Nothing kills germs faster than washing your hands with soap and water, but some soaps can make your hands feel tough and dry. How do you find a fragrant antibacterial soap that revitalises your skin instead of drying it out? Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Why do some soaps make your hands dry?
Soap is designed to bond with the dirt and germs that get stuck on your hands. However, if your soap is too harsh, then it will also strip the natural oils from your skin, making your hands flaky and dry. Hot water, rubbing your hands dry and a lack of moisturiser will also exacerbate the problem, as will washing your hands excessively – which most of us are doing right now.
Antibacterial soap often gets a bad rap for its drying qualities because it’s infused with extra antimicrobial ingredients designed to fight bacteria. But it’s easy to find a nourishing antibacterial soap if you know which ingredients to look for.
What to look for when searching for a mild soap (and what to avoid)
High quality antibacterial soaps are made from natural ingredients that lock in moisture and have a soothing effect on the skin. Look for soap labelled with any of these items:
- Essential oils: For those who don’t know, essential oils are extracted from the aromatic parts of certain plants such as lavender, eucalyptus and lemon myrtle. They have anti-inflammatory properties and balance out the moisturise levels in your skin. They also provide a pleasant natural aroma.
- Carrier oils: Carrier oils and butters contain antioxidants that help replenish and smooth dry skin. They’re extracted from the fatty parts of certain fruits and are often used in combination with essential oils. Carrier oils include jojoba oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and rose hip oil.
- Glycerin: This colourless and odorless liquid is another natural ingredient derived from vegetable oils. It attracts water, so it helps your skin hold moisture.
- Lanolin: Extracted from sheep’s wool, lanolin has long been heralded as a moisturising skincare ingredient. Again, it attracts and holds water, keeping your skin super soft.
- Hyaluronic acid: Our skin naturally produces hyaluronic acid. When it’s included in soap, it helps pull moisture to the surface of your skin.
- Aloe vera: This ingredient is named after the plant it comes from and is known for its antibacterial properties and for helping skin retain moisture.
- pH balanced: pH balance refers to how acidic or alkaline a product is on a scale from 0 to 7. Healthy skin has a pH balance of 5.5 and so does a pH balanced product. Look for this if you have sensitive skin that is easily irritated, because it means that the product has been consciously designed to keep your body’s pH levels perfectly balanced.
Try this antibacterial soap: Country Life Lemon Myrtle Antibacterial Handwash, which is infused with glycerin and essential oils. It also boasts a mild, natural fragrance.
Meanwhile, it’s best to avoid soap that contains the following:
- Added fragrance: It’s easy to tell if soap has a natural fragrance or an added, synthetic fragrance – all you have to do is smell it. If it’s too overpowering, this means the fragrance isn’t derived from the natural ingredients within the soap and it could be irritating on your skin.
- Anti-aging serums such as retinol: While this product is fabulous at boosting collagen and reducing wrinkles on your face, it’s best not used on your hands due to its drying nature.
Other things you can do to keep your hands healthy
There are plenty of other factors that contribute to dry hands, including cold weather and allergies, which is why it’s important to take care of the skin on your hands in every way you can. To keep your skin nourished:
- Wear gloves when handling home-cleaning products.
- Avoid hand dryers in public restrooms. The harsh heat will immediately dehydrate your skin.
- Wash your hands with lukewarm water, not hot water, which strips the natural oils from your skin.
- Pat your hands dry instead of rubbing them with a towel. Rubbing your hands creates friction that can be irritating.
- Moisturise with hand cream when your skin is still a little bit damp, and use a product that contains an occlusive ingredient, such as ceramides, petrolatum or dimethicone. This will help lock the moisture into your skin and repel irritants.
- If your skin is particularly dry during winter, consider investing in a humidifier so that you can control the level of moisture in your home.