Over-washing hands can cause them to become dry and flaky. So our beauty writer Clodagh Dooley went on the search for Irish handcare products that would help her keep on top of her moisturising game!
I’ll admit, I probably wasn’t paying as much attention to my handcare before COVID-19 happened as I should have been. While I always washed my hands after the bathroom or when I got home after travelling on public transport, I definitely didn’t wash my hands in harmony with the ‘Happy Birthday’ song. The World Health Organisation says washing our hands properly takes about as long as singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice!
I never carried hand sanitiser nor hand creams in my bag. But now hand cleansing items are must-haves. They’ll probably become our handbag essentials in the future. Instead of doing lipstick top-ups on nights out, we will be topping up our hands with sanitiser!
With a lot of hand care products in the market right now, I wanted to do a bit of research on what’s what. According to a study by UK researchers, washing your hands at least six to 10 times a day makes catching infections less likely. I don’t know about you, but my hands are always very dry, after washing them numerous times a day with regular hand gel soap. Which is why I wanted to look for something a little less harsh on my skin.
Rather than looking towards bigger, well-known brands, I wanted to check out what local Irish skincare businesses have to offer. Not only do a lot of Irish companies pride themselves on using natural ingredients, but now more than ever, it is important to support these entrepreneurs and build up a strong economy.
So, I’ve been looking for Irish-made handcare products, from soap bars to hand cream, to review, that:
+ Are not harsh and don’t irritate my skin (however all skin types are different, so be sure to do a patch test before use!)
+ Help to reduce dryness from washing too often
+ Are available to purchase online
Here are my top five…
Jo Browne Fresh Hands Hand Sanitiser
Never mind Jo Malone, it’s all about Carlow-based Joanne Browne these days! I’ve tried Jo Browne’s Facial Cleansing Balm before and her Eco-Bamboo Facecloth before and was impressed. Joanne’s passion lies with essential oils and aromatherapy, and she used her passion to create “sensual, stimulating solid fragrances” using beeswax and other natural ingredients. So I was excited to try this brand new hand sanitiser that she recently introduced to her range of solid perfumes.
This is the perfect handcare product for anybody who’s getting a little tired of using a gel that leaves a strong alcohol scent on their hands. Similar to a facial mist (but NOT a facial mist – keep away from eyes!), this refreshing hand spray smells like peppermint. You only need one spritz onto each palm, before rubbing your hands together. It’s very quick to dry and the vitalising peppermint smell will linger for a while.
According to the CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), a hand sanitiser needs to be at least 60% alcohol in order to kill most viruses. Jo Browne Fresh Hands Hand Sanitiser is made up of 65% alcohol. It also includes ingredients such as Pro-Vitamin B5, which can help to keep skin soft, as well as Glycerine and Aloe Vera, which are said to have hydration benefits.
One other aspect that sets Jo Browne products apart from others on the market, alongside her use of natural ingredients, is her ecological, sustainable bamboo tube packaging. You’ll notice this unique feature at the rim of the hand sanitiser.
A 70ml bottle of Jo Browne Fresh Hands Hand Sanitiser costs €7.95 and I have been getting great use out of it. I have been using my bottle at least twice or three times a day for at least two weeks now and I still have about half a bottle left. So it’s definitely long-lasting. But make sure to read the warnings on the bottle before using. For example, there’s a warning about keeping the bottle away from sources of heat and ignition. I experienced no skin irritation, but if you do, the bottle advises discontinuing its use.
You can purchase Jo Brown Fresh Hands Hand Sanitiser on jobrowne.com.
Dublin Herbalists Enriching Hand Cream with Shea Butter and Vitamin E
The first two things I noticed about Dublin Herbalists Enriching Hand Cream were:
1) how beautiful the packaging was – the neutral tones and plant patterns evoke a kind of bohemian look and
2) the gorgeous lemongrass scent – it reminded me of a certain aroma I inhaled during a spa treatment long before the pandemic happened. It might be another while until a spa treatment happens again, so this is the next best thing!
Because the scent was quite strong, I was initially worried that my skin might react, as it usually does with fragrant skincare products. But after using the hand cream every day, there was no irritation whatsoever.
Dublin Herbalists, founded by Herbalist and Naturopath Claire Brett in 2012, tailors their skincare range to suit a variety of skin types. Everything that they put in their products is 100% natural and never tested on animals. Claire even made her first skincare product, a moisturiser, using natural ingredients in her home kitchen! She is very conscious about sourcing only natural ingredients; sustainability and traceability in the products are vital to her and her team.
Sales of the Enriching Hand Cream have skyrocketed over the past few weeks and I can see why. Along with having an invigorating scent, the cream is made from a combination of oils, Shea Butter and vitamin E, which aim to nourish the skin. After I washed my hands with antibacterial soap, I only had to rub a coin-sized amount of the cream, which had a really rich and velvety texture, into my hands. They instantly felt silky.
The fact you can get the hand cream in a 30ml bottle means you can easily pop it into your handbag, purse or pocket on the go. But remember, this is just a cream to moisturise your hands after you use some antibacterial hand wash. So don’t use it as a replacement, use it alongside your hand wash.
The 30ml bottle is €9.95 but you can also purchase a 100ml tin for €15.95. Available on dublinherbalists.ie
Janni Bars Purple Heart Soap Bar and Positivity Candle/Nourishing Lotion/Massage Oil
Research says conventional soaps, made by mixing fat or oils with an alkali (water-soluble salt of an alkali metal like potassium) can wreak skin by changing its pH, stripping away vital oils.
The Purple Heart Soap Bar from Janni Bars, founded by Sweden-born Janni Sjöstrand who settled in Ireland in 2010, claims to be “super-moisturising and cleansing without being harsh or stripping the skin of its natural oils”. It almost sounds too good to be true! But after using the soap bar, which contains 70% Shea Butter, on my hands over the past few days, I definitely feel that it’s not as harsh on my hands. They don’t feel as dry as they usually would.
The soap bar has no strong scent as most would. But this doesn’t mean it’s bland – very far from it. I actually prefer the fact that it is not fragrant. Then that means I’m not mixing different scents when I use a hand cream afterwards. It was nice to keep the hand-washing process simple, without fussy, potentially irritating, fragrant products.
The soap bar has a cute and quirky purple heart embedded in it and I loved the simple, but very attractive, presentation of the soap bar. A small card with the Janni logo and list of soap ingredients was tied with a biodegradable string to the soap. This is actually part of Janni’s aim to reduce plastic waste and use minimal and recyclable packaging.
Janni has an equestrian background, which is where the idea for her business initially came from. While working within this industry, Janni saw a gap in the market for soaps for specific types of horses and created handmade shampoo bars. This then led to the realisation of what she could offer in regards to personal hair and body care.
As well as trying to create environmentally friendly products, she wanted to help people take a leap towards cutting out harsh and unnecessary chemicals in their daily hair and skincare routine. Janni Bars only use the best natural ingredients and all products are free from palm oil and synthetic fragrances.
Another impressive handcare product from the Janni Bar range, is the Positivity Candle. Yes, you heard me right – a candle! But this is no ordinary candle. The Positivity Candle amazingly triples as a candle, nourishing hand lotion and massage oil too. The soy wax candle has a wooden wick and fills the room with a beautiful smell when lit. Before lighting the candle, you can scoop out some of the wax, which contains cocoa butter and golden jojoba oil, and use it to rub into your hands. After the candle is lit, blown out and cooled down a little, you can use the melted wax as a massage oil. I thought it was a serious gamechanger!
However, the only thing is, you’re not really going to carry a candle around in your handbag to use as a hand cream! But it is a lovely gift for homes. As are any of Janni Bars products, including Janni’s shampoo bars, which I also tried out and loved. They made my hair look shinier than usual. The shampoo bars in the main image above that I tried out are sample-sized (about 1/3 the size of the full one) and one of these lasted for at least 15 washes. So the actual shampoo bar is guaranteed to last much longer.
The Purple Heart Soap Bar is €6.45 and Positivity Candle/Nourishing Lotion/Massage Oil is €18 for a 120ml glass jar. Visit jannibars.com
Codex Beauty Bia Collection – Skin Superfood
You might have heard of Bia Beauty before, an innovative natural skincare range, created by Tracey Ryan. If you have, then you’ll know that her company has reached global heights, having been acquired by and integrated into Codex Beauty, a collective of global skincare brands built on science and natural ingredients. If you haven’t, then today’s your lucky day! Tracey now has her own Bia Collection within the Codex range and after trying out ‘Skin Superfood’, and I’m already eager to test out more products from the collection.
The award-winning Bia Skin Superfood comes in recyclable packaging, and the cream is stored in a vibrant light-lime bottle. As soon as you pump the velvety cream onto your skin, you breathe in the fresh, herbaceous aroma. The cream is designed for all skin types, using the purest raw ingredients. But because it includes immortelle and marshmallow, in the formulation the site says the cream “is especially great for soothing dry, flaky or irritated skin”.
I’ve been using it on my hands, as well as sometimes on my body, and it’s kept my dry skin at bay. What I like about this product, is that it’s a multi-purpose cream. This is why I think makes it a good investment. You can use it on your hands, but also on your face or on any dry patches around your body. Which comes in handy if, in the future, you end up staying overnight somewhere during a weekend away. You don’t have to pack separate creams for your hands, body and face.
However, I’ve yet to try the cream on my face, which can be quite sensitive to new products. I’m always nervous that by using new lotion on my face, I’ll break out in spots. But I suppose now is the right time to test this out, seeing as we are all staying at home! If you have tried the cream on your face, then let me know how you got on.
The Bia Collection was actually created after years of research with experts versed in areas like herbal science and dermatology. They always base their findings on clinical research. According to the site, during their clinical trials, 100% of participants agree skin is healthier-looking. 97% agree skin tone is visibly more even and 100% agree skin feels renewed and revived.
After using the cream for a number of days, I’ve definitely noticed a reduction in how flaky my hands look. So I think it is a quality product. It’s €55 for a 75ml bottle on eu.codexbeauty.com/products/skin-superfood.
The Bia Collection also includes soap bars and I’m definitely going to try out the Bia Eye Gel Cream soon. I’m now in search of a solution for the bags under my eyes!
ULTRAPURE Olive Oil Natural Skin Emollient and ULTRAPURE Sweet Almond Oil
I had read in an article that olive oil has moisturising benefits for skin. Not by consuming it, but by rubbing it into the skin! Rather than going out and buying a big carton of cooking oil, I was delighted to come across ULTRAPURE Laboratories. ULTRAPURE is an award-winning family business based in the West of Ireland who create an olive-oil product specifically for skin.
They source only the purest of ingredients that are scientifically proven to deliver skincare benefits. I’ve been using their Olive Oil Natural Skin Emollient at least twice a week on my hands and body, and I am seeing the benefits. While it might seem like a sticky situation to use olive oil on your skin, just hear me out!
As the oil doesn’t soak in instantly and it has a strong typical olive-oil scent, it’s probably not wise to apply the olive oil to your hands and body if you’re about to head out of the house or do any work that involves your hands. But for the past few weeks, there has been less chance of that happening anyway!
You could, however, use a pea-sized amount and rub it into your hands daily. This is what I have been doing. I have mainly been using the oil on my hands and my entire body after baths and before I go to bed. This means it’s getting the opportunity to soak into my skin overnight. I try to do this at least twice a week. I always wake up the morning after with glowing, baby-soft skin. Adding some of the oil into the bath is also a good way to help soften skin. On the ULTRAPURE site, you’ll find some other uses for the Olive Oil Natural Skin Emollient too. Apparently, it’s also a good way to remove mascara! So check that out.
Another of their products which is particularly useful for handcare is their Sweet Almond Oil. As I’ve been using the Olive Oil on my skin, I didn’t want to overdo it by mixing it with another type of oil. But the Sweet Almond Oil seems to be a lighter, non-greasy oil which can be also used as a skin softener. It has a slightly sweet smell. So perhaps this could be a better option than the olive oil if you do want to use it as a moisturiser during the day. I’m going to try using the Olive Oil at night at least twice a week (and in baths). Then the Sweet Almond Oil on other days, and see how I get on.
But the Sweet Almond Oil can also be an effective nail care product. On the ULTRAPURE Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ultrapurelaboratories/), there is a great tutorial on how to look after your cuticles and hands using the Sweet Almond Oil.
ULTRAPURE products are available in pharmacies nationwide and online, if you go to the ‘Where to Buy’ section on the ULTRAPURE website. (https://ultrapurelabs.ie/where-to-buy ) The ULTRAPURE Olive Oil Natural Skin Emollient is available in three sizes and is approximately €3.50 for 100ml and approximately €20 for the 500ml bottle, which is what I have. It’s ideal because it’s long-lasting. You don’t need to use a huge amount of the oil, as it spreads easily.
The Sweet Almond Oil is available in two sizes: 70ml bottle, RRP is €2.99 and 500ml bottle, RRP is €19.99. Both are suitable for all skin types.
I’m looking forward to checking out some other products on the site. For example, the Epsom Salts and the Witch Hazel, which I noticed had sold out on some pharmacies’ sites. A good sign! Visit ultrapurelabs.ie
So, there you have it. My top five Irish-made handcare products. While I experienced no irritation from any of the above products, I would always recommend doing a patch test first. Everyone’s skin can take to products differently. There’s also no harm in booking a skin consultation with a specialist if you’re experiencing any trouble with your skin. There are even some virtual consultations available, for example with The Skin Nerd (Jennifer Rock). Visit theskinnerd.com
Let me know if you have tried any of the above brands and what your favourite handcare product is.
Beauty lovers should also check out our review of the Pestle & Mortar Pure Hyaluronic Serum here
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