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Dry Hands - How to Keep Hands Hydrated and Soft

By Kiehl’s Education Team

Dry skin on hands can be caused by factors like frequent hand washing and harsh weather, but there are easy ways to care for them and keep them moisturised.

Dry hands are a common skin concern — our hands are one of our main tools for interacting with the world around us. This means our hands are subjected to more wear and tear than other areas of the body, leaving them vulnerable to external stressors that cause dryness. Dry hands may feel itchy, uncomfortable and rough, the skin may flake, appear visibly dry with fine lines, or you may experience scaly and cracked skin with small cuts.

While applying lotion or hand cream is the most obvious solution when you are dealing with dry skin on your hands, there are a few other things you can do to help protect your hands and reduce discomfort.

Why Are My Hands So Dry?

The environment is a major cause for dry hands. Several factors can lead to moisture loss, such as your lifestyle, your skin type, certain skin conditions and the weather. It is pretty common for people to suffer from dry skin in the winter, for example, because cold, arid air can pull moisture from the skin. In severe cases, cold weather or wind can lead to extremely dry, cracked hands accompanied by redness, discomfort, and tightness. 

Another Cause for Dry Hands

Lifestyle also plays a significant role in the development of dry skin on the hands. People that handle chemicals or work with their hands may be more prone to dryness because of increased exposure to irritants. Similarly, frequent handwashing, especially with harsh soaps and hot water, can draw out moisture from the skin and lead to dryness. 

Can You Prevent Dry Skin on Hands?

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent dryness, limiting your exposure to irritants (such as hot water, cold air, and wind, or chemicals) may help reduce the likelihood of developing severely dry hands. If your job or lifestyle requires you to be in frequent contact with drying stressors, consider wearing rubber gloves when exposed to water and gloves whenever possible outside — it is not foolproof, but it may help protect your hands from excessive dryness. Additionally, maintaining and strengthening your skin barrier is an important step in preventing dry skin. A compromised skin barrier can lead to increased dryness, discomfort, and heightened skin reactivity. 

How Can I Treat Extremely Dry Hands?

While we cannot tell you how to get rid of dry hands for good, we can offer some helpful tips to protect your hands against dryness and discomfort. Maintaining a strong and healthy skin barrier is important for relieved, hydrated, and healthy-looking skin. Additionally, minimising exposure to potential irritants and moisturising consistently with a hydrating moisturiser will help. Keep reading to learn how to fix dry hands (or at least reduce dryness), plus tips to help protect your hands from drying stressors. 

Tip #1: Choose Your Soap Wisely

Washing your hands is a cornerstone of good hygiene — but it can leave your hands dry, especially if you must lather up often. Hot water and harsh soaps can strip the skin of its natural oils, leaving it feeling dry, tight, or uncomfortable. To help counteract the drying effect of frequent handwashing, turn down the temperature, hot water is very drying so choose lukewarm water or cool water and reach for a mild soap, such as our classic Liquid Hand Soap. This gentle cleanser helps remove dirt and grime without over-drying the skin. In fact, the formula, which contains vitamin E and aloe vera, helps recondition the skin while it cleanses your hands to feel soothed and refreshed. After washing your hands, use a towel to dry, and apply a moisturising hand cream post-wash to ensure your hands stay hydrated. 

Tip #2: Moisturise Every Day

Using a hand moisturiser like our Ultimate Strength Hand Salve every day after washing can help to keep your skin hydrated and feeling its best. To help keep dryness at bay, we suggest moisturising your entire body — hands included — with a mild body lotion, try our classic Creme de Corps Body Lotion which contains beta-carotene, squalane and cocoa butter. 

For extra hydration (particularly if you wash your hands often or live in a colder climate), a thicker formula that creates a barrier between the skin and the environment like our Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream, may be ideal. Designed for the skin of the face, this intensive barrier cream instantly relieves and repairs dry, sensitive skin. Formulated with colloidal oatmeal and beta-glucan this potent formula is equipped with our unique Advanced Barrier Technology that mimics skin’s lipid structure to help support the moisture barrier and visibly reduce redness caused by dryness. It will work to keep hands soft and doubles as a protective lotion for any sensitive skin areas on the face or body.

Tip #3: Try a Targeted Hand Cream

When winter approaches and the temperatures start to dip, you will experience some degree of hand dryness. Using hand cream for dry hands can help restore lost moisture and instantly smooth and soften scaly skin. As for which hand cream to use, we suggest our classic Ultimate Strength Hand Salve. The heavy-duty moisture treatment soothes and conditions severely dry hands while helping to protect against moisture loss. You can use the salve as your daily hand cream or take advantage of the thick, rich formula and use it as an effective overnight treatment for dry hands. Before going to bed, massage a generous layer of the avocado oil-infused formula onto your hands, then slip on a pair of breathable cotton gloves. The gloves will help lock in moisture (and keep the treatment from rubbing off on your sheets) for super-soft, smooth, hydrated hands. 


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