I have a problem. I fell in love, but I let it get away. And I can’t afford to get it back.
What I’m talking about, of course, is my wonderful affair with Clarins Hand & Nail Cream. I was given a small tube of it in a gift bag at a uni fashion show, and it made my hands beautifully soft. And it smelt gorgeous, and the packaging was simplistic but stylish. I loved it. So I bought another tube, and the affair continued.
Until it ran out, and I couldn’t afford to replace it. Since then, my handcream dreams have been to find a perfect dupe, one that moisturises without leaving my hands damp, shiny and stinking. There’s been quite a few challengers for this contest…
First up, Neal’s Yard Remedies Bee Lovely Hand Cream.
It was a magazine freebie, but in the shops it’s £10 for 50ml. That’s almost as pricy as Clarins. But maybe it might be better? Don’t hold your breath, it wasn’t. Thick, smooth, but didn’t soak in very quickly – I just want to be able to pick up paper without leaving a mark, it’s not much to ask! The honey smell was gorgeous though, and I love the bright yellow and black bee-themed packaging. (As an aside, I just got NYR’s Power Berry Face Moisturiser in another magazine and already have the same plus points to make about it – awesome smell and pretty packagaing! I’ll blog about this once I’ve given it a proper try-out!)
The next contender was another freebie, this time from a newspaper voucher: Crabtree & Evelyn’s La Source Hand Cream.
Ordinarily it’s £9 for 50g (and I have no idea how grams coverts to ml in hand cream, but it’s a smaller tube than my 50ml ones I think?). I picked La Source because the shop assistant assured me it was the plainest scent. I disagree – wearing it makes my hands smell like an old people’s home. The nicest explanation of that is that there’s a hint of talcum powder. It’s a very moist texture – I know, it’s a moisturiser, Sherlock, but I’ve also tried hand creams that verge on being gels (Neutrogena Norwegian Formula, I’m looking at you, you horrible hand-burning substance) – and rubs in really well. I just don’t want Granny-scented hands.
Still on the scent warpath, I checked out a few contenders in Boots. I was keen to try Philosophy Hands of Hope, because I’ve heard great things about the brand in general.
I love the style of the packaging, such a simple layout and with awesome product names. Hands of Hope was a gorgeous texture, rich enough to feel luxurious but rubbed in well and I was stroking my hands for a good while after because they were so soft! I just can’t stand the smell of it. Is there a theme developing here? In the battle of hands versus nose, I will take bone dry hands every day over having an odd scent wafting from them. I was kind of glad Philosophy was a dud anyway, £16 for 120ml is beyond my student credit card allowance.
Another little yellow tube, this time from Vaseline – their Essential Moisture Clean Feeling Lotion.
Super value at only £2.99 for 75ml (and I got it half price in Boots, so 10% of the price of an equivalent Clarins tube!), I’ve been throwing this in my handbag for top-ups during the day. The scent is pleasant (it’s hard to describe – it’s not fresh, so I’d say it was a warm scent) and has had several compliments from my classmates. It contains oat extract, the same as the Aveeno range that’s recommended for sensitive dry skin, so it’s really nice for my eczema-prone skin. So great smell, great value, ideal for my skin type, why am I not jumping for joy? It just doesn’t seem to have a long lasting effect. Used regularly, my hands aren’t particularly in any better condition than when I don’t use hand cream. When I’m not in a miracle-expecting mood, however, this stuff is lovely.
The last hand cream I’ve got on the go is another cheapy – Sainsbury’s Vitamin E Hand & Nail Lotion, just 88p for 75ml. Yes, not even a quid for a decent sized tube.
It’s quite a thin formula compared to the richer textures of the C&E and NYR offerings, but it sinks in pretty nicely and doesn’t leave that slightly greasy after-effect that thicker creams have. And the scent is unobtrusive. One downside – the thin formula means I’m really nervous about it leaking in my handbag, because the flip lid isn’t the sturdiest thing I’ve ever seen, so it stays at home.
So, what did we learn from this? Cheap handcream trumps £10 per tube stuff. Or I am just ridiculously neurotic about how my hands smell! And whilst I haven’t found my Clarins dupe, I’ve found two options that’ll tide me over until I either find my dream cream or start finding extra money down the back of my sofa. That’ll do.
[Apologies for the stock photos borrowed from brand websites/Google Images for this post – I left the camera memory card with my photos on it at uni!]