They say the state of your handbag says a lot about your state of mind, but your hands say so much more. And, at this time of year, they’re screaming.
It’s a tough time of year, with the glitter of December long forgotten and the remainder of the winter stretching out ahead. Of course, the weather doesn’t help, and the skin on your hands is so thin that it shows wear and tear and distress very quickly. Worse, when your hands get dried out, chapped and sorry-looking, they can put years on you, as the hands are one of the first places to show age.
What can help, then, is a regular application of hand cream. By moisturising and softening the skin, the harsh look is taken off the hands, and, for long-term benefits, it’s a case of making the ritual a habit.
A dab of hand cream only takes a second to apply and your choice does not need to be something over-rich that requires you to leave long minutes of soaking-in time, though this variety does makes a good bedtime option. Using hand cream is a small effort, but even minor results speak volumes.
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream Unscented, €5.72, available nationwide This is a classic hand cream and deservedly so. It’s very well priced, it does what it says and it’s entirely inoffensive, smell-wise. The thick, almost ointment-like cream was devised for fishermen, they say, whose hands are almost constantly exposed to the cold and the wet, which would wash off anything thinner in consistency. “This stuff is great under gloves if you’re out walking,” said a panellist. “Your body heat seems to boost the effect and I arrive home with soft, smooth hands.”
BEST HEALTHY HANDS
Dr Hauschka Hand Cream, €16.95, selected department stores, health stores and pharmacies nationwide This hand cream is not without scent, but it’s not a perfumed scent so much as the distinctive smell of Dr Hauschka, which is a bit musky, a bit health-food shop. It’s an almost liquid product that is deceptively effective. With sweet-almond and jojoba oils, it’s one of this brand’s hero products. “A good option for keeping for a quick top-up by the front door,” one panellist said, “because of the speed at which it rubs in.”
BEST PAMPERED PAWS
Elemis Pro-Collagen Hand and Nail Cream, €32.50, Harvey Nichols, Dundrum Town Centre, D16; selected salons nationwide Products from this brand are never cheap, but they always give a bang for your buck. This hand cream doesn’t disappoint, with its ability to feel rich but not heavy and the way it makes a difference after a single application. “I’m not saying the lines on my hands disappeared or were diminished, but use of this definitely made them seem softer,” said a panellist, “maybe because the colour of my hands improved and the skin was more pliable.” BEST ON-THE-GO GLOVES L’Occitane Almond Smooth Hands, €10.50, L’Occitane shops nationwide The small tube means this is a great one to put in a coat pocket or keep in the car, though the price isn’t rock bottom given the size of the tube. It’s a very pleasantsmelling cream, not as marzipan-y as you might imagine, and it has softening almond milk and almond protein, which moisturise and brighten weary paws. “I’ve tried several of this brand’s hand creams, and they are all nice to use,” said a panellist. “I’m not sure why they don’t make a bigger tube, but it is a handy size.”
BEST PERFUMED PAWS
Trilogy Rose Hand Cream, €14.95, Arnotts; selected pharmacies and health stores nationwide With rose essential oil and shea and cocoa butters, this sounds like it should be an extremely oily product, but it’s not. Instead, it’s a thin lotion that soaks in extremely rapidly and leaves a nice sheen — not a shimmer — and a faint smell of roses that is not at all sweet or sickly. “This was great for my nails as well as my hands,” a panellist said. “They were battered after a dose of long-wear nail polishes, but this really revived them.”