Tag Archives: dry skin

Make-Up Miracles: Sebamed Hand & Nail Repair Cream review

*UPDATE: I have since discovered some even more miraculous hand creams – check out my post here to find out more!*

You may have picked up from previous posts that a year at kindergarten dealing with adhesives, snotty children and copious amounts of antibacterial hand-wash on a daily basis left me ravaged, dry, scaly and flaking – and that was just my hands! Or should that be hooves. Seriously, I had the hands of an 18th century scullery maid… in her 60s.

I went through numerous hand creams, body butters, lotions, potions and prayers without any making much of a difference – and some even seemed to make it worse! But one day, reading through the SCMP’s Young Post section (and, in my opinion, the only readable part of the paper), I saw Sebamed’s Hand & Nail Repair Cream receiving a glowing recommendation. I’d had previous success with Young Post recommendations – it was they who put me in the direction of previous make-up miracle, Atorrege AD+ Spots Treatment – and the product didn’t seem too pricey, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I’ve not looked back since. I’ve since discovered that Sebamed is a bit of a hidden gem, a no-frills brand with plain packaging that gets great word-of-mouth Stateside. Their products are formulated to a neutral pH of exactly 5.5, the precise pH of healthy skin (soap, for instance, is a different pH and this is one reason why it can dry out and break up some skins), and this strengthens and stabilises the ‘natural barrier function of the skin’s acid mantle’ (I presume this is make-up speak for protects the skin so your skin can protect you!). Meanwhile, their gentle mild formulas are perfect for sensitive skin.

Their Hand & Nail Repair Cream was no exception. The medium consistency of the lotion seemed nothing to write home about but it absorbs super-quickly and is not at all greasy or oily, like some of the richer lotions on the market. There is a slight ‘bathroom cabinet’ scent but nothing unpleasant, instead vaguely reassuring, and it disappears quickly anyway. The cream also contains ingredients like allantonin, which regenerates the skin and makes it soft and supple, and bisabolol (the active ingredient from camomile), which alleviates irritation.

Although the packing might not be fancy, some of the claims Sebamed make certainly are! They reckon this cream will increase the skin’s capacity to retain moisture, restore the elasticity of the skin, smooth relieve and soften dry chapped hands and strengthen the nails, preventing them from breaking. And for once, each and every single one of these claims came true!

My hands were so dry and flaky that snakes probably mistook them for scaly skin they had shed earlier; my fingers were so cracked that my fingerprints no longer match the ones saved on my HK ID card. But after weeks of regular use (that’s daily, nightly and whenever else I find myself anywhere near the bottle), they slowly started to improve. My hands do indeed feel softer, my dry patches have indeed been healed and my nails do indeed seem stronger and haven’t broken once (also thanks to my trusty Nail Tek II, no doubt!).

My ultra-chapped areas are recovering at a promising rate and are completely smoothed and softened immediately after use, with normal levels of flakiness more ‘too many washing-up sessions with strong detergent’ rather than ‘just endured a trek to the North Pole’ or ‘may be regenerating into fish scales’. I also rub the lotion into the rough patches on my elbows and it seems to do a better job than the much-lauded Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream.

My 300ml bottle with a pump dispenser – which, bear in mind, I use like it’s going out of fashion – lasts me between 6 to 10 months. You can also buy a smaller squeezy tube that’s perfect for on-the-go use to keep your mitts permanently moisturised, especially in HK’s inescapable blasts of sub-Arctic air-conditioning. One thing that could be improved is the amount of excess packaging – the bottle comes in an unnecessary cellophane-wrapped cardboard box, whilst there is also another unnecessary plastic case around the head of the pump.

Overall, my hands are somewhere back to the plump, soft, never-seen-a-day-of-hard-graft status that they were at before my stint with a class of wild five year olds. And it’s solely down to Sebamed (I suppose Young Post could get a biscuit too). So welcome Sebamed’s Hand & Nail Repair Cream into your gallery of make-up miracles too – your hands, and anyone else who has to touch them, will be forever grateful!

Sebamed Hand & Nail Repair Cream, available from Meka and selected Watsons

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream review

A quick Google of Elizabeth Arden’s legendary Eight Hour Cream will have you convinced that this cult classic will cure all it touches. So will the blurb on the back of the packaging: it ‘soothes, restores, calms and helps relieve chapped, cracked, dry skin… soothes roughness, redness and minor skin irritations… provides anti-inflammatory benefits… soothes and comforts minor weather burns, scrapes and abrasions’. That’s a lot of soothing for one tube.

Eight Hour Cream comes armed with glowing reviews, celebrity endorsements (Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rachel Bilson, Amanda Peet, Jennifer Love-Hewitt) and an illustrious 80 year heritage from Liz Arden herself, who used it to soothe the legs of her horses.

I think the fact it was suitable to be used on horses highlights one of the main reasons I didn’t really get on with it – it really is industrial-strength, heavyweight stuff. And it really isn’t a cream; at best, it’s a balm but more accurately, it’s a thick orange-coloured wax with a strong medicinal smell.

I dismissed the smell saying ‘it’s not as if I’m going to eat it’ but I found myself inadvertently doing just that when I used it on my lips – a not entirely pleasant experience. I’ve been struggling with really dry lips for months now and, after reading about the Eight Hour Cream, thought it was time to bring out the big guns. The results were disappointing – after weeks, it looked and felt no better than using my regular balm. And what with the orange colour, unpleasant smell and taste, too-shiny finish and higher price tag, I think I’ll stick to my trusty make-up miracle Vaseline.

One of the major problems I encountered with the Eight Hour Cream was just how sticky it was. Although it claims to be great for cracked and dry skin, which I have aplenty, I found it a hard job keeping it there long enough for it to work its magic (its name comes from a client saying it made her child’s scraped knee all better in just eight hours). Strands of hair would frequently stick to my lips, which would in turn wipe off all the cream onto whatever glasses and bottles I’d drink from. I’d rub the Eight Hour Cream into my dry, peeling hands only to then find most of it rubbing off onto my bathroom’s doorknob when I left! Some make-up artists recommend using it as a shiny highlighter for cheeks – surely only possible in the controlled conditions of a photo-shoot and with a Croydon facelift hairdo!

On the places that haven’t come into close contact with surfaces, I can see some of the hype for 8 Hour. I had an itchy, flaking elbow that I dosed up with 8 Hour before I went to bed and by the next morning, it was nearly all better – so I guess that client from decades ago wasn’t just a figment of a PR’s imagination.

Overall, Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream fell short of expectations. I’ll be sticking to Vaseline, which I find better in nearly every aspect (texture, colour, taste, results, variety of uses), and keep 8 Hour for more serious skin complaints on anywhere other than my face. Even though I’m in no rush to buy again, one of the pros of the cream is that one tube does seem to last ages so it looks like it will be a bathroom cabinet staple for a while to come!