Ahh, winter. That time of year when twinkling lights wrap around lampposts, warm candles fill the rooms with scents of cinnamon and tree needles, and of course, my normally baby soft hands become brittle pieces of skin eager to crack apart like an iceberg set on destruction. Seeing my oft-youthful (eight months of the year) hands struggling to keep their very own cells alive always brings me a sense of premature death-panic. I’m seasonally reminded that my organic flesh will one day decompose, skin will die and become taut and leathery, and then I freak out and Google “how to get cremated into a tree” in some hopeless effort to never leave the physical earth I have called home for almost 25 years.
Although my efforts to Google tree reincarnation have so far come up lacking (something that still unsettles me at night), I have instead found a plethora of hand creams that superficially conceal the inevitable death of my hands. I dab on these bad boys and my mitts stay young, healthy and without a flake of dryness even in the harshest of winter winds. And so, I present to you my secrets for not facing your own mortality, i.e., The Hand Creams that Get Me Through Winter:
I have to admit, I used to always view Aveeno as an old-lady drugstore brand that I would never consider, UNTIL Jennifer Aniston became their spokesperson. Marketing for the win, amirite? Thank goodness I did reconsider and start using Aveeno, because this little tub of miracles has become my everyday go-to hand cream for winter. First off, the thing goes on like silk. It blends in instantly, yet leaves this subtle layer on top reminding you it’s there, covering up your paws, protecting for whenever you walk out that door. And I know it’s probably totally marketing again, but I truly feel like this lotion is strengthening my hands as I leave it in, telling my skin cells what to do and informing them how to reproduce more cells, grow their fragile numbers. Is this the Al Green of hand creams, seducing my cells into copulation? Perhaps.
Working even more in it’s favor, this hand cream is available basically everywhere, from Ulta to Target to your local CVS, usually for like $7. It’s is small enough to fit in any purse, and leaves a super clean, light scent that seems like you just washed your hands rather than smelling like you crushed a vial of vanilla between your fingers and left the house as is like a cheap hand cream may do. 10/10 for this one folks, and thank you Mrs. Aniston.
So, this hand cream has marshmallows in it. WHAT? I don’t know. But there is marshmallow all up in this bad boy, along with the regular shea butter, sweet almond and macadamia oils. Tragically, this does not double for actual mouth food. BUT, it does leave that nice finish you get after hand mixing a batch of sugar cookies where all the butter and oils and vanilla seep a littttttle bit into your skin and leave you feeling soft and bake-goddess.
This lotion is a bit lighter than most others on the list, making it perfect for use year-round, but also, preventing it from being my life support in the dead of winter. It soaks right up in your skin, though, and leaves the trace of Soap & Glory’s original “Pink” scent—a far cry from the Victoria Secret Pink you may be imagining, and instead, a powdery clean scent reminiscent of June Cleaver. Also, at 8 small bucks for a full-sized tube, this lotion is by far the most cost-effective without sacrificing a thing.
Consider this a spot treatment. Very thick—so much in fact, that I usually have to warm the whole tin between my hands to soften the salve before use – this is less of an all-over use product and more of a helper for supremely troubled areas. I dab a bit of this all over my knuckles, the area most likely to crack and break and cause me premature midlife crises. I generally dab this stuff on before bed, finishing by putting another lotion all over on top and let the stuff work through the night, since it will literally take hours to soak all the way in. Setbacks include having to pay roughly $8–9 for a tin smaller than most lip glosses and also, the way the salve carries an overwhelming smell of lavender that refuses to quit, but overall, in small areas of the hand that need a lot of extra help, this stuff does the trick.
This hand cream, by far, is the thickest all-over care you can get. Although it takes a minute to sink all the way in, it coats your hands making them feel strong and invincible and lets you forget about lotioning up for the rest of the day. I love slathering on this stuff before a shift at work where I seem to always be stretching my skin to its very limits, testing the resilience of my hands against breakage. A dab of this, and I’m ready to unmangle the chafiest of situations.
The downside, though, is that this beast’s main ingredient, hemp, plus its marketing towards men (preventing any other sweet, flowery scents to be included in the mixture), mean it does not smell good. To be frank, it smells basically like you smoked a big joint, let the stink soak into your hands, and then put on cream to attempt to hide the scent. Nevertheless, if you use it at night, the scent floats away by morning while the hydration continues to support those hands from chapping. Now, make this same formula in a feminine scent and I will be the biggest fan.
Hey girl, it’s almost Christmas, so why don’t you go ahead and TREAT. YO. SELF. This is not the practicalist of lotions. It’s probably three times the price of the majority of items on this list, coming in at over $20 a tube, and is not the biggest by any means. It’s not the most hydrating, it doesn’t perform miracles on wind-hurt hands that any drugstore lotion couldn’t do.
But is it fancy! And adorable. Sometimes, you know, you just need a lotion you can pull out and feel proud of, a splurge to show people, “Why yes, I am a classy and mysterious lady and I do have premium lotions to match my particular taste.” I’ve found nothing that sends the message better than this bottle, engraved with the cutest little doodles of mushrooms and fancy old-timey apothecary type. Also, the Willow & Water scent is incredible, leaving you smelling like a lady that just left the indoor greenhouse that warms you through winter with notes of clean cut grass, flowers, and maybe even like, a princess-smelling pond. My advice: Use sparingly on “fancy” occasions and supplement with other practical lotions and you’ll totally see the benefits.
So there you are, my darlings! Just looking back over this list soothes some of my worries about my rapid disintegration into dust. As for you, hopefully you’ll spot something on this list that sounds exactly like what YOUR hands need to survive the winter, and keep them baby soft long into spring. As The Spice Girls once sang, may your hands VIVA FOREVER.