Hand protection

A remark in another thread (on contact lenses) leads me to ask the
following: what kind(s) of hand lotions do those of you who wash
your hands a lot and tend toward dry skin find the most effective? I
buy several different kinds but then put them in nicer dispensers all
over the house, so I’m not sure which one I’m using most… TIA
(Thanks In Advance), Judy Bjorkman


When working in the shop, I use ArtGuard, which is a barrier cream
(there are other similar products by different names – all pretty
much the same). There are several nice things about this. In being a
barrier cream, it leaves your skin a little less permeable, so
chemicals and dirt and such don’t get absorbed as much through the
skin. It was developed for use by oil painters, because so many of
the paints contain heavy metals and other things you really don’t
want to absorb through the skin. The other nice thing is that it
makes cleaning your skin SO much easier – polishing compounds wash
off quickly, as do other dirts, oxides, and general “stuff” that
seems to end up on my skin. It’s also a non-greasy moisture layer,
and it seems to keep my hands a little less chapped than when I don’t
use it.

Apply it on clean skin in the morning (or before you start working)
, and massage it in well. Renew it a couple of times during the day
(after every 4 - 5 handwashings). When you’re done in the shop for
the day, wash your hands well and apply a really good non-barrier
lotion (I really like Udder Cream, but it does contain lanolin,
which some people are allergic to.). Udder cream is just what it
sounds like, but is available in the beauty supply area of our local
grocery. It’s an intensive moisturizing lotion, designed to
prevent/repair major chapping problems. Works like a dream. Smells

Have fun!

Karen Goeller

Hi Judy,

First, the soap I use after polishing is important, Palmolive and a
toothbrush, then I apply lotion everytime, my favorite being St Ives
vanilla & vitamin E. Vaseline Intensive care works well also. I
have heard that bag balm works well also. (it’s a traditional balm
for cow teets, poor things)

Marta Irvin in Sacramento

I really like Neutrogena, Norwegian Formula, Body Emulsion. My
hands get very dry and nothing seemed to help. Then, many years
ago, I mentioned this to my doctor who said she used the Neutrogena
emulsion with great success. Considering that doctors have to wash
their hands constantly, which dries them out fast, that was a great
recommendation. I’ve been using it ever since.


I dislike extraneous scents of any kind, so both products that I
recommend are unscented.

For heavy duty dry skin, I use Eucerin. I use it sparingly all over
but most frequently at night, on hands and feet, with gloves. I
sometimes use it during the day, but it is very thick and somewhat
greasy. I know this doesn’t sound appealing, but I casually refer to
it as “lard.” It’s a thick cream and would not dispense in the kind
of dispenser I imagine you are using. I typically apply it to my
hands, rub it in, and then wipe the excess off the palms. It’s the

For use during the day and anytime, I use Aveeno. It, too, is the
best! It’s light and smooth and is absorbed readily into the skin. It
is fabulous for inflamed, itchy skin. I use it daily on my face and
regularly elsewhere.

Christine in Littleton, Massachusetts, where the winter climate is
dry and cold.

I have finally found something I really like – altho you can’t use
it every time you wash your hands, if you expect to go back to your
bench. I use it at night and after I’m done working. It’s called
Aquaphilic – it is thick, thick, think and works wonders to heal
cracks and splits. It also has no perfume in it at all. And best of
all – it’s really cheap!!

Laura Wiesler

I do a lot of lapidary work and have for years. Fruit of the Earth
is the stuff; sold in most drug stores. It comes as a lotion and
also 100% aloe gel. If you look at the list of ingredients, by law
the list is in order of %'s. Aloe is the first listed in "Fruit of
the Earth; it’s a wonder. Most other hand lotions list mostly exotic
chemicals. KPK

Dear Judy, I have started to use latex gloves allot for any
polishing , cleaning ,car work , ect. so I don’t have to wash all the
time. I like a size smaller than I would really wear because they are
that much tighter. While my hands still ain’t purty the gloves really
help. Sam Patania, Tucson

Where does one purchase Aquaphilic??
We can all use serious Hand Help!!

 It's called    Aquaphilic -- it is thick, thick, think and works
wonders to heal  cracks and splits. 

Where does one purchase this, drug store or speciality store? US or?

Barb McLaughlin

Just one thing about these barrier creams – you have to be careful
in selecting the right one. Way back (years ago) when they first
appeared on the market, I tried some out on my hands because the
photographic developing agent we were using was very allergenic –
caused a bad and very itchy rash. So I thought, well maybe this is
the answer. I immediately broke out in a bad rash on my hands and
arms (where I had used the cream). And then I found out that the
cream actually attracted the agent, and deposited it on my skin.
!!! So check before you use!


Well – I get it at the local generic drugstore – CVS, RiteAid,
etc. It doesn’t generally sit out on a shelf – it’s not sexy enough
for them to make a lot of money on, but if you ask the pharmacist,
they either have it behind their counter or can get it for you. A
one pound jar costs about $10-$12. It’s made by Medco Lab, Inc. in
Sioux City Iowa, if that helps any. Pretty plain stuff, but it does


I have finally found something I really like altho you can’t use it
every time you wash your hands, if you expect to go back to your
bench. I use it at night and after I’m done working. It’s called
Aquaphilic it is thick, thick, think and works wonders to heal
cracks and splits. It also has no perfume in it at all. And best
of all it’s really cheap!!

It’s reassuring to find that I’m not the only one with dry skin
problems. Over time, I have tried two or three prescriptions, plus
several different over-the-counter brands (including Neutragena and
Eucerin) on my hands with varying results. About a year ago, my
dermatologist recommended Cetaphil, an over-the-counter
fragrance-free, Lanolin-free heavy cream. It is working better for
me than the others. The best recommendation for Cetaphil is that my
dermatologist also uses it.

He recommends that to “jump start” it’s effectiveness, one can also
put it (or the cream of your choice) on fairly heavily, and wear
cotton gloves when you go to bed. I asked him about substituting
latex gloves since they are already in the shop, and he cautioned
against wearing latex overnight because it will cause one’s hands to

Hope this can be of use to others.

Tom N
In Tucson where the weather is gorgeous!

Hello Orchidland, Here’s an old one you farm kids may recall. “Bag
Balm” in the green tin cube is made to use on a cow’s udder. It’s
thick petroleum- based and works best at night after a nice hot bath.
Slather on feet, put on sox; then slather on hands and put on cotton
gloves. In the morning, your hands are much improved and those hard
nasty calluses on your feet have softened. Unfortunately, after a
few hours exposure to water and cleaners, the hands are dried out
again. Darnit, Judy in Kansas where we continue to be dry, dry, dry.

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936

    It's reassuring to find that I'm not the only one with dry

I’ve just been reading Charles Lewton-Brain’s book on safety in the
jewelry shop and over and over and over he says, using this can lead
to dermatitis, contact with solvents, acids, de-greasing agents can
lead to dermatitis.

So maybe there’s a reason…

Great book, by the way, very, very, scary, but everyone should have
a copy.

Actually, it made me feel good in some ways, for choosing not to
take up “dangerous” practices.

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Certified PMC Instructor

Hi, I still recommend application of vasilene [ petroleum jelly] when
your hands are in really bad shape .It seems to help promote
formation of flexable callous a very usefull condition to the metal
worker . Cetaphil , nivea etc are great for the hands in general ,
but promote soft skin , try vasilene on your fingertips /
cuticles at night and see that it will keep your skin from
cracking and toughen up also…

Mark Clodius
Clodius&Co. Jewelers

I have for the last 5 or so years used a wonderful hand cream
conditioner that actually heals your hands and leaves a water
resistant finish on them – not greasy either! For hours it remains
on my hands protecting them. Originally it was formulated to work
on horses hooves to protect them (where I discovered it). It was then
approved for use on humans and it is now sold under the brand name
"Nothing Like It" Skin Protectant Cream. It is made by Cut Heal
Animal Care Products in Cedar Hill Tx . Their number is
1-800-288-4325 9-5 central time. I usually buy it by the case – and
get a discount price. I recommend it highly. (I have no
affiliation with the company – only a very loyal user of the

Yours truly,
Delina Aberle

When I do lapidary work especially, but even some sanding and
grinding on metal, I typically manage to grind the end of one or
more of my fingers, the saw slips and I get cut or some other
accident resulting in more damage to my already damaged fingers. I
have neuropathy in my hands and feet and I sometimes don’t know that
I have injured myself until there is a blood trail across my shop. I
do wear cotton gloves for polishing and other similar operations,
but I am wondering if anyone has some suggestions about how to keep
my hands from getting injured. I try latex gloves, but they quickly
get shredded. I have thought about latex with the type of glove that
butchers wear over them, but haven’t actually tried this. Any ideas
are welcomed. Rob

knit kevlar gloves used by butchers work well.


Hi Rob - there are steel mesh gloves that are pretty flexible. They
are available on Amazon.

Hope this helps.