Monster Holiday Hand Cream Comparo!

Niall | Dec 2000

Well, winter is upon us. In LA that means the sun goes down earlier and that's about it. But in most other parts of the country it means your hands are feeling like tiles from the belly of the Space Shuttle, assaulted by winter winds, dessicating steam heat (and I'm not talking about the sauna at the health club, girls), and the transmigration of atmospheric moisture into snow.

So the Mantastic! boys thought this was as good a time as any to do a quick comparison of hand creams. We've selected four of our seasonal favorites from all over the globe (well, Germany, France and California). There can be, of course, only one winner of the First Annual Mantastic! Monster Holiday Hand Cream Comparo, but, as with the Oscars and the American Presidency, it's enough just to be nominated. Any of the creams reviewed below is better than what you would find at your local Walgreens or Rite-Aid, so all are worthy of your attention.

Third Runner Up: Spring Wind Ointment. Manufactured by Spring Wind Herbs, Berkeley, CA. Two ounces. $11.99 at the local Co-Op in Santa Monica. I've never heard of this brand before, so I'm not sure if it's available outside of California.

Ingredients: Sesame oil, beeswax, extracts of rehmannia, arnebia, coptis, safflower, tangkuei, peach pit, licorice, natural almond fragrance.

Actually, I'm not really sure this was designed to be primarily a hand cream, since it's called merely an "ointment". However, the label does say it's designed to treat dry, chapped skin. And, since I stopped going to leather bars, the only part of my body that now has that problem is my hands. This ointment is very,. very emollient. Greasy almost. Definitely not something you would use during the day. I slather it on my talons at night, but I have to wait more than half an hour before it sinks in and won't leave greasy stains on my sheets (that's enough of that laughter, Rob). But when I wake up in the morning, my hands are definitely softer and more hydrated. It seems the combination of exotic Chinese herbs and good old sesame oil does the trick. This concoction would have scored higher if it weren't quite so greasy. But if that doesn't bother you, go right ahead.

Second Runner Up: Nuxe Reve de Miel Hand Cream. Manufactured by Nuxe, Paris. 2.5 ounces. $19 at

Ingredients: Water, glycerin, behenoxy-dimethicone, dimethicone stearyl alcohol, steareth 7, steareth 10, cetyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, peg 40 castor oil, sodium cetearyl sulfate, prunis dulcis (almond) , persea gratissima (avocado), calendula, rosa moqueta, octyl methoxycinnamate, honey, tocopherol (vitamin E), allantoin, imidazolidinyl, urea, sodium methylparaben, sodium propylparaben, potassium sorbate, sodium dehydroacetate, fragrance.

As I type, my fingers are coated with Reve De Miel (that's "Honey Dream" to all us Americans) hand cream. It is emollient without being greasy, sinks in wonderfully without leaving a residue. If you have mildly dry hands, this is the perfect hand cream for the daytime. And therein lies the rub. It's nice enough, but it's not really heavy artillery. If you're hands are really dry, you have to use a lot of this stuff to feel better. Plus, the scent is very strong. I'm sure women will love it, but every time I've worn it at work someone asks me if my girlfriend (tee hee!) was just there. If you like the strong scent and don't have super dry hands, this is a nice cream to keep your hands from reaching the hell of dehydration that mine often reach.

First Runner Up: L'Occitane Hand Cream. 5.2 ounces. $18. Available at your local L'Occitane boutique or at

Ingredients: I threw the box away, but I know it has an insane amount of shea butter (the butter from a North African nut).

Oh boy! This is the tidal wave of hand creams. Big, luxurious, super-super-emollient, with a nice light scent. Put this stuff on your hands at night and you will definitely wake up the next morning feeling like you got hand transplants during the night. And the scent is very pleasing, though not at all strong. This stuff is way to much hand cream for the day, so save it for the darker hours. Definitely a keeper.

Mantastic! First Prize: Self-Heal Flower Essence Skin Cream. Flower Essence Services. 2.1 ounces. $7.99. Available in health food stores in SoCal, and I hope elsewhere. The company is based in Northern California, but I don't know how widely they are distributed.

Ingredients: Deionized water, aloe vera gel, glycerine, emulsifying wax, safflower oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cetyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate, self-heal flower infusion in brandy, self-heal whole plant tincture, phenoxyethanol, jojoba oil, avocado oil, shea butter, chamomile extract, calendula extract, St. John's wort extract, xanthan gum, allantoin, retinyl palmitate (aka vitamin A), tocopheryl acetate (aka vitamin E), methylparaben, propylparaben, ascorbic acid (aka vitamin C), essential oils of orange, lavender, ylang ylang, jasmine and geranium.

I ran across this hand cream at the local Co-Op here in Santa Monica and bought it on a lark, because I was impressed with its ingredient list. The cream is rich without being greasy. It sinks into the skin after a few minutes, with only a very light scent left behind. What makes this cream so special, though, is what it does, not what it feels like or smells like. After just a day my hands felt noticeably healed, not just more moisturized. The effect was quite startling, since the cream is not all that emollient, and I tend to associate effectiveness with emollience. So this cream was a big surprise. My hands felt like new again, and this cream has no alphahydroxy acids or ingredients designed to exfoliate your hands.

For reason of this cream's astounding effectiveness at healing dry skin, I am happy to award the Self-Heal Flower Essence Skin Cream the First Annual Mantastic! Holiday Hand Cream Comparo First Prize. Actually, there is no prize, but it's the thought that counts.

Happy holidays, and keep those hands moist and glowing.

take me home, bud!