Disclosure: All of the following were purchased with my own money. No free samples or biased reviews here! You have my honest, tested and researched opinions. Keep in mind that these results are my own personal experience...which might differ from yours.
It's fall! It's time for sweaters, fuzzy slippers ... and hand cream :(I work in retail....and I'm a busy mom, so I'm constantly washing my hands, dishes, clothes...something. During winter my hands get brutally cracked. Even before going "clean", I often wondered where all this lotion was going. So, I did a little research.
Can lotions be absorbed in the body?
The answer is not so simple. Our skin is our largest organ. Some studies claim that up to 60% of the ingredients in lotions are absorbed into our bodies. Others say, 'don't be silly, you can't absorb a banana or cough syrup through your arm'. They claim that figures should be less than 1%. Confused by conflicting studies I carefully listened to each side, sometimes even flip flopping on the issue. Here's what I've come to appreciate.
- The skin does provides an extraordinary barrier for our bodies. It's true. We can't nutritionally feed our bodies through our skin.
- Some things don't get absorbed into our bloodstream as proven in studies by blood tests.
- Some chemicals can readily pass through the skin and enter the blood stream like benzene, carbon tetrachloride, carbon disulfide and methyl alcohol .
- Medicinal patches and gels contain "carrier" ingredients to help the medicine break through the skin barrier more easily and into the bloodstream.
- Our eyes, which are full of tiny blood vessels, and lips easily absorbs "toxins" into our bloodstream.
- Toxins can be ingested or inhaled through the mouth and nose.
- Dry, cracked, irritated skin can weaken the protective layer of the skin.
- Cuts and scrapes can break the protective layer of the skin.
- Areas of the body that are particularly hairy can allow absorption through hair ducts.
- Don't believe everything you read.
- Most studies are funded by someone who has something to prove.
- Go with your gut.
In the end, my gut tells me that some ingredients from lotions can end up in our bodies, especially since the whole point of using lotion is to repair dry damaged skin. It didn't take much to convince me to switch to all natural hand cream.
The Best All Natural Hand CreamsFor about a month, I tried all of the following, in different setting (home, work, driving, in groups around people) to see how each worked. As you will see, different lotions worked best in different settings. I actually loved all of the following and continue to use them all.
coconut oil. There are multitude of claims about coconut oil but what I appreciate is it's anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties. Coconut oil is also full of antioxidants. This means that unlike most bottles of lotion, coconut oil doesn't need preservatives and all these properties keep the skin healthy, heals and prevents further damage.
Studies also show that coconut oil provides VERY LIGHT protection.
There are many good brands out there but I love Nutiva in particular. It's usually what my local Costco carries. Sometimes they carry Carrington Farms which I also like very much.
I used coconut oil exclusively on my hands for 2 weeks. While I loved it as an overall moisturizer, I found it didn't do enough for my cracked hands. It might be enough for you, but I needed something more.
All Natural Hand Balms & Salves
Next, I tried both Burt's Bees Hand Salve and Badger Balm for Hardworking Hands. Both feel very similar....soothing but very very greasy. They take a good 10 minutes to sink into the skin which means you have to sit there and wait....and wait, which can be really hard to do.
I liked both of these products, but as you can see below Badger has a simpler ingredients list and is certified organic.
Burt's Bees ingredients: prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, cera alba (beeswax, cire d'abeille), helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, lavendula hybrida (lavandin) oil, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, eucalyptus globulus oil, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower oil, tocopherol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil (huile de culza), linalool, limonene
Another big difference between Burt's and Badger's is the smell. Burt's has an almond/lavender smell....great for relaxing or bedtime. The Badger cream has a wintergreen smell...(a more unisex smell if that matters). It reminds me of those thick pink peppermints I loved as a child.
Like I mentioned before, the only problem with these balms is the greasy hands. I needed something non-greasy for work and the other busy times.
Tip: I've had a cold these past two weeks and these salves are great for hardworking noses too!
Other All Natural Hand Creams
Andalou Naturals hand cream is my favourite lotion. Most hand creams with scents sting my sensitive hands but this one is very soothing. It's thick and non-greasy. I can use it at work (where I'm touching clothing all the time) and during computer use. It does have an initial strong lavender scent, but the intensity wears off pretty quick and I've never had any complaints. However, it could be a problem for scent sensitive people.
It's made without GMO’s, paraben preservatives, petrochemicals, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic colors, dyes and fragrances.
I bought my first Andalou at a health food store for about $12, but now purchase it through iherb for under $8 a tube.
Lafes Baby Natural Healing Cream has tea tree oil which acts as a anti-microbial and arnica, calendula and myrrh which are soothing and anti-inflammatory.
I'll be honest. This lotion stings for the first minute. I'm not sure I'd like it if I was a baby, but it does provide great overall relief. Other online reviews don't mention the sting, so maybe I'm just a big baby :)
It's also smelly. When I use it, someone ALWAYS says: "ugh....what's that smell?" I think it's the tea tree oil. It's not my favourite lotion but the ingredients are very natural (minus the polysorbate 20) and it works for problem skin! It absorbs pretty easily leaving my hands dry in minutes.
It sells for $15 at my local health food store. I ordered mine from iherb for $11.
Are non-toxic lotions worth the extra cost?
While these natural lotions indeed cost more, I feel in the long run they are more effective. S tube/tin lasts for quite a while. That said, I love that I can reapply them as often as I need without worrying about absorbing toxic ingredients.
These are just some of the products I've been using for the past 8 months. I'll keep adding products as I find and try them.