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Picking a hand soap that cleanses your skin deeply without over-drying is sometimes tricky. It’s important to have an idea of what you’ll need to look for before you hit the online shops. Below we list some of the key ways you can guarantee the hand soap you buy will be ideally suited to dry or chapped hands.
Soap bars are good for dry skin as they often contain fewer ingredients, and those they do include tend to be mainly oils and fats which are naturally moisturising. This means that rather than aggravating uncomfortable, dehydrated skin conditions, solid soap bars can actually soothe dry, irritated skin.
Another plus of solid bars is that, being free from plastic packaging, they're generally a more environmentally-friendly option. However, they are somewhat less convenient to use and transport.
A bottled soap will usually be petroleum-based and – so that it can maintain its consistency – will also contain stabilisers and emulsifying agents. Emulsifiers often increase transepidermal water loss (the speed at which your body loses water through the skin) and so liquid hand washes can often be drying; a big no-no for hands that are already papery and sad.
If you are going to opt for a liquid wash, keep an eye out for extra-hydrating additions to its ingredients list.
Since we wash our hands up to ten times a day, or perhaps even more at the moment, it’s vital to pick a hand soap that will do its best to replenish liquids stripped by the washing process. Here are our recommended ingredients to deeply nourish the skin on your hands.
Shea butter is another ideal emollient as it contains fatty acids which absorb quickly into the skin, forming a protective layer to keep dry skin moist. Hemp oil is also packed with fatty acids and combats dryness without irritating sensitive skin, as it contains fewer acids than many other vegetable oils.
Beeswax, almond oil and olive oil are all worth looking for too, as beeswax has reconstructive properties to boost cell renewal, while almond oil replenishes with vitamin E and fatty acids. Olive oil is a natural humectant and improves the moisture retention of dry hands.
But what exactly is colloidal oatmeal? Well, it’s a jazzier way to describe finely-ground oats stored in liquid, which improve the skin’s ability to absorb their nutrients; a great ingredient to seek out when choosing a soap for dry skin.
Aloe vera has long been used in traditional medicine (and indeed, modern skincare products too) to minimise redness and chafing, as the gel produced by the aloe leaf contains vitamins, enzymes and anti-inflammatories which help calm swollen cells.
When buying a hand soap online you can expect to choose one with some surfactant ingredients (that is, compounds added to create a good old lather), however, as a dry skin sufferer, there are a few names on that ingredients list to try and avoid.
One of the main ingredients to avoid when looking for hand washes for troublesome dry skin is Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS). You will find it, and other similar sulphates, present in all manner of soaps and shampoos as it helps to create a proper foamy lather.
The bad news for those of us with dry skin on our hands is that SLS can strip away the oils naturally occurring in our skin, and can potentially aggravate sensitive skin, or dry hands that are cracked and bleeding. Best avoided if you need a hand soap that nourishes and hydrates your hands!
Simple and aromatic alcohols such as ethanol, methanol and benzyl alcohol are seriously dehydrating, and believed to increase cell death by more than 20 per cent, meaning skin washed regularly with alcohol-based products will remain dry and tight.
Otherwise known as sodium hydroxide, lye is often present in soaps and has little negative effect on those with normal skin types. However, the chemical properties of lye mean that even in low concentrations, this compound can cause itchiness for sensitive skin and exacerbate dryness.
Though they make for a lovely smelling soap, synthetic fragrances and parfums are linked with various allergic reactions and irritation, so if your dry skin is cracked or sensitive, this could only make things worse. Instead, look for fragrance-free or unscented products.
While some believe that alkaline products help to wash our naturally-acidic skin and get it extra clean, many dermatology experts argue that it’s best to choose skincare products which mimic our skin’s pH balance as closely as possible, therefore avoiding disruption to the acid mantle which could result in irritation and dryness.
Unfortunately not all hand soaps will state their pH balance, but if you can, look for products with a pH level of around 5.5 as they could well be of benefit to your dry, chapped skin.
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1. Basis Sensitive Skin Cleansing Bar (Pack of 6)｜Pack of 6
A Nourishing Cream Soap that Enriches and Soothes
Mitchell’s of Bradford
2. Mitchell’s of Bradford Lanolin-Enriched Wool Fat Hand Soap (Pack of 3)｜Pack of 3
Deeply Hydrate Chapped Hands With a Creamy Solid Soap
3. L’Occitane Lavender and Shea Butter Soap Bar
An Extra-Gentle Vegetable-Based Soap Bar to Clean and Soothe
4. Mrs Meyers Clean Day Honeysuckle Hand Soap with Olive Oil and Aloe Vera
Best Antibacterial Soap for Dry Hands
9. E45 Emollient Cream Wash for Hands and Body
Excellent Value Soap-Free Wash to Retain Skin’s Moisture
5. Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar for Dry, Sensitive Skin (Pack of 6)｜Pack of 3
Nourish Skin All Over With a Mild, Non-Irritating Cleansing Bar
8. Kirk’s Original Gentle Fragrance-Free Castile Soap Bar (Pack of 3)
A Super-Mild Bar With Ingredients to Cleanse and Care
7. Dr Bronner’s All in One Pure Castile Hemp and Eucalyptus Soap Bar
Lather Up While Softening Dry, Chapped Hands
Neal's Yard Remedies
6. Attitude Baby Care Hand Soap for Very Dry and Atopic Skin
Treat Your Hands to Organic Goodness
10. Aveeno Moisturising Bar for Dry Skin (Pack of 2)
An Oatmeal-Rich Bar to Nourish Dry Hands
As well as being completely natural, it's made with mostly fair trade ingredients and is 100% biodegradable, so it's a great eco-conscious choice, too. However, if you have sensitive skin as well as dry, be cautious of the inclusion of lye.
Don't let dry skin get you down! Follow the links below for more skin-loving products to smooth, moisturise and hydrate from head to toe.
Obviously we all want to keep our hands nice and clean, but washing them time and again can feel counter-productive when we have dry skin that needs to be nourished. By keeping in mind some of the tips we’ve included above, you should be able to find yourself a hand soap that will hydrate and plump thirsty skin as it cleans.
Author: Annie Hopkins
No. 1: Basis｜1. Basis Sensitive Skin Cleansing Bar (Pack of 6)｜Pack of 6
No. 2: Mitchell’s of Bradford ｜2. Mitchell’s of Bradford Lanolin-Enriched Wool Fat Hand Soap (Pack of 3)｜Pack of 3
No. 3: L'Occitane ｜3. L’Occitane Lavender and Shea Butter Soap Bar
No. 4: Green People｜4. Mrs Meyers Clean Day Honeysuckle Hand Soap with Olive Oil and Aloe Vera
No. 5: E45｜9. E45 Emollient Cream Wash for Hands and Body
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