Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Rough Hands & Fine Threads? Some Tips!


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It’s winter here in Kansas.

It’s biting cold out, the heat is on, the air is dry. I don’t have a maid and I haven’t invented a magic sink, so the dishes still need washing every day! My hands just want to be rough and scratchy this time of year.

Rough and scratchy hands are a frustrating inconvenience when you’re working with fine embroidery threads – any time of year!

You know how it is: you’re stitching along pretty happily with a brand new thread, when disaster strikes! Your thread snags on, of all things, your thumb! That curséd dry scratchy patch on the side of your thumb! Grrrrr! The plies of the thread bunch up, the fibers get hairy, you have to trim the thread and start anew.

I know I’m not the only one with this problem, because inevitably, in the winter, I get a lot of inquiries about how to work with fine embroidery threads when your hands are rough.

Over the years, I’ve tried myriad solutions for this problem. Today, I’ll chat about what works for me, and then ask you to share your solutions, too. If we put our heads together, we can most likely save many people from the frustration of stitching with rough hands. After all, 30,000 heads are better than one.

Rough hands and embroidery

Several years ago, I wrote this article about using an olive oil and sugar scrub to keep the hands smooth and ready for embroidery. At the time, I was working with flat silk, which is one of the worst threads to tackle when your hands are rough.

I’ve also written about lotions for stitchers – the kind you can use right before you stitch, without washing your hands. The lotion by Au Ver a Soie was a favorite, but it’s no longer made. The other one, Stitcher’s Lotion, is widely available at needlework shops. And in the comments on that article, you’ll find other recommendations, too.

The sugar scrub works well for a short term solution, when your hands are in dire straits but you still have to stitch. And stitcher’s lotions work ok, too, for a short term solution, but they don’t really eliminate rough skin, or the little cracks and crevices that can form on chapped and really dry skin.

I haven’t had to use either solution above for some time. Instead, I just made a few changes in my routine and developed a couple habits that I think contribute to my current state of Happy Hands.

Happy Hands!

The fact that my hands are happier and embroidery-ready at any time are due to these points:

1. I drink a lot of water. It doesn’t cure all skin ills, and if I only did that, I think I’d still have winter hands. But I think keeping hydrated inside helps the skin on the outside.

Mitchell's Wool Fat Soap - dry hands - needlework

2. I got rid of pump soaps at the sinks in my house and replaced them with good, old-fashioned soap. The best soap I’ve found, that I really love and keep at all my sinks, is Mitchell’s Wool Fat Soap. It’s made in the UK, but you can get it on Amazon – I have it listed on my Amazon Recommendations Page here. I found that pump soaps, even the good-for-you ones, contributed to drier skin, especially because I’m prone to washing my hands frequently. Yes, bar soap is a little messier, and you have to take time to clean a soap dish, but it’s worth it.


For the most part, I contribute my happy hands to those two points above, but I still use a moisturizer, especially during the winter and at other pivotal points now and then, when necessary.

I don’t have a dishwasher, so whenever I do bouts of intense cooking with all the requisite pots and pans, I always apply a moisturizer after cleaning up. (Dish soap – even the good-for-you stuff – wreaks havoc on hands, but I can’t stand to use gloves.)

If I’ve been outside in the weather or doing tool-ish things (for example, I assembled bookcases last week and unpacked and broke down tons of boxes), I wash my hands and apply moisturizer.

During winter, when things are especially dry, I lather up before bed.

Making recommendations on moisturizers can be a touchy subject. I know lots of people who are very protective of their favorite lotions and lots of people who are adamantly against different ingredients.

I’ve tried all kinds of moisturizers over the years, from standards to organics, sensitive skin, specially formulated, every expensive, very inexpensive – the list goes on and on.

But, for whatever it’s worth, the moisturize I keep coming back to, even though it’s moderately pricey, is called Yu-Be, and it comes in a little tub. It’s also on my Amazon Recommendations page.

It has a bit of a mediciney smell to it when first applied because it has camphor in it, but the smell dissipates. For chapped skin, winter skin with little slits in it, garden hands, or just very dry skin, I find this stuff soothes, heals, and smoothes things up very quickly. For extreme cases, slather it on at night and put white cotton gloves on.

What About You?

So, those are my tips: routinely hydrate from the inside by drinking water, get rid of pump soaps and replace them with simple soaps (I like Mitchell’s Wool Fat, as it provides some moisturizing benefit), and use a good moisturizer when you need to.

Do you have any tips to add that might help out your fellow stitchers? If you do, feel free to share them in the comments below!

This article contains affiliate links to my Amazon Recommendations page, which means Needle ‘n Thread receives a small commission for purchases made through those links, at no extra cost to you. Thanks!


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(228) Comments

  1. Golly, Mary! Keeping hydrated is such an obvious thing. Wonder why it never occurred to me…?

    Whenever I do chores that involve water and detergents, I use gloves. Not everyone can tolerate them, I understand, but it makes a big difference to me. I also have some pretty impressive vegetable beds in the front garden, and I never, ever work in the dirt without gloves. (I only “dressed” potatoes once without them. Never Again.) These two things alone have made a huge difference to me. I haven’t yet found a lotion that was both affordable and didn’t make my hands sticky. I’m looking forward to some suggestions from this wonderful crowd.

  2. I received a Crabtree and Evelyn sampler for Christmas and I am in love with the Pomegranate cream. It rubs in very smoothly with no greasiness and it smells heavenly!

  3. In the winter I use an emery board to file off calluses and rough patches off my fingers. I also spend 5 minutes a day to trim cuticles, file nails etc. before the day starts in ernest. I use a hand cream ( Aveeno skin relief hand cream, intense moisture).

    1. Yes a light emery board will smooth light rough spots. Before bed I use Burt’s Bees cuticle cream, slather any hand cream on my hands and cover with cotton gloves from Vermont Country Store. Of course I have no affiliation with these products. They just work for me beautifully. Even in Winter I have smooth cuticles and hands!!!

    2. Moi j,utilise le savon au lait d,âne,et la crème réparatrice pour peaux abîmées,et desséchées Karité,Aloès et cire d,abeille. La marque pour la crème c’est ( le petit Marseillais ).
      Cette crème pénètre tout de suite,elle ne colle pas du tout et n,est pas grasse.Elle laisse les mains très douces.

  4. Changing soaps is the one big thing that has helped my alligator skin, too, Mary. I tried a few and finally settled on Dr.Bronner’s castile liquid. I love the convenience of a pump but my pump is a foamer. I fill to within an inch with cool water and top off with the soap, then mix gently. So pure and simple. Again with the pump, i find having a moisturizer in a pump bottle at every sink takes the bother out of using it. And gloves! Outdoors, always. Indoors, often after washing and moisturizing and settling in for a break with a hot cuppa.

    Stay dewey and cozy! Spring is on the way!!

  5. I wear rubber gloves for doing dishes and some other household tasks involving water (cleaning the bathrooms, for example). My hands still get dry in the winter but not cracked and sore like they used to.

  6. Hi Mary,

    I live in Minnesota and with our cold winters and fun outdoor wintertime activities–dry chapped hands are an issue. Because I have sensitive skin–I make sure I stay hydrated and use sparing amounts of jojoba oil, coconut oil or vitamin E oil right before bed. Going straight for oil may seem extreme–but if you have sensitive dry skin–it absorbs quickly and if used at night–by morning its all soaked in you are good to go! The vitamin E oil is a bit more viscous and better for heels and calluses generally. I purchase these oils very reasonably at Trader Joes. During the day–and if needed before stitching– I use Eucerin Daily Protection lotion.

  7. Well, I get that you don’t like wearing gloves, but they are really the only way to protect your poor little mitts, that and using super emollient hand creams, I like keihls, I will only use boiling hot water to wash up and so I have to wear gloves

  8. I’m a huge fan of Eucerin lotion, and using a waxy calendula balm type product on top for cuticles, lips and any painful cracks. The other thing that is amazing is white cotton gloves. I’m not so crazy that I do this, but if you sleep on them they will surely keep your hands in tip top shape!

  9. Hi Mary,

    My hands too get very dry, all year long. I do drink lots of water, and I wear gloves for outside work. But I can’t stand to wear gloves while cleaning inside. I should, I know. I stopped using the liquid/foam soap, and now use bar soap and have noticed a difference, my hands aren’t nearly as dry. I do have a scrub that I bought from a local lavender farm that has sugar, lavander, and cranberry seeds that is lovely for my hands, and I also try to use lotion. I do like the Udderly Smooth udder cream. I find it soaks in quickly and doesn’t feel greasy.

    1. I use the Udderly Smooth cream too, it’s not greasy and works very well. I live in Australia so don’t have problems with chapping but my skin dries out a lot in our summer. It’s 40 deg C here today.

  10. I agree that pump dispenser soap is not good. I figured out how to use bar soap without leaving a slimy mess in the soap dish. Get one hand wet, pick up the soap with the dry hand, rub it on the wet hand and replace. Minimal water on the bar and minimal mess in the soap dish! Now if only I could get my husband to do it…

  11. I always use gloves, indoors and especially outside. I always get the gardening gloves wet so I buy the 5 pack from Costco so I always have gloves ready to wear. I also use the Aveeno lotion for hands, but for finger tips I use Bag Balm. You can get it in 1 oz cans from Drugstore.com, then refill them from the larger can you can buy anywhere. If you don’t like petrolatum in Bag Balm, pure lanolin cream is a good substitute. It’s in the baby section of the supermarket and is used by breast feeding moms. I can’t remember the brand name, but it comes in a light blue tube. I’ve never seen the difference between soap and liquid cleanser, which is just a detergent, so I use both. I think the best things that have made a difference is being diligent about wearing gloves and using moisturizers.

  12. Dear Mary

    My hands sometimes get quite dry in winter if I constantly use water especially when house cleaning. But I don’t really suffer with chapped hands although the last couple of days I’ve actually developed chapped hands so I use Neutrogena hand cream at night its not so greasy as some hand creams and its concentrated. I never thought that drinking water could help your skin, what a good idea, I must try soap never thought of using soap. Thanks so much for the sharing your tips and advice on rough hands and for your solutions to them.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  13. Hi Mary, thank you for this article. Having rough skin catching on fine threads when embroidering is very annoying. I currently use the pump type soaps but will change to a bar of soap immediately! I had never seen Yu-Be creams before but see they are available in the UK from Amazon, if a bit pricey here. I use CCS Professional Foot Care Cream…. it may be marketed for feet but it works a treat on dry hands as well!

  14. My dermatologist frowns on lotion on very dry skin. He recommends a heavy cream applied over WET skin. It is a litttle more messy, but well worth the effort.

  15. Two things have helped me. One is at night I lather up with a good lotion then put a pair of thin cotton gloves on. They keep the lotion next to the skin. The other suggestion is when I need to be washing and scrubbing. I use petroleum jelly, put the rubber gloves on an use that hot water. While scrubbing,floors, tubs, dishes (not all at once LOL) the jelly soaks in. When I am done, a quick wash with a good soap (I use goat milk soap as well) and my hands are noticeably softer.

    1. I also use the cotton gloves overnight to keep hands moisturised, but I find that the old fashion lotions work better than the absorbing ones, for this approach. Fast absorbing is great for the day time, but under the gloves, the fatty cream my granny used seems more effective. I also apply it generously around the cuticles and just push them right back in the morning. For me, it works a treat.

  16. My winter temperatures can get below zero, I have livestock and ALWAYS outside in the muck shoveling snow, manure, or many tonnes of hay. My hands can become a sad shape. I do a gel manicure weekly to force me to be a bit more conscientious of my hands. But the skin can frequently get cracked, crinkled, & painful. I also obsessively wash them! I constantly glob a good prescription lotion on, but to FIX my bloody stumps, I do this: good ol hand made bar soap, a light lotion which I carry in a pocket &/or placed EVERYWHERE, then at night heated pure lanoline under cotton gloves. It’s impossible for me to stitch in thin gloves, so when I do embroidery etc., I stop every 30 mns or so & apply a tiny bit of light lotion, towel off excess, & stitch on. It’s a monumental task, but if I don’t, the pain becomes intense. Trying to put on silk stockings with witches hands is just as bad a attempting to sew!

  17. Yep. Hydration is a key step. I use gloves for farm & household chores. Many years ago I met several women who stitch on silk with silk threads. As they began their work they used a dose of “Udderly Smooth” body cream. They swore it worked and never marked their work. I have used it every day since and it’s very affordable, readily available and I agree…it works for me.

  18. I use a ginger and olive oil sugar scrub in the shower! When I put the precious stuff in my hands and rub – oh my – what a great feeling. Then the rest of me gets a scrub – especially my dry back in the winter. I love this stuff!

  19. If you can get your rough hands on some Acid Mantle, it is an excellent fingertip cream, even better than the Au Ver a Soie cream. It has become hard to find and very expensive, of course! I use petroleum jelly, a very thin coat, for general use, applying it many times daily. It helps to prevent the cracks. I also use Eucerin, original healing cream, for my safe-to-stitch-with product.

    1. I, too, use Acid Mantle. I have gotten it at Costco Pharmacy in the past. It came in a very large jar and they had to order it, but it lasts forever! I use only a very tiny bit and wipe off the excess. I think it can be found at compounding pharmacies as it is a neutral base for other meds. I use vitamin E oil on cuticles at night, olive oil based soaps and a lavender sugar scrub to cover all the bases. Plus gloves out in the garden. Minnesota winters require diligence.

  20. Hi Mary
    I have a dish washer and my hands still get dry. I have been using a product called Gloves in a bottle. It works wonderfully. I have been using this every since I worked and it was recommended by the Lady that taught me to canvas work. It works great its not expensive and most needlework sores here carry it. Thats my solution to dry hands. I also use it just before I start my needlework as I use a lot of silk threads and this stops the threads getting staged etc. Great stuff. Hope this helps. Have a great day.

  21. Mary,

    If I let my hands get really rough, at night I slather on excess Bag Balm (bought at the farm store, includes an antibiotic) rub it in and put on white cotton gloves from the drug store. Then I go to sleep for the night. In the morning, my hands are greatly improved. I wash my hands with soap before stitching. A very important thing is to wear rubber gloves to wash dishes and clean house, as much as possible. If I get actual cracks, I apply a little Bag Balm with a waterproof “Band Aid” during the day. At random times when I am not stitching, I apply any hand moisturizer that is handy.

    Hope this helps someone.

  22. Years ago I bought a soap made with camels milk at our state fair. My hands have never been so soft. Unfortunately the company has never been back to Sacramento and shipping would have been out of this world

  23. Really, I am a gloveless person,cleaning indoors and gardening outdoors,so hand lotion everywhere…and I love soap pumps. Aside from keeping things cleaner it is considered more sanitary. However, you can grate your favourite bar and dissolve the gratings to make liquid soap. I don’t know the ratio offhand… in hard water country, real soap scums even with softened water, so I stick to the regular pump stuff.

  24. I use goat’s milk soap, also! I have pump soap and use a very mild soap in it like Castile. The most effective method I use is a stone nail file on all my rough skin around my nails. It files the dead skin off so smoothly! If I have cracked places around my nails, I cut the worst off carefully with manicure snips then buff with the stone file. Apply a good moisturizing cream and not a bit of dry bits of skin to catch on anything!

  25. Good tips, Mary! Thanks very much! Interesting about the pump soaps. I will have to seriously rethink how I am using them.
    I also have the *wonderful* problem of my knuckles splitting at times. What I have found is all I need to do is have a meal or two, within a few days of each other, of shellfish. Shrimp is my go-to favorite since you can get that so many different places year round. Doesn’t matter – any kind of shell fish. You don’t have to eat the shells (which is where the benefit comes from) – just eat the fish. And the splitting goes away.

  26. I have use basic vasaline for years. I rub it in after every hand wash and before bed. It was recommended to me many years ago by my doctor. Vasaline has advertised for years that it will not stain. So far, it has not stained any of my work. I also believe in hydration. Drink water as much as possible. The heat in your home is a major factor as well. More dry heat in the winter if you can add some humidity that may also work. I keep jar of tap water near many of my heat vents.

  27. I totally agree with the hydration. My favorite heavy duty moisturizer is Merino Lanolin Skin Crème I use it at night before bed. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002G6YGLU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1.
    My all-day hand cream is Aveeno. I use it almost every time I wash my hands.

    I spin silk into yarn as well as embroider, and run into similar problems with the fiber catching on every tiny rough bit on my fingers. I find that if I wash my hands to be sure they’re clean, then rub a slice of lemon all over my fingers, rinse, then use the Aveeno, it really works on those little rough bits. The acid in the lemon smooths them right out.

  28. I use a product called Wool Wax, Formula AT-10. I originally found it at a yarn store and have been using it ever since. It feels odd when applied, but give it about 1 to 2 minutes to soak in and dry. It forms a protective barrier on my hands, that even resists some hand washing later on because it contains lanolin.

    It is very hard to find locally anymore, so I end up buying it on the internet. (Amazon carries it.) Sadly, the shipping can be more than the product; but it is worth it to me.

    If my hands are very, very dry and chapped, I will slather on a good amount before bed and put on white cotton gloves while I sleep.

    I learned something new here…I’ll definitely try giving up the pump soaps and see if I notice a difference. Thank you!

    1. I use bar soap, I like it better (even the scent) but I keep a pump next to it for skittish strangers. ( even relatives!)

    2. Love lanolin, too. I bought some pure lanolin at the drug store. It goes on thick, so it doesn’t take much. Water proofs and heals. One of my favs!

  29. Several years ago, I had very dry hands, so every once in a while, I applied Vaseline and wearing Playtex-type gloves, I washed dishes in the hottest water I could stand. It really helped. Now I use baby oil at night; it is absorbed during my sleep and I wake up with soft hands. And I never go outside in winter without gloves. And for everyday use, Glycerodermine; it is not sticky and can stand one or two handwashing.

  30. That is so true about dispenser soap! I made the switch back to bar soap recently and find it is a big help. I have a night-time hand care routine which means I’m not sticky when I want to stitch. As you say, there are so many hand creams available, but I particularly like the Balance Me range. They use all natural ingredients and there is a Super Moisturising cream which is particularly hydrating, or my favourite Rose version which is a little lighter but still a very rich and beautifully fragranced cream.

    To help with the soap mess around the sink, I use something called a ‘soap saver’ – which is a little mat that raises the soap out of the wet so it doesn’t melt into a soapy mush. I’m not sure if you are happy to accept links in comments but they are available here: http://www.houseofbath.co.uk/shop/soap-saver-pack-of-2/cy721/product/details/show.action?pdBoUid=5172#colour:,size: You can get a pack of two from the House of Bath here in the UK and you may find something similar in the US.

  31. I am a great fan of Amlactin Ultra (triple action Alpha-Hydroxy Therapy). I buy it at Walgreens. I have suffered with cracked and rough finger tips during the winter for years. Since using this cream my fingers stay smooth and free of cracks. It not greasy and is unscented. It is my miracle!

    1. Love Amlactin moisturizing body lotion. My dermotologist reccomended for my dry skin. I no longer use soap on my body–I use Norwex body cloths to clean my skin then apply Amlactin lotion. My skin is the best it has ever been and I am 64! I purchased the Amlactrin Utra and have just started to use it regularly. I have issues in winter with cracked fingers. Hoping that helps. In the past once my fingers crack I apply Flexitol Heel Balm to my fingers. It takes only a day or two to see improvement! I apply it at night and thru the day if I wash my hands a lot.

  32. Doing dishes requires very warm water which is very drying all by itself. But when you are just washing your hands use skin temperature water to prevent excessive skin irritation.
    I used to be a circulating nurse in a large Operating Room locally, and not one of our scrub sinks (there were 15 sinks for 30 operating rooms) would even get to warm water temperatures. It was tepid water. Not warm, not cold. It kept our hands/arms from drying out too much. Sometimes, at home, I would put coconut oil or jojoba oil on my hands and some cotton gloves and just sit and watch tv or something while my hands rested and absorbed the oil. There wasn’t too much oil to wipe off because coconut oil absorbs completely and jojoba oil is close to your own skin oil. Even though I’m retired now, I still use this techniqe on my hands which still to this day reacts to hot water.

  33. I find my worst downfall is splitting cuticles especially in winter. I use an organic lip balm (one with a bee’s wax base) around the base of my nails as well as using a good quality lotion. I have also found that lotions are, as you say, a very personal choice, probably because each person has a unique body type that responds in its own unique way. But the lip balm on the cuticles makes all the difference.

  34. I use pure coconut oil for lotion just before I go to bed, and also right after shower. I grew up where we harvest our own coconut, and use just about everything from the plant, from roots to fruit. And yes, milled soap bar with aloe vera and coconut oil does wonders not only on the hands but all over the body.

  35. I use a brand of soap and all-over moisturizer called Vanicare that was recommended by a dermatologist. It truly is fragrance-free which matters to me because of lung issues. The bar of soap leaves a slight trace of cream on your body after a shower but I use the Lite Lotion version of the lotion if needed, too, mostly on face and hands, sinks in nicely. There’s a heavier version, too. Price varies widely so do look around, Target’s cheapest. For stitching, I wash my hands and use Stitcher’s Lotion. Am currently working on needlepoint with Vineyard Silk and don’t have trouble, and I do have very, very dry skin (all over!).

  36. I hate dry, skin splitting skin. Mine gets so bad they bleed, not good for the fabric.

    I use udder cream, yes the kind used on cows teats. At night, before bed, I rub the udder cream on my hands and then put on cotton gloves to sleep in. This helps a lot, but of course it it not the end all solution. Drinking lots of water does help.

    During the day, I use moisturizer along with finger cots and or disposable vinel gloves when stitching. Again not the end all solution.

  37. Like you, I also have no dishwasher, and don’t like to wear gloves when washing. It’s really cold in the winter where I live (High Atlas Mountains of Morocco) and we have no heat. Also can’t get good-for-you dish soap. My hands take a beating.

    I try to use Marseilles soap most of the time. I don’t use the pump bottles much, but they are available by my sink for the ones who like it.
    When I am working with delicate threads, I always wash before starting with just sugar and water. No oil.
    My go-to moisturizers are Crabtree and Evelyn’s Gardeners Hand Therapy, and Glysolid Glycerine cream. I use the gardeners one during the day and the glysolid before bed, since it’s a little gooey.

  38. It may sound weird to some but I use , bag or udder balm from the Tractor Supply store. I use it during the day but if my hands are really dry I put it on at night then put on cotton gloves. It’s original use is for milk cows because their udders get really chapped in the winter .

  39. I am from the UK and I use a product called ‘Udder cream’. It is unscented and absorbs very quickly into the skin. It was originally meant to be used on cows, hence the name! But it is great to treat chapped or dry skin on your hands, especially when sewing or embroidering.

  40. My dermatologist told me to lotion up during the day. However, at night the last thing when getting ready to retire for the night was the use a glob of petroleum jelly rubbed generously into the hands followed by cotton gloves. I was sceptical, but my hands are better than they have ever been. BTW, I do not like using gloves to wash dishes either.

  41. Utter cream, bag balm is my favorite. The brand called UDDERLY SMOOTH is very good. These balms are used by dairy farmers on the cows udders. You see smoother skin almost immediately. It’s great for those dry hangnails and splits from dry skin.

  42. I’m sure you get Vaseline in America that is excellent to put on at night. NOT the creamy one but the good old fashioned one that comes in a small jar and is almost clear. When you have finished rubbing it into your hands just rub over your feet. Come morning thry are soft and cuts are healed. It is what our Rugby players use here for dry skin, but again not the cream one. Then the one that I have used for years is an Aloe Vera hand cream, this one I am not too sure if you can get over there. It is wonderful, just a tiny bit and it makes your hands feel wet. Just wave them about and they dry and your skin is as smooth as silk. In this country it is called ALOE FEROX, super Aloe Gel. It is clear as water. I have used it for years and years. A big tube last a year and you only have to use about a centimeter of it. Good Luck.

  43. Mary, like you I do not have a dish washer anymore. I now use plastic gloves to wash my dishes and that has dramatically changed the condition of my hands. I buy them at Costco in a pack with many pairs. They are cost effective and have saved my hands. I also use Eucerin Skin Calmimg moisturizer with oatmeal at bed time and make sure I wait 2 hours after using it before stitching. 2 hours ensures my skin has fully absorbed it and my hands are not greasy.

  44. My go to moisturizer is Working Hands. It seems to last for more than a day and is not greasy. They have a formula for feet too. You put it on at night then, for those who don’t mind sleeping in gloves or socks, put on gloves and/or socks and go to bed.

    I have used an emery board to sand calluses and rough cuticles. Then apply the moisturizer.

  45. I have found that ‘Working Hands’ works well for me. It sinks into your skin so you don’t get any residue on your project. Good Luck.

  46. Hi Mary, I am intrigue by this Yu-Be cream. I was wondering if it is available a big departmental stores, supermarkets, chain stores like Target or Walgreens? I will be visiting the USA again in Sept/Oct starting in Seattle WA touring all the way to San Francisco and in between visit my friends in Redding CA. It will be the ideal time to buy some as it is not locally obtainable. I know if I buy a tub or two, it will not last forever, but at least I will be able to pamper my hands for a time. Thanks for the information.
    Kind regards, Elza Bester, Cape Town. xxx

    1. I order mine online, Elza. I used to find it at a natural grocery store in Kansas City, but they don’t carry it anymore. Then I saw it briefly at Walgreens or somewhere similar. But then it disappeared from there. So now I just order it online. Incidentally, it was cheaper in the stores. Then I suspect it became popular and was pulled, to be marketed exclusively by Yu-Be. I don’t know! But now the only place I can find it is online, not locally.

    2. Thanks for the info Mary. I did a bit of searching and there is a place in Weaverville CA which we be passing through in which I will give try . xxx

  47. Right before I stitch I put a smear of good quality lip balm on the rough spot on my thumb and forefinger. I prefer to avoid petroleum based balms in general, but did notice that when I used my sister’s rose salve in a pinch it discolored my white thread with some yellowish colors. When I used the good stuff I’ve never had a problem with discoloration. I’ve noticed the smear of lip balm has a secondary thread conditioning effect.

  48. I use chapstick in the cracks that develop in the skin near my nails. If you put it on at bedtime, it only takes two or three days before it heals. At that point, I use an emery board to file the tough skin and put lotion on it. I use Stitcher’s Lotion, it’s my new favorite.

  49. Like you I find that drinking water is important and I also have gone to using the homemade goat milk soap. I am still looking to find a good lotion though. I will look for what you have recommended.

  50. I find for really bad chapping and painful splitting that Norwegian Formula Hand Cream is very helpful. I used to live in a dry mountain town and while there I worked sewing leather clothing for a living. Between the weather and the leather, my hands would get so bad the skin on my hands would split, and the NFHC was the only thing that healed it.

    Now the worst for me is doing dishes, and I do a lot! And I also don’t like to use gloves. So I keep a bottle of lotion next to the sink so I can lotion up after the dishes are done. I’ve also been really good about applying a Gold Bond Ultimate Skin Therapy Cream called ‘healing’ every night before bed, and this winter my hands are in pretty good shape. I don’t snag on anything these days!

    I think the trick is diligence, really. You could probably do just as well with petroleum jelly as long as you rub it in while your skin is still damp and you’re diligent about it.

  51. One piece of advice I got years ago about dry hands is that cold air dries out your skin. So keeping your hands warm goes a long way from keeping them from drying out. Put on your gloves or mittens before you go outside in the cold air so that it never gets the opportunity to dry out your skin.

  52. I have come to many of the same conclusions that you have but would add one more. I now use rubber gloves during the Winter when doing the dishes or heavy cleaning (I don’t have a house cleaner either). Keeping my hands out of hot water is the key for me. At bed time I use a lavender and olive oil skin moisturizer made by Sciabica’s produced in Modesto California. What I really like about this moisturizer is the fact that it is pure olive and lavender oil that absorbs very quickly into the skin without leaving a grease residue.

  53. For starters I force myself to wear gloves when I do dishes or clean. I hate wearing them and I have short fingers and finding gloves that fit is always a problem, but I MAKE myself do it and it’s helped a lot.

    I made my own intensive hand cream with melted beeswax, coconut oil and few drops of tea tree oil. I store it in small canning jars. When I use it at night, I rub it in as well as I can and go to bed. If I use it in the daytime, I usually have to put my hands under warm water to soften up the wax so I can get the excess off. I can’t stand oily or greasy hands. I then follow up with Curel Ultra Healing hand lotion. It soaks right in and my hands aren’t greasy.

    My biggest problem is dry and ragged cuticles and it’s a year round problem for me. It’s particularly annoying when I stitch.

    Hope this helps. I’m glad to see some new helpful hints.

  54. I use Dial 7 Day moisturzing lotion because I experience extreme dry skin everyday from the harsh dry winter weather in Minnesota and dry heat from my apartment. The temperature changing all the time from warm to cold does a number on my skin. The pills I take for chronic migraine headaches dry out my skin also. Washing my hands too. I have tried many lotions through the years but this one seems to work the best. Reasonable in price. I use this lotion everyday. I have two to three bottles open in different rooms of my apartment. Works well for me.

  55. Aquaphor!
    My spouse has suffered for years with split and very painful fingers, started applying this in the fall and does not have this problem any longer! It’s readily available in the grocery store and has no odor. Wonderful stuff and highly recommended by our dermatologist.

  56. Lubriderm and Cetaphil are good no-nonsense brands available in the U.S. for skin-care. Rubber gloves for dishwashing and cleaning are sort of a no-brainer. I believe black people rely on Vaseline to keep their skin from looking flakey or “ashy.” Vaseline is also a trick of hand models who use it under cotton gloves the night before a photo shoot. Or a wedding day. It makes cuticle problems just disappear! And we know Vaseline contains petroleum products; and yet, it does work. Nobody else has mentioned gloves. I sleep alone and always with little white cotton knit gloves such as museum workers wear. I’ve seen these in quantity on eBay. The ones in pharmacies are pricey, made in China, but well made. I am tempted to trace around my hand and cut out from an old cotton T-shirt, then zig-zag around. Bag Balm works with the gloves at night. Also, for problem fingernails, the camphor in Vick’s Vapo-Rub really helps. Yes, smelly. I try not to use it before getting up to rush off to church or an appointment. I live beside Lake Tahoe at 6,500 feet, just dug out of 5 feet of snow. The dry Alpine air is a constant problem. Sometimes I go around my cuticles with lip balm, also.

  57. Mary, I have found that using Glycerin is useful in two ways. If you are in a rush to finish something Glycerin will soften those rough places that seem to always cause trouble. However, if you read the label, properly cleaned hands will be softened by using Glycerin. I keep a small bottle in my box next to my work.

  58. I keep tubes of plain Chapstick everywhere for keeping my cuticles soft. Works better than anything else I’ve ever tried.

  59. I find running a humidifier and/or a diffuser in the house helps. Thanks for the soap comments. Never really thought about it. The lather pumps help kids wash with soap better. It makes it fun for them.

  60. My hands didn’t dry out this winter but I’m not quite sure what to attribute it to because I started using a couple things at the same time—I’m taking skin, hair & nail vitamins and I’ve been using Amlactin along with a vitamin C cream help with some scarring/discoloration. The vitamins have collagen, biotin, borage oil, vitamins C & E, super-food juice, etc. Amlactin has a large percentage alpha-hydroxy acid that’s suppose to encourage exfoliation. It’s usually kept behind the pharmacist’s counter. I was skeptical about the vitamins, but I think they’re helping because my skin seems better in places where I don’t use the Amlactin. I also got a big gift set of Claudalie hand lotion for Christmas and it’s always been my absolute favorite (along with their lip balm). The grape extract they use is supposed to be more moisturizing than vitamin E. I always carry a tube in my bag and I set the larger pump size right next to the sink to use immediately after I wash my hands.

  61. I use baby oil and gloves (not latex) @ nite. Seems to keep winter skin at bay.
    Also, a good pumice stone on those really dry callased area on a regular basis helps.
    Yes ur correct with the stay hydrated.
    Well this works for me.

  62. I have very good results from using glycerin soap bars, CeraVe cream at night, and the oblong manicure blocks that have varying roughness on the different sides.

  63. I like Crabtree and Evelyn’s Gardeners Hand Therapy. It does very well to keep my hands moisturized in winter. It soaks in very quickly and I can be back to stitching in no time.

  64. I use essential oils, Frankincense and Myrrh mixed with grape seed oil. It is a wonderful moisturizer for my hands and nails

  65. I cut the tips off surgical gloves and wear them on my finger tips when needed, particularly when working with silk thread.

    1. I use suntan lotion on my feet at night, it keeps all those calluses gone and your feet silky smooth. For my hands , sun tan lotion works for a quick fix. But the best method is to spin raw wool. The lanolin from the wool softens your hands and fingers

  66. Regarding rough hands: this is a huge problem for me, as I am also a gardener and a painter. The biggest improvement has resulted from developing a complete devotion to the use of gloves in the kitchen and also while doing housework. In the kitchen I use heavy rubber gloves at the sink under hot water and latex-type medical gloves while handling raw meats or anything that would require a thorough hand-washing afterward. I also had to stop running to the compost pile with kitchen scraps with hands that weren’t completely dry. While doing housework the latex gloves provide great protection for dust and harsh sanitizers and cleansers. After each use, I thoroughly scrub the gloves before taking them off so I can use them again.

  67. Mary, this came up last Thursday at my LNS during my class. He has a jar of the avas hand cream. I use it weekly but noticed it now smells bad. He said he wasn’t surprised because he got from a store in VA that wS going out of business quite a while ago.

    So I went online to try to find it and of course, it no longer exists. Then he told me I needed to buy acid mantle cream and you can get it f on the druggist. I was in a “do it now” mood so I went onto Amazon. Last Saturday morning my acid mantle cream that smells delightful, arrived and my hands have been happy campers ever since!

  68. When we close up the house and run the heater during the winter, the air dries out. You know it when the door knob snaps with electricity when you touch it. Using a humidified in the house, or at least in the sewing area can do a lot to keep skin from drying out in the first place.

  69. I wear gloves when doing the dishes and (wet) housecleaning. I do use bar soap (I used to live by a Caswell-Massey factory and they would have big “overstock” events — and I got hooked!). I’ll use the oil/sugar scrub when I am doing intense embroidery. I try and avoid moisturizers when I am actually stitching, but when I’m done OR when I am driving, I slather on moisturizers, so the healing can happen between stitching sessions. Ongoing battle, of course!

  70. As you said, drink LOTS of water- stay hydrated! I “lube” up every night with just hand loption…whatever is on sale actually. Often during the day as well, I use Udder Ointment-it’s non-greasy. The kind you buy in the fabric store is nice, nice scent or absent of scent..at least better than what I used to buy at the Feed Store-I also use the
    sugar scrub if need be. The other thing I do for the cracked finger corners is to buy some of the plastic finger guards. It’s a plastic end with four spokes coming down-almost reminds me of a badminton shuttlecock-I lube up the corner with vaseline ( to prevent further drying) and then paper tape up to my finger and wear it overnight. If I catch it early enough, usually one night will do the trick- sometimes it tales two. So next morning, I gently remove and then continually reuse-just plop it over the affected finger-they also have them for thumbs

  71. Highly recommend Trader Joe’s hand creme. It doesn’t have too much scent, it absorbs quickly, and it’s not too expensive.

  72. I have found that Gold Bond Healing lotion works for me. Keeps my hands smooth and even eliminates those pesky rough cuticles and gand nails. When things are really bad, I slather it on and then encase my hands in old fashioned cotton gloves. If you are also having arthritis type pains in your hands and fingers, a paraffin treatment can help with the pain while smoothing your rough skin.

  73. Frequently the dryness is actually dishpan hands which is a fungal infection similar to athlete’s foot. I usually know this is what is going on when my hands have dry patches less than an hour after using a rich hand lotion. Sometimes the dryness is itchy too that is also a good sign that this is the issue. My children’s pediatrician diagnosed it for me years ago when I was changing diapers and washing my hands several times a day. I stay ahead of this with an over the counter anti-fungal cream. When my skin starts showing signs of the patchy dryness I put the cream on twice a day for a couple of days. I keep it at bay by putting the anti-fungal cream on at night before bed.

  74. I use to work in a florist and my hands would crack and get really rough. I found that if I used Corn Huskers lotion it would heel the cracks in my fingers and my hands were not as dry as before. When you apply it to your hands it will feel like you have too much and that it will never dry but give it a few minutes and they are dry and smooth. I think it has glycerin in it. I have used it on my hair for body and it doesn’t dry my hair out. All the designers started using it and loved. I don’t think it has any alcohol in it. Very cheap compared to most hand creams. You can get it at most drug stores and Walmarts.

  75. When hands become rough, or start to, I use a Clinique scrub. Good stuff and no reactions. Keep cream by every sink (Keri Advanced) and use. Best of all, Aquaphor. Go easy on amount, it’s thick & covers. Great for everything…

    I have eczema and contact dermatitis. My hands like nothing so I use these products and have used for years.

  76. Sorry, Mary, but I will have to recommend gloves for dishwashing or cleaning chores (especially cleaning chore soaps). I even have started wearing a disposable glove on my left hand, to prevent hand oils rubbing onto the fabric. (From holding the embroidery hoop.)

    Another thing I would recommend, if you can afford it, is to have regular professional manicures. This helps eliminate those pesky hangnails and rough fingernails.

  77. I also knit a lot and that dries outhands quickly! So I drink lots of water, use hand cream after stitching/knitting and always before going to bed. Once a month I get a manicure to manage cuticles. I use those thin medical gloves to wash dishes and apply lotion before putting them on. After a shower I always put lotion on my legs and arms/hands. I keep Emory boards everywhere to smooth nails.

  78. Here in the dry desert I use Corn Huskers Lotion. It is an old time lotion that doesn’t leave an oily residue to smear all over your work. The only draw back is that it is sometimes hard to find.

    1. The same company makes Miracle Hand Repair! It is a slightly different formula for hands and I use it a lot. My pianist husband has cracking fingertips and this is his #1 rescue for the problem.

  79. Invest in electric heated hand mitts

    Give your hands a nice coverage in cream, put your hands in plastic bags and put on the mitts and lie around for a half hour in extreme warmth and relaxation. It bakes the cream in, the cream really lasts through washing. If your hands are truly roughed up, you might have to do it every other day till your hands are healed, it adter that once a week should do it, but it feels so good, you might do it twice a week anyway.

  80. I’m a farmer first, and a stitcher/sewer second. My hands were a wreck and I despise gloves.

    Then my spouse brought me home surgical gloves from Costco. I take a size medium. They fit tight to the skin and are wondrously dexterous. I plant fine seeds with them, prune roses (wear 2 pairs), and do all my scrubbing with them. I also hand wash the dishes.

    Wearing the cotton night gloves with any lotion for a few hours in the evening works wonders. I do this the night before I’m going to sew, knit or embroider with silk.
    I also exfoliate with a good pumice stone.

    There’s several makers of unscented goat soap on Etsy. Look for ingredients that you know what they are. Burts Bee’s makes the best lip balm for cuticles ever!

    I save all my lemon skins. After doing the dishes, I rub them all over my hands.
    Oh that lovely oil just heals everything.

    Since doing all of this, I no longer have bleeding/dry hands.

  81. In the winter, I suppose living in Upstate New York is a bit like living in Kansas. Our winters can be brutally cold and a hand cream or lotion is essential to keeping hands from cracking. But when they are really dry and cracked, I usually use Aquafor, although, even though it has healing properties, it is a bit greasy and, therefore, I refrain from stitching for a few days. For those times when I have just normal dry skin, what works best for me is Gloves in a Bottle, which I buy at the local needlepoint shop. I have also used Lubriderm, which is not greasy and readily available in most drug stores, grocery stores and Wal-Mart here in the area.

  82. The pump type handsoaps don’t have to be a problem, it’s the antibacterial ones that literally strip the oils from your hands. It’s like washing your hands in bleach. I know hard to find a pump soap without that claim, but it can be done. You’ll be fine with ones that moisturize, but anything that claims to sanitize will be a disaster. I tried it, I had hands like emery boards until I switched. Now, even in cold weather my hands feel so much better! Yes, I do use hand creams, and I find the glycerine based ones may feel sticky for a moment, but it absorbs right away and leaves the hands feeling clean so you don’t grime up your threads and fabrics.

  83. For badly dry and split heels a combination of lanolin and vaseline rubbed in at night then put sox on so if you did this and put gloves on I wonder if it would work. We are fortunate in our climate that this has not been a problem for me, but I do not have a dishwasher atm, so this winter will tell. I am also a felter working with wool so that helps my hands.

  84. I always always always always use gloves when doing the dishes – I don’t have a dishwasher either. And I always use gloves in the garden. I have hand cream in places around the house – by the computer, by my tv viewing chair, in the bedroom, bathroom, kitchen. I still get a couple of rough spots on the sides of my index fingers. Not too bad this a.m. as I am reading this, will do an extra rub with my new Christmas gift, Kiri NZ UMF Manuka Honey hand cream. Very nice and non sticky. Have a nice day Mary. ttfn

  85. Hi Mary,

    I have very dry hands so I sympathise with the problem. When I am cooking I use food handling gloves which saves on washing my hands. I use the same pair, usually for the whole prep time, and wash them just as I would wash my hands. I use moisturiser after a shower because I think it soaks in better when your skin is warm and before going to bed. Occasionally I use a body scrub on my hands to take off the top layer of dry skin. If I have a particularly rough spot on my fingers I use a finger cot. I’m not sure what they are called in the US but they are used to cover bandages on fingers, especially in kitchens.

  86. Southern California has a dry climate (we’ve had a lot of rain this winter but that’s unusual) and right now we’re having a typical day of gusting Santa Ana winds, those dry desert winds that Raymond Chandler said “come down from the mountain passes…and make meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks.” So yeah, the skin on my hands is dry as the bones underneath and yeah, I’ve got a cupboard full of moisturizers that I only bought once and then gave up on.

    In the January 13 comments section of this blog, contributor “Robin in NM” (New Mexico has a dry climate too, doesn’t it?) mentioned a moisturizer that she really loved: Savannah Bee Royal Jelly Body Butter for Sensitive Skin. Sounded good to me, and I found it on Amazon and ordered a small jar. Well, I really love it, too! Great texture, not too thick, not too thin, j-u-u-s-s-s-t right, and it absorbs quickly. The smell is peculiar and I wasn’t sure I liked it at first, but I quickly got used to it; now I look forward to using it every day, and it really works a charm. Those little cracks around my fingernails healed after only two days. I recommend it.

    Mary, I love your blog! I’m a sort-of newcomer to stitching (did some when I was in my 20s but then took a 50-year hiatus and have only recently gotten into it again). At the moment I’m loving the peacefulness and orderliness of cross stitched reproduction samplers (I actually like the counting) but who knows what will be next. You are an inspiration. Thank you!

  87. I took a silk embroidery class from Sandy Rodgers several years ago at an ANG seminar. Her solution was mayonnaise. Take a teaspoon of real mayonnaise and rub it into your hands and fingers, as necessary. It will smooth out the rough patches. I am a needlework finisher and also keep house, so my hands do pay the price. The mayonnaise trick has really helped because I love to work with silks on canvas.

  88. I keep a large pump bottle of Jergens lotion next to my bed and it’s the last thing I do before I turn the lights out. Hands, heels, elbows and every other tough spot gets a large dose. It must be working since I get lots a compliments on my hands. During the day, a quick drop of Gloves in a Bottle makes my hands feel good and it’s not greasy so you can use it while stitching.

  89. Disposable food handler gloves save my hands from moisture loss. I use them in the kitchen when I am cleaning up. The gloves are inexpensive, lightweight and easy on and off so I also use them while cleaning the bathroom counters.

  90. I also hate to wear gloves to wash dishes. But doing the dishes bare handed allows that grease removing dish washing liquid to also suck it right out your skin, leaving you chapped in more ways than one. The reason I don’t like gloves is you end up with ‘giant fingers’ and can’t feel the cleaned surface of the dishes. So try this! Get a box of disposable gloves at your local pharmacy. They don’t cost much and fit snug, allowing you to be able to actually feel the dishes you are washing. (You can justify the spending when you are buying fewer lotions!) You don’t have drippy gloves to try to dry out either because you just throw them out and your hands keep their natural oils, yay!

  91. I use a product I discovered while visiting Israel. It’s made by AHAVA and it is called mineral foot cream. So what if it doesn’t say it’s for your hands! If you do put it on your feet, just feel how good your hands feel after you do it!

    Stay warm and cozy. Winter is on the way out. Spring is in the air!

  92. Winters are very hard on my hands too! This is such an important part of our stitching.

    So, I am a rubber gloved person, drink lots of water and my latest find is the Moisturizing Cream by CeraVe. In days, the painful finger splits stated to heal, and my hands are feeling silky and smooth.

    Thanks for this web-site. Just recently got back into hand stitching with wool and your videos and book illustrations are the best.

    Health-wise, I am riding in the boat with you and needed some embroidery therapy to keep my mind occupied on the days that I just “sit around”.

  93. I swear by O’keefes Working Hands. It contains some ingredients that was in a cream prescribed by a dermatologist. Morning and night keeps my very tough spots soft. Not to be used while stitching.

  94. Hi there. Many years a dear friend who got me into embroidery also got me onto a little tub of pure Lanolin from sheep’s wool. It is very thick and highly purified but with the heat of your skin it just sinks in as you rub it especially around your cuticles which is where I get rough skin. I just rub a bit in prior to bed each night and if need be about 20 minutes prior to any needlework. Works wonders and a natural product. Good luck!

  95. Re rough hands. I have found that taking two or three TheraTears Omega 3 capsules daily has almost eliminated the dry winter skin problem. I started taking it for dry eyes but found that it is also beneficial for gum health. I am usually skeptical of the claims of such products but I have now had about three winters without cracked (and painful) hands. It really is a win/win product!

  96. For several years I have exclusively used Vitamin E cream. Not a Vitamin E lotion or something with Vit E in it but straight Vitamin E cream. It works wonders for healing cracked, rough skin on your hands, feet or anywhere. My diabetic husband was told by his doctor to purchase this cream to improve his legs which were so badly dehydrated that they bled. They improved within days and since his passing I have continued to use this cream myself. It comes in a small jar and can be purchased at the drug store or the pharmacy section of your supermarket. It sinks in almost immediately but I apply it about 20 minutes before I begin to embroider and certainly every night at bedtime. It works wonder in the summertime on legs and feet keeping them soft and supple.
    I never travel without it.

  97. I inherited my mother’s dry hands as I got older. So I do weekly home manicures, wear gloves with any of hand dishwashing, and every night I put Burt’s Bees cuticle cream around my cuticles, tips of my fingers and dry areas and then slather on CND Almond SpaManicure lotion. Also take natural vitamin E and wear gloves outside when it’s cold. Keeping polish on my natural nails helps with strength and makes me take more care of my hands too.

  98. Hi, Mary.
    I really never thought about hydrating from the inside, but it makes sense, the skin being the body’s biggest organ. I’ve been trying to drink more water, just for general good health, and to curb hunger.
    I keep my nails professionally manicured, which I realize isn’t for everyone, but it keeps them in tiptop shape. Any “dings” are promptly removed with an emery board or other non-metal file.
    Always, without fail, I use the oil & sugar scrub. (Salt can also be used, but can sting.) I “wash” thoroughly with just a dab each of olive oil & sugar, then wash for real with soap & warm water.

  99. Thank you for mentioning the hand cream. I do not like the flowery smelling ones and so I’m off to find the ones with the Camphor smell. h

  100. This year I’ve been indulging in avocado butter from Branbleberry.com. Super moisturizer for face and hands and odor free. Comes in plastic bag so I put some in a jar for my bathroom and keep the rest in a glass jar in the refrigerator. It doesn’t smell or liquify in a warm room like coconut oil. The other thing I like are Mr. Clean vinyl gloves- they come with a felt liner so you don’t get that stinky rubber glove smell clinging to your hands and don’t get all sweaty.

  101. As far as I’m concerned, the best, all purpose moisturizer is Aloe Grande Creme and Aloe Grande Lotion, both from Gordon Laboratories. It was first recommended to me by a dermatologist when I had gotten too much sun after a day of gardening. A small, family-owned pharmacist was my source. That was about twenty years ago.

    When my sister underwent chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, about ten years ago, I had an unopened jar of creme which I gave to her. She now refers to this creme as “miracle cream.”

    It isn’t a moisturizer I’d use just before stitching. That said, my favorite fish-monger who has his hands in ice all day, twelve-plus hours at on Christmas Eve, described it to me as one that is light and absorbs quickly. I introduced it to my husband’s daughters, one of whom uses it for her “cracked” hands during upstate NY winters, and another in Florida who uses it for a night moisturizer. No one to whom I’ve recommended or given this product has ever said anything but “Yah!”

    The only source I have for it now is Foot American, an online source which sells multiple products for all kinds of skin and foot ailments. If you go to the site, look for Gordon Laboratories products, and then scroll to Aloe Grande Creme/Lotion.

    I hope you like it. Apply nightly, if you’re a stitcher.

  102. Hello, I live in Australia and I don’t know whether the cream I use is available in the USA. It is made by Johnson and Johnson and is Neutrogena hand cream Norwegian Formula. It is a thick cream not a lotion. Put a dab on the back of each hand then rub in well especially around your nails and where most needed. I have been using this for years, when my hands get really dry in winter I use it every night before I go to bed. It is not expensive and I find it in my regular supermarket.
    I hope you can find it and have as much success as I do.

    1. Hi, Pam,
      I forgot about the Neutrogina hand cream. It is readily available in the US, grocery stores and ‘drug’ stores. The Norwegian variety is especially effective I have found.

  103. Like you, I tried the olive oil and sugar scrub, and was amazed at first, but the results were not long-lasting. I also tried the “for stitchers” kinds of lotions – my fave being Udderly Smooth, mostly because it’s a lot cheaper than Stitcher’s Lotion and does a good job – but it’s not enough alone. The two together work well. I kind of “forget” to take care of my hands and one day find even DMC threads catching on them, they’re so dry. That’s when I do a sugar scrub with the oil, and then wash my hands (because we can’t have the oil), and apply Udderly Smooth. Lovely. This lasts for a day or so – so I do it again for about three days in a row, and after that, just the lotion. If I can then remember to apply the lotion every time I wash my hands, I’m good for the winter. If I forget, it’s back to the scrub first. I hadn’t had any idea of what the pump type soap was doing… I might have to try the soap and see what difference it makes. I also think you’re right about hydrating – but that’s not a problem with me, so I know it won’t do it all by itself.

  104. I, like you, have tried a myriad of hand creams over the years. I have narrowed my favorites down to these three products:
    Bath & Body Works Nourishing Hand Cream-I think the Shea Butter & Vitamin E
    are what does the trick
    Crabtree & Evelyn Ultra-moisturizing Hand Therapy
    Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Hand Cream-This is the least expensive & the most
    readily available.
    I know from experience that everyone is different and what works for one person might not work for another. I am very lucky in the respect that I am not allergic to anything. Of the aforementioned hand creams, the first two come in a variety of scents. The Gold Bond says it is lightly scented but I can’t seem to smell it.
    Hope this helps!

  105. I agree totally with your comments regarding pump soap, a questionable invention. I don’t usually suffer from dry hands but just recently this has begun to be the case. I have a skin condition on my feet which needs continual creams and moisturising and was becoming frustrated because nothing seemed to work to keep my feet moisturised during the day except keeping them encased in bandages and creams ( VERY elegant). However an ad on the T.V. here in Australia made me turn back to something my mother used on me as a child with chapped lips and I in turn used it on my children. Vaseline. You may know it under another name but it is basically Petroleum jelly. I started using it on my feet during the day OH What a difference and have noticed that the dry places on my hands have all disappeared too. It’s downside is that it is greasy but I have found that just using it in the morning and rubbing it in well – leaving it and then by the time I’ve done any chores my hands are ok to wash and then embroider!!

  106. I agree with you that an emergency action using olive oil and sugar works immediately. A long term solution is your favorite moisturizer nightly and/or each time you have had your hands in soap and water. Most reliable cosmetic companies have one or more products with cleansers that have ‘beauty grains’ in them. I’m intrigued by your suggestion of goats milk soap. Need to try that.

  107. Yep you’re dead on with hydrating yourself. The rule is: half your body weight in ounces of water. Eight ounces in one cup. Here’s my excellent tip for putting that into action so you don’t forget. I use a clear glass pitcher that’s pretty and I enjoy looking at it. It holds 10 cups. I leave it on the counter so that I see it all day serving as a reminder for how much you have left to drink that day. Other wise you will surely lose track. Bonus as the water sits out the chlorine in it dissipates and becomes more healthy. So I fill up the pitcher at night so by morning its ready to go. I swear I can tell the difference in taste, less harsh. Believe it or not I got this tip from how to set up a fish tank the old school way without chemicals.

  108. Hello Mary & everyone!!
    When I was just a little girl my wonderful mom taught me embroidery. She was also an amazing quilter. She always “hand quilted” smaller ones. The reason for mentioning this is because she used gloves. Yes, gloves, very light weight white gloves. I was taught this way and still use them today.
    In the winter I purchase “quilters” gloves for embroidery. Summer time weather here in the Deep South I use light weight ones so my hands do not sweat.
    Hope this helps.

  109. Thankyou Mary for everything you do. I love Crabtree and Evelyn Hand Cream it’s none greasy, you only need a little bit and it leaves your hands feeling powder soft. Margaret Lee of Chinese and Japanese Embroidery Adelaide Australia, has her own brand of hand cream that has a silk protein which I also like. If I have been bad and in the garden without gloves and my hands are rough and snaggy I rub them with salt, it removes all to leave them soft as a baby’s bottom, then rehydrate with my hand cream.

  110. This tip came from a well known wool appliquer and hand stitcher. Her method is to squeeze a half lemon on your hands and rub together thoroughly. It certainly helps my dry hands, as I am also a frequent hand washer.
    Thanks for all your wonderful tips, Mary.

  111. I use Udderly Smooth made in USA by Redex Industries Salem Ohio during the day and at night I use a pomade called Gehwol med. Salve for cracked skin, made in Germany by E. Gerlach GmbH. This is Magic and if I have a crack in my skin I put some on under a band aid. This cream doesn’t smell of roses or in fact any other flower but it works a treat.

  112. I have a problem with the skin around my fingernails hardening in winter. I also wash the dishes by hand and without gloves.

    I rub on some of the “Stitchers Lotion” before stitching when needed. I have the unscented. I find that putting it on just the spots which are hard just before stitching works well. Since it is intended for stitching it does come off onto the needlework.

    I have additional problems (yeah, that’s me – always a problem) in that I cannot stand the feel of lotions on my hands, they feel too greasy, and I cannot take the odor of scented things. Therefore I can’t really use lotions or moisturizers on a regular basis – hence why this lotion is dabbed in small amounts on the affected skin only.

  113. I keep hand cream (some are in tubes, some are in pump containers) at each sink in my house. I also keep a tube of hand cream with whatever project I’m currently working on. I even have some in my car. They’re all different brands and not expensive. I buy whatever is on sale. The solution for me is to use some each time I wash my hands. The only time I don’t use any is when I wash up before preparing food or eating. I do a lot of handwork so for me, consistently using a hand cream, regardless of the season, keeps my hands in good condition.

  114. I was having this problem for sometime with really rough skin just like you described. After trying out the various hand creams I had some of them were good brands. However after frustrating session of the threads getting caught on my index finger and thumb I went to my local pharmacy and bought a recommended a cream Du’It for tough hands intensive skin repair within three days following the directions my hands and fingers were smooth. I just use it at night now and no more problems

  115. I use Gold Bond Ultimate skin protection Eczema Relief. It goes on smoothly and dries as soon as I have finished rubbing it into my skin without any sticky feeling. It leaves my hands smooth and ready to go. No obnoxious smells either. I also use a nail file to file down rough callouses on my fingers.

  116. I live in snowy Utah, which is dry and very cold right now. I am a redhead and have very sensitive skin. I wear real leather gloves whenever I go outside or run errands. The gloves also help keep me healthy because I am not picking up other people’s germs from doors, railings, shopping carts, etc. I use vasoline also, but the leather gloves seem to be the solution to keep my hands and fingers from splitting and cracking from exposure to the elements.

  117. So right Mary. Huge issue for me over past years. Its Summer here now so sweat is pouring (any solutions for that?) but still my hands get so dry. Your tips are very sound. Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate again. I’ve tried so many products like you but the best for me has been an Australian product called “Tough Hands” by Du’It (www.duit.com.au). You can buy it in the supermarket like Woollies or IGA (not sure about Coles) for about A$10 a tube and its fantastic! It has a lovely gentle scent of lemon myrtle and lemon ti tree oil (so it reminds me of the bush and so Aussie). It goes on easily and is not greasy nor leaves a residue. When you do wash your hands there is a gentle waft of lemon. I use it all the time and find the fine nicks and cracks, especially along the side of the thumbs heal very well. Check it out! Keep warm.

  118. Hi Mary,
    All of the tips you have written are great. Ever since I was 7 or 8 I have had hands with skin that becomes dry and cracked open. Those cracks, and re-cracks, hurt. As a young girl I found that peeling potatoes would often start the whole skin-cracking process. ‘

    This past year I received some very good advice from a nurse who uses skin sanitizer on a regular basis and washes her hands many times each day. She told me about a product that she slathers on each night and then covers her hands with white cotton gloves (which stays on her hands while she sleeps). I found this product at the local Sam’s Club. I have been using this product, as the nurse shared with me, for the past year and my hands have never been in better shape! I still need to use hand lotion at times, but my skin is in great shape – no cracks, no dry patches, no calloused areas. I would gladly send you a picture of the product but I am unaware of a way to attach a jpg file to this comment. The name of the product is: Genes Vitamin E Creme: Swiss collagen complex moisturizing creme for dry and sensitive skin with biologically compatible amounts of vitamins A & D. It is light yellow in color (looks like creamed butter), has a very slight pleasant non-descript smell and is sold in 16 oz clear plastic jars. The cost is $8 or $9 and it is worth a million to me! I’ve recommended it to everyone I see with rough, dry, cracked skin. I hope you will try it.

  119. I have always relied on Crisco or any brand shortening which immediately eliminates the dry skin that will snap the threads. Also coconut oil works well too. Whatever you have that you use to coat bread pans or muffin pans.

  120. I know this isn’t exactly the same but maybe it will help someone. I have psoriasis completely covering the palm and fingers of my left hand causing lots of rough patches and limited mobility. I have tried everything including prescribed creams, but I’ve found that sunlight or UVB rays help me the most. I don’t recommend it for normal dry skin but it has been the most successful for me. To stitch I have learned to not use that hand for anything more than holding a hoop. It’s awkward sometimes but even on days of my worst breakouts I can stitch without out too much risk of snags.

  121. Hi Mary,

    I like your idea of ditching the liquid pump soap for the hands, I’m going to switch to bar soap also. For my dry scaly hands I use Carona Ointment for livestock. It has antibiotics in it, and it helps with the healing. I put it on at night, on the rough areas then I put on cotton gloves, I do this at bed time. For my rough feet I put on Dr. Nylars bag balm. I do that after a bath then put on heavy socks. Winter in Wisconsin can be hard on the skin. These products should be able to fine at the local feed store, or any store that sells livestock products.

    Happy Stitching,
    Louann P

  122. I found the best moisturizing cream ever for me. Eucerin cream. It’s in a large pot with a red lid. Non greasy, no smell, thick and wonderful. Plus our grocery store carries it. I rub it on my cuticles and hands every night. Winter is rough here in Maine, now my hands don’t have to be!

  123. Hi Mary! I’m a skin specialist at my hospital and for my patients with very dry skin, I recommend applying a petrolatum based product such as aquaphor all over the hands at night and cover with cotton gloves. Also, adding a humidifier to your room can help provide moisture into our dry air. And don’t forget, whenever your hands go in hot water, wear gloves! Dish water is most drying and strips your skin of important lipids that protect.

  124. Mary, after having kids I got dermatitis on my hands from the handwashing. I had terribly dry, scaly, itchy hands, it was quite painful. I tried goodness knows how many soaps and lotions without improvement, even avoiding all soap and washing my hands with hypoallergenic lotion. It took me a good couple of years to find out the following.

    Evaporation of water from your skin is what dries out your skin. Every time your hands get wet, the subsequent evaporation causes your skin to dry out further. In other words, even if you wash your hands in just water, with no soap of any kind, your skin can still become dehydrated. Anyone with dry hands should do the following:

    1. Avoid getting your hands wet as much as possible. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning. Or better yet, get someone else to do your dirty work 🙂

    2. Every time your hands have been wet, towel dry them and immediately apply lotion. The lotion will create a film that prevents the remaining moisture on your skin from evaporating, so your skin will not dry out.

    Moisturisers aren’t very effective unless your skin is damp to begin with. Now that I moisturise my feet straight after showering, no more cracked heels. Honestly it makes such a difference.

  125. I like
    So far as I can tell, it doesn’t rub off onto my fabrics and I like the twist-up application where I can control to some extent, getting most of it onto the backs and sides rather than the palms of my hands. Favorite scent: Pink Grapefruit!

  126. When you have heart failure, enjoying water is restricted, but I found a cheap way to help smooth and hydrate dry hands. Coffee grounds. use the same way you would use a sugar scrub, and it is free if you enjoy coffee. Also if you moisturize your face, add more for your hands.

  127. Thoroughly agree with hydration, and I also use gloves for house work and gardening. For housework I use a brand of rubber glove which is heavy duty and lined with cotton. pricey but worth it as I can use very hot water for washing up.

    At nighttime I use Antipodes Saviour Skin Balm. this is an oil rich balm that is great for healing all sorts of skin problems. It is far more than just a hand cream and I would not be without it. I don’t know how widely available it is outside of NZ though.

    I start the day with a bit of saviour balm and during the day, if need be, use whatever cosmetic skin lotions I have been given as gifts. I use the oil and sugar scrub prior to using fussy silks, otherwise my hands are fine for most threads.

    I also have got rid of pump “soap” and shower gels. I use a simple goats milk bar soap and have much better skin. I keep the bar of soap on the bristles of a nail scrubbing brush. This means the bar dries more quickly, so lasts longer, there is very little mess on the sink or shower shelf and what soap does drip off goes onto the brush to be used up when you scrub your nails.

  128. I’ve read lots but not all of the other comments and was a little surprised not to see anyone mention running a humidifier in the house. Once the heat comes on for the winter (in CT here) the house gets very dry unless I have a humidifier running. It definitely helps with dry skin and also with nasal and throat irritation. I also like using a no nonsense skin product like Cetaphil or vaseline before bedtime and once or twice during the day if needed.

  129. Alas, I have to agree about the rough hands and snagging threads each winter — sometimes I take an emery board and smooth the rough skin down just a tiny bit, and then apply a moisturizer — I like George’s Aloe cream at night, and Bert’s Bee’s lotion has bees wax in it that helps to put a ‘glaze’ on my fingertips that smooths them out. I’ve also used a calendula cream that soothes inflamed areas. I’ve taken to using Johnson’s baby shampoo in the foaming dispenser in the bathroom, thinking that it’s about as mild a soap as possible, but perhaps it’s time to switch to a nice handmade bar soap. thanks for that idea!

  130. Mary it is almost 90 deg F today in NSW Australia, wish I had winter hand problems. If you have repeated cracks in same spot Lanolin from sheep wool is excellent but not prior to stitching more an overnight treatment.
    “Udderly Smooth” is a cream you can use prior to stitching though, Moogoo brand started out as cream for you guessed it udders.
    Hydration excellent.
    Enjoy your winter, take care

  131. Hello Mary,
    I work in the house with gloves, but in winter I always have problems with the fingers a little rough.
    To remedy this, in the evening before going to bed, I massage my hands and my fingers by insisting on the outline of the nails with glycerine (which I buy in pharmacy) and I put on a pair of cotton gloves for the night .
    In the morning everything is fixed. To be done as often as necessary and it is safe and more economical than all the creams that give more or less good results.
    Thanks for all your articles, Mary.

  132. Rubber gloves for dishwashing and wet cleaning jobs. They only take a little getting used to.
    I also use cream (Lush – Dream Cream) after every handwash and I don’t get rough or badly dry patches. I have naturally dry skin too. 🙂

  133. In recent years with babies, nappies and lots of laudary my hands were beyond rough, with cracks and slits that were infected and very painful. Stitching was out of the question, due to pain and lack of time. At one point my GP was trying to glue the cracks in my thumbs together to offer relief from the pain.

    The solution was recommended by a dermatologist- CALMURID. This is a pharmacy cream made in France and widely available in Australia (under $10). It comprises urea 100mg/g and lactic acid 50mg/g.

    Time was the other solution; as newborns become babies become toddlers there are fewer hand-water-soap-napisan interactions. Also the parent returns to work; the computer is kind to hands, although office restroom dispenser soap can be vicious.

  134. So many interesting ideas and experiences! I will add my own: Many years ago in a land far away… I worked in the operating theatre of a small hospital. Mid- 70’s. It was the practice then that everyone going into the room where the surgery was going on, Drs to room cleaners, had to scrub for 10 minutes with a liquid betadine soap (iodine). Well, you can imagine what that did you your hands, right up to your elbows! There was a lotion everyone used that I have never been able to find now, but then a few years ago, a nurse gave me a jar for my feet. In the UK it’s called Fifty-50 and it’s a very soft Vaseline type of product. I use it every night on my heels and my hands, and it’s really very good. It goes into your skin better than Vaseline so it doesn’t get on everything. That’s my two cents!

  135. At a meeting of our local Brazilian Embroidery group one lady suggested triple antibiotic cream (comes in tube) use on your cuticles. I have been having a horrible time this year with dry fingernails cracking and breaking. I can’t even keep 1/16 inch length on them from the quik (sp). I get dents in them and snags which really catch threads. My cuticles keep getting hang nails on them. She suggested to use this before bed. It does feel greasy but it sure does help. I use the Walmart store brand because it costs less. Probably other stores have their own brand too. Worth a try and one tube can last what seems like forever.

  136. To smooth hands to work with silk, do some wet-felting first using olive oil soap. After you make the felt you can use it to embroider on or for wool applique.

  137. Cetaphil in the tub is the best moisturizer I know. Keeping the house humidified to at least 45% also helps a lot, if you’re home much.

  138. Like you I have compiled a list of things I do to help keep my hands from becoming an even bigger mess in the winter. I have naturally paper dry skin…. and the winter only makes it worse. I not only have rough skin, but it cracks, deeply, with the slightest pressure. I used to use Eucerine Hand and Foot cream, but that can’t be found anymore, so then I found their Diabetic Hand Cream, and that worked very well, but you can’t get that anymore either. Gold Bond has a Diabetic Hand Cream now, and I am using after a shower and before bed. The jury is still out on its effectiveness for fighting winter rough dry skin.
    It is not only detergent that causes rough skin, but anytime you wet and dry your hands you are leaving them open to drying out. So during the day I keep them moisturized, and that of course is again more of a personal choice. Since I like to open and close doors during the day a not greasy/fast absorbing is a huge plus and I personally hate the fragrance, so it must also be free of odors. For that I have found Lubriderm. I can now get the huge painful cracks healed in about 2 days too, but that is another story!
    Looking forward to the other tidbits of help and hints from others.

  139. I loved the article. It came at just the right time. I have a day of needle work today and taking care of a sick husband. My hands have that winter roughness and I was looking for something that would help. This sounds perfect. thank you

  140. For me a product called “Udder Cream” works well as a lotion without leaving residue on my hands. I know it has a weird name, but have had it recommended by other stitchers. I have gotten it at Wal-Mart in the past.
    In Christ,
    Gail J.

  141. For my hands, the best thing is sesame oil – just simple cooking grade sesame oil. You shouldn’t apply it just before stitching, of course, but it makes wonders for my skin (and hair!) when applied just before going to bed. I also use it in my hands after doing the dishes (no dishwasher here) and massage it until the skin absorbs it all. A tiny bit goes a long way when properly massaged.

  142. Hello Mary,
    I find that the oil and sugar scrub is wonderful and wonder why the professional manicurists do not use it. Also, bar soap is way better than pump soap and health food store bar soap is preferable to drug store bar soap. I have not tried goats milk soap yet. I also run a table top humidifier for all the winter months. It not only helps my english skin but also the furniture, all the contents including the embroidery materials, but my hands too. This really helps resolve the winter itches.

  143. I work part time at a hospital, garden, and do housework, so I wash my hands many times throughout the day. I live in southern California, and get those awful, dry winds.
    At work, I use Gardener’s hand cream by Upper Canada Soap every time I come back from being on the units. I have several tubes of it
    Throughout my home, by each sink and beside my bed.

  144. Years ago, my uncle suffered from illness that exacerbated winter dry skin in Boston. His doctor recommended Eucerin lotion–and that really made a difference for him. When my hands get rough, I use Aveeno Daily Moisturizer, which, like Eucerin, has the benefit of no added scents. It heals hangnails and dry roughness pretty quickly.

  145. After a shower, when my skin is thoroughly moist, I rub my hands with a mixture of coconut and castor oil. I usually put some drops of lavender essential oil to the mix, although mostly for the scent.

  146. I read where a dermatologist recommended not using anything that you would not put in your body. She filled pretty pump bottles with olive oil.
    I have been using organic coconut oil for the past month. It has a faint fresh coconut smell and melts on contact with the skin. And, its under $10 a pound. Can’t say yet if it is any better than a commercial lotion product but it is certainly is equal to.
    Water is huge – keep a bottle or glass nearby!

  147. I live in Utah where the climate is persistently very dry. I also have eczema which by itself makes my hands dry. I use cortisone creams as needed for the eczema and constantly put on a nice thick hand cream after washing my hands. I like anything with shea butter, but have found Gold Bond to be particularly good. No perfumes, thick, soothing, absorbs completely into my skin. I also take fish oil & flax seed oil on a daily basis. Seems to really help keep my cuticles more hydrated.

  148. Gloves! When gardening or working with tools, etc. – and cotton ones at night after moisturizing.

    Scrubs – I mix sugar with my moisturizer – leaves hands smooth and soft. Olive oil works well too.

    Manicures – with or without polish. Somehow the pros leave fewer snags and rough spots than I do. Even once a month helps.

    Dishwasher!!!! best of all for saving hands. Not to mention time, aggravation, and annoyance. A once every two week housekeeper helps as well.

    I find that folding clothes dries my hands out badly – so moisturize afterwards.

    Houses are very dry in winter. Any type of moisture releasing item helps – plants, humidifiers, small tabletop fountains, pet water fountains. Try a small humidifier in the stitching room – keeps those threads from being flyaway. Touch anything that gives you a small shock from static electricity discharge before beginning to stitch.

    Hope some of these help!

  149. At night: Wipe your fingers and palms with a “Stridex’ or ‘Oxy’ pad. Smother with ‘Aquaphor’ or similar. Wear gloves or socks on hands while you sleep.
    The salicylic acid will ‘burn’ dead skin, the ointment heals and softens.
    I heard about doing this on your feet to soften them in 7 nights. It also works on hands. Keeping your hands wrapped through the night is the challenge

  150. I’ve found O’Keefe’s Working Hands to be a Godsend for my cracked & split thumbs. The glycerin works to draw moisture into the skin & it’s not greasy. I keep one container in the desk drawer & one on the nightstand.

  151. I have found that nothing beats the soothing and softening power of Eucerin. You have to get the stuff in the jar – it is called THICK. I put it on my hands at night right before going to sleep, then put on a pair of cotton gloves – like the old fashioned white cotton gloves you used to wear to church on Easter. Then – Wallah – you wake up with smooth, moisturized skin. You can wash your hands and they still stay smooth and do not dry out. I recommend that you do this every other night, or every night if your hands are really rough. Also, Eucerin was first recommended to me by a medical doctor to help the dry skin of diabetics.

  152. I have made handmade soap for 20 years and can attest to the fact that real soap (not detergent bars) will help not hurt your hands and body. Unless you have excema and cannot tolerate any soap. The reason is, it contains all the glycerin that is formed when it is made and glycerin attracts water. You need to keep it in a dish away from standing water or it will ‘melt’. Most brand name soap bars have the glycerin squeezed out of it and then it can be sold to chemical companies for other purposes.
    Gloves when dishwashing in detergent are essential, unless you can’t get used to them.
    I too have tried many lotions and even made my own but, Jergens ultra healing is very good and Aveeno daily moisturizing is also great.
    PS. Triple milled is about the worst. It has been rolled and squeezed more than once to get all the glycerin out of it. It may last forever and smell good but it’s not so good for you.

  153. Just remembered one more thing. If you know you are on the low side with your Vitamin D, take it on a regular basis and you may see a big improvement with your skin. Check with your Dr. first, of course.

  154. Lotion applied at bedtime seems to work even better if you then put on a pair of cotton gloves – the cosmetics dept. of Walgreen’s has them; if your local drugstore doesn’t, try the nearest cosmetology school. Cotton socks over lotion is great for cracked heels, too, which I always get in the summer. I have gone to unscented products because my husband is allergic to several fragrances, and I currently like Nature’s Gate lotion the best.

  155. To elaborate on soap… there are primarily two methods to make soap: hot process and cold process methods. Commercial soap is made by the hot process method in which the glycerin is removed. Handmade soap uses the cold process method in which the glycerin is left in the soap. (Both methods use saponification to make soap.) Commercial soap can have glycerin mixed back into the soap , but not necessarily. So, when you purchase soap that contains glycerin, you’ll want to purchase handmade or handcrafted soap. Read the labels carefully; handmade or handcrafted labels may not mean the soap was made by the cold process method, but was a remelt of commercially made.

  156. This is a great topic. Love all the advice.

    -Gloves. These do help.

    -Sugar Scrub. Introduced to this at a SAGA stitching convention and as mentioned above, it does work.

    -Creams and Lotions. Like CeraVe (in a tub), Curel Ultra Healing (pump), Neutrogena Norwegian Hand Cream (tube) and a new favorite, Badger Balm Unscented Balm (in a tin). Also like various cuticle creams. Also like to layer a lotion over an oil such as jojoba. You can tell I like to try new things.

    -Cornmeal Cuticle Smoother. Introduced to this treatment in the book “Beautiful Hands & Nails Naturally”, by Fran Manos. (I ordered it through interlibrary loan and liked it so much I just purchased a copy.) About once a week massage some cornmeal around your nails – feels great and keeps the hangnails at bay. (I plan to try more of the treatments and recipes on the book).

  157. I swear by Bag Balm – made for cow udders. You can buy it in Walgreens now. It stinks and is thick and ucky but if you slather it on your hands and feet, put on cotton gloves and socks, in the morning your extremities are smooth. Of course keeping hydrated is most important as well. But Bag Balm works a treat!!!

  158. The best is Aquaphor healing ointment advanced therapy. I always have a tube in my purse, at my workstation, and a jar on my bed stand. Since I never learned to use a tumble I apply to my fingertips at night. It works miracles on my dry winter hands, rough heels, and dry chapped lips. I hate snagging my threads. I recently started using a leather thimble dot pad on the callus on my middle finger. Aquaphor has no odor and is made by Eucerin.

  159. Mary winter or summer you need water. Your kidneys need to be taken care of though. You can drink too much. No more than litre per hour. You can die from over hydration.
    The skin will excrete the water in sweat but the kidneys also excrete other vital nutrients.
    After getting the dry bits of skin off with a nail file rub in almond oil. Why not another oil??? Well almond is light and it soaks in readily. I then use finger bits of surgical gloves on each finger and then put on the white cotton gloves. Use a rubber band on the wrists of the gloves to help keep them on. or make mittens with ties. You have to keep a moist environment for the skin to stay soft. Do it for a few days before tackling the silk. The fibres you use will dry your hands. Always keep those little catchy bit filed off. I have been known to give the hands a bit of a steam but NOT too close as steam will give you a nasty burn. Get use to using washing up and cleaning gloves Mary and everyone. No soap with caustic in them. Don’t soak in the bath have a shower. So you have patience to sew, then have patience to look after the equipment. Before you start us a soft cotton cloth to wipe you hands and around you finger well before sewing. Good luck

  160. I use an olive oil soap. Husband does the dishes. I do lots of gardening without gloves. I find the olive oil soap works wonders. At night before I go to sleep I use Emu oil moisturiser on my hands.

  161. Wow. Thanks. So much good advice on taking care of hands. Yes, we use our hands all day long and it takes a lot of wear and tear. I like wearing disposable gloves that fit my hand so I get a box of hundred. That way I can replenish whenever I need without running out of them. I use a toothpick to get the remaining chapstick after it is almost over and rub my fingertips before I apply Aveeno stress relief lotion. When it is really a bad case of crack, I go for the Aquaphor and wear the disposable gloves even though I have cotton ones which I sometimes use. At times, I have used liquid bandage on cracks and corners of nail. I like O’keeffe’s Working Hands too. It has kept to a minimum. Family members are used to foam pump soap so it will continue but I am tempted to buy castille soap and give it a try.

  162. A light layer of petroleum jelly with white gloves overnight…. I know it doesn’t sound very pleasant but it really does work!

  163. I have been using Glycerine Hand Therapy. it is very smooth and does not leave
    a greasy feel. I am alergic to lanolin and shea butter so the glycerine base is great. It is available in a tube or jar and comes in different scents – my favorite is
    French Vanilla. I believe it is also availble as a soap and i also had a pump bottle of it in lotion form at my simk.The glycerine base is also very healing.

  164. I have a fairly boring office job, and so have the time to really take care of my hands (and design & plan my embroideries). I use moisturiser at least 3 times during the day, I also use cuticle oil and make sure my nails are filed smooth. I have a crystal nailfile, which is magic!
    I find the MOR handcreams are good, and the Linden brand (not sure if thees are available in the USA) Burt’s Bees is another really good brand.
    Fortunately I have children to do most of my dishes, and if i go into the garden I always wear gloves (that is mostly because thistles are awwie)

  165. I too got rid of liquid soap many years ago, I noticed a different when I started using bar soap, however I still had a small rough problem with my fingers, so I still to this day use a salt and coconut butter mix I make myself, I make sure to clean all the oil off my hands, I do not want to transfer any oil to my projects.
    I do keep a metal nail file near my stitching at all times, this also helps to keep the roughness at bay, I just give a little file time to the rough skin, this does help, I do drink loads of water but have done so all my life, I am not a soda drinker, I do enjoy coffee or herbal teas when stitching.
    The above works well for me I hope it would work well for others.

  166. I switched to Palmolive dish soap for washing in the kitchen, which doesn’t dry out my skin. I also use a thick hand lotion before bed, and wear knitted fingerless mitts to bed, which helps keep the lotion from rubbing off.
    (I have Reynaud’s Syndrome, so the knitted mitts help a lot to keep my hands warm at night).

  167. Mary, what a great article & timely topic! My secret weapon (which others have mentioned): dish gloves while washing dishes! I leave them draped over the side of the sink so they’re obvious and convenient, and I’m more likely to actually use them. They make an enormous difference in the state of my hands – both the appearance and smoothness of the skin.

  168. My tip is to use a Vitamin E pill (in liquid form)….spreads easily, leaving hands & fingernails with an extra layer of moisture; remove the excess (if any) with a towel…usually good for the whole day. Your welcome! LW

  169. My favorite lotion is only made in China in the Autumn. My D-I-L Mother brings it back for me. It is real snake oil lotion and I have found nothing better for my rough skin and dry cuticles

  170. Thank you Mary for this article and thank you to everyone who entered a comment. You have saved my hands. I would have never thought that the liquid soap I was using was tearing up my hands. While I haven’t banished it from my kitchen (yet) just changing out the liquid soap in the bathroom for bar soap (I’m using Yardley of London), it has made a tremendous difference in the condition of my hands. They were dry and rough, especially my thumbs for some reason. And the cuticle ends on either side of my nails were often hard. Even those have improved greatly. Now, if I could just get my nails to not be so brittle. = )

  171. Aveeno’s Eczema line is really good for torn up hands, even if you don’t have eczema. I knit and spin and both of those activities are just as good as embroidery for finding any tiny catch in your hands or nails.

    I also like cocoa butter in the solid form sold in a tub at night if my skin is starting to crack.

  172. I didn’t like rubber gloves either, but the sore, bleeding, cracks and clumsy bandage- covered finger tips made me find a way to get used to them. I now use rubber gloves one size larger than my hands, making them less likely to get sweaty and making it easier to slip them on and off. A larger size also enables me to wear cotton gloves inside as a sweat-absorbing liner when the load is big or task prolonged. Larger gloves are also easier to turn inside out and dry thoroughly. I now travel with rubber gloves so I can help out when staying at someone else’s home, without using someone else’s sweaty gloves. When the weather is cold, I always wear leather gloves outside. I found it took me very little time to get accustomed to rubber gloves, and it was worth it.

  173. Hi,

    I bet a lot of us have something like the emjoi micro-pedi that we use on our rough feet.
    Works fantastically on the problem spots on hands and fingers too!

  174. Hi Mary,
    Yu-Be is positively and absolutely wonderful. Immediately after reading this article, I went to Amazon and ordered it. So glad I did!

    I started using Yu-Be immediately, and the difference in my hands was noticeable the very next day. I also changed to Ivory soap; I could not find the liquid at a reasonable price, so I am using the bar. The best part about Yu-Be moisterizer is that it can be used on your lips as well. I take several prescriptions that cause dry mouth, which ends up with my having very dry, chapped lips. My lips are no longer chapped and sore.

    I use the Stitcher’s Lotion you recommended during the day and Yu-Be at night – a great
    combination. Thank you for your recommendations.

  175. Thanks for all of the great tips! Winter hands in Northern MN take a beating, too. Going back to a simple bar soap sounds like a great idea!

  176. I live in (usually) sunny Southern California and love to be barefoot. This of course causes all kinds of thick skin on the heels of my feet. When I am being good I put Kerasol on my feet every night before bed and if I am disciplined and do it regularly, the extra benefit is that my hands become so smooth and soft, no nooks or crannies at all. This stuff is magic!

  177. Olá! Gostei muito das suas dicas. Muito agradecida! Gosto de trabalhos artesanais, gostaria muito de entrar nesse mundo dos bordados. Um abraço!

  178. I’m a fair-skinned redhead with increasingly dry skin as I age. I find soaps with olive oil helpful for my hands. Plus, I use a super-hydrating hand cream made from whipped argan oil on my hands every night before bed. And, during the day, I use L’Occitane for dry skin. Plus, I don’t like gloves either, but I do use them for heavy chemical cleaning.

    1. Hi Mary.. I am a hairdresser and have had many a problem with finding a product for my poor hands…..thinking more is better does not help as it clogs the pores….even vaseline caused an allergic reaction……Neutrogena Hand Cream is my go to hand lotion….it calms the dryness on the cuticles… I use it on my heels also….
      If cracks around cuticles or knuckles are really bad…neosporin ointment with a bandaid over night takes the soreness away….and speeds up healing…..I only use hand cream as dryness warrants….and in winter always wear gloves going out side even just going from house to car….made a big difference to my hands getting chapped from the cold dry air.
      I only wear gloves in work for dark hair coloring…. no gloves otherwise, even for dishes…..
      Ps the antibacterial soaps kills bad bacteria but also the good bacterial that helps keep our skin healthy. Only use it if situation warrants if no soap and water is available.
      Thanks again for all your sharing and all your beautiful stitches!!

  179. I have found that using surgical gloves while washing dishes has been a big help to me and my dry skin. They are readily available. I also make sure that if I am going to use and kind of cleaner or bleach product that I wear the gloves. Silver polish is especially nasty on my hands. The surgical gloves are less bulky and work better for me than the Playtex types gloves sold at the grocery store.

  180. I only just started OCD surface embroidery this fall, so I thought I was the only person destroying threads regularly with mountains and valleys on my thumb particularly and my fingers generally. I can add little to your excellent advice, except to say that a Diamancel 2 nail file given to me by my sister has proven very useful in a crisis. I literally file the tip of my thumb or fingers and it essentially debrides the surface leaving them baby soft for a while. It doesn’t hurt as long as one uses common sense in how long you file. Hope this is useful.

  181. I slather my hands with a good moisturizing cream and put on white cotton gloves before bed every evening. This seems to keep the dryness at bay (for a day or two anyway!).

  182. Regular dish gloves are too bulky (for me anyway), so I use for dishes and cleaning
    medical type of disposable gloves, they can be reused until they rip.
    They are thin and easy to work with – and they save your hands !

    At night, try Cypress Oil, its a dry oil, great for hands.
    Around cuticles, try Sally Hansen’s Vit E Nail and Cuticle Oil.
    Great products, but they need to be used every day for effect.
    Aura Cacia Rosehip Oil w Vit E is also great, but this one is greasy somewhat.

    Its a beauty hassle, but your hands will look and feel great.

  183. I continue to use the pump hand soaps at the sinks. Always wear rubber gloves for washing up, laundering etc. Always use bare hands for the garden which fortunately is not too frequent. I do swear by Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm – contains mandarin rind, rosemary leaf and cedar atlas. It absorbs easily. It is very expensive though. I do not know if it is available in the USA. Keeping hydrated is really essential with heated and, for us at present, cooled rooms!!

  184. I love “Kiss My Face” olive oil bar soap. If you regularly use it every time you wash your hands in dry weather it does a great job!! Readily available.

  185. At the suggestion of my foot doctor several years ago I bought some Corona cream at a horse supplies store. My feet are horrible in the winter and this cream was really good.

  186. My brother in law, a pharmacist, says that its good to avoid products using liquid paraffin as an ingredient, as this actually dries the skin. So I use this cream that I make up myself and it works well as a body lotion too. Take a jar of acqeous cream and add 20 ml( no more or the mixture becomes sticky!) of olive oil, almond oil and glycerine. These are all natural ingredients. Stir into the jar and that’s all. Works like a charm!!

  187. Hi Mary re winter hands. Are you able to get ‘Child’s Farm’ products? The range is as the name suggests aimed at children. But I find the moisturiser really good (and why not pamper ourselves a little) its a very light texture and not expensive.
    Love Brenda no

  188. I use, ” Miracle Hand Repair”. It is mostly Aloe Vera and comes from; P. O. Box 612688, Dallas TX. 75260-2688.
    I like that it is not tested on animals and is made in the USA. Dotty

  189. Mary, ditto to all of the above you mentioned. I also use an amope pedi file on my hands. I found that used lightly, it buffs off the rough edges especially where the finger tip meets the corner of the thumb nail. Then I moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. I also found that wearing gloves to do dishes helps a lot.

  190. I tried just washing my hands in Cetaphil the one for sensitive skin. I put that in my soap dispensers. Along with using a good lotion during the day and my favorite lotion Nivea almond oil. It is greasy which is why I only use it at night. I really take the time to rub it in well and keep doing that until my hands can’t seem to absorb anymore. It is a good plan with using the Nivea only at night it’s too oily to use it and do needle work.

  191. The best cream or lotion I have ever used is Udder Cream. Yes the cream dairy farmers use on their cows udders, at least they do here in Australia. It is so effective and has become so well known as a cure and prevention for dry cracked hands that it is now being produced commercially.

  192. I always had oily skin so when about 15 years ago my right thumb along the outside edge of the nail started getting dry in winter it was a shock. Since then the problem has progressed to the right index finger and this year the right middle finger joined them. I try to remember to wear gloves outside when it is even a bit cold – but I hate gloves and always have worn them as little as possible so it is hard to remember. (My hands are small and I always end up with flippy glove finger ends and have problems doing anything with gloves on.)

    I have also started to have dry skin in general all year long which gets to the point where it can hurt. However, I don’t like the feel of the various lotions and such and they feel even more uncomfortable to me than the dry skin plus I hate things with scents – my nose prefers odd scents (like car exhaust) to the ones other people like.

    About a decade ago I saw a lotion made for stitchers and bought a small bottle of it to try at a quilt show. It does not feel as greasy as others and had a no scent version which actually is no scent. I put the teeny tiniest drop part of a drop next to my nails and rub it in that are a problem just before I stitch to keep threads from catching. I still have most the bottle left to use as I use so sparingly.

    I do have udder cream to use if my hands etc. get to the point where I absolutely have to do something. My husband (a weaver and also a needleworker) is the same way, but this winter he has ended up split fingers. He bought something he heard about called O’Keefes and has been happy with that and keeps telling me to try it.

  193. I’ve used Udderly Smooth cream for years; it was recommended by the owner of a local stitchers shop (sadly closed following her retirement). It was originally used on cows to prevent chapped teats! No residue, no fragrance.

    Just a winter FYI: creams are better to use during winter; lotions tend to dry your skin out.

  194. ¡Hola! Quisiera añadir a estas recomendaciones, lo que siempre hacia mi madre. Ella bordaba los equipos de novia que sus clientas en Brasil llevaban cuando se casaban. Sus clientas venian a Europa a comprar sedas en Italia y encajes en Francia. Con esos tesoros volvian a Brasil, donde vivíamos entonces, y una modista hacía camisones, saltos de cama, combinaciones, enaguas, hasta zapatillas. Después se lo llevaban a ella y les hacía maravillosos bordados con hilos de seda de preciosos colores. Es un recuerdo básico de mi infancia; después de comer y limpiar la cocina, mi madre se asomaba a la ventana a mirar un rato la calle con una cucharada de azúcar y un chorro de limón en las manos. Frotaba durante un buen rato hasta que ya casi no se notaba el azúcar. Luego se las lavaba con agua y ya podía sentarse a coser toda la tarde hasta la hora de cenar.
    Vivíamos en Curitiba, capital del estado de Paraná.

  195. I sought out this article because I remember it being referred to on a post on Facebook. I suffer from Winter hands, it starts as soon as it gets cold and I try to remember to always wear gloves outside. I wonder if the Yu Be you refer to is similar to a product here in the Uk called Snowfire. It sounds the same. It is a little green wonder stick that cures my ha skin and smooths my washing up hands. I use a combination of Neutrogena hand cream, Garnier Waterlock and always have Milton Brown hand lotion at the sinks but it is a constant battle. I think I will try your olive oil and sugar scrub as a quick fix. Thank you.

  196. Hi, great and helpful article! I’m in Montana so it may be even drier here if that’s possible. (My MT native husband spent a few years in Kansas – I’ll ask him.)

    I’ve never thought about it but I love your point about bar soap vs pump soap. I’ll probably try it.

    Also, you mentioned no dishwasher, so I have a question for you: is there a particular reason why?

    Recently I’ve been wondering what the increased regular use of very hot dishwashers has done to our immunities as a whole. I grew up in the ’80s washing the dishes (almost) every night for a family of 8. I actually like doing it when I have time. Of course the dishwasher is faster, and works while I do something else: knit, crochet, you know. 😉
    Anyway, since I know the temperature of dishwasher water is far hotter than the water I got used to using as my mom continually reminded me that I’d get used to it (she was right), I have to think that our immune systems are challenged less and therefore are weaker, if only slightly.

    Anyway, back to work. I just wanted to share with someone seemingly like-minded.

    Happy stitching!

  197. I have battled painful, cracked fingertips my entire career, especially in winter, and it’s not especially cold where I live in California. I recently bought some blackout curtains for my camper van project, and I can’t stand the snagging of my hands on the material as I pass through the curtains from the cab to the interior. I’ll have to have some curtains custom made out of some non-snagging fabric. I was researching this subject when I found your site. Instead of gloves, another option for sewing with rough fingers is to wear finger “cots”, which are, essentially, surgical gloves for individual fingers. I order them online as I only want the large size. Otherwise, pharmacies carry multi size packs. They are very thin but surprisingly tough, and I find I can do quite very precise work while wearing them. Also, when I have a fingertip that needs special attention, I emery board, moisturize, and wear a cot for a few hours or through the night. Even without moisturizer, painful cracks and splits will seal, and the skin around that fingertip will be amazingly soft. But as good as this technique works, I still can’t stand microfiber or handling those new drapes!

  198. I hate sewing snags!! I’ve had this problem for years! My Mom had the same problem. I’ve tried moisturizers which only helped until the lotion dried or wore off. I have tried everything (well, almost). For years I’ve had a Furminator nail grinder in my drawer for my dogs. They hated it so it sat in my junk drawer for years brand new. I recently used it on my snaggly fingertips and VOILA CRACKS GONE! The trick is to use the low speed and do quick little “brushovers” over the trouble spots and avoid your fingernails of course. I just wanted to pass this on. Happy sewing!!

  199. Thank you for the advice on healthier hands. I have struggled with dry hands and splitting fingers for years. None of the marketed moistures really work for me. I’ll give these a try.

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