Winter is coming, which means our hands may soon experience more dryness than usual. We know. It's an unfair phenomenon that the most wonderful time of the year is often marred by the onset of scaly, cracked, irritated skin, especially on our hands. Sometimes, life is harsh, but thankfully, there are remedies that can transform rough claws to soft, smooth ones that will leave your inner circle sending frantic texts requesting that handcare routine.
Based on all the soft-handed queens who comprise team Who What Wear, you might think expansive hand-softening rituals were a prerequisite for employment. (I can assure you they're not!) That's why we hit up the team to share their picks for the best hand creams to keep those paws soft and supple all winter.
Ahead, check out the 16 best hand creams for winter our editors personally vouch for and shop through the supplemental handcare products they use to encourage baby-soft hands.
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
Hand skin type: "Extremely dry."
"Augustinus Bader's The Hand Treatment is probably the best hand cream I've ever tried, and I've tried so many. It's expensive, so I don't know that I'll rebuy it every time I run out, but I'll definitely try to have it on hand during winter, at least. It's super rich without being greasy, which is some form of magic, and a little goes a long way."
"This is my favorite daytime hand cream, as it's a little lighter. Aside from the tube being very chic, I like that it sinks in really quickly and has a very impressive ingredients list that includes a cocktail of vitamins."
Anna LaPlaca, Associate Editor
Hand skin type: "My hands skew on the drier side, especially around my cuticles and nailbeds, and in the winter, they can get so dry that my knuckles will crack and bleed. Not cute!"
"Winters in the Midwest are no joke, so trust me when I say I've tried all the hand creams out there, and most of them just don't hold up. That is until I found this one from Ahava. It uses minerals from the Dead Sea to deeply heal chapped, dry skin, and it actually leaves my hands hydrated for the rest of the day. The formula is definitely on the richer side—it goes on thick but does sink into the skin nicely. It's truly my secret weapon for winter skin. I think I'll be buying this for the rest of my life, no joke."
"I keep a tube of this amazing-smelling Aesop hand balm on my desk and in my purse at all times, even more so now with all the handwashing and hand sanitizer going around. The scent, which is a warm blend of mandarin leaf, rosemary, and cedar, will never get old, and the formula is perfect for everyday use, no matter the season."
Caitie Schlisserman, Managing Editor, Branded Content
Hand skin type: "Dry. Always so dry, no matter the time of year."
"For whatever reason, it took me 30 years to get serious about my hands. They have always been dry, but I feel like I notice the dryness a lot more now that I'm older. So to be honest, I don't have many hand creams to compare this to, but I absolutely love this one. It's thick, luxurious, and absorbs fairly quickly, so my hands aren't super slippery after using it. I typically don't like products with a strong scent, but the rose doesn't bother me at all. I sometimes get a small whiff of it randomly throughout the day, which is nice. This year, I've been really trying to get my act together and use it a few times a week, but to be completely transparent, I haven't been consistent. I will say when I do use it, my hands look so much better—a lot more soft, smooth, and healthy looking and a lot less dry and chalky. "
Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
Hand skin type: "Dry with occasional dermatitis on my finger web and thumb."
"I could be totally off base here, but in my experience, I've found that skincare products housed in tin cans get right down to business. Something about the no-frills packaging just lends itself to efficacy in every aspect. This rich cream from Nivea is a great example of this theory. The scent isn't my favorite (it's giving me grandma), but I love that it coats my hands completely and stays slightly slick for a little bit instead of instantly evaporating. It's like the cream forms a protective layer around my hands, which is so important, especially in the winter. Plus, insiders know this cheap product is a La Mer dupe."
"Caudalie can do no wrong in my book, but biases aside, this antioxidant-rich hand cream is wonderful. It features the brand's signature grape polyphenols along with organic, fair-trade shea butter that leaves my hands feeling soft, supple, and hydrated."
"While this nourishing hand cream packs a super-moisturizing punch (it's made with shea butter, cocoa butter, and avocado oil), my favorite feature is the scent. Even though I'm not normally a fan of sweet-smelling creams—especially not on my hands since the scent so readily wafts up to my nose—this one is delightful."
"I use this body butter as a nighttime hand cream, and let me tell you, it's the beauty hack I'm most proud of at the moment. The thick, whipped formula is packed with a blend of natural oils, butters, broad-spectrum hemp extract, and naturally occurring CBD that's said to help calm the skin and support skin barrier function. It's the perfect soothing treatment to spread over my phalanges, arms, and elbows before settling into bed for the night. When I wake up, my hands are always nice and soft."
Drew Elovitz, Director of Content Strategy & Senior Managing Editor
Hand skin type: "Dry."
"While I'm a big fan of everyday hand serums, the winter months can call for something a bit thicker. Enter my beloved tube of CeraVe Hand Cream. This drugstore formula somehow manages to thoroughly coat my hands without being greasy or leaving excess residue. Also, it's nice that it's fragrance-free since I like to reapply throughout the day."
"For evening, however, I prefer to incorporate a bit of aromatherapy into my routine and opt for Sparitual's Hand Salve. It smells amazing and absorbs quickly, so I can still flip through my Kindle without leaving smudge marks everywhere. Highly recommend giving your hands this winter treat!"
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
Hand skin type: "Dry and scaly—especially around my knuckles."
"Truth be told, I would use this hand cream based on its scent alone (I want to bathe in it), so the fact that it keeps my hands moisturized, smooth, and silky-soft is just a cherry on top. I've gone through three since the product launched this past summer."
"When it comes to my ultimate hand cream, I want something that smells amazing but not overwhelming, features targeted anti-aging benefits, feels silky and not sticky, and keeps my skin feeling hydrated and supple for more than 15 minutes, even if I have to wash my hands! This new hand cream is made by Kayo—one of my all-time favorite bodycare brands—and it ticks off all of the above thanks to the unique mix of hyaluronic acid, peptides, vitamins, and a healing blend of omega-rich oils."
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
Hand skin type: "My hands are often dry (whose aren't?), and I have an itchy patch of eczema on one palm that flares up when I'm stressed."
"A lotion called Working Hands kind of speaks for itself, but let me tell you about it anyway. This stuff is designed for hands that have been through it. It's affordable and actually has clean ingredients. As for its moisturizing ability, the formula is definitely on the heavy-duty end of the spectrum. I would use this at night when you are tucked in with Netflix so it can do its hydrating thing all night long. It recently got a slightly more millennial rebrand, which I can deal with, but I'm all about its original hardware store aesthetic. Also, I love that Amazon has 12-packs in stock. The way to my heart is a 12-pack of Working Hands. "
"My love for Weleda is strong, so strong that if I ever get to travel to Europe again, I would very much like to tour their HQ. You know when you can just tell that a brand has the right values? That's Weleda. About 78% of the raw materials for its products come from organic or biodynamic farming, and anything unnatural, like artificial preservatives and dyes, is avoided. Its original Ultra-Rich Cream is h-e-a-v-y, and after putting it on, you'll be all, "dry hands, who?" There is a light version, too, for those who can't take the deep cream. Lastly, let's talk about the scent. Oh, this scent sends me. And to clarify, I've evolved from my high school Bath and Body Works Sweet Pea lotion days and would generally prefer unscented products. I've grown into a picky scent snob, and this one has an herbal-meets-fresh citrus scent that's a complete (sophisticated) delight."