With biting winds outside and dry, stale air inside, winter is brutal on your skin. Worst of all is the season's effect on hands, which dry out more rapidly than the rest of the body. The only solution: hand cream.
"Because of their lack of sebaceous glands, hands are prone to drying," explains Dr. Terrance Keaney, director of W for Men at the Washington Institute of Dermatalogic Laser Surgery. "When you expose your hands to dry, cold weather, an increase in trans-epidermal water loss – a loss of moisture from the skin – occurs, which causes hands to crack and peel." In short, nature and civilization have conspired to strip our hands of the precious moisture they require not to dry up and peel off in a sandpapery mess.
The solution is to moisturize early and often. Dr. Keaney recommends using a fast-absorbing lotion that doesn't leave grease stains on all your stuff. He also advises getting ahead of the problem, because it's easier to prevent dryness than it is to cure it. We tested dozens of creams, salves, lotions, and potions before settling on this list of man-friendly moisturizers. Read on to find the ones that best suit your lifestyle and preferences.
Barnaby Black Spruce Pitch Hand Salve
Made from the pitch of an actual red spruce tree that was felled in the maker's yard during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, this salve bears a sweet, musky smell – shades of a country cabin in the morning. Besides spruce pitch, which has natural wound-healing and antiseptic properties, it contains a mix of organic beeswax to protect the skin, moisturizing olive oil, and palm oil. The latter is one of the few ingredients on Earth that contains high levels of tocotrienols, the most deeply penetrating form of topically applied vitamin E. This is a heavier, waxier salve, best suited to application before heading out on a long day outdoors. [$14 for 2 oz; barnabyblack.com]