There’s a time and a place for getting your hands dirty: cleaning the house, working in the garden, cooking in the kitchen. Afterward, though, you’ll need a good, reliable hand soap, preferably one that doesn’t damage the skin it’s meant to protect.
“Most ingredients are very drying and very fragrant, and fragrance is always a problem for sensitive skin,” says Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice Skincare in Seattle, a.k.a. the Cosmetics Cop.
We asked Begoun and others who wash their hands a hundred times a day — a test kitchen expert, a chef, an artist and a dermatologist — to tell us what they use to get squeaky clean.
“Testing recipes all day long requires a lot of hand washing, so we are hand soap experts as well as recipe testing and developing experts,” says Stacy Fraser, the test kitchen manager at EatingWell magazine. “To keep our hands from becoming overly dry and irritated, we like to use mild, natural soaps with botanically derived light fragrances.” One of the test kitchen’s winners is Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Hand Soap, which uses aloe vera gel, olive oil and essential oils ($3.99 for 12½ ounces, mrsmeyers.com).
An owner of a restaurant group with six restaurants surely washes her hands countless times a day. Renee Erickson, a chef and cookbook author in Seattle, likes unscented soaps for a work environment. But for home, where one can have more fun, she says, “I have become a big fan of L:A Bruket’s cucumber and mint soap from Sweden” ($28 for 8½ ounces, labruket-usa.com).
For seriously dirty hands, Margaret Boozer — a Maryland artist who works with clay and other messy materials — says there’s nothing better than Permatex Fast Orange Smooth Lotion Hand Cleaner ($7.82 for 15 ounces, amazon.com). She has it available in her Red Dirt Studio, where artists work with a wide variety of materials, including oil paints, steel and wood.
For those who prefer bar soap over liquid, Jenny Liu, a dermatologist and professor at the University of Minnesota, recommends the Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar ($6.88 for six four-ounce bars, walmart.com). “In general, I like mild cleanser bars and liquids with minimal to no fragrance to prevent dry skin,” says Liu, who also runs the blog Derm Talk.
Begoun, who has been formulating and reviewing skin-care products for 35 years, recommends a body wash for the hands. “A lot of the moisturizing body cleansers, from what I could see, have far better formularies for sensitive skin than any hand wash I could find,” Begoun says. She likes the ingredients in Aveeno’s Skin Relief Fragrance Free Body Wash ($7.99 for 18 ounces, target.com). Put it in a nice dispenser to pretty it up for your countertop.