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What is a Hand Salve?

Diane Goettel
Updated May 21, 2024
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Hand salve is a very thick emollient that is used to soothe dry and cracked skin. The skin on the hands generally takes a much harsher beating than any other skin on the body. Furthermore, hands are very often exposed to harsh soaps and detergents that can draw a great deal of oil and moisture out of the skin. For people who work with their hands or spend a great deal of time in cold weather, which can leave the hands chapped, hand salve can offer a great deal of relief.

Most hand salves are made with natural oils such as olive oil or jojoba oil and beeswax. These are the key ingredients which replenish moisture in the skin. It is also common for hand salves to be made with essential oils. Hand salves made with tea tree oil are good for people who have small cuts or scrapes on their hands. This is because tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and can help to heal wounds while also warding off infection. It is also possible to purchase hand salve that is made with fragrant essential oils such as lavender and rosemary. Many companies that sell hand salves offer a few varieties, some of which are made with essential oils.

In order to treat very dry hands, first wash the hands in warm water to soften the skin. Be sure not to use a harsh soap as that will only worsen the problem. Once the hands are warm and the skin has softened, rub a generous amount of salve into the hands. Be sure to target the fingertips and knuckles, as these are the parts that chap most easily. For an extra treat, put on a pair of clean cotton or terry cloth gloves. This will help to keep the hands warm as the salve sinks in and does its work.

Because hand salves are so thick, they are generally not good for use on other parts of the body, especially the face. Using a hand salve on the face could lead to excessively oily skin and breakouts of blemishes. It can be very good for dry and chapped feet. Follow the same instructions for the feet as for the hands. After applying the slave to the feet, slip on a pair of clean cotton socks. Hand salve can also be used to treat dry or cracked elbows and knees which are also areas prone to dryness.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diane Goettel
By Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband, Noah. They are the proud parents of a Doberman Pinscher named Spoon. Specialties: book editing, book marketing, book publishing, freelance writing, magazine publishing, magazine writing, copywriting,"
Discussion Comments
By CarrotIsland — On Jan 02, 2011


I have the same problem with my hands. I have spent more money on products that were supposed to be proven to work and none of them did. I was in a local herb store one day and the lady that worked there gave me a recipe to make a homemade salve for my hands. I tried it and I was amazed at the results. Maybe this will help you.

You need 1 cup of herbally infused oil, 2 ounces of Beeswax, 10 capsules of Vitamin E oil, ½ tsp. tea tree oil, and ½ tsp. lavender essential oil.

In a small pan on low heat, add the beeswax and herbally infused oil until they start to melt. Cut open the vitamin E capsules and squeeze the oil into the beeswax mixture. Remove it from the heat and add the tea tree and lavender oils.

Pour a tiny amount on a piece of waxed paper and test the thickness. If you want it harder, you can add more beeswax. If you want it to have a thinner consistency, you can add more oils.

When it is at your desired consistency, pour the balm into a clean, sanitized jar and let cool. It is the best skin salve I have ever used.

By momothree — On Dec 30, 2010

Can you make a homemade herbal salve? I have very dry hands and they sometimes crack during the winter months. I have tried just about everything. Any ideas would be appreciated?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
"Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. Diane lives in Mount...
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