Hand cream is something that we’re all familiar with but often we disagree about how much to spend on it. Some will gladly upgrade to a more expensive version in the name of experience while others will argue it’s a waste to use anything other than a basic lotion.
But, is there really that much difference between a cheap one and a seriously boujee one? To find out, I decided to compare own brand versions from Lidl (65p) and Superdrug (£1.99) with the Queen’s favourite, Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream – along with Amazon’s best-selling hand care item, O’Keeffe’s Working Hands, for good measure.
Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream
Not only does Clarins have a Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth II but its Hand and Nail Treatment Cream is said to never run dry in Buckingham Palace. So, no pressure then.
My first thought was, ‘Oh, it’s so tiny.’ Like, really, really tiny. There are two sizes and not wanting to blow £24.50 for the 100ml, I had gone for the £9 30ml tube – but let me tell you, it’s dinky. However, I’ll begrudgingly admit it has everything else going for it.
The packaging not only looked but also felt suitably luxurious, from its restrained colour palette to smooth, thick feel. Then the cream itself came out thick and pungent – in a good way. It smelt like a rose garden and spa rolled into one miniature tube.
Blended in, a little went a long way and was beautifully light and silky, too, sinking in quickly with no residue and feeling immediately nourishing. Better still, the delightful smell lingered as long the nourishment, boosting my mood each time I caught the scent. Except for the price tag, I was in love.
Price: £9 for 30ml, or £24.50 for 100 ml
Cien Anti-Ageing Hand Cream
Lidl is known for good quality at affordable prices and its beauty products are no different – or at least, so I found with its Dentalux toothpaste . As for hand cream, there were two to choose from on Lidl’s shelves, both from the retailer’s own-brand cosmetic line Cien.
I opted for the one labelled ‘anti-aging’ rather than ‘intensive’, judging it to be the more everyday of the two. The ingredients loudly proclaimed by its front label – UV Filters to protect against sun damage and Q10 (also known as CoQ10) to support the production of collagen – also guided my hand.
Sniffing the tube I immediately picked up a strong lotiony scent: fresh, familiar and possibly slightly citrusy but definitely not offensive. It wasn’t nearly as enveloping as the Clarins tube but the nostalgic, comforting scent reminded me of a nail salon.
Things went a little downhill when I (wrongly) applied the same pressure as before and sent droplets squirting out, confirming it was definitely thinner and more liquidy. Once rubbed in, it briefly greasy then left a sticky residue which wasn’t ideal – but for 65p, I could ignore it.
Price: 65p for 75ml
You can buy Cien Anti-Ageing Hand Cream from Lidl
Superdrug Hand & Nail Cream
The Superdrug Hand & Nail Cream seemed promising from the start, with its cheerful pink tube, reasonable price and nourishing ingredients (Pro-Vitamin B5 and Sweet Almond Oil). But this was misguided.
Shooting out the tube with even more abandon than the Cien one, it gave me similar texture but with added gloopiness and wateriness. I had to exert noticeably more effort to stop it dripping off my hand. Like Lidl’s it absorbed quickly, leaving only a slightly sticky residue and making my hands feel at once smoother and silkier.
Naturally, I assumed I’d left the worst behind – but no. While in the tube the scent was a vague general sweetness, the act of absorbing into my hands somehow intensified. I tried to ignore it but with each accidental whiff grew my desire to claw it off and eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and washed my hands.
Price: £1.99 for 150ml
You can buy Superdrug Hand & Nail Cream from Superdrug
O’Keeffe’s Working Hands
I’m rarely a fan of products which need you to dip your finger in for application (a recipe for messy nails and wasted product) so I was sceptical of the O’Keeffe’s Working Hands to start with. However, its status as Amazon’s UK’s best-selling hand care product and four and a half star rating overall from 50,000 reviews, persuaded me.
But after removing the protective metallic sheath beneath the lid, I was scared again. The consistency looked like a middle ground between Vicks Vaporub, Sudocream and thick clotted cream. In smell, it erred more towards the former with its vaguely medicinal scent – though this was only faint, oddly soothing and vastly superior to Superdrug’s.
When applied to my hands, meanwhile, it was a dream. Though more balmy than the others, it was still light and absorbed far quicker than expected. Only forty or so seconds later and I was all good to resume my typing without fear of besmudging my keyboard.
Price: £8.49 for 96g but current sale price of £4.50 on Amazon
The good news is that you can get a decent hand cream whatever your budget, at least according to my sample. While not perfect, Lidl’s Cien Anti-Ageing version is sufficiently nourishing and inoffensive. And if you’re willing to spend extra, then Clarins really does make a lovely hand cream – I can see why it’s befitting of a queen.
But £9 for 30ml or £24.50 for 100ml is a lot, even if it does knock your socks off. So, while I’ll keep that one as a special treat hand cream, the one I’ll be slathering on night and day is definitely O’Keeffe’s. It seems there’s a reason it’s Amazon’s best-selling one.
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