6 dermatologist-approved creams to save your hands during frequent washing

Kate Mendonca
Shopping Editor

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Normally, as we enter spring, dry skin becomes less of a problem thanks to warmer weather and less dry air in the atmosphere. But now that we’re all indoors and frequently sanitizing and washing our hands, dry skin is an issue that many of us are still dealing with. 

While washing hands often is key to keeping ourselves safe from the spread of COVID-19, it can have a negative impact on skin health. If you’re looking for the best ways to protect your hands, there are a few things you need to know to make sure that you don’t end up doing more harm than good. 

ALSO SEE: Should you ditch makeup if you're social distancing at home? We asked an expert

We chatted with Dr. Sonya Abdulla, MD, FRCPC, a dermatologist at Toronto’s Dermatology on Bloor clinic to get the lowdown on proper hand care from start to finish.

What are some of the biggest issues when it comes to frequent hand washing? 

According to Abdulla, increased hand washing can trigger dehydration and a breakdown of the skin barrier – allowing moisture to escape, stimulating inflammation and creating a portal of entry for things like infection, whether it’s bacteria or a virus.

“For those with a tendency toward sensitive skin or eczema, increased hand washing can increase the risk of a hand eczema flare-up,” she noted. 

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How can we prevent hand dryness and dehydration?

By now we’re all familiar with the directives from the World Health Organization to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, but what should we be doing afterwards?

Abdulla recommends patting hands dry with a clean towel or letting them air dry, followed by applying a pea-sized amount of moisturizing cream or ointment while hands are still damp. 

“Formulations containing petrolatum or mineral oil are best to lock in moisture and create a protective effect,” she said. “These typically come in a tube and are preferable to lighter moisturizers that come in a pump.”

What other ingredients should we be looking out for? 

In addition to mineral oil and petrolatum (a.k.a petroleum jelly), Abdulla also recommends looking for rich creams that are formulated with ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid for an extra dose of hydration. These ingredients help “replenish components of the skin that are lost or broken down with increased washing.” 

As for what to avoid? Abdulla notes that although certain fragrances can have a calming effect on our mood, lotions and creams that are scent and dye-free are your best bet to prevent further irritation on stressed skin. 

Abdulla shared a few of her top recommendations below, and if you’re in the market for an affordable and effective option to keep your hands in good shape, you’re definitely going to want to take note. 

Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly. Image via Well.ca.

The original tub of Vaseline that we’ve all grown up with also comes in a convenient travel-sized tube that’s ideal for doling out small amounts onto hands. 

SHOP IT: Well.ca, $4

CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream

CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream. Image via Shoppers Drug Mart.

This fast-absorbing, non-greasy cream contains three essential ceramides as well as hyaluronic acid to relieve dryness and keep hands soft and smooth. 

SHOP IT: Shoppers Drug Mart, $13 (originally $15)

Eucerin Aquaphor Multipurpose Healing Ointment

Eucerin Aquaphor Multipurpose Healing Ointment. Image via Shoppers Drug Mart.

Soothe dry and cracked hands, as well as lips, cuticles, or anywhere on your body that could use an extra boost of moisture. 

SHOP IT: Shoppers Drug Mart, $9 (originally $11)

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream

Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. Image via Well.ca.

Clinically proven to deliver relief from dry, chapped hands, this highly concentrated formula delivers instant hydration.

SHOP IT: Well.ca, $8

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Hands

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Hands. Image via La Roche-Posay.

This soothing hand cream uses niacinamide to repair and protect the skin’s natural barriers, keeping them feeling soft and smooth.  

SHOP IT: La Roche-Posay, $13

Avène Cicalfate Hand Cream

Avène Cicalfate Hand Cream. Image via Shoppers Drug Mart.

Repair, soothe and protect extremely dry and irritated hands with this fragrance-free cream. 

SHOP IT: Shoppers Drug Mart, $18

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