Like the near certainty year after year that the groundhog will see its shadow and we’ll have six more weeks of winter, it’s pretty much guaranteed that my hands will be dry and cracked from December to April. I have dry skin in general, so keeping it hydrated is always a challenge, but in the winter, it becomes downright scaly. My hands really take a beating, especially with how much I wash them.
One thing that can make a major difference for dry hands? Choosing hand soap carefully. Water evaporates easily and quickly on the hands, which can lead to more dryness. "Soaps that have ingredients such as aloe vera, vegetable-based oils, shea butter or cocoa butter, milk protein, coconut oil, vitamin E, and glycerin help trap the water in the skin while you are washing," says Dr. Purvisha Patel, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare.
Rebecca Marcus, a board-certified dermatologist practicing at North Dallas Dermatology Associates, also suggests trying hand soaps with non-sulfate surfactants like coconut surfactants, as sulfates can be drying.
Even if you do experience dry, cracked knuckles, you should still take care to wash your hands correctly. "Using lukewarm (not hot!) water, wet hands, and then apply a generous pump of your favorite hand soap," says Marcus. "Using your fingers, scrub thoroughly between fingers, front and back, as well as the palms and the back of the hands. Rinse completely to make sure that all soap residue washes away and will not remain on skin, which both carries away pathogens and reduces the risk of irritation from soap residue." You should aim to wash your hands for around 20 seconds, and if possible, follow up immediately with a hand cream.
The best hydrating hand soaps for dry hands…
1. Public Goods Hand Soap
Formulated with coconut surfactants and essential oils, Marcus says that washing your hands with this soap "feels like a mini spa treatment." The packaging is also minimalist and sophisticated, so it will look good in your bathroom or kitchen.
2. Dove Nourishing Coconut and Almond Milk Foaming Hand Wash
Patel recommends this hand soap, which is formulated without sulfates and parabens and is extra gentle on skin. Almond oil and coconut work to hydrate skin.
3. Pipette Hand Wash
"Pipette hand wash is made with coconut surfactants instead of sulfates, and contains aloe, glycerin and squalane—all great ingredients for soothing and hydrating dry skin," says Marcus.
4. Alaffia EveryDay Shea Liquid Hand Soap
Alaffia products are handmade, and the company gives back to their empowerment projects in West Africa to help reduce poverty, so you can feel good about your purchase. Crafted with shea butter, moringa extract, and coconut oil, this hand soap will leave hands hydrated and supple.
5. Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash
This hand soap has a cult following, and once you try it yourself, it's not hard to understand why. The blend of mandarin rind, rosemary leaf, and cedar atlas smells downright dreamy, and ingredients like castor oil help hydrate hands as you wash.
6. Deborah Lippmann Balancing Act pH-Balanced Manicure-Safe Hand Soap
Have you ever wished for a soap that is specially formulated to help maintain your fresh manicure? Deborah Lippmann's new soap is pH balanced and won't remove skin's natural oils, so your manicure will stay protected and your hands will be moisturized.
7. Malin + Goetz Rum Hand & Body Wash With Pump
If you're looking for a hand soap that also doubles as a body wash, this Malin + Goetz option fits the bill. Aminno acids ensure that your skin isn't left stripped.
8. Grown Alchemist Hand Wash
This is one of my personal favorite hand soaps—it smells downright dreamy and it doesn't strip or dry hands after you use it. The bottle also looks incredibly luxe and sophisticated.
9. Jergens Extra Moisturizing Hand Wash
The name says it all—this budget-friendly hand soap is extra moisturizing. Thanks to ingredients like lanolin oil, this soap ensures your knuckles won't start flaking.
10. L'Occitane Shea Butter Lavender Extra Gentle Soap
If you prefer a bar soap to wash your hands with, look no further than this gentle option from L'Occitane, which is packed with nourishing shea butter. It also smells like lavender, so you can ensure a calming, sensorial experience.
11. Everyone Hand Soap
Formulated with aloe vera, calendula, and chamomile, this subtly scented soap leaves hands moisturized.
Hand creams to use after washing your hands to lock in moisture…
Glossier's hand cream soaks in instantly and is easy to throw in your bag, so it's perfect for on-the-go use.
This hand cream smells incredible and is formulated with vitamins E, B, and C to brighten and plump the skin on your hands.
Peptides and multivitamins power this luxe hand cream that soaks in quickly and provides tons of moisture.
You've probably tried one of Eucerin's hand creams before (they're really good). This one has urea, a natural skin-softening ingredient that is good for very rough or dry skin.
Shea butter, olive oil, and avocado oil ensure that this hand cream is especially moisturizing. Bonus: The packaging could not be cuter.
Next, 32 Black-Owned Skincare, Hair, and Makeup Brands We Love and Support
Katie Berohn is the associate beauty editor at Who What Wear. Previously, she worked as the beauty assistant for Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and Prevention magazines, all part of the Hearst Lifestyle Group. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a major in journalism and minor in technology, arts, and media, and earned her master's degree at NYU's graduate program for magazine journalism. In addition, Katie has held editorial internships at Denver Life magazine, Yoga Journal, and Cosmopolitan; a digital editorial internship at New York magazine's The Cut; a social good fellowship at Mashable; and a freelance role at HelloGiggles. When she's not obsessing over the latest skincare launch or continuing her journey to smell every perfume on the planet, Katie can be found taking a hot yoga class, trying everything on the menu at New York's newest restaurant, or hanging out at a trendy wine bar with her friends.
If You Have a Damaged Skin Barrier, This Scandinavian Skincare Secret Can Help
It protects the skin from oxidative stress.
By Kaitlyn McLintock
18 Winter Beauty Buys That Actually Make a Difference, According to Experts
From face oils to lip balms.
By Grace Day
I'm a Beauty Editor—9 Products I Always Restock (and 3 I Retire) for Winter
It's about time I switch things up.
By Valeriya Chupinina
This TikTok-Viral Serum Gave My Ultra-Round Face Cheekbones for Days
It works wonders.
By Maya Thomas
I'm a Beauty Editor—This Is the Product I Rely On For Hydrated, Nourished Skin
Here to solve all your winter skincare woes.
By Lawrencia Nelson
If You Like Waking Up to Plump, Glowing Skin, Don't Sleep on This Overnight Mask
Get better skin by morning.
By Kaitlyn McLintock
After 3 Weeks, I Swear This Matcha-Spiked Body Lotion Gave Me Firmer Skin
It's my new favorite.
By Kaitlyn McLintock
Milky Skincare Is Everywhere—Derms Explain Why It's Having a Sudden Renaissance
By Maya Thomas