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Sun protection 101: Why you should use hand cream with SPF

When it comes to your skincare routine, don’t neglect your hands!

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
sunscreen for hands
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Erin Pate, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

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The damaging effects of the sun on our skin are well-known. Unprotected exposure to UV rays can lead to sunburn, hyperpigmentation, and premature signs of aging such as wrinkles.¹ And even though you apply sunscreen with your hands, you may not think to apply it to them.  Fortunately, hand cream with SPF protection offers a convenient solution, moisturizing and protecting your hands in one. 

By incorporating this dual-action product into your skincare routine, you can protect your hands against harsh UV rays, preventing potential damage and helping you maintain healthier-looking skin.

Is SPF protection really necessary in a hand cream? 

Strictly speaking, no. While many cosmetics and skincare products contain SPF protection for the face, we often overlook applying sunscreen to our hands. We may wash our hands and forget to reapply SPF or simply not think about it. The problem is, our hands are exposed to the sun almost as much as our faces, if not more. This is a concern since sunspots and signs of photodamage regularly occur on the backs of hands.² Therefore, using SPF protection of any kind is important. The benefit of hand creams that include SPF is that many of them also include other beneficial ingredients like moisturizers and antioxidants. 

Regardless of whether it’s in a hand cream or not, SPF protection for your hands is a must. There are different types of sun protection for you to choose from, such as chemical or mineral.

Mineral vs chemical protection: What’s the difference? 

When it comes to sunscreens, there are two main categories: chemical and mineral. While both serve the same purpose (sun protection), they achieve it differently.

Chemical sunscreens

Chemical sunscreens contain a combination of chemicals that work by absorbing UV rays and converting them into heat.³ These sunscreens are widely available but have been associated with reports of adverse reactions and allergies.⁴ If you have sensitive skin, mineral-based sunscreens may be a better option.

Mineral sunscreens

Mineral sunscreens, or “physical” sunscreens, use minerals like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide to scatter or reflect the sun’s UV rays. They’re less likely to irritate, making them suitable if you have sensitive skin.⁵ Curology’s Everyday Sunscreen is a mineral sunscreen that utilizes zinc oxide as the active ingredient to provide broad-spectrum protection with minimal risk of irritation. 

Lotions and hand creams with SPF protection

If you’re fully dressed and have no plans to lie out in the sun, you may not want to bother with full-body SPF coverage. Lotions and hand creams with SPF protection are convenient options for such days when you don't need full-body sun protection.They not only provide sun defense but some are often enriched with beneficial ingredients like vitamins, antioxidants, and nourishing extracts. 

Here are three options to consider:

1. Eucerin Daily Hydration Hand Cream with Broad Spectrum SPF 30: Armed with glycerin, this hand cream provides lasting moisturization along with SPF 30 sun protection for a strong 1-2 punch. This non-greasy formula contains licochalcone that soothes skin irritation and redness, and is fragrance free.

2. Handscreen SPF 40 Sunscreen by Supergoop!: This fast-absorbing formula includes powerful antioxidants and natural skin-nurturing oils to nourish and protect your skin.

3. Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Mineral SPF 35 Body Butter: This potent hydrating cream features argan oil that locks in moisture, while titanium dioxide and zinc oxide keep both UVA and UVB radiation at bay without leaving a white cast. 

These options offer sun protection and additional skin benefits, allowing you to take care of your hands while shielding them from harmful UV rays.

What to look for in a hand cream with SPF

When searching for a hand cream with SPF, keep in mind the following suggestions to help ensure you choose the right product for your needs. 

First, take note of the SPF number. We recommend selecting a hand cream with an SPF of 30 or higher.⁶ This level of sun protection will help shield your hands from harmful UV rays. 

Next, consider your skin type. Just like with other skincare products, it’s key to choose a hand cream that caters to your specific skin type. If you have dry skin, opt for a hand cream that provides deep hydration. If you have sensitive skin, opt for a hand cream that is fragrance-free and formulated with gentle ingredients to minimize the risk of irritation.

Finally, pay attention to the other ingredients in the hand cream. Be aware of what you are applying to your skin to avoid potential irritants or allergens. 

By considering the SPF number, your skin type, and the other ingredients in the hand cream, you can make an informed choice and find a product that provides effective sun protection while addressing your specific skincare needs. Remember to apply the hand cream with SPF regularly to keep your hands protected from the damaging effects of the sun.

Help protect your skin from the sun with Curology

Curology’s Everyday Sunscreen is designed to provide broad-spectrum protection while leaving your skin feeling silky and soft. By using a combination of advanced ingredients and innovative formulations, our sunscreen provides optimal sun protection and feels lightweight on your skin. 

FAQs

Should hand cream have SPF?

While it may not be an absolute necessity, why not consider protecting the skin on your hands just as diligently as you do for your face? By incorporating a hand cream with SPF into your routine, you can decrease the likelihood of forgetting to shield your hands from harmful UV rays. Taking this extra step ensures comprehensive sun protection and contributes to maintaining healthy and beautiful skin.

Can I use face sunscreen for my hands?

While any form of sun protection is indeed better than none, solely relying on sunscreen for your hands might mean missing out on additional benefits that a hand cream can offer, such as moisturization. While it’s certainly possible to use separate products for moisturizing and sun protection, opting for a hand cream with SPF may allow you to address multiple needs in a single convenient step. Not only does it provide the essential sun protection your hands require, but it also can moisturize and nourish your skin, keeping it soft and supple.

Can you apply too much SPF?

No, you can’t apply too much SPF. As long as you haven’t had any adverse reactions to the sunscreen, you can use it as generously as needed. It’s recommended to apply sunscreen liberally and frequently, especially when swimming or sweating.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Gromkowska-Kępka, K.J., et al. The impact of ultraviolet radiation on skin photoaging - review of in vitro studies. J Cosmet Dermatol. (November 2021).

  2. Riyaz, F.R. and Ozog, D. Hand rejuvenation. Semin Cutan Med Surg. (September 2015).

  3. Bernstein, E.F., et al. Beyond sun protection factor: An approach to environmental protection with novel mineral coatings in a vehicle containing a blend of skincare ingredients. J Cosmet Dermatol. (February 2020).

  4. Fonacier, L., et al. Contact allergens for the allergist. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. (June 2022). 

  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sunscreen FAQs. (2023, February 17).

  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Sunscreen FAQs. Ibid.

Erin Pate is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.

• • •
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our thoughts on sun protection: *Sunscreen is only one part of UV protection—cute sun hats and shades are also recommended.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Erin Pate Nurse Practitioner, NP-C

Erin Pate, NP-C

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