What makes a “good” hand cream for aging hands and beyond? If you ask us, we used to choose one based on how it smells or how it feels…and while that’s v important, it’s not exactly ensuring that we’re getting the most effective hand cream. But what makes an effective hand cream? Depends on your goals—let’s chat.
By: Emily Barth Isler + Nicolle Mackinnon
IN THIS POST:
- Why do you need a hand cream for aging hands?
- Ingredients to look for in hand creams
- Ingredients to consider in hand creams
- Top picks for best hand creams for aging hands
- Hand cream FAQs
So what makes a hand cream effective? For Emily, it would be nice if it made her hands look like they belong to her, a 40-something person, and not to her 80-year-old neighbor (who is lovely, but their hands are scarily similar, and she’d like to address that!). Plus, handshakes are coming back in our post-lockdown world, and if you, like Emily, talk with your hands all the time, they are almost as much a part of your look as your face is!
For Nicolle, she needs halp when it comes to dryness. She a) lives in a cold climate most of the year, and b) she’s a bit of a germaphobe, so she’s constantly washing her hands (even pre-pandemic). Plus, she canNOT stand to have any greasiness on her palms.
So here’s what we are keeping an eye out for when it come to efficacy:
- Moisturizes without having to apply 10x / day (like, doesn’t evaporate as soon as you apply nor does it leave hands feeling drier)
- But, isn’t greasy, AKA it absorbs fast enough that you can open a doorknob shortly after applying
- Has active ingredients that help treat uneven skin tone, age spots and other signs of aging
- Has healthy ingredients overall
- Doesn’t leak all over whatever bag you toss it into
- Smells good (yeah, this is IMPORTANT)
- Uses responsible packaging
All of the below recs hit the marks above, but what we want to zoom in on today is their effectiveness, and give you some touch points for what to look for when choosing a hand cream.
Why do I need a hand cream for aging hands?
Short answer: You don’t. No one “needs” an anti-aging hand cream. But if you want one, we got you.
Long answer: Our hands are often left out of the beauty convo, and they tend to show signs of aging in the same way our complexion does (Emily: “I mean, my hands have looked 60 since I was 30, and it’s only getting worse”)—which is interesting when hand appearance has been shown to impact perceived age (1).
But why do hands seem to age faster than other parts of the body?
The skin on our hands is thinner than skin elsewhere, which can result in tendons and hand bones becoming more prominent as we age. Thinner skin can also showcase wrinkling, skin discoloration/unevenness, rough texture and more (1). Plus excessive and even regular hand washing can accelerate the aging process by drying out skin. (Cough, Nicolle, cough.)
The takeaway? If you are concerned about aging hands, treat your hands the way you treat your face—frequent moisturizer, regular cleansing and, yup, sunscreen regardless of the weather.
Ingredients to look for in hand creams
We like to look for a natural or organic hand cream that delivers skin benefits on top of the obvious we-need-moisture request. This could be hyaluronic acid to increase skin hydration (2), anti-inflammatory jojoba, essential magnesium (3) or even wrinkle-reducing bakuchiol (4), for example.
Ingredients to consider in hand creams
Per ush, there are also ingredients to consider in hand creams. Here are some of the ones that come up the most when shopping for the anti-aging hand creams.
- Synthetic fragrances listed as fragrance or perfume.
- Questionable preservatives like chlorphenesin (5), parabens (6) and unregulated phenoxyethanol (7).
- 1,4-dioxane and ethylene oxide, listed on labels as PEGs, SLS, SLES, Ceteareth-20 and polysorbates. Adding carcinogens 1,4-dioxane (8) and ethylene oxide (9) to fatty alcohols turns them into emulsifiers or surfactants. Since these carcinogens readily absorb into the body through the skin, Canada, Qatar and NY State have banned cosmetics containing them (10) in ingredients like Laureth-23, SLS and Polysorbate 80.
- Mineral oil, typically listed as petrolatum or paraffin. Fatty acids from petroleum are absorbed through the skin, stored in our adipose tissue, not metabolized and not excreted. Mineral oil snuck into food and cosmetics has led to mineral oil being the largest contaminant in human tissue (11).
Check out the NO THANKS list for more ingredients to be mindful of in any skincare / bodycare.
The best hand creams
The team tried so many hand creams for aging hands and beyond to bring you this highly curated list of recommendations. Sure it would be easy to cultivate a list of 25 clean hand creams to try, but that doesn’t help anyone. So instead, we weeded through all of that via vetting ingredients, testing and retesting and have come out with these tippity top picks. If you’re looking for a hand cream, know that these are top of the line and hit ALL our effectiveness criteria.
Best luxe hand cream: Verite Japanese Lemon Vanilla & Jasmine Luxury Hand Cream | $28
Just looking at this hand cream, you can tell its luxe. The chic metal tube and minimalist design make you want to display it on a vanity in your well-organized walk-in closet. But looks aren’t the only thing that justify “luxury” being in the name: the ingredients are stellar as well.
New Zealand flax, baobab, hemp seed, meadowfoam and shea butter are all nourishing and rejuvenating. And the essential oils of jasmine, vanilla, patchouli and Japanese lemon aren’t just chosen to enhance the scent. They also encourage collagen production and skin regeneration, which is specifically useful for helping with signs of aging.
This one soaks in FAST, but doesn’t leave you feeling greasy at all, maybe because this formula also includes hyaluronic acid, known to hydrate without greasiness (this hand cream could totally be the pick for “most actives” too—it’s a toss up). The tube feels hefty in your hands, but it’s travel-friendly and easy to use.
Best hand cream for aches / pains: Prima R + R Cream | $38
Both Emily and Nicolle have some joint pain in our hands and wrists sometimes from overuse (hazard of being writers!) and Prima’s R&R is a great pain reliever and hand moisturizer in one! Why? Let’s break it down…
- Menthol, peppermint and eucalyptus provide a cooling sensation, and help with pain relief.
- Marula oil and shea butter provide intense hydration.
- But the finish isn’t greasy or sticky (WIN).
- The addition of CBD via pure hemp can help manage your physical response to stress, while soothing discomfort.
Lisa’s mom, who has arthritis in her hands, raves about this formula for its pain-relief too. Apply whenever and wherever you need (hands or elsewhere—Nicolle loves it on her shoulders because it has a light minty tingle that’s great for sore muscles).
SAVE: Use code NEWKNEW to save 20% sitewide on Prima!
Most actives: Pai Heavy Mettle Body Calm Rescue Hand Cream | $29
Okay, it was really hard to choose the one with the most actives because all the hand creams the team tested were chock-full of great ingredients. But this one stands out the most because it’s designed for super dry, cracked and chapped hands. And one of the easiest ways to combat signs of aging is loads of moisture.
In this hand cream from Pai, CO2 supercritically extracted sea buckthorn, which is packed with carotenoids and omegas 3 & 7, helps smooth and soften dry, chapped skin (or any skin). Add to that Pai’s signature rosehip seed oil (high in vitamins A & E, both of which can help with signs of aging), the hot hot hot plum seed oil and the soothing light citrus scent of fragonia and you’ve got a super-charged active hand cream that soaks in fast and leaves skin silky smooth.
This one is also great for sensitive skin—since it’s formulated for super dry skin, it’s also gentle while being hydrating.
Best drugstore / budget: Andalou Naturals Shea Butter + Cocoa Butter Hand Cream | $9.99
This brand isn’t *exactly* a drugstore brand, but it can easily be found at Ulta Beauty and Whole Foods, as well as on Amazon, for easy access. It utilizes many of the ingredients in our higher end picks, like sea buckthorn oil, shea and cocoa butter, but at a lower price point. It’s also one of only two in this list that is formulated in a base of aloe, making it even more hydrating than ones with a base of water.
The scents on these are a little heavy on the intensity, so choose wisely (the Clementine scent is the lightest), but the hand cream soaks in so fast that it makes up for any overpowering aroma.
Andalou Naturals utilizes a fruit stem cell blend of heirloom apple, grape, Swiss alpine rose, argan tree and hemp tlant that is purported to support skin protection, restoration and radiance. All that under $10? Count us in.
Also love that all the sales of this lotion go to support women and girls’ empowerment.
Most moisturizing: Henné Luxury Hand Cream | $25
Since this hand cream dropped, Emily’s been obsessed. It comes in super lightweight packaging and feels light itself, but it’s deceptively rich and delicately scented in two delicious, not-overwhelming scent choices, Blomma and Citrus (both of which are awesome!).
It’s got a bit of a mousse-like texture (that can separate as the product ages), and it applies beautifully, while being a powerhouse of hydration. The base of this hand cream is aloe, which likely gives it an extra boost in the moisturizing category (all the other picks, save the Andalou Naturals, have water as a base ingredient). Layered with a collection of nut + plant butters and oils like shea, avocado, rosehip and argan, this hand cream leaves your skin super soft and totally not greasy.
SAVE: Use Code NEWKNEW15 to save 15% on your first purchase at Henné.
Hand cream FAQs
If you are concerned about aging hands, treat your hands the way you treat your face—frequent moisturizer, regular cleansing, and, yup, sunscreen regardless of the weather. Our top picks for hand creams are listed here.
I like to look for a natural or organic hand cream that delivers some sort of skin benefit. This could be hyaluronic acid to increase skin hydration, anti-inflammatory jojoba, essential magnesium or even wrinkle-reducing bakuchiol, for example. Learn more here.
Check out the NO THANKS list for more ingredients to be mindful of in any skincare / bodycare.
The team tried so many hand creams for aging hands and beyond to bring you this highly curated list of recommendations. Sure it would be easy to cultivate a list of 25 clean hand creams to try, but that doesn’t help anyone. So instead, we weeded through all of that via vetting ingredients, testing and retesting and have come out with these tippity top picks. If you’re looking for a hand cream, know that these are top of the line and hit ALL our effectiveness criteria. See our list here.
What is your favorite hand lotion or cream?
TNK Team Note: This article contains affiliate links. TNK uses affiliate links as a source for revenue to fund operations of the business and to be less dependent on branded content. TNK stands behind all product recommendations. Still have questions about these links or our process? Feel free to email us.
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