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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

35 Models Considered
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Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best hand lotion for extra-dry skin

Do you struggle with dry, cracked hands? If so, you can probably attest to the pain and soreness they cause you. Regular hand lotions don’t always cut it when it comes to dryness, especially since many of them contain drying ingredients like alcohol. Not to worry: soft, moisturized hands are attainable when you invest in a hand lotion formulated for extra-dry skin.

Hand lotion for extra-dry skin is replete with nourishing moisturizers that restore softness and hydration. Ingredients may include ceramides, collagen, vitamins, and oils, all of which target dryness in a different manner. Some ingredients are restorative; others work to gradually build up your moisture barrier. You’ll notice that these lotions are much more creamy and rich than regular formulas, and often, you can actually feel your skin being quenched on application.

Are you ready to say good-bye to chapped hands and hello to a soft touch? See what our team of experts found when we compared hand lotions for extra-dry skin, and pick up some shopping tips along the way.

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Most hand lotion for extra-dry skin is packaged in pump bottles. Keep in mind that they’ll have plastic and metal components, so you’ll need to take them apart for recycling.

Key considerations

Regular formula vs. extra-dry formula

Regular hand lotion often contains alcohol, which actually dries the skin further and can cause redness. If the dry skin on your hands is chapped or cracking, you may actually feel a sharp stinging sensation when you apply regular hand lotion.

Hand lotion for extra-dry skin rarely contains much alcohol, if any at all. The ingredients are there to soothe, which is why they’re often water-based and include ingredients like shea butter, oatmeal, or coconut butter. Formulas for extra-dry skin often forgo fragrance, parabens, and sulfates, as these ingredients are known irritants to sensitive and broken skin.

Body lotion vs. hand lotion

You might wonder if you could simply use body lotion on your extra-dry hands. Certainly, it’s an option, but this is where the extra-dry category for all lotions is rather diverse. These lotions can be formulated for hands only, body only, or a combination thereof.

The difference between hand and body lotion boils down to consistency. Lotion for the body tends to be much thicker because the skin on the body is much thicker. Lotion for the hands is a bit thinner, and it absorbs quickly to prevent a lingering greasy residue that can get in the way of daily life. If you’re purchasing a lotion formulated for both body and hands, the consistency will likely fall somewhere in the middle.

What “dermatologist recommended” means

As you compare hand lotions for extra-dry skin, you’ll note one phrase quite often: “dermatologist recommended.” This appears to add credibility to a product, but it’s not an officially regulated label. It simply means that the formula has undergone some extent of dermatological testing and earned high marks on an unofficial rubric or upon minimal sampling.

If you suffer from extra-dry skin to the point it interferes with your daily life, you’ll definitely need a dermatologist-recommended lotion. In a severe case like this, a prescription should come directly from a dermatologist who is experienced in treating these conditions.


Let’s take a look at popular ingredients found in hand lotion for extra-dry skin and what they do.

Amino acids

Amino acids in hand lotion for extra-dry skin are there to minimize free radical damage. They promote hydration by carrying moisture through the aquaporins, or water channels, in the skin. Amino acids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe irritated skin.


Ceramides are lipids that aid in moisture retention, as they build up the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Think of them as first-line defenders that block out the pollutants that can irritate dry skin.


Hand lotions that contain collagen minimize moisture loss by slowing the rate at which it leaves the body. While collagen only works on surface skin, it does an exceptional job at restoring elasticity. This helps skin retain its natural youthful glow and suppleness.


Depending on the formula, hand lotion for extra-dry skin may contain one or several vitamins. Vitamin C functions as an exfoliator, helping to remove dead skin that hardens hands and causes soreness. Vitamin E minimizes irritation and redness and softens skin. Vitamin B5 pulls moisture in from the air to hydrate skin; it also has anti-inflammatory properties.


Oil is frequently present in hand lotion for extra-dry skin because it locks in moisture. In addition to providing a protective barrier, certain oils also have anti-aging properties. 

Alpha hydroxy acids

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) penetrate superficial layers of dead skin to hydrate the fresh cells beneath. The acids gently and painlessly remove dead skin, exposing smoother skin and reducing discoloration related to irritation or flakiness. AHAs also promote better overall absorption of the lotion. 


Dimethicone frequently makes an appearance in hand lotions for extra-dry skin. This silicone-based polymer operates as a barrier and conditioning agent. It’s actually an emollient, which means it seals, softens, and smooths skin.

Other features


Hand lotion for extra-dry skin often carries a light, barely noticeable fragrance. If you’re sensitive to aromas in products, you might gravitate toward fragrance-free formulas. Even so, you may detect a bit of a muted clinical smell. There are also formulas whose fragrance is derived from plants or essential oils. These are typically advertised not as fragrance-free but as having no added or artificial fragrance. 

Sensitive skin formulas

While it may seem like they’d be one and the same, lotions for extra-dry skin and lotions for sensitive skin have different formulas. Lotions for sensitive skin aren’t always geared toward extreme hydration and moisturizing, and some hand lotions for extra-dry skin contain harsh ingredients that can sting or cause redness.

Your options will narrow a bit when looking for a formula that targets both extra-dry and sensitive skin, but you’ll still find a modest assortment. More than anything, these formulas will leave out irritants and comedogenic ingredients like phthalates, parabens, alcohol, SLS, and formaldehyde. 

Long-lasting formulas

It’s a good idea to find out how long any given lotion lasts with each application. Many hand lotions for extra-dry skin last up to 24 hours, though that doesn’t necessarily mean only one application per day is required. Rather, it means the lotion will stay on the skin and continue working until you completely wash it off in the sink or shower. 

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Allow your lotion to dry before touching your keyboard or touchscreen phone, as the residue can settle on these items.

Hand lotion for extra-dry skin: prices

Hand lotions for extra-dry skin have more advanced formulas than other lotions and therefore tend to cost a bit more. Price ranges from $6 to $25, depending on container size as well as quality.

Inexpensive: Budget-priced lotions cost between $6 and $10 and often contain several stand-out ingredients.

Mid-range: Products priced between $10 and $16 usually have more complex formulas. You’ll also find more lotions that offer 24-hour hydration in this bracket.

Expensive: Intense formulas are priced between $18 and 25 and offer the most in the way of repair, hydration, and softening. Many organic and all-natural formulas exist in this price range. 


  • Apply and wear gloves. For intense hydration and moisturizing overnight, apply the  lotion and wear cotton gloves. You’ll wake up with ultra-soft hands.

  • Store at room temperature. To preserve the integrity of the formula, it’s best to store your lotion indoors at room temperature. If possible, avoid keeping it in your car, as the cabin temperature fluctuates too much. 

  • Try other products in the line. Hand lotion for extra-dry skin is a niche category, so you’ll be pleased to find that manufacturers often have other products targeted toward your skin condition.

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Apply hand lotion for extra-dry skin to clean hands only. Otherwise, you may trap dirt and debris in your hands or under your nails.


Q. When I dispense the lotion from its container, it seems runny or separated. Do I need to shake it first?
A. It’s common for some lotions to separate. A few shakes should bring it back to normal. With that said, if separation is a new occurrence, it’s a good idea to contact the manufacturer. It could be that the formula has changed, but it’s also possible that the lotion has expired or gone bad for some reason.

Q. Can I use hand lotion for extra-dry skin on my feet?
A. You could, especially if it’s a hand-and-body formula. Even so, if you have extreme flaking or dryness on your feet, especially your heels, you probably need a targeted lotion. The skin on your feet and heels is much different than that of your hands, and it often requires a more intense formula. 

Q. Should I exfoliate before using hand lotion for extra-dry skin?
A. It depends. If you’re able to withstand exfoliation, you can gently slough off dead, flakey skin prior to applying the lotion. If your hands are cracked and bleeding, exfoliation will only aggravate your condition — not to mention sting quite a bit. If you use a formula with AHAs or vitamin C, they’ll gently coax dead skin off your hands without the harsh abrasiveness of an exfoliating product.

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