Keep your hands smooth and icky ingredients out of your food
If you want a recommendation for a hand lotion, ask a chef. Between washing our hands constantly before and during cooking and washing dishes, pots, and pans, after, we know a thing or too about dry skin and chapped hands. Hate perfumey scented lotions and a bunch of added chemicals? We do too. Not only are artificial scents distracting in the kitchen, but those perfumey flavors and chemicals could end up in our customers food. Not good.
Now that the weather is changing here, I headed to my favorite natural health and beauty destination in Chicago, Merz Apothecary in Lincoln Square (not sponsored, but full disclosure, it is owned by my uncle) to pick up some natural hand creams. I always like to have a few so I can keep them in a few different places like my purse, nightstand, and next to the sink. Plus I find that different formulations are suited to different times; for example, I love the oilier, greasier formulations right before bed, but never right before I’m about to shake someone’s hand.
Keeping your hands moisturized is of course a comfort and cosmetic issue. But it’s also a health issue: dry, cracked, and chapped skin is more permeable to outside germs, so it’s good hygiene to not only wash your hands but to moisturize them too.
Not in Chicago, but still looking for some natural moisture? You can find many of these brands online or at Merz Apothecary’s website smallflower.com. A few of these products I also picked up at Target and Whole Foods Market.
And while these picks are “natural” I still wouldn’t put them on right before touching or eating food—they are best kept for post-dishwashing enjoyment. If you really need some moisture on your hands while touching food, just slather on a couple drops of olive oil or coconut oil.
My top picks for Natural Hand Creams:
Best Truly Natural Hand Cream:
Name: SW Basics Original Cream
Details: With only 3 ingredients (shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil), this is truly a natural and simple product. The ingredients are organic and fair trade too. Keep in mind that oil- and butter-based products tend to be thick (aka harder to spread and absorb) and leave a greasier after-feel which isn’t great if you are going to immediately be touching electronics or your clothes. I like this one for night or when I’m at home because it has time to absorb. This product also comes in a mini jar but I don’t recommend it—it’s hard to use and has opened in my purse multiple times. I now buy the tube.
Where to buy: Target or Amazon
Approximate price: $16-20 for 2 oz tube
Best Hand Cream for Your Purse:
Name: Nivea Creme (German version)
Details: The European version of this hand cream has a cult following. Apparently there are very slight differences between it and the American version so people stock up when they go to Europe. It’s mineral oil-based so it’s not as natural as some of the other options on this list, but it has that traditional hand cream feel and absorption and not an overly strong scent. The tin is small and sturdy for your purse. In my opinion, less natural lotions travel better because they aren’t as sensitive to temperature changes or leaking oils.
Where to buy: smallflower.com
Approximate price: $3 for 30ml
Best Hand Cream for your Desk:
Name: Weleda Skin Food
Details: This is also a German-made product and one that leaves your skin soft and moisturized with a very light oil sheen. It’s not a “scented” formula but has a faint citrusy type smell and comes in a metal squeezable tube that lasts a long time. This one isn’t quite so greasy that it will smudge your keyboard and looks cute enough to share with your coworkers. The faint smell will probably not bother anyone near you with a sensitive nose, so it makes it a good pick for a communal environment.
Where to buy: Merz Apothecary, Whole Foods Market or Amazon
Approximate price: $10-19 for 2.5-ounce tube
Best Luxury Multi-Purpose Hand Cream:
Name: Goe Oil
Details: You may recognize the retro chic packaging of this multipurpose balm. Made without parabens, silicones, pthlalates and a whole bunch of other things, goe oil is a blend of luxury oils and essential oils that you can use as hand and cuticle cream, body lotion, lip balm and more. It has a gel/oil like consistency not too different from vaseline or lip balm. There is a light floral fragrance that comes from essential oils. It could be a good gift for a natural product or design lover. All the products from this brand are designed to be unisex too so that’s kind of cool.
Where to buy: Smallflower.com or Merz Apothecary
Approximate price: $50 for a 3-ounce tube
Best Budget-Friendly Natural Hand Cream:
Name: Shikai Borage Therapy Hand Cream
Details: Made with aloe vera gel and safflower oil, this basic, unscented cream in easy-to-use packaging is a relatively natural solution at a reasonable price. The formula does contain dimethicone (a silicone) towards the end of the ingredient list which means it has that silky finish that we are used to from most personal care products. But it’s also about half the price of the more natural creams in most stores.
Where to buy: Amazon or Whole Foods Market
Approximate price: $8.50 for a 2.5-ounce tube
Bonus! My Favorite Dishwashing Gloves
Name: Casabella Dishwashing Gloves
Details: One of the best ways to keep your hands moisturized in the winter is to use gloves every time you wash dishes. I’ve been using this brand for years after discovering it at Whole Foods. They come in 3 different sizes (I use small) which makes it easier to hold dishes and know if they are clean or not with your hands. They are also thicker than cheaper gloves so you can use really hot water to get your dishes clean.
Where to buy: Amazon or Whole Foods Market
Approximate price: $6-7 per pair of gloves