Hand cream is a rich moisturizer used to repair and prevent dry, cracked hands. Hand cream is technically different than hand lotion, though sometimes the terms are used interchangeably to refer to a moisturizer designed for the hands. Hand cream is, in general, thicker and richer with a more emollient base than hand lotion and is designed for very dry skin.
Hand creams are mixtures of oils and water, along with emollients, water-binding ingredients and any special antioxidants or vitamins added in. Most hand creams include petrolatum, lanolin, shea butter or cocoa butter as an emollient base. A prevalent water-binding ingredient is glycerin. Some additives include ingredients such as green tea, aloe, vitamins A, C, and E, and oatmeal, among many others. All of these ingredients promise specific benefits.
Creams tend to be greasier than lotions, but hand creams are generally designed to be less greasy than a cream designed for the body. Hand creams are best applied after a shower, when the skin will be better able to absorb the cream, and at night before you go to bed. If hands get dry during the day, the hand cream can be applied again, or you may switch to hand lotion for a lighter alternative.
There are hand creams designed with specific purposes in mind, such as anti-aging hand cream, which promises to reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles and age spots. Hand creams are also sometimes formulated with SPF to prevent damage -- this is a good idea to have as a part of your daily beauty routine. Hand therapy systems are also popular, which might feature a special hand wash, scrub, lotion and hand cream as part of a daily system to improve the look and feel of hands.
If your hands are only slightly or moderately dry, using your body lotion on your hands is a possibility that can save some money. Most ingredients in body lotions and hand lotions are quite similar, and many beauty experts state that it is simply not necessary to purchase a separate lotion for different parts of the body. You will need to experiment to see what type of lotion your hands and body need.
Hand cream ranges from the very inexpensive to the very expensive. Hand creams can be found in most drug stores and discount stores. It can also be purchased at upscale department stores and cosmetics counters, as well as online. You may want to read reviews of specific hand creams first to see if they are worth the money or if you would be better off with an inexpensive drugstore brand.