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Caring for Dry, Cracked Hands

Finding balance between clean hands and soft skin

Written by: 100% PURE ®
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For most of us, hand washing has officially peaked in our daily self-care routine. Not that hand washing wasn’t the norm before, but now more than ever we’re being thoughtful about how we mitigate the spread of germs.

Washing 10 or more times a day, our hands start to mimic the texture of potato chips. We’re constantly washing and cleaning, regularly exposing our skin to harsh soaps and cleansing products. It seems like the more we clean, the drier our hands get. So what’s the solution for avoiding dry, cracked hands while still keeping clean?

We’re setting the bar high for living the clean and comfortable lifestyle – as evidenced by our hydrating Hand Sanitizer Spray – and implementing a few simple tips can help. In this case, that means rounding out our hand washing routines with steps that support soft, hydrated skin.


Lathered hands
How Hand Washing Habits Affect Your Skin

What’s your usual approach to hand washing? Do you go straight for soap before water, or do you get hands damp before working up a lather? After a little research, we discovered that doing the right thing the wrong way could us with dry, cracked hands.

First, let’s talk about cleaning products. Most of the hand soaps we use have an active compound known as surfactants: an ingredient that breaks up the bond between dirt and our skin. Most of us experience surfactants as the ‘slip’ in soap that results in foam or bubbles, which is critical for effective germ-killing.

However, some kinds of surfactants can cause major irritation of the skin, and can quickly deplete the delicate moisture barrier that keeps hands soft and healthy. For example, anionic surfactants often result in skin irritation and in some cases, can carry trace amounts of carcinogenic byproducts.

Hand Washing DO List:

  • Look for cleansers and hand sanitizers that use gentle – yet effective – natural ingredients

  • Mind the soap you’re using. Dish soaps are meant to be heavy duty, and they can be harsh on the skin. Even some hand soaps can contain irritating fragrances that dry out and crack the skin.

  • Limit scalding hot water usage – extra heat might help to kill bacteria, but it’s also killing the moisture lipids in your skin

  • Using cold or warm water, wash with soap for 20 seconds (or sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice)

  • Rinse and dry thoroughly – wetness breeds moisture, so follow up with a clean, dry towel (replace hand towels at least every 2 days to mitigate bacterial growth)


Hand sanitizer and creams
More Moisture, Less Cracking

Here’s our sweet spot: the magical place where we transform our dry, cracked hands to their former glory. How and when we moisturize our skin has a big impact on how long our skin stays hydrated, and ultimately how it feels.

Hand Moisturizing DO List:

  • Follow hand washing (and exfoliating) with a hand cream – rich avocado butter and therapeutic aloe vera are ideal ingredients for deep hydration

  • When washing hands before preparing food or caring for someone who is sick, wait on moisturizing until after your next hand washing – heavy moisturizers may reduce the efficacy of certain soaps and sanitizers

  • Opt for hand creams with essential oils that can soothe dry, cracked skin, like our Lavender Buttercream or Eucalyptus Buttercream

  • For ultra dry hands, go for a heavy duty hand cream – for quick moisture with a shorter drying time, opt for a hand lotion

  • For serious skin repair on hands: do an overnight hand mask with a heavy lotion, argan oil, and gloves. Our DIY mask uses aloe vera, shea butter, and sunflower oil to promote barrier repair & softer skin.


Exfoliate Your Hands Regularly

The skin on our hands – just like the skin on our face, lips, and scalp – can benefit from a thorough scrub every now and then. Not only will this help to get our hands cleaner, it will also promote deeper moisture penetration and nutrient absorption. Performed regularly, exfoliation can help eliminate the look and feel of dry, cracked hands.

Hand Exfoliating DO List:

  • Exfoliate your hands 1-2 times per week, as you would with your face or body

  • Apply scrub to fingers, palms, and backs of hands

  • Extend your morning or evening facial scrub to include your hands – after exfoliating your face, roll extra facial scrub over your fingers and hands

  • Repurpose your sugar or sea salt body scrub to slough off dead skin and replenish with deep moisture from apricot and jojoba oils


Apply hand lotion
Ease Up on the Manicures

If we’re being brutally honest, our fingernails – much like our hands – have seen better days. Whether you’re rocking a chipped manicure with pride or you’ve done a manicure yourself, most of us practice some sort of nail maintenance. But in the name of healthier hands, it’s time we asked ourselves this: is our nail polish regimen hurting our hands?

Most nail polishes have super harsh ingredients, especially those long-wearing gels and acrylics. Give your nails a break from the manicure grind; allow them to strengthen, replenish, and renew the skin around them. Taking a few days (or few weeks) off the lacquer can have some huge benefits for your nails.

Nail Grooming DO List:

  • Spend 90 seconds at night, 2-3 days a week, to rub in cuticle oil – almond, olive, or coconut oil will do in a pinch

  • Nourish the skin closest to the nails to reduce your chances of peeling, cracking, and hangnails

  • Opt for a 10-free nail polish, instead of the usual toxic offenders found in drugstores

  • Give yourself a week of ‘paint-free’ nails between each shade, to allow your delicate nail bed time to breathe and replenish itself

  • Keep a nail brush near your sink, and scrub beneath the nails with every hand wash to prevent new bacteria from infiltrating the nailbed or spreading to other parts of your body

  • Use a nail curette every day to keep the underside of your nail clean and strong – rinse thoroughly after cleaning to ensure no dead skin or debris is left behind


The moral of this story is that hand washing, hand sanitizing, and proper household cleaning shouldn’t be cause for dry, cracked hands. It IS possible to have it clean AND soft hands – you’ll just need to follow a few handy tips to make it happen!

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.


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