnetters rate Rituals The Ritual of Dao Night Balm. Apply it before bed for silky-smooth results come morning – especially effective if you wear a pair of cotton gloves overnight.
It's a nice and thick night cream (users suggest a pea-sized amount per hand) so the tube should go a long way.
“I've just discovered this hand balm and it is so good! Excited by a hand cream? Starting to feel old!”
“I have really dry sensitive skin and dermatitis on my hands and fingers.”
“It smells divine and my hands feel so soft now. Would thoroughly recommend it!”
Amount: 70mlBuy now from Rituals
5. Liz Earle Hand Repair, £23
While this hand cream may be at the upper end of the price range, Mumsnetters love it for its delicious scent and effective hydration.
Perfect for restoring moisture lost through repeated hand washing, it's packed full of nourishing ingredients like echinacea, hops, and vitamin E.
“I suffer with bad eczema on my hands but I’m also a midwife so have to wash my hands a lot. A moisturiser which has really helped is Liz Earle Hand Repair.”
“Liz Earle Hand Repair. I’ve tried dozens including pricey brands and this is the best for me.”
Amount: 150mlBuy now from John Lewis
Related: Say goodbye to dark circles with the best eye creams
6. O'Keeffe's Working Hands, £13.40
Non-greasy and fragrance-free, O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream is loved by builders and nurses for a reason.
Repeated hand-washing and working outside can lead to severely cracked, dehydrated skin, so O'Keeffe's is designed to promote healing, protect the skin from further water loss, and draw moisture back into the skin. Now available in a value-size jar.
“O'Keeffe's Working Hands cream is honestly brilliant. It stings a lot when you apply it but if you apply it at night, most of the cracks are healed by morning.”
“O'Keeffe's Working Hands is good.”
“My dad has been in search of a good hand cream for years since his favourite was discontinued, and this gets a grudging nod of approval, which is praise indeed!”
Amount: 193gBuy now from Amazon
7. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, £21 (was £28)
Another multi-tasking product, Eight Hour cream has reached cult status since its creation by Elizabeth Arden 90 years ago.
As the name suggests, it calms, protects and hydrates skin for eight hours. It's perfect for use on your hands as well as your lips and any other dry spots. Also available in a fragrance-free formula.
“Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Hand Cream. Lovely stuff.”
“Another huge fan of Lizzie Arden Eight Hour hand cream. Best I've used.”
Amount: 100mlBuy now from Amazon
8. Palmer's Cocoa Butter Intensive Relief Hand Cream, £2.99
Suitable for eczema-prone skin, with a delicious chocolatey scent (yes, it might make you hungry), this budget hand cream is a popular option with many Mumsnet users.
“I've tried pretty much all creams on the market as I suffer badly in winter – my skin splits open and bleeds. The best, surprisingly, is Palmers Coconut oil hand cream. It's only about £2.50 but it's thick and effective and soothing.”
Amount: 60gBuy now from Superdrug
9. DermaGuard Moisturising Barrier Hand Cream, £6.50
This lightweight, hydrating lotion claims to work like “protective gloves in a bottle”. Not only does it moisturise dry, chapped skin, once absorbed it also protects your hands from the drying effects of washing, detergents and cold weather.
“This stuff is amazing – it was the only thing that worked for my cracked hands after both of my children. It's a really light lotion and not at all greasy – I didn't think it would do anything when I first used it, but it worked miracles.”
Amount: 250mlBuy now from DermaGuard
10. Aveeno Intensive Relief Hand Cream, £5
For long-lasting relief for dry skin, try Aveeno's Intensive Relief cream. It's fragrance-free and recommended by dermatologists for its soothing effects on very dry skin and eczema.
“Aveeno Intensive is the only hand cream that keeps my hands soft all day. I use it morning and night and no longer have to carry hand cream round with me.”
Amount: 75mlBuy now from Sainsbury's
11. Weleda Pomegranate Regenerating Hand Cream, £8.45
Another Mumsnetter-favourite, this hand cream is packed full of moisturising shea butter and delicious-smelling pomegranate.
“Weleda Pomegranate Hand Cream is gorgeous and works wonders. Not full of parabens and chemicals either. Around £10.”
Amount: 50mlBuy now from Amazon
Alternatives to hand cream
12. Snowfire Ointment Stick, £4.55
Developed to protect skin from harsh weather conditions and help very dry, chapped skin recover quickly, this is technically an ointment stick – not a hand cream. But it's still great for soothing hands that have been through the wars.
“Snowfire ointment. My local independent chemist, which always seems to have different but great stuff in stock, recommended it. It smells a bit like citronella but makes a real difference overnight.”
Amount: 18gBuy now from Amazon
13. Marula oil, £15
Full of antioxidants and nourishing oleic acids, this 100% organic, cruelty-free marula oil is an all-natural way to obtain baby-soft hands. Made from the seeds of the marula tree, this cold-pressed oil comes in a handy pump bottle for application on the go.
“Try some marula oil and massage into cuticles and dry areas on your hands several times a day.”
Amount: 100mlBuy now from Amazon
14. Flexitol Hard Skin and Callus Balm, £5.70
Discovered by Mumsnetters trying to tackle rough skin on their feet, it turns out that regularly applying Flexitol leaves your hands and your heels smooth and soft.
“When I was blasting my feet with Flexitol Heel Balm, my hands were amazing.”
“I've not felt the need for hand cream since I started using Flexitol (or similar) on my feet at night.”
Amount: 56gBuy now from Amazon