Winter brings holiday shopping and parties galore - so the last thing you want is dry, cracked hands from cold weather. To help you sort through all the hand creams on the market, the scientists in the Good Housekeeping Institute's Beauty Lab evaluated 17 different hand creams and dwindled 'em down to the eight best hand creams to soothe and moisturize your hardworking hands this season. Combining lab results and consumer reviews, they crunched the numbers and found which products topped the crop for moisturization, texture, application, and smell. (You can find more information about how we tested below.)
Our Lab's top pick is the Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream. Lab testers gave this Good Housekeeping Seal holder high marks for its ability to keep hands moisturized for up to six hours, and our experts were impressed that a combo of ingredients - glycerin, urea, and sunflower seed oil - helped improve skin moisturization by 51%. Not only was it the most hydrating formula, but it's also cost effective, at just under $5. Below you'll find even more information about Eucerin's hand cream, along with more options we think you'll love.
The Good Housekeeping Institute's Top 5 Hand Creams:
Top Lab Pick: Eucerin Advanced Repair Hand Cream
Eucerin's Advanced Repair Hand Cream contains alpha hydroxy acids, which increases cell turnover. (Note that these acids can also cause sun sensitivity, so you should wear a sunscreen to protect yourself and avoid sun exposure.) Lab testers loved that the Seal holder is purse-size and spreads easily. "I liked that it absorbed into skin almost immediately," elaborated one tester. And the compliments didn't stop there, with others saying it "felt silky," "made my hands smooth," and even helped moisturize one tester's cuticles. Net weight: 2.7 oz.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream
Aveeno's Intense Relief Hand Cream, which contains soothing oatmeal and moisturizing glycerin and petrolatum was rated as many testers' favorite in our study. They said it made their hands look the smoothest, and it scored high for how quickly it absorbed into the skin. Not only did testers love this fragrance-free product, but it also improved skin moisturization by a notable 31%. Its thick formula provides a great barrier against outdoor elements without feeling oily. "I loved how it spread easily and didn't feel greasy after," said one tester. "My hands felt smooth and moisturized, but with no residue." Net weight: 3.5 oz.
Consumer testers smelled a winner with this one. Most found the fresh-but-not-overpowering lemon scent pleasant and even energizing. "Loved the citrus scent," wrote one respondent. "Feels like an aromatherapy cream! Invigorating for sure!" It had an average rank in our Beauty Lab's hydration test (moisturization improved by 20%), but was still a favorite among our testers: "I liked that it absorbed quickly into the skin and the scent," one shared. "I do not like anything scented but this was pleasing and did not linger too long." Net weight: 4 oz.
Least Greasy: Soap & Glory Call of Fruity Hand Food Hand Cream
Consumer testers noted softer, more hydrated skin "immediately." Credit goes to a plethora of fast-absorbing moisturizing ingredients, including glycerin, grape seed oil, shea butter, and coconut oil. In our Lab tests, it earned the third highest score for moisturization at 34%. "I used the hand cream after washing my hands and it always made them feel softer and smoother," said one tester. "I cannot stand when a hand cream is too tacky or greasy and this product was neither." While there was an overwhelmingly positive response to texture, the scent was polarizing. It reminded a tester of bubblegum, so if you're not into sweet and fruity scents, avoid this one. Net weight: 4.2 oz.
Best Gel Formula: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hand Gel Cream
Of all the products tested, this is the only one with a gel-like formula. It improved hydration by a whopping 40% and consumers compared the smell to a fresh load of laundry. Hyaluronic acid helps add and lock in moisture, contributing to its impressive hydration results in our Lab test. Though different than most hand creams on the market, our testers were impressed by its powerful results. However, the texture left some people wanting less. Many claimed it was "lightweight," but left their hands feeling coated and greasy over time. And because it's not heavy, it might not be the best fit for those with severely dry, chapped hands. Net weight: 3 oz.
More of the Good Housekeeping Institute's Top Picks:
These other mega moisturizers will quench and nourish even the most parched skin, and were also popular among our testers.
Dove Dry Skin Relief Replenishing Hand Cream
Our testers couldn't get enough of how soft the Dove cream made their skin feel. One even had her husband try it, and she said it seriously improved the look of his dry, "rough" hands. And perhaps because of the combination of the brand's AminoSilk Complex and other moisturizers, testers rated it best for improving the look of chapped or cracked hands. With a 32% moisturization improvement after six hours, it's no surprise. As one of our Lab testers said, it makes your hands feel "baby soft and non-greasy after application." Net weight: 2.5 oz.
Mary Kay Satin Hands Nourishing Shea Cream
Many testers said this rich formula helped make chapped hands appear smooth. The thickness many of our testers experienced is probably from the high percentage of shea butter in the formula, says Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab Chemist Danusia Wnek. Texture aside, online users continue to gush about how much it's helped the feeling and hydration of their hands. "I used it before bedtime and in the morning [my hands were] still soft and silky," shared one consumer. Note that this is more like a heavy duty formula - some testers said the consistency left their hands feeling tacky post-application. Net weight: 3 oz.
Philosophy Hands of Hope Nurturing Hand & Nail Cream
This tiny travel-size tube can fit in almost any bag, so it's perfect for on-the-go application. Consumers liked its citrus scent and said it absorbed quickly without leaving that dreaded tacky feeling. Though they claimed it softened their hands, our lab results showed that it was only mildly moisturizing (15% improvement). "Each time I applied the cream, my hands felt super soft, smelled great, and left no traces of extra product," one tester raved. If you, like some of the Lab's testers, want the product with a different scent, there are five other options available: green tea and avocado, coconut and guava, Hawaiian hibiscus, fig and pomegranate, and berry and sage. Net weight: 1 oz.
How We Tested
Our Beauty Lab initially gathered 17 hand creams that were evaluated for hydration capability using the Corneometer, a device that measures skin moisturization. Before undergoing tests, subjects had to pretreat their skin three days prior and were prohibited from using any moisturizing products. Then, our experts dispensed a specific amount of each product onto testers' forearms and they went about their day. Six hours later, they returned to the lab, and the Good Housekeeping Institute was able to determine which improved moisturization the most.
From there, we asked 77 women (ages 18 and older) to try one of the products three times before completing a survey with questions about how the product felt, absorbed, and smelled, among other factors. Hand creams were scored based on a combination of the Corneometer results and responses from the consumer questionnaires.