skin week

This £4 Cream Soothes My Over-Washed, Coronavirus-Avoiding, Hands

Photo: Sarah Breen

Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght are the authors of Once, Twice, Three Times An Aisling (Michael Joseph)

I have always been what you might call an enthusiastic hand-washer. I’m no germophobe, but with a baby and a toddler to wrangle, my day involves a lot of nappy changing and arse-wiping. Throw in a dinner recipe that requires raw chicken, as well as coronavirus protocols, and I could be scrubbing my hands more than 20 times from dawn to dusk. With naturally dry skin, by bedtime they’re often parched, cracked, and bleeding at the knuckles, despite my devotion to soaps that promise to moisturise as much as they clean.

Because of this, I always have hand cream on my person. Until one day, last week, I suddenly didn’t. I discovered this fact in the supermarket (where I was prepping for possible isolation), as I was bulk buying toilet roll and tinned tomatoes. So, I nipped down the health and beauty aisle, and grabbed the first tube with a picture of a literal hand on it. No exaggeration: Garnier Hand Repair Intensive Restoring Hand Cream did more for my chapped mitts in one application than any other product.

I look for three things in a hand cream: is it easily absorbed (I can’t bear waiting ages for it to soak in or, worse, slimy residue), does it smell acceptable, and will it provide instant relief to my itchy or painful patches? My usual go-to is L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, which smells like clean babies and is incredibly rich, or my favourite pre-holiday airport treat, Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment. But neither is a match for my (newly) beloved Hand Repair. The light formulation leaves skin hydrated but matte and, bonus, the fragrance is clean — think freshly laundered bed linen — without being overpowering. The major plus for me though is the price. Now that I’m washing my hands almost every time I see a sink, it’s not a big stretch to buy multiple tubes to stash around the house, in my handbags and at my desk. I’ll never be caught short again.

Some other Strategist-recommended hand creams

This hand cream features shea butter, which is, according to skin doctor Sophie Shotter, a natural moisturiser and a good product to look for in hand creams. “This hand cream is unfragranced, which is important, as fragrances can be an irritant. I just love the way this product feels.”

This hand cream by the Body Shop offers additional nail and cuticle treatments, “but it’s also one of the best-value products I use,” says Laura Capon, deputy beauty editor at Cosmopolitan. “It smells lush, and if you team it with their almond nail and cuticle oil pen, you might just save your hands from extinction.”

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A £4 Cream Heals My Over-Washed, Coronavirus-Avoiding, Hands