How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

Hand serum: Yay or nay?

Lightweight and packed with nourishing ingredients, hand serums may be just what your hands need to keep them moisturized.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Mar 01, 2022 · 8 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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  3. > Hand serum: Yay or nay?

A few years ago, no one was really talking about skin serums. Now, it’s as if there’s a serum for nearly everything, including hands. After all, pampering your skin isn’t just for your face—every part of your skin deserves the best care, from head to toe. Many of us feel self-conscious about our hands as we age, so it’s no surprise that several skincare brands have developed anti-aging hand serums to address these concerns. While many serums moisturize, they don’t always include the SPF your skin needs to protect itself from the sun’s UV rays and help prevent the signs of aging. (That said, keep applying SPF to protect those hands from UV rays no matter what!) 

What is a hand serum?

Silky and lightweight, hand serums are a great way to help rejuvenate skin and keep your hands looking and feeling both hydrated and healthy. Different serums with various ingredients can target your specific concerns, so when it comes to taking care of your hands, plenty of options exist. 

You’ve probably noticed the skin on your face is different from the rest of your body. But the different areas of the body will have different skin concerns. That’s why it may make sense to buy body-specific moisturizers. For something a little more heavy-duty, check out these recommendations for some of the best hand creams for dry skin.

The truth is, improving the signs of aging caused by sun damage may be difficult with topical treatments alone. But serums can be a smart option to work into your hand care routine (along with the daily use of SPF) to help target certain concerns and keep them moisturized. Do what you can to be informed about the ingredients in any product before you buy—like you’re doing right now by reading this blog!

What causes dry hands?

You use your hands all day, every day, so it’s no surprise that they dry out from time to time. Here are some of the most common ways your hands lose their moisture:

  • Frequent hand washing. Diligently washing your hands is a crucial way to keep you healthy and free of germs, but harsh soaps and hot water can easily leave your skin feeling parched.

  • Your hobbies. Getting your hands a little dirty out in the garden can help you reconnect with nature, but hand-intensive hobbies can take their toll. Wearing gloves and other protective gear helps to keep your dermis as happy as those daisies.

  • Your job. Just like the stuff you do for fun, your line of work might be a cause of dry hands. Whether you work in a hospital and frequently wash your hands, or are an artist who’s constantly scrubbing off paint or other materials, your hands are essential for many jobs. Pamper them after frequent handwashing with a serum to reward yourself for all your hard work. You—and your hands!—deserve it.

  • Weather. Not only can cold weather dry out your skin, constantly having a heater running inside to keep you warm also can dry out your hands. If you live somewhere with harsh winters and you notice your hands feeling on the dry side, be sure to compensate by moisturizing more than you usually would during the summer.

  • Dehydration. You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but we’ll say it again: drink plenty of water! After all, hydration is likely a key factor to keeping your skin happy and healthy.¹

  • Cleaning. Scrubbing all your kitchenware (not to mention sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and floors) by hand? All those grease-busting detergents—not to mention sinkfuls of hot water—can strip away your skin’s natural oils. Be sure to wear gloves whenever it’s your turn to do the dishes.

  • Hand sanitizer. Just like handwashing, sanitizer may get rid of germs, but it also can dry out your hands big time. Be sure to moisturize after you sanitize.

Hand serum vs. hand cream

Serums typically contain a high concentration of active ingredients, more than most lotions or hand creams. Serums also tend to have a light consistency that your skin can absorb quickly.

Compared to serums, hand creams are primarily used for heavier moisturizing. Depending on the ingredients, a hand cream may penetrate and help reinforce your skin barrier by including ingredients like ceramides.² You may notice your skin feeling smoother almost immediately, but remember, they usually have a thicker consistency and may take longer to seep in fully.

What are the benefits of hand serums?

When so many day-to-day things can cause dry hands, it’s no surprise hand serums are  so common. And yet hand products are typically one of the last things that comes to mind when we think of skincare! Chances are you’ve tried different serums, eye creams, and other skincare products for your face, but what about your hands? Here are some of the benefits of hand serums:

  • Comfort. Dry hands can feel extremely uncomfortable. Given that we use our hands for nearly everything, keeping them hydrated will help soothe (or even save) them from any irritation. Nourishing and caring for your skin is always a good idea; it’s your largest organ, after all. Your hands deserve just as much attention as your face! 

  • Glowing skin. One of the easiest ways to get brighter, plumper appearing skin is to moisturize regularly, and that goes for your hands, too.

  • Fast-absorbing. Skin typically absorbs serums quickly, which makes them a perfect alternative if you don’t like the feeling of thick lotions all over your hands.

  • Powerful ingredients. Serums typically contain higher concentrations of active ingredients, which are a great way to target specific concerns (like dryness!).

What are the drawbacks of hand serum?

There are ups and downs to everything, and serums are no exception. Depending on your skin type or conditions, here are some of the reasons why hand serums may not be the best option for you: 

  • Potential irritation. A hand serum could contain ingredients that actually irritate your skin. To avoid this, you can perform a small patch test with the serum before using it on your entire hand. 

  • Cost. You probably have an idea of how much you’re willing to spend on a hand serum. But if you can’t find an affordable quality serum, you may be better off sticking to body lotion

  • Trial and error. Everyone’s skin is different, which is why what worked for one person may not work for you. Finding the right hand serum may require testing out different varieties. 

  • Bad reactions. If you use more than one skincare product on your hands, you could be combining ingredients that lessen or cancel the effects of another or even cause irritation. Whenever incorporating a new product into your skincare routine, always remember to start slow before going full force.

How to choose a hand serum

Since the main benefit of using a hand serum is the concentration of active ingredients, it’s helpful to opt for serums that target your specific skin concerns. 

For example, vitamin C may help improve dark spots while also helping to brighten your skin.³ Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may provide some protection against harmful UV rays,⁴ and AHAs can help your skin maintain its elasticity and youthful appearance.⁵ If keeping your skin hydrated is your main concern, look for moisturizers with ingredients like hyaluronic acid.⁶

Fragrance-free serums may also be better for sensitive skin, as skincare products with added scents can be unnecessarily irritating. 

When should I apply hand serum?

You can apply hand serum after washing your hands. But you can also rub in a few drops whenever it fits into the rest of your skincare routine or whenever your hands happen to be feeling a bit drier than usual.

Applying hand serum after exfoliating may help rehydrate your skin as well. Not only can regularly exfoliating your hands remove excess buildup of dead skin cells and oil, but applying a serum afterward can help nourish and rehydrate your skin, too. 

Hand serum recs

Remember, countless hand serums exist, so take the time to do your research and find the one that works best for your skin (and your budget). To help you with your hunt for the ultimate hand serum, we’ve put together a list of some products we like. For what it's worth, we’re not affiliated with the products. We just want to help you keep your skin as healthy and happy as possible!

OPI Protective Hand Serum

  • Helps reinforce your natural moisture barrier with occlusives like dimethicone

  • Helps keep nails and cuticles hydrated

  • Contains potentially pore-clogging ingredients

  • Best value in this review (most product per ounce)

Olive & June Hand Serum

  • A lightweight moisturizing serum

  • Helps keep nails and cuticles hydrated

  • Contains potentially pore-clogging ingredients

Aveda Hand Relief Night Renewal Serum

  • Designed to target dark spots

  • With caffeine and salicylic acid

  • Helps reinforce your natural moisture barrier with occlusives like dimethicone

Osea Anti-Aging Hand Cream

  • Soothing aloe is a key ingredient

  • Lightweight cream to soothe dry hands

  • Contains potentially pore-clogging ingredients

Tenoverten Age-Defying Serum

  • Unique formula to help smooth skin

  • Packed with ultra moisturizing ingredients like squalane and sodium hyaluronate

  • Doubles as a hand mask

Take the guesswork out of skincare

When it comes to skin care for your face and neck, nothing beats a dermatologist-backed routine that’s designed specifically for you. Enter Curology. Founded in 2013 by Dr. David Lorschter, MD, a board-certified dermatologist to make effective skincare simple and accessible. 

Sign up for Curology to get matched with one of our in-house dermatology providers. They’ll prescribe your Custom Formula with a mix of active ingredients chosen for your specific skin goals (subject to consultation, of course—it is a prescription, after all). 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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FAQs

What is a hand serum?

Silky and lightweight, hand serums are a great way to help rejuvenate skin and keep your hands looking and feeling both hydrated and healthy. Different serums with various ingredients can target your specific concerns.

When should I apply hand serum?

You can apply hand serum after washing your hands. But you can also rub in a few drops whenever it fits into the rest of your skincare routine or whenever your hands happen to be feeling a bit drier than usual.

• • •

P.S. We did the research so you don’t have to:

  1. Mayo Clinic, Dry Skin. (2022, January 25).

  2.  Coderch, L., et al., Ceramides and skin function. American journal of clinical dermatology,(2003, n.d.).

  3. Kemeyama K., et al, Inhibitory effect of magnesium l-ascorbyl-2-phosphate (VC-PMG) on melanogenesis in vitro and in vivo,Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, ( January 1996).

  4.  Keen, M. A., & Hassan, I. Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian dermatology online journal,( August 2016)

  5. Tran, D., et al., An antiaging skin care system containing alpha hydroxy acids and vitamins improves the biomechanical parameters of facial skin. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology,(December 2014).

  6.  Papakonstantinou, et al., Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-endocrinology, (2012, July 1).

This article was originally published on November 6, 2020, and updated on March 1, 2022.

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• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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