People all over the world need hand cream, but for Canadians, this humble lotion is extra important. Cold, dry winters suck the moisture out of our skin, and frequent hand washing to keep away germs and viruses makes our hands even more parched.
On the mild end, dry hands feel a little uncomfortable and rough to the touch, but at its very worst your dry hands can become irritated and cracked. Great hand cream can reverse even the worst effects of dryness, so we’ve selected the best ones available here in Canada.
Best hand creams of 2020
- Best overall – Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Fragrance-Free
- Best for extreme dryness – Eucerin Complete Hand Repair
- Best anti-aging – Deciem The Chemistry Brand Hand Chemistry
- Best all-natural – Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream
- Most fun – Tonymoly Peach Hand Cream
Hours of Research
Best hand creams comparison
|Eucerin||Neutrogena||Weleda||Deciem Hand Chemistry||TonyMoly|
|Best for||Extreme Dryness||Best Overall||All-Natural||Anti-Agein||Fun|
|Texture||Light, fluid, and moist||Very light and non-greasy||Rich, creamy, leaves behind a sheen||Creamy but quick to sink in|
|Fragrance||Fragrance-free||Fragrance-free||Lavender, rosemary and sweet orange essential oils||Vaguely fruity||Delicate peach|
Our pick for best overall – Neutrogena Norwegian Formula
- Texture: Extremely light and non-greasy
- Fragrance: Fragrance-free
- Cruelty-free: No
- Notable Ingredients: Glycerin, oil-free
- Very hydrating
- Light, pleasant texture suitable for everyone in your family
- Simple, gentle formula great for sensitive skin, dermatitis, and eczema
- Not particularly exciting
This moisturizer is extremely hydrating thanks to a heavy dose of glycerin, an excellent water-binder. We found that all you need is a very small amount of this cream for the hands to look and feel properly moisturized, and with regular use, it can reverse more extreme dryness.
As long as you use a small amount, this moisturizer is light and disappears quickly, leaving the hands magically softer without any residue. This makes it a great option for anyone who finds the moist feeling that lotions leave behind very unpleasant – especially men.
This formula is fabulous for sensitive or reactive skin conditions because in addition to being fragrance-free it’s also very basic and simple. It’s even been recognized by the National Eczema Association for its intense mildness! There are no additives, actives, or extracts that could irritate the skin, so we think it could also be good for children.
That said, it’s a little plain and boring, so to borrow from Marie Kondo, it doesn’t spark joy.
This is the most affordable hand cream on our list, although it comes in an admittedly small size. It goes on sale regularly, so we suggest shopping around.
Best for extreme dryness – Eucerin Complete Hand Repair
- Texture: Light, fluid, and moist
- Fragrance: Fragrance-free
- Cruelty-free: No
- Notable Ingredients: 5% urea, ceramide-3, cholesterol
- Light texture that sinks in quickly
- Excellent blend of moisturizing, hydrating, and reparative ingredients
- Gentle, fragrance-free formula suitable for sensitive skin
- Can leave hands a little sticky for a few minutes
- Ingredients have a mild smell that can be unpleasant, though fades quickly
This formula is extremely moisturizing and reparative and includes a blend of water-attracting, softening, and moisture-locking ingredients. Because of this, it nourishes the hands in a very comprehensive manner and is excellent for reversing extreme dryness.
There is a lot of water in this product, so it is light, fluid, and fairly quick to sink into the skin, making it a great choice if you hate heavy or greasy moisturizers. However, if you use too much it might leave the hands feeling a little sticky and moist for a few minutes.
We’d like to highlight urea and ceramide 3, which are part of the skin’s natural moisturizing factors (NMF). These are ingredients that have been thoroughly researched for their ability to repair a damaged skin barrier. Since the formula is also fragrance-free, it’s a good fit if you’re dealing with serious dryness and irritation as well as skin conditions like eczema.
It’s neither overly cheap nor expensive, but because of the high-impact ingredients, we think this hand cream offers great value.
Best Canadian-owned – Deciem Hand Chemistry
- Texture: Creamy but quick to sink in
- Fragrance: Vaguely fruity
- Cruelty-free: Yes
- Notable Ingredients: copper peptides, glycerin, caprylic/capric triglycerides
- Fast-absorbing and effectively moisturizing
- Anti-ageing effect makes hands look younger and firmer
- Made in Canada
- Mild but polarizing fragrance
There are a lot of buzzy ingredients in this product, which is usually a red flag for us. While Deciem focuses on a fancy mushroom extract and algae ferment, we’re just as impressed by the simple ingredients included here, like caprylic/capric triglycerides and glycerin which are known for their moisturizing effects. It effectively hydrates the hands in both the short and long term.
While it is creamy and luxurious, it is also quick to sink in, so even if you normally can’t stand hand creams you probably won’t mind using this one.
Finally, we get to the criterion where this hand cream shines! This isn’t a simple moisturizer but an anti-ageing treatment for the hands. It’s made with a significant quantity of “biological GHK,” a copper peptide that research suggests can firm the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. With regular use, this hand cream seems to genuinely improve the appearance of the hands, so if you are starting to notice loose skin or wrinkles on the back of your hands this lotion is worth a try.
This is definitely not the most affordable option on this list, and if all you need is moisture we wouldn’t recommend it. However, if you are looking for an anti-ageing hand cream for your hands then the value is there. Considering the cost of the raw materials and the fact that they do seem to be effective, this hand cream is actually available at a fairly reasonable price point.
Best all-natural – Weleda Skin Food Original Ultra-Rich Cream
- Texture: Rich and creamy, leaves behind a sheen
- Fragrance: Lavender, rosemary and sweet orange essential oils
- Cruelty-free: Yes
- Notable Ingredients: Lanolin, sunflower oil, and calendula
- All-natural formula with soothing and reparative ingredients
- Deeply occlusive lanolin locks moisture into the skin
- Gorgeous fresh scent
- The thick texture is polarizing
- Leaves a bit of residue so better for nighttime
- Moisturizing but not hydrating, so better to use after a shower or above a lighter hand cream
Lanolin and a few different plant oils make this an amazing occlusive, meaning that it creates a barrier over the skin that doesn’t allow water to escape. However, the formula lacks humectants, which are ingredients that pull water into the skin, so the moisturization it gives isn’t comprehensive. It’d work best right after a shower, or on top of a lighter moisturizer.
This is a heavier cream made with a lot of oils, so while some of it sinks into the skin other ingredients leave behind a shiny, moisture-locking layer. It might be too heavy for use in the daytime, but for anyone not opposed to a slightly greasy cream, it could be fabulous at night.
This cream has a dedicated cult following, which we think deserves mentioning — it takes a special product to win over so many people. For some, it’s the refreshing essential oil blend while for others it’s the antioxidant, soothing and reparative effect of the botanical oils and extracts. If you’re already a fan of all-natural products, this is a winning choice.
It’s worth noting that it’s not explicitly marketed as a hand cream, and can be used on all parts of the body.
All-natural formulas are usually a little more expensive than mainstream ones, and the type of natural ingredients used in this product aren’t cheap, so the price definitely represents the contents.
Most fun – Tonymoly Peach Hand Cream
- Texture: Thick and velvety
- Fragrance: Delicate peach
- Cruelty-free: No
- Notable Ingredients: Glycerin, silicone, shea butter, peach extract
- Scent and packaging make it very fun to use
- Leaves the skin feeling velvety rather than greasy
- Thorough moisturization with both moisture-attracting and moisture-locking ingredients
- The packaging is not convenient
- Price is hard to justify
This moisturizer adds some hydration to the skin and then seals it in with a lot of conditioning compounds as well as moisture-locking silicone. It’s a solid, comprehensive hand cream that will help restore moisture even to severely dry skin.
Despite the thick texture, this hand cream actually leaves the hands feeling quite nice. The silicones in here leave behind a dry, velvety feeling almost like a makeup primer.
What really makes this product worthy of this list is the way it interjects fun into a daily habit. Compared to all of these serious products, the ridiculous peach-shaped container and gorgeous scent can add a pop of joy to your day. Because of that, we think this cream could be a great gift for teens.
The fragrance is delicate and true to real peach scent, and it fades away within minutes so your hands won’t smell like fruit all day. Our only complaint is that jar packaging isn’t as convenient or hygienic as a tube, but when it’s shaped like a peach, who can resist?
As much as we like this hand cream, it doesn’t offer amazing value. The price is a little steep, and the ingredients in the formula do not justify it. Then again, can you really put a price on the fun-factor?
What to consider when looking for a hand cream?
This one is likely obvious, but the most important criteria you need to consider is how well a hand cream moisturizes your hands. There are two ingredient categories in creams that come together to moisturize comprehensively.
The first is humectants, which we also call moisture or water-binders. These are ingredients like glycerin, urea, or hyaluronic acid that can absorb water from the air and bring it into the skin, and they contribute to hydration.
The second category is occlusives, which are ingredients that create a protective layer over the skin to prevent moisture from evaporating. We often describe them as moisture-locking. The best occlusives are lanolin, silicones, and petroleum jelly, but many botanical oils and fatty acids can also offer some occlusion.
A hand cream has to include both categories of ingredients in order to effectively moisturize the hands (and any other parts of your skin, for that matter).
Hand creams also have to feel nice to be pleasant to use. Nothing is worse than a cream that makes your hands feel greasy or leaves oily stains on anything you touch. This is why we expect great hand creams to have a light texture that sinks into the skin of the hands without too much fuss or rubbing, and that if they leave behind any residue it’ll at least feel nice and silky rather than oily.
Whether it’s a special ingredient or a unique scent, some and creams are made with specific features that make them special but don’t fit into any specific categories. A notable feature that might appeal to one person might be totally revolting or inappropriate for another person.
Fragrances are a great example: for some, any scent can be problematic since fragrance compounds can be irritating to those with sensitive skin, while for those with resilient skin a nice smell might be the thing that makes them fall in love with a product.
There are a lot of very effective moisturizing ingredients that are dirt cheap, which is why some of the best hand creams are very affordable. In other instances, special ingredients with specific effects or unique packaging can justify a higher cost, which is why we judge value not only by the price per quantity but also by additional features.
How to use hand cream?
Hand creams are not complicated, but we do have some tips. First, only use a pea-sized amount for both hands. It’ll be enough to moisturize, and any more will just feel greasy.
Make sure to moisturize immediately after washing your hands, while they are still damp. This way, the hand cream can lock that water into your skin and your hands will feel more moisturized.
Choosing hand cream for dermatitis or eczema
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a skin condition that leads to skin inflammation and can afflict all body parts including the hands. A good hand cream can alleviate the symptoms of eczema, while the wrong one can make things worse. The Canadian Skin Patient Alliance recommends thicker, fragrance-free moisturizers over heavily fragranced ones.
Can hand cream be used on other body parts?
Definitely! While hand creams are designed with the hands in mind, they can work to moisturize all other parts of the body. The only area where you might want to be careful is the face since hand creams are more likely to contain ingredients that may cause breakouts when compared to face creams. Hand creams can also include more fragrance which is likelier to irritate the sensitive skin of the face.
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Over to you
What do you look for in a great hand cream? Have you tried any of the ones we’ve listed, or do you have your own favourite? Let us know by leaving a comment!