If you have sensitive skin or allergies, or if the artificial scent of a fruit smoothie is the last thing you want to slather on your hands, then you've probably sought out an unscented lotion as a daily moisturizer to prevent and treat dry or chapped skin. Before buying your next hand cream, make sure it is truly fragrance-free and that it's the best fit for your fingers and hands. Here, a few products that are worth a round of applause.
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Unscented Versus Fragrance-Free
You might think that unscented means fragrance-free, but it may not. As dermatologist Leslie Baumann points out, unscented really just means that the product doesn't have a detectable odor. However, it may still contain fragrance to mask its natural scent. "If you're trying to avoid fragrance ingredients (which are the most common allergens found in skincare products), 'fragrance-free' is a better label to look for," Baumann says.
The Problem with Perfumed Lotions
Scents can be sensational. But, as Baumann noted, they can also be an irritant for those sensitive to the synthetic components of fragrance, such as phthalates. That innocuous-sounding "fragrance" that's frequently found on a beauty product's ingredient list doesn't actually smell so sweet when accompanied by potential health concerns. "Strong odors may activate the nose’s nerve cells, which stimulate the nerve system associated with head pain," affirms Vincent Martin, a headache specialist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Worse than causing a headache, skin rash or a sneeze, phthalates may also work as hormone disruptors, although the FDA has not established any associated health risks.
The Best Daily Moisturizing Lotion
One of "InStyle" magazine's best beauty buys, Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, is a good choice for day-to-day maintenance of pretty hands. It features soothing oatmeal in a rich formula that's not greasy and that absorbs quickly. It also gets the seal of approval from Los Angeles dermatologist Jessica Wu, who points out the fact that it is fragrance-free so it shouldn't irritate fragrance-sensitive skin.
The Best Lotion for Dry Skin
Dry, cracked hands can be the worst part of any season. Rely on Cerave for skin salvation. Dermatologist Charles Crutchfield agrees with "InStyle" magazine's assessment of Cerave's fragrance-free moisturizing lotion as a best beauty buy, especially for the treatment of dry skin. The formula successfully treats and hydrates delicate areas and tough spots at the same time, according to New York City dermatologist Francesca Fusco.
The Best Repairing Cream
Hands need R&R, too — restoration and repair. Another "InStyle" magazine best beauty buy, Eucerin Plus Intensive Repair Hand Cream, is a winning option to refresh and revitalize skin. The fragrance-free, extra-rich cream features urea to hydrate and lactic acid to exfoliate. It "smoothes skin and ragged cuticles, and won't leave you with greasy palms," says Wu. Sather it on at night right before bed, and put on a pair of cotton gloves for a more intense moisturizing and repairing effect.