Think you have dry hands?! Think again! I’ll show you some PROPER dry hands…
Actually, I won’t. My hands had reached such Sahara states of dryness that frankly, they were not fit for public viewing. Upon catching sight of my shedding digits, people would “ewww” entirely unprompted. There was talk of steroid cream. I genuinely had no fingerprints left.
[If you think I’m exaggerating for comic effect, Hong Kong ID Cards use fingerprint recognition machines at immigration; thanks to my fingers being a lovely combination of burn-victim raw red patches and papery dry cracks and ridges, my fingerprints no longer registered. So there!]
My beloved Sebamed Hand & Nail Repair Cream had halted further deterioration but didn’t seem able to actually rescue my skin. I had begun to make peace with the fact that I would be a reasonably preserved twentysomething with the hands of an ancient medieval peasant. But thankfully (!), I had to go to the doctor’s with yet another bout of gastroenteritis (welcome to Hong Kong!) and thought I’d get the good doc’s verdict on my hands whilst I was at it.
Lo and behold, he recommended me a couple of amazing hand creams that performed minor miracles. So I thought I’d spare you the $300 consultation fee and share my three handcare saviours: Physiogel A1 Cream, Cetaphil Intensive Moisturising Cream and Herbacin Wuta Kamille Glycerine Hand Cream.
These hand creams aren’t sexy. They don’t smell delicious, or feel luxurious, or look dressing table worthy. But they bloody hell do the job!
The Physiogel A1 Cream proved to be my paws’ ultimate knight in shining armour. After using this for just a few days, I already noticed a difference – and after a couple of weeks of continued use, my hands were practically back to normal. Give the Pope a call because miracles really do happen!
Specially formulated for dry and sensitive skin (if you want to see the fancy words behind the technology, check out their website here), this stuff just works. It has pretty much what I would say is the perfect consistency for a hand cream – not too thick or rich, too oily or greasy, too thin or watery. It absorbs quickly, has no scent and leaves your hands feeling immediately relieved and rehydrated – a feeling that, unlike many other hand lotions, doesn’t disappear virtually as soon as the cream hits your skin.
Physiogel A1 Cream is available in a box containing two 50ml tubes, which I love as they’re small and convenient enough to sling in your bag and dose up on the go. They’re even minute enough to get past those annoying hand luggage restrictions on planes; this stuff is a miracle-worker at high altitudes too and doesn’t just do the business on hands, so slather it on liberally and thank me later.
Literally, the only downside to this cream is that my dogs love it almost as much as I do. Seriously, it’s Yorkie catnip. The second I apply the stuff, my dogs are just as keen to lick it all right off!
My doctor’s second recommendation was Cetaphil Intensive Moisturising Cream. Due to the almost instantaneous love affair I started with the Physiogel A1 Cream, I haven’t really had much reason to use this… but it’s pretty ace too.
This feels slightly less medical than the Physiogel – it contains the familiar moisturiser ingredient shea butter, whilst the tube itself is comfortingly cheap-and-cheerful drugstore skincare at its best, emblazoned with Cetaphil’s clean bright greens and blues. Contrast this with Physiogel’s strait-laced hidden-behind-the-pharmacy-counter vibes; is it weird if I say the A1 Cream’s colour palette reminds me of bad 1980s office decor… fax machines, Amstrad telephones and Melanie Griffiths’ Working Girl wardrobe?!
The Cetaphil Intensive Moisturising Cream is fragrance-free and great for sensitive skin, but I’d say it’s a little bit lighter texture-wise than the Physiogel, and has that familiar shea butter slip to it; in my opinion, the sensation of rehydration also doesn’t last quite as long. However, at almost half the price of the Physiogel A1 Cream, I’d recommend the Cetaphil Intensive Moisturising Cream as a good starting point to combating dry digits – and I imagine it will do the trick effectively for those of you whose hands haven’t quite hit the skids as dramatically as mine!
My final pick is Herbacin Wuta Kamille Glycerine Hand Cream. Mythical tales of my monstrous mitts reached even the ears of those in rural France – in the form of my friend Kate’s mum! – whereupon Mama Wood took pity on the tale of The Girl With The Eighty Year Old Hands and winged a tin over.
With its harsh-sounding German name and a tin featuring an inexplicable giant daisy on a fluorescent green background, it somehow feels the least sexy of the lot (in some weird Take Me Out hand cream scenario) – but I actually found that oddly comforting. It’s one of those supremely ugly-looking creatures that inevitably ends up being a cult beauty product. It’s like a dowdy old matron you definitely wouldn’t trust to dress you… but you absolutely want to nurse you back to health with some chicken soup and homemade remedies. Do you ever think I take my make-up metaphors too far?!
Featuring camomile extracts, vegetable glycerine and protective silicone, the Herbacin Wuta Kamille Cream is probably the thickest lotion of the lot – it almost feels like a balm but with a gel-like consistency too, reminding me of molten candle wax. Unlike the other two hand creams, it isn’t fragrance-free; instead, it has a mild generic floral scent that’s pretty inoffensive and vaguely, comfortingly medical.
I slathered the stuff on during my extremely cold, extremely drying trip to the UK, and somehow emerged back in Hong Kong with skin feeling better than it did before! It leaves your skin feeling instantly hydrated and moisturised; however, because this cream is the most heavy-duty of the three, your skin will feel somewhat tacky and slippery afterwards. I’d recommend using the Herbacin Wuta Kamille Cream just before bed, or for coating areas you don’t really need to use immediately; I get a lot of heat/stress rashes that this fixes up in no time.
Clearly, this is potent stuff and even better, it’s crazy-ridonkulous good value – you could bathe in vats of it for not much more than the water bill itself! In Hong Kong, it’s available at Colormix in 75ml tubes… or in my case, via kindly relatives of friends in a nifty 75ml tin from any good drugstore in France (thank you Kate’s Mum!).
So there you have it – the ultimate hand cream crib sheet for mitts in serious need of TLC. Scream SOS no more, paws, your saviours are here!
– Physiogel A1 Cream costs $257 for two 50ml tubes
– Cetaphil Intensive Moisturising Cream costs $115 for 85ml
– Herbacin Wuta Kamille Glycerine Hand Cream costs $40 for 75ml