Having sensitive hands is a nightmare. Especially in winter, no amount of glove-wearing can make up for the fact that cold weather and indoor heating wreaks havoc on my skin. Inevitably, this makes it all the more likely that my hands will react badly to the products I use.
Hand-washing in particular is a pain, especially if – like me – you struggle with contact dermatitis when the temperature drops. This poses a problem, because we wash our hands multiple times throughout the day. If I don’t use hand soap that is right for my skin, then that’s multiple opportunities for my hands to have a nasty reaction. Even the most neutral soaps can start to irritate after a while.
To solve this problem once and for all, I’ve tested some of the best hand soaps made specifically for sensitive skin – and found a new favourite! If you struggle with skin sensitivity, dryness or winter rash, then these soaps might just revolutionise your winter.
I usually gravitate towards bar soaps, especially when my skin is in a bad way. Many bars (but certainly not all) contain more natural ingredients and you can easily find ones that are fragrance-free. That’s not to say that bar soaps are better by default though – some bars have a high pH level which can be drying, and they don’t all contain the gentlest ingredients. We’ve tried and tested some of the best, to help you find the ones that will be kindest to your skin.
Gallinée, Cleansing Bar
It’s not often that you find a product with glowing reviews pretty much across the board, but that’s what I’ve found in Gallinée’s Prebiotic Cleansing Bar. It’s soap free, softening and designed to be gentle, and is even suitable for use on both the hands and face due to it having the same pH balance as skin. However, it can be ever so slightly drying, so it’s probably not ideal for when your hands are at their sorest.
Faith in Nature, Handmade Soap
Faith in Nature is dedicated to creating natural products that are cruelty free and do not harm the environment. Made entirely with sustainable, organic and plant-derived ingredients, this soap bar is a pretty perfect embodiment of that mission – it even comes in 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. Fragrance-free and proven to be kind to even the most sensitive, rash-prone skin, this is a great choice for those who want to avoid damage to both their hands and the environment.
La Roche-Posay, Lipikar Surgras Cleansing Bar
The Lipikar Surgras bar from La-Roche Posay doesn’t have any out-of-this-world properties, but it is made with moisturising glycerine and shea butter, and it reacted just fine with my skin. As a good old-fashioned, no frills bar of soap, it’s a solid choice.
Herbivore, Pink Clay Soap Bar
This is the soap I’d be most likely to reach for in the shops. Made with all natural ingredients including anti-inflammatory rose geranium essential oil, the bar smells amazing and looks pretty perfect for sensitive skin. It also has a thick, foamy lather, which is soft and moisturising. The only issue is the blood orange essential oil which, while brightening, isn’t the gentlest ingredient. Great for slightly more robust skin, but I think I’ll be erring on the side of caution and avoiding longer-term usage.
Liquid hand soaps
As a rule, I tend to avoid buying liquid hand soaps. I often find that they contain more chemical ingredients and preservatives than bars, the effects of which can sometimes react unexpectedly with my hands. But there are plenty that include moisturising ingredients, so there are loads of great options if you know what to look for.
Many people prefer liquid soaps anyway: they’re less messy, easily portable and often last longer than bars.
L'Occitane En Provence, Ultra Rich Hand and Body Wash
This might just be one of the best liquid hand soaps I’ve used. It comes out looking and feeling almost like a hand cream, but lathers well when mixed with water. This shea butter formula doesn’t just smell amazing; it’s thoroughly moisturising, too, and has clearly been made with the skin’s natural pH balances in mind.
This product has done what many liquid hand soaps have tried and failed to do before, and left my hands feeling soft and healthy.
NIVEA, Rich Moisture Soft Hand Wash
This NIVEA hand soap is made to moisturise and soften, and boasts two key ingredients. The first is almond oil, which is mild, moisturising and has anti-inflammatory properties. The second is NIVEA’s patented Hydra IQ, which is a natural ingredient that provides long-lasting, deep moisturisation. Not only that, but it is very reasonably priced.
However it does also contain some harsher chemical ingredients and fragrances, so probably isn’t ideal if you have a fragrance allergy.
Best in show
Herbivore, Blue Clay Soap Bar
So here it is, our clear winner and a new firm favourite of mine: Herbivore’s Blue Clay soap bar.
Initially, this bar seems very similar to Herbivore’s pink clay soap: it contains no chemicals, uses sustainable palm oil and has an even more luxurious lather than its rose-based counterpart. An important difference is that instead of rose and blood orange, the key ingredient here is lavender. Lavender is known to have a whole host of great skin benefits, including reducing redness and skin inflammation – bye bye winter rash! – and balancing the moisture levels in your skin.
I could feel the difference in my skin after the first use, and have continued to use it with only positive results. I have to say I am very impressed – I’m definitely a Herbivore fan!
Images: courtesy of brands, Unsplash