Cold-weather care kit: the best lip balms, hand sanitisers and hand creams to soothe and protect

— by Adrienne Wyper


Photo: Claire Pepper. Large wrap scarf and hat both Jo Gordon

The cold winds of winter whipping across the country are harsh on exposed skin, drying it out and stripping it of its natural oils, resulting in chapped lips and cracked hands. Constant hand-washing and mask-wearing doesn’t help the situation. To see you through the next few months, we’ve come up with a handy, cold weather care kit:


Wave goodbye to dry hands

Rich, nourishing hand cream counteracts the dehydrating effects of exposure to cold winds, regular hand-washing, and the alcohol content of hand sanitiser. Soothing and healing properties help to reduce soreness, redness and irritation. Smaller tubes are great for popping in a pocket or bag to have to hand when you’re out and about. And don’t forget your gloves.

A fragrance-free, thick, white cream, Avène Cicalfate Restorative Hand Cream (100ml, £9.50) is ideal for hands that are already sore. It takes some rubbing in, but smooths and soothes skin, and stays put. It contains a postbiotic (essentially a fermentation by-product), which is beneficial for your skin’s microbiome, plus moisture-locking liquid paraffin, moisture-attracting beeswax, and spring water.

One of the company’s first products, Weleda Skin Food (75ml, £13.50) has been soothing skin since 1927, winning many, awards and devotees along the way. Its moisturising, soothing ingredients include sunflower oil, lanolin and sweet almond oil, backed by camomile and calendula and beeswax, with a clean, subtle aroma.

Balance Me’s multi-award-winning Super Moisturising Hand Cream ( 100ml, £10.85) smells lovely, has a rich texture and contains a blend of shea butter, benzoin essential oil and yarrow to heal and nourish the skin.

Paediatric nurse Antonia Philp and her husband Jonny launched Nursem hand cream (75ml, £10) through a Crowdfunder campaign in 2018. For every product sold, the company provides a month’s free Nursem hand care to a nurse or mid-wife, has been clinically tested, is free from parabens and petrochemicals, and suitable for sensitive skin. Downright sensible in every way, Nursem does the job brilliantly and leaves my hands feeling nurtured and smooth.


Keep hands clean

We’ve all got used to squirting hand sanitiser on all day. And although we now know the main way of spreading Covid is through airborne droplets, not surfaces, hand sanitiser has always been a great alternative to soap and water to keep hands squeaky-clean and germ-free when you’re on the go. You can buy hand sanitiser everywhere but something suffused with essential oils smells so much better, and they have anti-viral properties, too. A pocket-sized bottle is super-handy, although of course, you can decant any big bottle into a smaller spray bottle.

The alcohol content needed to make it effective can be drying on hands – another reason to treat yourself to softening, soothing, rich hand cream afterwards (see above).

Aesop Resurrection Rinse-Free Hand Wash (50ml, £7; 500ml, £33) is the perfect pocket-sized cleaning companion. Its subtle hint of mandarin peel oil leaves a sweet-smelling, fresh aroma pleasantly lingering on the hands.

With a lovely lemongrass scent, Neal’s Yard Natural Defence Hand Rub (40ml, £2.80; 200ml glass refill bottles, £10) also contains niaouli and witch hazel, with the optimum 70% alcohol content, and is small enough to keep to hand. Another sustainable brand with wonderful-smelling products and refillable bottles is Bramley.

Bioderma Biphase Lipo Alcoolique (100ml, £8, Bioderma) is 75% alcohol, backed up by shea butter and squalene, a plant-based oily compound that’s very similar to our skin’s own secretions, all designed to be effective against viruses and bacteria without drying out skin.


Kiss goodbye to chapped lips

Lips lose more moisture than any other part of the body. Having no oil glands, they become dry and chapped when they’re exposed to sun, wind and cold, dry air. That rough texture leads us to lick them, which only makes it worse. The drying is exacerbated by mask-wearing as that rubs off lipstick or balm, so you need to apply it more often. Once you find a balm you like, it’s worth keeping one in your coat pocket, bag, desk, car…

If your lips are already chapped, rather than chewing off those flakes of skin, make a lip scrub with a few drops of oil such as sweet almond or sunflower and a spoonful of sugar. Rub on to lips and rinse off.

Lip balms are so easily lost, or left elsewhere, that it pays to buy more than one at once. Burt’s Bees sells two-packs for £5.99 and four-packs for £11.99 in flavours (not that we should be licking our lips to taste them) including vanilla, honey and strawberry, as well as original beeswax, all packed with moisturising oils, butters and, yes, beeswax.

Lanolips 101 Ointment, (15g, £10.99) is a tiny tube of 100% pure lanolin that holds 200% of its weight in moisture. It’s free of fragrance, colouring and other additives, so is a great choice for sensitive skin. Its multiple non-lip-balm uses include chapped lips, dry cuticles, dry, itchy skin, and dry nasal passages.

For those who prefer plastic-free packaging and natural ingredients, try Lush Lip Service Lip Balm (12g, £7.50). This little tin is packed with moisturising shea butter, apricot kernel oil, cocoa butter and beeswax, with a tangy tangerine fragrance.


Adrienne Wyper is a health and lifestyle writer and regular TNMA contributor. 


Our favourite cold weather essentials:

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