Do We Really Need Hand Creams In Our Skincare Routines?

hand cream

I’ve literally slathered on my hand cream just before typing this. Sure, we whip out our hand creams each winter, but is that enough? And the larger question is this – do we really need hand creams? The answer is yes! But don’t just take it from us, hear what the experts have to say.

Do We Really Need Hand Creams?

“Hands are a part of the body that are most exposed to environmental and chemical insult. Something as benign as water can also strip away all moisture from the skin, when overexposed. Plus, the skin over the hands is pretty neglected,” says Dr Jushya Sarin, MD Dermatologist and Co-founder, Sarin Skin Solutions. She adds that soap, hand sanitiser, cold weather, arid air, and other extreme conditions damage the skin barrier and lead to dryness, eczema and damage to the skin barrier in toto. “Hand creams primarily function by restoring lost moisture. They are made rich in emollients. These ingredients repair the damaged skin barrier and restore natural oils back in the skin.”

Dr Madhuri Agarwal, Founder and Medical Director of Yavana Skin Aesthetics adds, “There can be other benefits of hand creams too such as brightening and anti-ageing.” In fact, she points out that hand creams should be used throughout the year, irrespective of the season, as hands are always uncovered and exposed to environmental aggressors. So, if you thought it was enough to use these solely in the winter, think again!

Hand Creams & Skin Aging

As we age, our hands tend to lose fat and the skin loses its elasticity. This results in fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Think about it, have you noticed your grandparents’ hands? As much as we love how soft and wrinkly they are – and while ageing is an inevitable process – the fact is that time and the environment has taken toll on the skin. “Just like a raisin, dehydrated hands appear wrinkled and parched, and since hands are most exposed to environmental stressors, they have a tendency to age faster than any other part of the body skin,” says Dr Jushya. That’s where moisturising comes to the rescue. Age spots, dryness, wrinkles, and pigmentation of the hands can all be postponed with the regular use of hand creams.

Can Any Moisturiser Work?

Like us, if you too are wondering why can’t any other moisturiser or lotion we use work for our hands too, Dr Jushya explains, “Hand creams are different from other moisturisers as they are made with emollients such as shea butter, cocoa butter, oat silk, and occlusives that prevent moisture loss such as petrolatum, lanolin, beeswax, jojoba oil, etc.”

Dr Madhuri elaborates further, “The skin on the hands is a little different. On the back of hands, it is more delicate and thinner with lesser oil glands whereas the skin of the palms is quite thick and not easily penetrable with no oil glands.” She shares that while sometimes the ingredients in hand creams are the same as moisturisers and lotions, concentrations of these ingredients can be higher. Also, creams are preferable to lotions for longer-lasting action when it comes to the skin on hands.

Other ‘Hand’y Tips

Other ingredients to look for in a hand cream include ceramides, glycerin, shea butter, mango butter, squalene, fruit oils, lipids, and petrolatum. “You can also look for additional ingredients like vitamin C, retinol, peptides, kojic acid, and azelaic acid for specific concerns such as hyperpigmentation and signs of ageing,” says Dr Madhuri.

So, how often should a hand cream be swiped on? “It depends on how dry your skin is, but try to use it 2-3 times a day,” says Dr Madhuri adding that it is not mandatory to wash your hands before application each time. She also advises using lotion-based products during the daytime and a thick cream-based one at night before bedtime.

Here are our hand-picked (pun fully intended!) options when it comes to these skin saviours:

Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve

This heavy-duty moisturizing hand salve has a thick, rich formula that provides all-day care for active and dry hands. Formulated with avocado oil, eucalyptus oil, and sesame seed oil, it helps protect and repair the appearance of severely dry hands, leaving them feeling conditioned and cared for.

Priced at: ₹1,350 for 75ml

L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

There’s a reason one of this best-selling hand creams is sold every three seconds! Specially formulated for dry skin and with a high concentration of shea butter (20%), this cream works to nourish and soothe hands, and protect them against environmental aggressors while rebalancing their skin barrier.

Priced at: ₹2,050 for 75ml

Caudalie Hand Cream Trio Set


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These luxurious creams repair, nourish, and protect hands while strengthening nails. The creams’ rich texture absorbs quickly, intensely nourishing the skin and strengthening your nails for soft and lightly fragranced hands.

Priced at: ₹1600 for the Trio Set (3 x 30ml)

Forest Essentials Ultra Nourishing Hand Cream


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Oils of almond, apricot and coconut are blended with organic honey, avocado and shea butter to create this effective hand cream. Enriched with neem that further disinfects the skin, it also leaves behind a delicate scent of fresh mandarin. Its texture creates a layer of protection on the hands that prevents moisture loss, even after constant washing.

Priced at: ₹350 for 50ml

Moroccanoil Hand Cream

Moroccanoil recently launched its body care collection in India and it includes these hand creams that come with its hero ingredient, argan oil. The lightweight cream also has moisturising hyaluronic acid that delivers a good dose of hydration to the skin. It is available in six Mediterranean-inspired scents – Fragrance Originale, Ambiance de Plage, Ambre Noir, Bergamote Frîache, Oud Minéral and Spa du Maroc.

Priced at: ₹990 for 40ml

WOW Skin Science Himalayan Rose Hand & Nail Cream

Another affordable but effective hand cream, this one is infused with rose hydrosol, tucuma butter, shea butter and vitamin E that together help hydrate dry, rough hands, soften dry cuticles and improve the firmness of the skin. Rose hydrosol, rich in vitamins A, B, C, and E and flavonoids, works to moisturise and tone the skin, and restores its natural pH balance. It also leaves the hands smelling great with its soothing rose scent.

Priced at: ₹349 for 50ml

Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream

Believe it or not, this hand cream was a handbag staple of the Late Queen Elizabeth II. In fact, the Queen was such a fan of this cream that the palace made sure she never ran out of it – and with all the shaking of hands the Queen did at meetings and gatherings, we can understand why. The emollient-rich cream, with soothing sesame oil and fortifying Japanese mulberry, forms an invisible glove of nourishment that takes care of the entire hand – the palm, the back of the hand and the nails.

Priced at: ₹1,600 for 100ml

Read about wonders cream blushes can do, here.

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