Washing our hands frequently and thoroughly is one of the simplest ways to limit the spread of Covid-19. Hands are responsible for carrying the majority of germs to your respiratory tract, so washing for 20 seconds and paying special attention to neglected areas like nails and thumbs can make a real difference. Dr. Morgan Rabach, a board-certified dermatologist and the co-founder of LM Medical NYC, typically washes her hands about 40 times throughout the day, including, of course, between each appointment. (Her favorite hand wash is Softsoap’s Antibacterial Liquid Hand Wash, though she notes that, in a pinch, “regular soap and water, if you are really scrubbing for 20 seconds, is just as good as an antibacterial soap.”)
But repeated hand-washing can dry out skin because of soap’s astringency. Dr. Rabach suggests applying a thick lotion intermittently throughout the day to help rehydrate skin, and recently shared her advice on how to navigate the abundance of options, from classic lotions to newer balms that tout anti-aging benefits. And of course, while it might be tempting to share with other dry-handed friends (in a time that calls for solidarity), it’s best to keep packaging clean and not pass tubes around — at least for the foreseeable future.
For a cream that can be slathered on multiple times during the day, Dr. Rabach recommends Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula Hand Cream ($4), a thick ointment that hasn’t changed since it first debuted in 1978. Upon application, it’s viscous like messier balms or even Vaseline, but it soon dries and loses any greasiness. The Australian beauty brand Aesop’s medium-weight Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm ($30) also absorbs quickly without leaving an oily film. Its fresh scent — a blend of mandarin rind, rosemary and cedar atlas — can help one breathe easier during anxious moments.
The New York-based salon and nail care brand Tenoverten created a restorative hand cream ($16) that, thanks to its proprietary blend of five oils — jojoba, argan, pomegranate, sweet almond and hemp seed — not only locks in moisture, but also builds collagen and brightens skin using hydroxyproline and kakadu plum. Made with silica-rich horsetail extract, this lotion can strengthen brittle nails if massaged into cuticles. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles-based skin-care label African Botanicals prides itself on using ingredients native to Africa. The blend of African marula, baobab and kigelia oils in its hand cream ($55) is designed to increase skin elasticity. The cream also contains hyaluronic acid, which Dr. Rabach notes can help draw moisture into the skin.
Grown Alchemist, the Australian organic skin-care brand created by the brothers Jeremy and Keston Muijs, offers formulas that repair and regenerate skin cells. Its Intensive Hand Cream ($27) contains vitamin E, which moisturizes skin, as well as pomegranate and grapeseed oils — antioxidant-rich additions that Dr. Rabach believes protect skin cells from oxidative stress caused by sunlight and pollution.
Finally, for an intense overnight treatment, Dr. Rabach suggests covering hands in Aquaphor or Vaseline before bed and wearing cotton gloves. For a faster, all-in-one solution, try the Hand Repairing Gloves ($45) from the German beauty brand Magicstripes, which act like super-hydrating sheet masks for the hands. Relying on shea butter and olive oil, they only requires 30 minutes to take skin from chapped to soft and supple.