If you suffer from dry, cracked hands (whether it happens in winter or all year round), you’re not alone. Having dry skin on your hands is super-common, particularly in autumn and winter, when icy winds and rain strip even more moisture away.
It’s annoying, we know. But there’s no need to make friends with sore, dry fingers and palms – there are lots of ways you can care for the skin on your hands to ensure they stay silky-soft and healthy all year round.
Why do our hands dry out?
What’s the science behind dry skin on your hands? Many of us experience this throughout the warmer months and in winter, so we can’t 100% blame the Great British weather for sore hands. There are a few reasons you might have dry skin here; let’s take a look…
1. Environmental conditions
Most of the time, having dry or cracked hands comes down to environmental conditions, which is why it can seem like a seasonal thing. But why do we get dry hands in winter?
Central heating is a big part of why our skin dries out in the winter. Love getting home on a sub-zero day and cosying up by the radiator? We feel you. But sudden temperature changes encourage the moisture to leave our skin, which means dry hands and dehydrated skin in other sensitive areas. Chapped lips, we’re talking about you.
Harsh, cold winds are also great at stripping moisture away from our skin, which is why dryness is more common in autumn and winter. Suppose you leave your fingers exposed to the wind while walking or running outside. In that case, you risk weakening your skin’s natural barrier and causing dry, irritated hands.
Humidity is much lower in cold weather. This means the air doesn’t contain a lot of water and is more likely to strip away our skin’s moisture, making us even drier and more sensitive each time we step out.
Besides moving to the Costa del Sol, there isn’t much we can do to control the environment our skin comes into contact with. But there are plenty of ways you can step-up your hand care game when the temperatures drop, minimising the adverse effects of a harsh British winter.
2. Dry hands from washing
If you wash your hands a lot, you’re more likely to experience dryness than you might if you left them alone. Of course, washing our hands is an essential part of everyday life. If you work in healthcare or get them mucky daily, washing your hands might actually be part of your job!
Why does washing your hands make them dry? Each time you lather up, you remove the natural oils that make up your skin’s protective layer. These don’t take long to come back, but if you wash them away each and every time, you leave your hands exposed and more likely to dry out.
Thankfully, many gentler washes and sanitisers can reduce the risk of drying out hands. You can also take steps straight after washing, like applying nourishing hand cream, to counteract soap’s damage.
Tip: if your job means getting your hands wet often, try wearing gloves to keep your hands clean and dry, reducing the need for washing.
3. Some medical conditions
As well as the weather and washing, certain medical conditions can make our hands dry and cracked. These include diabetes and lupus, which affect how much blood flows to the extremities, and skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
If you think you have dry hands because of a blood or skin condition, your doctor might be able to prescribe some more potent hand care products to help look after your skin.
The best routine to wave goodbye to dry hands
Whatever the reason for your dry hands, maintaining a good hand care routine is the best way to reverse the damage and get back to soft and comfy skin. Here are some things you can do to take care of the skin on your hands.
1. Moisturising with a good-quality hand cream
It should come as no surprise that the best nourishing hand creams are a great way to take care of the skin on your hands. If yours are dried-out, smooth on a blueberry-sized blob of hand cream every few hours and after each wash to help them heal.
Make sure you coat the backs of your hands, your fingers, palms, and wrists with cream for the best results, and wait a moment for it to absorb before getting back to your day.
Tip: apply a double-dose of hand cream right before bed to let it work its magic while you sleep.
2. Protect your hands from the sun
It’s so important to wear SPF on your face and hands all year round, even on the days that you don’t think it’s sunny enough. UV rays are super-damaging to the skin, drying it out and causing age spots and fine lines as you get older. Find a light SPF moisturiser and smooth a little onto the backs of your hands every morning to protect against this environmental condition.
3. Use gentle soaps and detergents
Washing your hands and washing dishes with bare hands are two of the most common causes of dryness and irritation. If you do these things often, it’s a good idea to invest in gentle soaps and detergents that are less likely to damage your skin. Mild hand soaps do the same job as their potent counterparts but can help nourish your skin and protect its barrier at the same time.
Tip: if you think dishwashing is your downfall, switch to a mild detergent to protect your hands. Or wear rubber gloves for complete safety!
4. Wear gloves in cold weather
Even if it’s just a little chilly, slip on a pair of gloves to protect your hands from low-humidity and wind. Environmental conditions are the most significant cause of dryness in winter, so stay in control and start wearing your gloves as soon as the temperature drops.
Tip: for even more hand care points, apply a layer of cream before your gloves and let the product do its thing while you get on with your day.
The best hand care products to use all year round
Not all hand care is made equal. While most creams and lotions offer some benefits, certain products are head and shoulders above the rest when caring for your skin and nails. These are some of our favourite hand creams to add to your regular routine…
Tip: keep a hand cream in your bag, next to your bed, in your car, at the office, and anywhere else you might need one.
- REN Clean Skincare Atlantic Energising Hand Lotion – leaves skin energised and deeply hydrated
- Mane ‘n Tail Hoofmaker Nail & Hand Treatment – moisturises and protects dry, cracked skin
- L’Occitane Almond Delicious Hands & Nail Care – nourishes with sweet-smelling almond milk and oil
- Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream – uses benzoin, yarrow, and shea butter to smooth and hydrate
- RoC Enydrial Hand Cream – nourishing, non-greasy, hypoallergenic, and easily absorbed
- O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Hand Cream – helps relieve and repair severely dehydrated, cracked hands
- Mount Purious Olive, Rosemary & Peppermint Hand Lotion – uses shea butter and hemp oil to revitalise skin
- Sebamed Intensive Hand Cream – uses avocado oil and shea butter to care for severe cases of dry hands
- YOUTH LAB Hand Cream – rich texture provides hydration for up to 48 hours
- Bio Balance Argan Oil Hand & Nail Balm – intensely moisturises and supports healthy hands and nails
- Mount Purious Gardeners Organic Hand Balm – uses jojoba, hemp, and tamanu oil to moisturise and act as a barrier for working hands
- Dr Hauschka Hydrating Hand Cream – hydrates and supports the skin’s natural renewal
- Burt’s Bees Ultimate Care Hand Cream – uses baobab oil to moisturise, watermelon seed oil to nourish and natural fruit acid to gently exfoliate hands
- JÃSÖN Soothing 84% Aloe Vera Hand And Body Lotion – highly-concentrated aloe vera relieves dry, damaged skin
- Gatineau Vitamina Hand Cream – conditions and strengthens hands and nails
For more high-quality products, explore our entire hand care collection here.
A final note on caring for your hands
Whether you have dry skin from the weather or work, or you’re simply trying to get one step ahead by adding hand care to your routine early, you’ll find lots of products to suit your needs. Choosing a gentle hand soap and nourishing hand cream and applying your product throughout the day is a sure-fire way to improve your skin’s condition.
Remember our top tips for guaranteed results and enjoy healthier hands and nails to be proud of…
- If your job means getting your hands wet often, try wearing gloves to keep your hands clean and dry, reducing the need for washing
- Apply a double-dose of hand cream right before bed to let it work its magic while you sleep
- Wear SPF to protect your hands from the sun
- If you think dishwashing is your downfall, switch to a mild detergent to protect your hands. Or wear rubber gloves for complete safety
- Apply a layer of hand cream before your gloves and let the product do its thing while you get on with your day
- Keep a hand cream in your bag, next to your bed, in your car, at the office, or anywhere else you might need one