The market is filled with natural remedies for dry hands, natural nail care ranges and homemade hand creams. Hand washes, hand serums, hand lotions, hand treatments, hand balms, and nail and cuticle oils all aim to care for your hands and nails by cleansing them (with a hand wash) then nourishing and hydrating the skin through hand lotions and treatments.

Natural remedies for dry hands typically feature a hero ingredient, an active ingredient or essential oil, which is present in all the products. These ranges are often available as gift sets and are sometimes sold with an inclusion of a nail file or nail scissors to form a manicure set.

In this article, we describe the science inside natural home remedies for dry hands and provide details of the five best natural hand and nail treatments.

The 5 Best Natural Hand and Nail Treatments Skincare Formulation

Understanding the skin on the hands and feet

Skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet differs structurally from the rest of the body. The main difference being this skin contains an extra epidermal layer called the stratum lucidum. This extra layer creates thicker skin than skin in other areas. 

The 5 Best Natural Hand and Nail Treatments Skincare Formulation

Hands are frequently used and exposed to external stressors such as hand washing, prolonged UV exposure and movement. 

The skin on the top of the hands is constantly exposed to the sun, which, if not protected by SPF, can result in sun damage. This may present as hyperpigmentation or sun spots, yellow or leathery skin 

The 5 Best Natural Hand and Nail Treatments Skincare Formulation

and wrinkles.

Hand washing and sanitizing with surfactant and alcohol-based products can disrupt the skin’s protective barrier, leading to dry skin.

Skin on the feet is similar to the skin on the hands and can often feel dry and become cracked. As a result, products that are used on this type of skin will also need to be hydrating and moisturizing.

Understanding the structure of nails

The nail itself is often referred to as the natural nail or the onyx. The protective plate is formed from a structural protein called keratin, which makes the nail solid and hard.

The main functions of the nail are to:

  • Protect the skin on top of the fingers.
  • Support the finger structure.
  • Aid in dexterity.

Nails are also a good indicator of overall health.

The natural nail contains approximately 15-25% water. The water content within the nail will vary depending on the humidity of the surrounding environment as it is a porous structure that allows water to enter or leave the nail plate.

The water level will have an impact on the flexibility of the nail and the higher the water content, the more flexible the nail is. When your nails are exposed to water for a long period of time (such as in a bath), the nail becomes more flexible. 

Natural nail care products are typically oil-based. This is because oil-based natural nail care products work by reducing water loss from the nail, improving flexibility. There are many natural nail treatments that can be made at home, such as cuticle oil, to help moisturize dry and brittle nails and cuticles.

What are the differences between natural hand lotions and hand treatments?

There are fundamental differences between hand lotions and treatments. Here we describe the common features of natural remedies for dry hands: 

Hand lotion:

  1. Has a higher water content.
  2. A light feel on the skin.
  3. Is non-greasy.
  4. Can be packaged in a pump.
  5. Can be used by those who have dry hands.
  6. Has a quick absorption rate.

Hand treatments:

  1. May have a higher butter content.
  2. Have a richer feel on the skin.
  3. Can contain a higher concentration of occlusives.
  4. Are packaged in a tube or jar (depending on viscosity).
  5. Are used by those who have very dry or dehydrated hands.
  6. Can contain additional actives such as SPFs, anti-aging actives and Vitamin C.
  7. Have a slower absorption rate.

Common features shared by both:

  1. Are emulsions.
  2. Can contain various oils and butters.
  3. Are products that are used to hydrate and moisturize the hands.

Choosing a hero ingredient

Natural remedies for dry hands and nails often feature one or more hero ingredients across the range that offer skincare benefits and create a product story or theme for the range.

But what is a hero ingredient?

Sometimes known as a ‘star’ ingredient, a hero ingredient delivers the benefits that you or your customer desires.

It may be one that offers specific benefits or forms part of your brand or product story. For example, you might feature the same ingredient in every product in your brand or range. Or it might be an ingredient with a certain story that you can tell about it, and this becomes part of your marketing and the story of your product.

Basing your brand around a hero ingredient is something that customers love. A hero ingredient can become a strong USP, which in any market is highly sought after. If you form your marketing plan around it, you could potentially have a very popular set of products.

What hero ingredient would you choose in your hand and nail care products?

Antioxidants such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C or coenzyme Q10 are a popular hero ingredient in hand care products. Hands are exposed to UV light (sun exposure) and the free radicals produced by it. Antioxidants act as a defence and can neutralize free radicals to minimize the appearance of photodamage and reduce skin aging. 

Or you may choose niacinamide (Vitamin B3) which helps to reduce other signs of photoaging or sun damage such as hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can appear as dark spots caused by localized high concentrations of melanin.

The 5 Best Natural Hand and Nail Treatments Skincare Formulation
Carrier oils can also feature as hero ingredients, for example, oat kernel oil and sweet almond oil, which are used to help keep the skin feeling soft and smooth, and can help alleviate the potential irritating effects of surfactant products (such as hand washes). These are a cost-effective addition to your homemade hand creams.

Butters (such as shea or cocoa butter) are used for their occlusive properties, helping to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) as well as moisturize the skin. This is another beneficial ingredient to add to hand lotions, creams and treatments to be used after surfactant-based products.

Essential oils (such as lavender) can have therapeutic benefits that customers love. Using the same essential oils across a hand and nail care collection builds a cohesive product range and marketing story. It can help transform your home remedies for severely dry cracked hands into marketable products with a clear mission.

How do I make my own 5 best natural hand and nail care products?

The five best natural remedies for hand and nail treatments can be found inside our class, Formulating Hand and Nail Care Products which is inside the Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club

Inside the class you’ll learn how to create:

  1. Cleansing Lavender and Geranium Hand Wash.
  2. Moisturizing Licorice and Vitamin C Hand Lotion.
  3. Intensive Barrier Repair Hand Balm with Ceramides.
  4. Floral Argan and Vitamin E Nail Cuticle Oil.
  5. Overnight Hand Treatment with Niacinamide. 

You will also learn more about the science behind the structure of hands, feet and nails, as well as have access to troubleshooting guides to help you with any formulation issues you may encounter.

Every Member of the Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club has access to a library of resources that are being added to all the time. 

Perhaps you fancy adding some foot care items to your hand care range? You will definitely want to check out the Club’s Formulating Foot Care Products class!

Or maybe you want to explore sanitizer sprays further. Try the Formulation Lab’s Hand Sanitizer Sprays and learn about the science and marketing behind these popular products.

Not a Member?

No problem! Simply check out our Natural Cosmetic Formulation Club page here to find out how you can join the Club, get access to the Formulating Hand and Nail Care Products and discover more exciting material that’s released on a regular basis.

If you have any questions, please email us at

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