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2 Hand Creams with Claimed Specially for Dry Skin Turns Out with Disappointing performance in Reduction of Transepidermal Water Loss

  • 2019.11.15

With the onset of dry weather in autumn/winter, moisturizing hand cream that helps keep moisture retention and reduction of water loss of the skin invariably becomes an indispensable item of a lady’s personal belongings. In the first ever Consumer Council’s test on 13 hand creams available on the market, all models were by and large found to be satisfactory with nearly 80% of the models scoring overall performance rating between 4 and 4.5 points. Almost all models (11) claimed especially suitable for dry to extra dry skin but 2 of them turned out to be rather poorly rated with only 2 points in the performance test on reduction of transepidermal water loss. Moreover, vast price variations existed among the models, the cost based upon a quantity of 1.7g on each usage could differ by approximately 15 times. 8 models were labelled to contain ingredients of fragrance allergens, consumers with sensitive skin allergic to fragrance should choose with care. 

The test showed the overall performance of all models to be quite similar with nearly 80% of the models being rated 4 to 4.5 points. 12 models did well in “skin hydration” performance, scoring 4 points or above and among them 10 models scored full 5 points in “reduction of water loss” efficacy test. However, when it came to pricing, the models varied vastly from around $24 to $210 per bottle. Taking a quantity of approximately 1.7g per application, the cost for each use would be around $0.5 to $8.5, a difference of around 15 times. The Council noted the wide variety of hand creams available on the market that suits every pocket, and there are quite a number of low price products with good performance/efficacy for the choice of consumers. 

An important ingredient for skincare with good skin hydrating performance is glycerin. Amongst the 50 test models, the test found that after users trying the models with glycerin as a major ingredient (listed in second placing) for 2 weeks, their skin moisture content rose on an average of more than 40%. Glycerin is a commonly used humectant and skin conditioning agent that help absorb moisture and transfer to the outer layer of skin (stratum corneum).

Out of the 13 test models, 11 were labelled as suitable for “dry”, “very dry/extra dry” or “rough” hands but in fact 2 of these models were less than satisfactory, scoring merely 2 points in the “reduction of water loss” efficacy test. Besides, among the 4 models with claims of “All Day Care and Protection”, “24 Hours Moisture Retention” or “48 Hours Relief to Dry Skin”, only 1 model excelled in skin hydrating performance. Consumers should not solely rely on the product clams in their choice of hand creams.

Consumers are reminded that no consumers would in real life refrain from water completely for a whole day after using hand cream, therefore such claims of “24 or 48 hours protection/relief” are of little significance and there is no point to blindly chase after skincare products with such promotional gimmick.

As for user trial evaluation, it covered the important factors, such as the design of the bottle lid, product scent, and the feeling of grease and stickiness. In examining the product information, most models (10) were labelled to contain fragrance content with 8 of them containing 1 to even 10 ingredients of fragrance allergens, consumers allergic to fragrance ingredients should exercise care in making their choices.

 The test was coordinated by the International Consumer Research and Testing (ICRT) on a total of 50 hand cream models, of which 13 are available for sale in Hong Kong. It was conducted between April and May this year in Germany. In the trial, 20 Caucasian white women were applied with each model twice a day in the morning and evening for 2 weeks, and measured by an apparatus on designated area of the outer skin layer to assess skin moisture content, and also measured the rate of moisture evaporation through the skin surface to assess the efficacy of the test models in reduction of water loss. The measured data were used to compare with the values taken before use, to verify any significant improvement in skin moisture retention, and reduction in the rate of moisture loss. The overall rating also included results of a questionnaire survey on 30 women of different ages conducted onsite immediately after use as well as the product labelling information.

The actual efficacy of skincare products varies from person to person, consumers should choose in accordance with their own personal need and preference, and take heed of the following in the choice and the use of hand creams:

- Carefully read the ingredient list on the product label beforehand and for those who are allergic to fragrance should pay special attention to the contents of perfume and fragrance allergens which may trigger adverse reactions to the skin;

- People with preference for product scent and texture should try out the product before making a purchase decision;

- Applying hand cream every time after washing hands or wetting your hands with water, particularly after dish washing or household chores in contact with strong detergents, to moisturize and protect the hands;

- Apply hand cream evenly on both hands, fingers, tips and between fingers, and softly massage them until the cream is totally absorbed;

- In dry season or after exposure to sunlight during outdoor activities, the skin may become dry, and it is suggested to apply hand cream to moisturize both hands. Hand creams should therefore be carried all the time;

- Use mild hand cream while at work in office or outdoors during daytime and use thicker hand cream before sleep at night.     

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