The 9 Best Lotions for Dry, Cracked Hands in 2021

Get soft, smooth skin with these top moisturizers

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Our Top Picks
Only a little of this rich formula is needed to leave hands feeling soft and supple.
Delightfully scented with fresh aloe vera and invigorating green tea.
This non-greasy, fast-absorbing hand cream is ideal for chafed, cracked and dry skin.
The softening, protective lotion is formulated without phthalates, parabens, or petrolatum.
Designed with key ingredients glycerin and paraffin to moisturize extremely dry skin without that greasy feeling.
This reef-friendly formula packs broad-spectrum SPF40 protection against UVA and UVB rays without octinoxate.
This formula provides protection and moisture for dry, chafed, and cracked skin all over the body.
Enriched with colloidal oatmeal, this nourishing formula is very gentle.
This hydrating lotion provides a fast-absorbing, rich cream that restores essential moisture to the skin.

Whether it’s due to constant hand washing for hygiene, or exposure to dry environments, the skin on our hands can become sensitive, dehydrated and in some cases, broken and peeling. Seasonality can impact the prevalence of dry, cracked hands as well. In colder months, there is often less moisture in the air. Pair this with often dry, forced-air heating systems in wide use and dryness can become a bigger issue.

We researched dozens of lotions and evaluated them for reviews, active ingredients, compatibility with sensitive skin, consistency, and price. Each of the retailers chosen in this article were determined to be the best of these factors.

Here, the best lotions and hand creams for dry, cracked hands—they provide hydration without leaving greasy residue.

Best Overall: L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream

L'Occitane Hand Cream
Pros
  • Rich texture

  • Fast absorbing

  • No oily traces

  • Rich in omega 6 and 9

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Scented; not ideal for sensitive skin

  • Contains tree nuts (almond oil)

This non-greasy, long-lasting formula features a superior blend of shea butter, honey, almond extracts and coconut oil. This hand cream smells has a subtle, powdery fragrance and is quickly absorbed into the skin, which makes it pleasant to use in addition being effective.

While it’s not a cheap option, only a little of the lotion is needed for long-lasting relief from dry and chapped skin.

Active Ingredients: 20% shea butter | Dosage: As needed

Best Cruelty-Free: J.R. Watkins Aloe & Green Tea Natural Moisturizing Hand Cream

J.R. Watkins Natural Moisturizing Hand Cream
Pros
  • Made in the USA

  • Free of parabens, dyes, and pthalates

  • All-over body usage

  • Non-greasy

Cons
  • Scented; not ideal for sensitive skin

  • Scented

The vintage style tube with its signature design contains a nourishing formula of avocado oil, cocoa butter and shea butter. The 100 percent cruelty-free product is delightfully scented with an invigorating blend of aloe vera and fresh green tea. J.R Watkins has been made in the USA for over 150 years and receives rave reviews from customers.

Active Ingredients: Aloe vera | Dosage: As needed

Best for Eczema: CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream

CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream for Dry, Cracked Hands
Pros
  • National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance

  • Non-greasy

  • Affordable

  • Good for sensitive skin

  • Made with ceramides

Cons
  • Product may be too thin for extremely cracked hands

This non-greasy, fast-absorbing hand cream is ideal for chafed, dry and cracked skin. It is gentle and non-irritating to skin, while also being water-resistant and fragrance-free. The hyaluronic acid and niacinamide formula, together with three essential ceramides provides long-lasting moisture. Additionally, CeraVe Therapeutic Hand Cream has received the National Eczema Association seal of acceptance, which sets it apart as being specially approved for use on sensitive skin or for eczema.

Active Ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and Ceramides | Dosage: As needed

What are ceramides?

Ceramides are fats found in the top layers of our skin that form half of the natural skin barrier. They help seal in moisture by preventing evaporation. People with eczema have fewer ceramides in the the top layer of their skin. Replenishing ceramides in the skin with moisturizers that mimic the role of ceramides in the skin has has been clinically proven to improve hydration and the skin's barrier.

Best Natural: Burt's Bees Honey & Grapeseed Hand Cream

Burt's Bees Honey & Grapeseed Hand Cream
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Not tested on animals

  • Travel-friendly size

  • All natural

  • Conditions dry skin for up to 24 hours

Cons
  • Scented; not ideal for sensitive skin

This rich lotion moisturizes, conditions and heals dry and chapped skin, both hands and feet, while the sweet honey scent is calming and subtle. This softening, protective lotion is formulated without phthalates, parabens or petrolatum. And its handbag-friendly size and budget-friendly price means you might want to keep a few of them in the bathroom cabinet, ready for when you run out.

Active Ingredients: Burt’s Bees honey, grapeseed oil | Dosage: Apply as needed

Best Non-Greasy: O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream

O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream
Pros
  • Creates protective layer on the skin

  • Hypoallergenic

  • Highly concentrated

  • Affordable

Cons
  • May be stinging for severely dry skin

  • Niche brand, may be hard to find in stores

The key ingredients of O’Keeffe’s Working Hands cream include glycerin and paraffin, both designed to moisturize while leaving a protective layer on the surface of skin. Rest assured, there’s no greasy residue after application, so you can treat dry, cracked and chafed skin and carry on your daily business. There’s no need to use a lot, nor to apply the product often, in order to obtain relief.

Active Ingredients: Glycerin, Stearic acid | Dosage: Start with a small amount; apply all over as needed

Best SPF Protection: Supergoop! Handscreen SPF 40

Supergoop! Hand Screen SPF 40
Pros
  • Reef-friendly SPF

  • Fragrance-free

  • Non-greasy

  • Fast absorbing

Cons
  • Expensive

  • May be greasy

Sun damage is known to worsen and intensify dry skin, so ensuring that you use a high protection sunscreen lotion is important, particularly when you spend quite a bit of time outdoors and exposed to direct sunlight. This reef-friendly formula packs broad-spectrum SPF40 protection against UVA and UVB rays without octinoxate.

Active Ingredients: Sea buckthorn extract, argan oil | Dosage: Apply once a day, 15 minutes before sun exposure

Best Balm: Vermont's Original Bag Balm for Dry Chapped Skin Conditions

Vermont's Original Bag Balm
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Great for hands and body

  • Versatile, can be used on callouses, cuts, and scrapes

Cons
  • Tin packaging isn't the most portable

  • May be greasy after application

A favorite of many, this product by Vermont’s is relied on to treat severely dry and calloused hands. The formula was first originated in 1899 when it was used to protect dairy cows from the harsh conditions of the Vermont environment. It doesn’t boast a calming scent like other options and isn't completely non-greasy, but it can be used on dry skin all over the body.

Active Ingredients: Petrolatum, Lanolin, 8-Hydroxy Quinoline Sulfate 0.3%, Paraffin Wax | Dosage: Apply liberally as needed

Best for Babies: Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Cream

Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief
Pros
  • Gentle on baby eczema

  • Affordable

  • Provides 24-hour protection

Cons
  • Babies must be 3 months or older to use

Colloidal Oatmeal is a well known skin protectant and is commonly used in lotions and creams formulated for sensitive skin and eczema. Combined with Ceramide-3 and licorice root extract, this tried and trusted, clinically proven body cream provides 24-hour moisturizing for dry and eczema-prone skin. This product is ideal for babies 3 months and older.

Active Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, ceramide 3 | Dosage: Apply as needed or as directed by a doctor

What is colloidal oatmeal?

A skin protectant often used to treat dry, sensitive skin conditions, colloidal oatmeal is finely ground oats. The oats become emollient in this finer texture, which make them easier for the skin to absorb. Studies have found colloidal oatmeal to be effective repairing the skin barrier among those with atopic dermatitis. The ingredient is clinically-proven to improve skin dryness.

Best for People with Diabetes: Aveeno Diabetics’ Dry Skin Relief Lotion

Aveeno Diabetics' Relief Lotion
Pros
  • Fast-absorbing

  • Good for sensitive skin

  • Fragrance-free

  • Affordable

Cons
  • Not specifically formulated for hands

  • Thicker formula may not be suitable for summer months

Research has found that the overall prevalence of skin disorder in people with diabetes (type 1 and type 2) contrasted between 51.1 and 97 % in various regions globally. This hydrating body lotion provides a fast-absorbing, rich cream that restores essential moisture to the skin. The cream contains natural shea butter, Triple Oat Complex (oat flour, oat oil and oat extract), and dimethicone. This formula is both steroid and fragrance-free.

Active Ingredients: 1.2% dimethicone | Dosage: Apply as needed

Final Verdict

For a fast-absorbing lotion that suits most needs, O’Keeffe’s Working Hands (view at Amazon) cream should provide a skin softening effect without any greasy residue. For those who spend a lot of time outdoors or exposed to direct sun, Supergoop! Handscreen SPF 40 (view at Amazon) provides essential protection and moisture.

What to Look for in a Lotion for Dry, Cracked Hands

Ingredients

When seeking a lotion to treat dry, chafed, chaffed or cracked skin, look for products that provide moisturizing ingredients such as colloidal oatmeal, ceramides, and natural oils. Look for products that are dermatologically tested, or clinically proven to be effective for dry skin. 

David N. Lortscher, M.D., a dermatologist from San Diego, California, recommends choosing:

  • Oil-based ingredients, including occlusive agents like petroleum or mineral oil to help seal in moisture
  • Soy, which contains active components that helps restore skin barrier function and replenish moisture
  • Silicones: When used in moisturizers, Dr. Lortscher says they act as lubricants and reduce friction
  • Ceramides: Helps decrease dry skin and irritation
  • Aloe: Known for skin soothing and healing properties
  • Hyaluronic acid (HA): it’s a humectant, meaning it binds water and holds in moisture in the outermost layer of the skin.

Sun Exposure

Dry and sensitive skin is only further damaged and sensitized when exposed to the sun, so be sure to use a lotion containing sun protection or to apply sunscreen in addition to any moisturizing lotion.

Disclaimers for Prolonged Use

Some products are not recommended to be used regularly or on an ongoing basis. Read the directions for use and seek medical guidance if in any doubt.

Scented vs. Unscented

When it comes to scented lotions, an unscented version can limit the risk of additional irritation to the skin. “For dry, cracked hands, you should generally choose unscented lotion that is free of alcohol and other common irritants," says Dr. Lortscher.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use hand lotion on other areas of the body?

    Unless specifically stated on the product, you should avoid using hand lotions on other areas of the body, especially the face. According to Dr. Lortscher, “While hand creams and hand lotions are both kinds of moisturizers, lotions can be a bit drying if they have higher water content. In general, hand creams tend to be more occlusive than hand lotions, meaning they provide a restorative layer of oil on the skin’s surface that helps slow down water loss, which is a good defense against cold, dry air.”

  • How often should you reapply moisturizing lotion?

    If you're experiencing dry and cracked skin, you should apply hand lotion as frequently as feels needed. Dr. Lortscher says he’d recommend applying and reapplying any time the skin feels tight or dry.

Why Trust Verywell Health?

Brittany Loggins is a freelance writer with a depth of experience on a range of subjects from wellness to politics. She is a seasoned health reporter who seeks input from doctors and experts in order to provide thoroughly-vetted product recommendations.

Additional reporting by Brittany Leitner.

As a health writer with over 8 years of experience, Brittany Leitner understands how important access to information is when it comes to making educated health decisions. She has interviewed dozens of medical experts, tested out hundreds of products, and aims to provide quality recommendations that won't break the bank.

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Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Spada F, Barnes TM, Greive KA. Skin hydration is significantly increased by a cream formulated to mimic the skin's own natural moisturizing systems. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018;11:491-497. Published 2018 Oct 15. doi:10.2147/CCID.S177697

  2. Ilnytska O, Kaur S, Chon S, et al. Colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) improves skin barrier through multi-therapy activityJ Drugs Dermatol. 2016;15(6):684-690.

  3. de Macedo GMC, Nunes S, Barreto T. Skin disorders in diabetes mellitus: an epidemiology and physiopathology reviewDiabetol Metab Syndr. 2016;8(1):63.

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