this thing's incredible

This £4 Cream Soothes My Over-Washed, Coronavirus-Avoiding, Hands

Photo: Sarah Breen

Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght are the authors of Once, Twice, Three Times An Aisling (Michael Joseph)

I have always been what you might call an enthusiastic hand-washer. I’m no germophobe, but with a baby and a toddler to wrangle, my day involves a lot of nappy changing and arse-wiping. Throw in a dinner recipe that requires raw chicken, as well as coronavirus protocols, and I could be scrubbing my hands more than 20 times from dawn to dusk. With naturally dry skin, by bedtime they’re often parched, cracked, and bleeding at the knuckles, despite my devotion to soaps that promise to moisturise as much as they clean.

Because of this, I always have hand cream on my person. Until one day, last week, I suddenly didn’t. I discovered this fact in the supermarket (where I was prepping for possible isolation), as I was bulk buying toilet roll and tinned tomatoes. So, I nipped down the health and beauty aisle, and grabbed the first tube with a picture of a literal hand on it. No exaggeration: Garnier Hand Repair Intensive Restoring Hand Cream did more for my chapped mitts in one application than any other product.

Photo: Courtesy of the vendor

I look for three things in a hand cream: is it easily absorbed (I can’t bear waiting ages for it to soak in or, worse, slimy residue), does it smell acceptable, and will it provide instant relief to my itchy or painful patches? My usual go-to is L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream, which smells like clean babies and is incredibly rich, or my favourite pre-holiday airport treat, Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment. But neither is a match for my (newly) beloved Hand Repair. The light formulation leaves skin hydrated but matte and, bonus, the fragrance is clean — think freshly laundered bed linen — without being overpowering. The major plus for me though is the price. Now that I’m washing my hands almost every time I see a sink, it’s not a big stretch to buy multiple tubes to stash around the house, in my handbags and at my desk. I’ll never be caught short again.

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A £4 Cream Heals My Over-Washed, Coronavirus-Avoiding, Hands