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The best soaps and hand creams | Sali Hughes

At the time of writing, hand sanitiser gels are only marginally more easy to obtain than a Harry Potter first edition, and so there’s little use in my recommending any: beggars can’t be choosers, and they’re disappearing from stock faster than I can link to them. Meanwhile, soberingly, a hitherto unidentified group are tweeting about regular hand washing as some new and novel concept. As essential, and potentially life-saving, as sanitisers are in public spaces and in an emergency, they are less effective than a good wash, since alcohol gels can’t remove dirt; do run a tap where possible.

Lush are cleverly offering passersby free, proper handwashing in many of their stores during the Covid-19 crisis, and having used the facilities, you may wish to buy a jumbo bar of Honey I Washed The Kids (£5, 120g), my favourite family handsoap of theirs. Smelling of rich caramel and honey, looking appealing to infants, and leaving skin as soft as could be hoped for, it’s a great all-rounder and good value (I won’t be recommending soaps too spendy to use in necessary abundance, or so niche that one can’t get them with relative ease during the outbreak). My favourite inexpensive, very widely available soap is Dove Purely Pampering Shea Butter (£3.85 for 4 x 100g bars), not least because Dove’s scent, for me, is inextricably linked with a feeling of pure cleanliness and calm. The rich, instant (now Peta-certified) suds give a thorough-feeling wash without leaving hands uncomfortably parched.

Regardless of product used, the very nature of frequent handwashing, of course, is that skin will lose essential moisture that can only be replenished with cream. My favourites – combining practicality, portability and value with an uplifting touch of luxury – are all available on a high street near you. The Body Shop’s Hemp Hand Protector (£5, 30ml) is among the best hand creams at any price and is especially good on the driest palms – it provides instant, heavy-duty relief and comfort. The whipped, ungreasy texture of Burt’s Bees’ new Moisturising Hand Cream with Shea Butter, Orange Blossom and Pistachio (£6.99, 25g) is divine; cosseting skin instantly, leaving paws smelling of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, only without the stickiness. I adore it. The hand cream averse (men and children, mainly) may compromise at Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hand Gel Cream (£5.49, 75ml), a lighter, less viscous, fast-absorbing treatment that still works a treat.

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