Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fragrance Free Hand Creams

Sometimes I imagine that I have a defrost room in my house. A small room to come into that's a few degrees warmer than outside but a few cooler than the next room. Then I could peel off outer layers (jacket, scarf, boots) and slowly adjust my internal temperature before getting into the warm zone. This is one of the disadvantages of central air. I could set it to be cooler than average so I'm not shocked into tropical paradise once I get in, but then I'd be cold in some rooms and overheating in others. I've been told that this temperature issue has no link whatsoever to the fact that I have a raging cold but it's an age old myth that even my normally practical husband believes. You have to be warm and toasty at all times or you'll catch a cold. I don't know about that.

One thing I am certain of, is that once I got the bug, I became hypersensitive to synthetic fragrances. Air fresheners, scented candles and cleaning products with masking perfumes all send me into fits of coughing. I don't mind a spritz of cologne here and there and lightly-scented cosmetics don't irritate my nose but all the hand creams that I had stashed at every sink in the house and in my car rendered me unable to breathe properly after I put it on. I decided to switch to using the new tube that I initially got for my daughter. Now we are both enjoying the benefits of the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream ($4.99) in the fragrance free variety.

It's exactly the same as the old standby but without any kind of smell. It's thick, heavy, greasy for the first few minutes and takes forever to absorb but the relief I get from using it is unbelievable. If you want happy hands, this is the ticket. But a few things to note: you will be unable to do anything for at least 5 minutes after application because it takes at least that long to sink into the skin even when you've put on a mere dot. This is so heavy that I only use it in late fall and through the winter. And even if you think it's going to last through the next time you wash your hands, put on another skimpy layer if you want your hands to stay soft.

I learned a few things from my five-year-old. Because she has to do stuff immediately after putting on hand cream, I often get the request to not put any on the palms. Left to her own resources, her preferred method of application is to squirt on the back of the hand and then rub the backs of both hands together. I've been encouraging her to slide her fingers between each other to get some into those cracks. This leads to a little product getting on the palms but it's better than having the entire hand laden with grease. While I rarely employ the palm-free application method, if you must get on with work at once, it might work for you.

Over the weekend, I convinced my husband to brave the outlets with me and my daughter. We didn't last two hours there. We had taken his car that day and he had no supplies for us. Hand cream and lip balm are always present in my car but I had changed my purse and decided not to bring my vanity kit (a decision I always regret whenever I try to lighten the load) so I had to run into the first store that sold anything that would help. It happened to be a Bath & Body Works Outlet where I found this new treasure, among other things.

The True Blue Spa Super Rich Hand Cream ($13) has shea butter and Vitamin E and it is available in a variety that is fragrance free. Score! On the outside, it says lay it on thick. I don't think that necessarily means to put on a liberal amount. What it does mean is that this comes out of the tube as a really thick cream. I think it's similar to the popular Shea Butter Hand Cream by L'Occitane but this doesn't overwhelm with fragrance. I think it's also a little less greasy. It seems to be absorbed by the skin faster than the Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream but it still leaves my hands soft and moisturized. This is quite the discovery. Right now, at Bath & Body Works, buy two, get one free! (Promotion works on the Body Cream too but I haven't used it yet.)

So what's wrong with smelling like nothing? If I wanted fragrance, I'll stick to a little eau de parfum. Other products shouldn't have to compete. Thankfully, I've found at least two options that have worked well. Otherwise, I'm going to have to share a 16 oz. tub of Eucerin with my daughter and I'd prefer to leave that as a last resort.

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