Basic Hand Cream

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Apparently, you can tell the true age of a woman by looking at her hands. So I’ve devised a plan – or should I say, a hand cream recipe that will keep ’em guessing for longer. The skin on the hands is difficult to keep moisturised, because it is thin and has relatively few oil glands. Therefore, it is important to use a cream that readily absorbs into the skin. Many products contain alcohol for this very purpose – to make creams with a lighter texture which absorbs quickly. However, if you’ve read my quick facts, you’ll know why I don’t recommend applying alcohol topically to the skin every day. Instead, this recipe incorporates two water-based ingredients to lighten the cream to a texture that is easily absorbed – glycerine and aloe vera gel.


Cost Price: R40 per 100g
Lasted me about:
 1 month (using every day)
Estimated shelf life: 1 month (stored in an airtight container away from moisture and direct sunlight). If you add 0.5ml of Geogard 221, the shelf life will extend to 3-6 months.

*Costs accurate at time of writing, and based on the best retail prices I’ve found.


Cost: Adding aloe vera gel makes this hand cream a bit more costly than my other standard moisturiser recipes, which only require a nourishing oil and beeswax.


Texture: this recipe has more of that “cream” texture you’re used to. It’s light, quickly absorbed and doesn’t leave an oily residue.


  • Natural Soap: Acts as an emulsifier in this recipe to ensure that the water-based ingredients and oils do not separate. You can use any soap with 0% superfat (here is my 0% superfat soap recipe). You can also buy any natural soap, but since you cannot know the superfat of a store-bought soap, you may find that some soaps work better than others. Generally, the more cleansing a soap, the better it acts as an emulsifier. So if you are going to buy a natural soap, buy one that is meant for household cleaning rather than skincare. I recommend The Bear Necessities liquid soap, or their multipurpose soap bar, because I know these will work with my recipe (buy here).
  • Sweet Almond Oil:  One of the best oils for dry hands and it is more easily absorbed than thicker oils like olive oil etc. It is also less greasy. It is rich in essential nutrients and healing vitamins including vitamin E and A. It helps rejuvenate dry, lined hands and brittle fingernails (buy here).
  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that protects the skin from further sun damage and helps to decrease the signs of lines and wrinkles. (buy here)
  • Glycerine: Treats and prevents dry, rough skin. It is an emollient i.e. It will soften skin and draw moisture to it. (buy here or buy vegetable glycerine here)
  • Aloe Vera Gel: Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel. It contains antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated. (buy here)
  • Beeswax: Creates a protective barrier over the skin. (buy here).
  • Best essential oils for dry and neglected hands: Rose, Geranium, Patcholi, Lemon, Sandalwood, Carrot or Carrot Seed. (buy here)

I managed to find sweet almond oil, vitamin E, glycerine and aloe vera gel all at Dischem. Plus Dischem sells essential oils too. Not sure where to find other ingredients? My shopping guide may help you. If you are pregnant or new to using essential oils, please read how to use them safely.

Which natural remedies keep your hands soft? Please share in the comments below.

33 thoughts on “Basic Hand Cream”

    • Hi Mandy. Yes, this hand cream has a light gel-like texture, so it should work in a squeezable or pump bottle. The pump bottle should have a wide enough pipe though, like your standard cream pump bottles. Not one of those pump bottles with a thin/narrow pipe that is used for liquids like body spray etc. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Peggy.

      I mix mine with a spoon. I also have a tiny whisk that I sometimes use. I don’t think it’s necessary to use a blender. I hope that helps.

      All the best,

    • Hi Karin. Sorry about the broken link – Dischem has stopped stocking this online. I will update the link. But to answer your question, I still use Bettaway‘s “Betta Aloe Gel” (75ml) – I am still able to find it at a physical Dischem store, even though it’s no longer on their website. However, I see that Wellness Warehouse also sells it online. Give that a try. Otherwise, try contacting Bettaway directly and ask where their nearest stockist to you is. Honestly, every other aloe vera gel is so misleading, so be careful – they have so many chemical additives despite having “pure” on their label. Bettaway is the only brand that really only contains 100% aloe vera gel. I hope that helps.

  1. I tried this recipe and I love it. The texture is great. It does leave your hands a little bit greasy, but not nearly as much as the other recipes I’ve tried so far. I added 1 drop of geranium, 3 of lemon and 6 of patchouli and the smell is great as well.

    • Hello Pauline. Thank you for your positive feedback. It’s wonderful to hear from others who have made the recipe. I’m so happy that the cream works for you. I agree, it’s not completely grease-free, but it is better than a completely oil-based recipe. If you would prefer a grease-free hand cream, then I recommend using only aloe vera gel, then add vitamin e oil and your essential oils. Thank you for sharing your essential oil combination too – I’ll give it a try 🙂 Take care.

    • Hello, and thank you for your comment. Hmmm…I’m sorry to say that I don’t think Vitamin E powder will work in this hand cream recipe, unfortunately. The powder would somehow need to dissolve, and I don’t think it will dissolve in oil or aloe vera. But you can try and see if it will dissolve. It may work for other water-based recipes like a toner or shampoo etc. I’ve personally never tried using the powder and I’ve never heard of anyone else using it either. But try it in a water-based recipe. First try to dissolve the powder in warm distilled water, and then add the solution to your water-based recipe. If you try it, please let me know if it works.

  2. Greetings

    Thank you finally found a hand lotion that is not too greesy as I am addicted to hand lotion but also need to do stuff without sticky hands.

    The recipe worked well but I did do a double dose for my little pots.

    Take care

    • Hi Corinne. Thank you for your positive comment. I am delighted to hear that you’ve tried my recipe, and that you are pleased with the result 🙂 It’s always wonderful to hear feedback from those who’ve attempted my recipes. I hope it continues to work well for you…as it does for me. Thanks again and take care.

    • Hello,
      Glycerin is recommended, but not required. You can double the aloe vera to 1 tablespoon instead. The cream will still work, but it may just be a little more lumpy (unless you mix it really well non-stop until the mixture cools). I hope that helps 🙂

    • If you want a hand cream that is not too oily, then the aloe vera is really important in this recipe and can’t really be substituted. But if you just want a hand cream, instead of substituting the aloe vera gel, I would just leave it out entirely and rather double your glycerine quantity. Let me know how it turns out 🙂

  3. Hi Christina.

    Trying out this recipe this evening and got a question.
    I personally prefer hand lotions to creams, something that is more liquid not balmy.

    Can you please suggest if i can adjust used quantities to make the lotion as a result?

    Your advice is highly appreciated.

    Thank you

    • Hi Valeriya,
      Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, this recipe is definitely not on the liquid side. It is better than most balms, but it is still more like a balm than a lotion. So from what you’ve expressed I don’t think it’s what you are looking for. You need to make a lotion, which is a different recipe entirely. Try this: Follow this hand cream recipe, but add 1 Tablespoon of hot/boiling distilled water (it MUST be distilled). In step 4, just add the vitamin E oil, nothing else. Then in a separate bowl combine the hot distilled water, glycerine and aloe vera gel. Mix it as best as you can. Then add that hot mixture to your warm oils. The water mixture needs to be hotter than your oil mixture (your oil mixture should only be warm, whereas the water mixture should be hot). Finally, remove from heat and blend very well until it is cool. The texture might be a little lumpier because the beeswax is not a proper emulsifier. If you can, replace the beeswax with Eco-E wax, which is an emulsifier. If you do that, you will have a perfectly smooth lotion. Also, since you’ve added water into this recipe, bacteria will grow. So the shelf life is much shorter. Use this lotion within one month or less. If you want a longer shelf life, you’ll need to add a preservative. Adding a few drops of an antifungal and antibacterial essential oil will help (eg. tea tree, rosemary, thyme etc).

      I hope that helps to answer your question. Let me know how it goes 🙂


  4. Hi Nerd 🙂

    I’ve made this hand cream, but mine became little grainy texture, I think I added more beeswax 🙁 it became like small lumps at the bottom of container, your picture looks awesome texture, I will try next time and see 🙁 Thank you! Please suggest if you can what went wrong..

    • Hello 🙂
      Yes, I think you may have added a bit too much beeswax, or…Did you keep mixing until the cream was completely cool? It’s very important to keep mixing until it’s cool, otherwise the beeswax separates from the aloe vera and becomes lumpy. You can probably fix your batch by blending it for a second or two (if you have a blender that can blend small volumes). You can also melt it down again on a very low heat, and try to re-mix until it cools again. Sometimes after mixing I stick it in the fridge for 30-minutes just to make sure it sets properly without separating. I hope that helps.

    • Hi Helene,
      Thank you for your question. Yes, you can definitely add lavender oil to the hand cream. How wonderful to be able to harvest your own lavender oil 🙂

    • Yes, you can use fresh aloe. Just keep in mind that this will affect the shelf life of your product. Fresh aloe vera from the plant has a shelf life of one week, if stored in the fridge. If you want to extend the shelf life to 3-6 months you will need to add a preservative like Potassium Sorbate or Geogard Ultra. It is also important that you use sterilised tools to harvest the aloe gel and that you store it in a sterilized container.

    • Yes, you can use fresh aloe. Just keep in mind that this will affect the shelf life of your product. Fresh aloe vera from the plant has a shelf life of one week, if stored in the fridge. If you want to extend the shelf life to 3-6 months you will need to add a preservative like Potassium Sorbate or Geogard Ultra. It is also important that you use sterilised tools to harvest the aloe gel and that you store it in a sterilized container. Heating the fresh aloe to about 70’C and holding it at that temperature for 5 minutes will also help kill any bacteria present. You can also add some vitamin E oil and essential oils with antioxidant and antibacterial properties to help extend the shelf life – like tea tree, rosemary, thyme, lemongrass. But please remember that essential oils and vitamin E are not preservatives.

    • Hi Susan

      Good question. No, the soap will not leave your hands drier. The reason for the soap is to act as an emulsifyier – to combine the water-based and oil-based ingredients. There is such a tiny amount, you shouldn’t even notice that there is soap in the cream. If you used more than this, then the cream would feel sticky, not drying. You could try halving the amount if you want. Otherwise the proper substitute would be to use an emulsifying wax, like Eco E-wax. This recipe is for those people who don’t have access to emulsifying waxes. This is how it was done back in the day. If you want to make a lotion with an emulsifying wax, I recommend referring to my emulsion recipe instead:


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