Crème de la Crème: The Best Lotion for “Art Teacher Hands”

Today I’d love to talk about art teacher hands. If you’re not familiar with the term, perhaps you know them better as the dry, cracked, flakey things at the end of your arms.

In all seriousness though, having your hands in materials like clay, paint and paper mache all day can make for some pretty unpleasant skin conditions. Not to mention all the hand washing during cold and flu season. I personally struggle with scaly rashes, splitting nails and cracking cuticles. Or should I say, I struggled with these conditions. But, no more! My art teacher hands have been cured.

What’s my secret? Well, I feel a little guilty telling you this, but my secret is really, really expensive hand lotion. Like, twenty-dollar-per-bottle hand lotion. Like, only-have-it-if-someone-buys-it-off-of-your-holiday-wish-list lotion. But, in my experience, it has been so worth it. So without further ado, the best lotion I’ve ever found for art teacher hands is Aveda Hand Relief.

There are a few reasons why I love this product. One reason is that the thick formula absorbs almost immediately, meaning I don’t have to teach with greasy hands. Another reason I love Hand Relief is that it lasts forever. Believe me when I say a little goes a long way. Finally, the scent is light and earthy, meaning it works well for both men and women. I cannot say enough about how this lotion has helped me through the winter season.

If you’d like to purchase Aveda Hand Relief you can use the store locator feature on the website, or order directly online. Or better yet, why not just add it to your holiday wish list. I know that’s what I’ll be doing.

Tell us, do you have a favorite lotion you use to keep art teacher hands at bay?

We’d love to hear about it in the comments section.


Amanda Heyn

Amanda is the Senior Editor at AOE. She has a background in teaching elementary art and enjoys working to bring the best ideas from the world of art ed to the magazine each day. 


  • This is hands down of one my favorite lotions!  I haven’t owned a bottle in years.  I know what I’m adding to my Christmas list.  Thanks for reminding me about a fantastic product.

    • Isn’t it great? It lasts me the whole year!

    • What a great idea to add it to my Christmas list! I have never tried it before but I’m always looking for great hand lotion! Thanks for the recommendation!

  • I am starting to be of the “quality vs. quantity” when it comes to many products theses days. Think of how many bottles of $5 lotion we all have sitting in our cupboards that we didn’t really like. Its worth it to pay for something when you know you love it. 

    I also have really chapped hands in the winter and found lotion, then putting on rubber gloves really got me through clay season in January. 

    • Did you work with the clay with rubber gloves on? Intriguing…

      • Yes I did! They were the tighter and thinner latex gloves, so I still felt like I could work the clay accurately, and it saved my hands. I also didn’t like the feeling of the clay drying on my hands (can I admit that as an art teacher?) so this helped, too. I know, I’m weird! 

  • Mnilsenphoto

    I was just complaining about my art teacher hands and need to try this stuff out.  Thanks

  • Jen

    Aye-yai-yai. My poor hands. Literally the only time I like the way my hands look is from June to August. I’d like to try the lotion you recommend, but maybe I’ll ask for some for Christmas. I just keep a few generic bottles of lotions right by my computer and try to use it frequently throughout the day. Here is my next plan of action: hand soap. I usually just use the kind that is school-generic, but I always notice that my hands feel horrible by the end of the day. So I thought about buying nicer soap. Then I can just it in the cabinet by the sink when I am not using it. :)

    • Good idea, Jen! I’ve never thought about switching out my soap. I bet it would make a big difference. 

  • Momtbomb

    Thanks for posting this, I am always on the look out for a good hand lotion.  I like to apply Burts Bees cuticle cream before I work with the clay in the morning.  It seems to help.

  • Ren

    That’s exactly what I use!  I ask for it every Christmas!  A parent gifted me my first bottle when I was working in a daycare center right after college.  It’s AMAZING.  And I’m cheap but it’s still worth springing for.  It’s so good, I feel like it should be by prescription only! 

  • Charmaine

    I like Bath and Body Works products with Shea butter in them. They keep changing the labels, but the ones that don’t have the “scent of the month” are the ones I like best. I think one of the labels says “Look ma, new hands” or something like that. I also keep a box of non-latex disposable gloves in the cabinet above my art room sink. I put them on whenever I’m prepping clay or cleaning paint brushes, etc. so that really cuts down on the amount of time my hands are soaking in water.

    • I bought a pair of rubber cleaning gloves at the beginning of the school year, and I keep forgetting to get them out when doing tasks at the sink! Thanks for reminding me :). 

  • guest

    Every winter the skin near my nails on my thumbs cracks and hurts like crazy. O’Keeffee’s Working Hands cream is the only product that keeps this from happening.  

    •  Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll have to try it out!

  • I need to give this a try.  It would make a great art teacher gift too!

  • Artisticmuse1

    Udder cream or Gold Bond brank, then put your hands in soft cotton gloves. Work cream especially into the cuticles and sides of fingers that hand paper the most.

  • r+tist

    I use Burt’s Bees Almond Milk Beeswax Hand Creme.  The beeswax forms a waterproof barrier that saves my hands from moist media and multiple hand washings. It is very rich and creamy and absorbs right away.  I also keep a soft terry hand towel above my sink just for me, instead of using the school’s abrasive paper towels:)

    • I love Burt’s Bees products. I’ll have to look for that one. Also…a special towel, that’s genius! 

    • Great idea to use another towel of your own. Tucking one in my apron during clay time is handy, too!

  • Chooseitquick

    Aubrey’s unscented ultramoisturizing hand lotion is the best for me. Also, keeping a moisturizing bar of soap at school and not using the school’s antibacterial soap has made a difference.

  • Phyllis

    Save your hands and the usage of water by using Perler bead, pegboard basic shapes from Michaels for your brush cleaning tools.
    I hold them perpendicular to the sink under running water to clean my brushes. They are awesome for mop brushes and even faster for the smaller ones. A great way to keep your hands from so much tempera.

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  • Becca Kallem

    An amazing thing to try: when you are about to put on vinyl/latex/rubber gloves, put hand cream on first! While you work, your hands will stay clean AND be treated to a super moisturization session as the gloves keep all the lotion in! I started this trick in my painting studio (while using surgical-style disposable glove to keep oil paint pigments and solvents off my skin) and now use it in the classroom now and then too!

  • Annmarie

    Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream, fragrance free! I love it for work, it’s inexpensive, the small tube fits in my apron, and it’s thick and absorbs well. I do use Aveda Hand Relief at home, though. It is my Christmas present to myself every year, and I put in on before bed each night! I love the smell so much!!

  • ckruger

    I have found that Gold Bond Ultimate Healing Skin cream has helped my skin stay healthier all year round, even with constant hand washing. It is moderately priced at $7 a tube or bottle. Sometimes I have worn plastic gloves when re washing the Kindergarteners brushes after school too!

  • Elizabeth

    I keep a bottle of Palmolive soap for washing by my sink. Us old folks will remember the commercial … You’re soaking in it… Yes. I use Bert’s Bee lotion…but my favorite product is Gloves in a Bottle. A pea size amount rubbed on you hands will seal your skin keeping your own moisture in AND keep watercolor from staining, clay from drying etc. I even but some on my cheeks before cold morning car duty!

    • Oooo. I’ll have to look into Gloves in a Bottle- sounds awesome!

  • Christina Papanikolaou Erb

    Gold Bond, Suave Advanced Therapy and Jergen’s are all great. I am not the only one who uses it. I let my kids have a squirt if they want, especially after clay projects.

  • I LOVE this hand cream. I’ve been using this since the mid 2000’s. I highly recommend it.

  • Gwendolyn

    I’ve found that part of the solution to “Art Teacher Hands” is to AVOID the school’s disinfecting hand soaps/hand sanitizer. Instead, I bought a much gentler cleanser at the local AKINS store, and put it near the sink. Curel lotions also work wonders for daily maintenance.

  • Angela Rago

    Dr. Hunter’s Rosewater and Glycerine Hand Creme is my favorite. It helps my hands the most and also smells nice. I hope it helps anyone who tries it.

  • Hazel

    I swear by Avon’s Silicone Glove….even after you wash your hands, some remains behind….yet it is not greasy and sinks right in!

  • MB

    I started using Body Shop hemp cream handsoap. Amazing and i dont need to put lotion afterwards.

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  • Tery

    I love Cetaphil! Keep some on both of my desks and use it often! Expensive but lasts long and works without bei g greasy!