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Guide: How to take care of dry hands from frequent soap use

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Updated March 31, 2020

Thorough and frequent hand-washing is a great way to help reduce transmission of illnesses and disease and it's also a prime recipe for having dry hands. Don't forget to give your hands a bit of love and attention between all the washings!

With viruses being at the forefront of our daily discourse and with a pandemic currently sweeping over the globe, we're washing our hands now more than ever. Washing your hands thoroughly and often is a great way to help reduce transmission of a wide variety of illnesses and bugs, but an inevitable side-effect is being left with very dry hands.

Over-washing the skin is a common cause for dry skin, but even exposure to dry air can also affect your skin's moisture. Your profession can also be a contributing factor, for example, if you work a lot with paper, cleaning solutions or work outdoors for long periods of time, these can all impact the skin on your hands to varying agrees. The biggest culprit however, is water (particularly hard water)! But fret not, there are ways to keep your hands feeling soft and refreshed even with a routine and thorough hand-hygiene regimen.

The good news is, you don't require much to combat dry skin on your hands! All you need is a bit of good hand cream, a mild soap and a pair of clean socks.

4 steps for softer hands

With the help of four simple steps, your moisture-deprived hands and dry nail beds will be back on the mend. Perhaps you already have some of these products at home? If not, you can easily order these items online and in many cases with home delivery as well.

Step 1: Check the type of soap you are using

What type of soap are you using for washing your hands with? Regardless of the type of soap you're using, the most important thing is that you're using it properly - so you don't actually need an antibacterial soap if you use regular hand soap effectively. However, you may want to check and see if the soap you have is moisturising or has ingredients like oils, glycerol and shea butter that help re-moisturise the skin. When you have washed your hands, pat your hands dry with a hand towel instead of rubbing them with it to help retain some moisture. That said, it is important to ensure that you actually dry your hands completely, both for hygienic purposes and because the water left on the skin can contribute to drying out the skin even further.

Tips for 3 moisturising hand soaps

Meraki Hand Soap Linen Dew 490ml

Meraki Linen Dew Scented Hand Soap

This organic and vegan hand soap contains blueberry and nettle extract to moisturise the skin.

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L'OCCITANE Extra Gentle Soap Verbena 100g

L'Occitane Vebena Extra Gentle Bar Soap

This gentle and hydrating bar soap contains shea butter and has a gentle lemon scent.

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Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Hand Wash 300ml

Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Hand Wash

This moisturising liquid hand soap is organic and contains organic rice milk and cherry blossom extract to nourish your hands. The bottle is also beautiful, making it a lovely addition to your bathroom.

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Step 2: Get a great hand cream

A really fantastic and moisturising hand cream is an essential for hand care. When our experts at PriceRunner tested hand creams, Cetaphil Repair Sensitive Hand Cream was named as our best choice, due to it being both very affordable and highly effective at moisturising. There are alternatives out there for everyone, from more cost-effective options to more luxurious creams for those looking to feel a bit indulgent.

Tips on 3 rich and moisturising hand creams

O’Keeffe’s Working Hands 193g

O'Keefe's Working Hands Hand Cream

O'Keefe's Working Hands cream is a super-moisturiser and great option for those who work a lot with their hands and can use a little extra TLC.

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Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment Cream 100ml

Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment

Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment is a classic in the world of hand creams and it also helps in taking care of your nails and nail-beds.

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Neutrogena Original Hand Cream 50ml

Neutrogena Original Hand Cream

This little bottle packs a huge punch with great results for such an affordable hand cream! Mild enough to be used by the whole family and all skin types.

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Step 3: Don't neglect you nails

If you look closely, you'll notice that it isn't only your skin that bears the brunt of all that hand-washing. Even your nails and nail beds can get dried out and damaged fairly easily. Help them out with a bit of extra love and care with the help of some nourishing nail oil. A nail oil is applied at the base or root of the nail, in other words where your nails starts and including the nail bed itself. Massage in the oil for around a minute for the best results.

Tips on 3 nourishing nail oils

OPI Pro Spa Nail & Cuticle Oil To-Go 7.5ml

OPI Pro Spa Nail & Cuticle Oil To-Go

This replenishing nail and cuticle oil strengthens and nourishes your nails and helps improve their appearance.

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Maria Åkerberg Myrrh Nail & Cuticle Oil 10ml

Maria Åkerberg Myrrh Nail & Cuticle Oil

This nail and cuticle oil with a Nordic twist contains myrrh, giving this nourishing oil a lovely scent.

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CND Vinylux Essentials Solar Oil Nail & Cuticle Conditioner 3.7ml

CND Solar Oil

CND Solar Oil is a favourite among many nail aficionados. This oil is well suited in helping with nails that are dry or have even started to break or become brittle. It is also applied with a brush, just like a nail varnish, which is very practical. It contains almond oil, which gives it a sweet and pleasant scent.

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4. Sleep on it

Applying a thick layer of oily hand cream or a hand mask before bedtime and then putting on a pair of thin cotton mittens will do the trick. You fall asleep with dry hands, but wake up with moisturised and soft paws - ready for a new day of thorough and frequent hand washing. Right now it can be difficult to get hold of thin cotton mittens, but you can always pull out the winter mittens or a pair of cotton socks instead to place on your hands. Creativity should know no bounds!

If you'd rather use a more specific product, there are hand masks that are similar to the face masks in how they work. But instead they look like a mitten and are infused with serum or cream that gives the hands some intensive nourishment.

Kocostar Hand Moisture Pack 14ml

Kocostar Hand Moisture Pack

A skin mask in the form of disposable gloves infused with shea butter, argan oil and cocoa butter that help moisturise the skin. 20 minutes is the recommended time to have it on your skin - so put on your favourite sitcom and do nothing else - just enjoy the moment.

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Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant 50ml

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream

Elizabeth Arden's classic, fantastic hand cream can be used anywhere on the body. It works best by rubbing it into the hands with a generous dollop and then placing some cotton mittens or (or socks) over your hands overnight while you sleep.

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HPC Knitted Cotton Gloves 10-pack

Cotton mittens / gloves

Simple cotton gloves to place over your hands for an overnight, intensive bit of replenishment that will leave your paws feeling softer than ever before.

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How to do your own hand scrub - step by step

Do you feel your hands are still super dry? Then it's time for a quick lesson in hand scrubs! Exfoliate, peel, scrub - the steps can be worded in a myriad of ways, but the aim is the same; removing dead and dry skin in order to make moisturising more effective. You can of course buy hand scrubs ready-made in stores, but you can also make one easily at home with the help of just two simple ingredients you'll find in your pantry at home.

To blend a wonderful hand scrub in the kitchen, all you need is two ingredients and a can. An empty, rinsed out can of beans or anchovies will work just fine.

Make your own hand scrub

Ingredients for hand scrub

  • 4.5 dl of granulated sugar
  • 1.5 dl of olive oil (or another alternative oil you have at home - rapeseed oil, coconut oil, and almond oil also work splendidly)
  • Optional: a few drops of essential oils

Make your own hand scrub

How to make your hand scrub - 3 steps

1. Measure your ingredients and place them into a bowl. You can experiment a bit with how much sugar or oil you want to use. The base recipe should give you a generous amount of hand scrub, so if you want to scale it down a bit, you just have to cut down on the volume of ingredients you are using. If you want your scrub to be a bit more fluid, add some more oil to the mix.

Make your own hand scrub

2. Blend the sugar and oil thoroughly together If you think your hand scrub is too thick or solid, add a bit more oil to the mix. If you have a blend of different oils at home, mix them together, play with it!

Make your own hand scrub

3. Add a splash of scent if you want!

It's wonderful when one's skin care products smell good. If you have any kind of fragrance oils, you can try dropping a few drops of them in your exfoliating scrub, but double check that it is okay to apply to them on the skin first. Also, keep in mind that although essential oils are often rewritten as a form of miracle cure that is always a good alternative, they can actually be allergenic for some people. If you have sensitive skin, it's often better to avoid them completely. Even a little lemon zest can give a good scent!

Clearspring Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil gives any hand scrub a divine scent.

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Maria Åkerberg Coldpressed Almond Oil 100ml

Almond Oil

Almond oil gives a very mild and smooth scent to a hand scrub.

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Healthspan Pure Lavender Oil 10ml

Lavender Oil

Essential oil with the refreshing scent of lavender, perfect for an exfoliating hand scrub.

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Perfect for re-use

Why not use your hand scrub as a means of cutting down on food waste? A sustainable alternative is to make a scrub out of used coffee grounds. That way you can cut down on using the amount of sugar or replace it entirely with coffee grounds you have used anyway. Blend them with coconut oil for a really awesome scent. A thing to keep in mind with coffee ground scrubs is that they will not last as long as scrubs made with sugar.

More tips and advice on how to protect yourself from illness

In order to make it easier for you to find great content on the theme of protection from illnesses, we've created a collection page for all of the related stories and content we've made on this topic. The page is updated on an on-going basis and here we'll gather guides and tips we hope will be of use and helpful to you in these flu-ridden times.

Read more guides and tips

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