6 DIY Hand Treatments and Scrubs That Actually Work

Photographed by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves. Hair by Malcolm Edwards at LGA Management; makeup by Sam Bryant at Bryant Artists; manicure by Loui-Marie Ebanks at JAQ Management. Booking by Special Projects. Produced by Jeff Delich at Padbury Production; production manager: Lauren Sakioka; photography assistants: Jess Ellis, Olivier Barjolle, Guillaume Mercier; digital technician: Daniel Archer; lighting director: Paul Burns; retouching: Graeme Bulcraig at Touch Digital; fashion assistants: Angus McEvoy, Harry Bradbury, Ellie May Brown, Rosie Smythe; production assistants: Charlotte Norman, Charlotte Garner, Alyce Burton; hair assistants: Lewis Stanford, Thomas Temperley, Sharon Robinson; makeup assistant: Paige Whiting; manicure assistant: Simone Cummings; tailor: Alina Gencaite; tailor assistant: Jurgita Doksiene.

It might be hard to believe, but hand-washing and sanitization guidelines were doled out in March 2020—who thought we’d still be in the same place one year later? Nevertheless, the need for proper hand hygiene and care remains at an all-time high; and the results of adhering to these recommendations have led to dry, cracked hands. To help your hands become softer and maintain that level of softness, we reached out to some of our favorite aestheticians to get their take on some of the most efficient, straightforward DIY hand scrubs to alleviate dryness and simplify your beauty routine—all of these ingredients should be in your kitchen.

Natalie Aguilar’s Soothing Vegan Hand Exfoliant

1 tablespoon granulated cane sugar

1 tablespoon oatmeal powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch

“With so much hand washing, constant alcohol sanitizing, on top of cold winter weather, our hands might be feeling irritated and dry,” Rita Ora’s LA-based facialist Natalie Aguilar says. She recommends oatmeal as a powerful healing agent for dry hands. “Oatmeal contains Beta Glucan, whose macrophages boost our skin’s immune system to speed up wound healing, making it ideal to soothe inflammation, heal cracks, and hydrate. Cornstarch is another beneficial ingredient that can soothe and calm skin irritations like sunburns, rashes, and itchiness. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that can deeply hydrate, reduce inflammation, and provide wound healing. I prefer to use sugar as a physical exfoliant, rather than salt, because salt is naturally drying. Sugar is a glycolic acid, found to be a natural chemical exfoliant. Glycolic acid dissolves the bonds that hold layers of skin cells together, so that the outer layer of dead skin cells can be stripped away. Sugar also softens, leaving hands feeling smooth. This simple, vegan DIY hand exfoliant will definitely make you fall in love with your hands again.

Mix one tablespoon of oatmeal powder (that’s dry oats blended into a powder) with one tablespoon of warm water. After mixing, add one tablespoon of cornstarch to thicken. Then mix in one tablespoon of coconut oil. After all four ingredients are mixed, apply a handful to clean hands and gently exfoliate for 30 seconds. Allow mixture to remain on hands for 1-3 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. Follow with a hand moisturizer or a drop of coconut oil.”

Joanna Vargas’s Honey Yogurt Hand Exfoliation Mask


1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

The bicoastal facialist responsible for the glowing complexions of Rachel Brosnahan, Julianne Moore, and Mindy Kaling is a firm believer in the benefits of brown sugar to exfoliate and heal hands. “Brown sugar is super soft on the skin, but just strong enough to really clean out your pores,” Vargas says. “The milk has lactic acid which will gently exfoliate you all over while the honey hydrates. It will leave the skin and body really looking fresh and clean! Blend ingredients and refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes. Apply it all over hands for 10 minutes for smooth, exfoliated hands.”

Vanessa Hernandez’s Nourishing Hand Scrub


10 crushed almonds

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon rosemary herb

1 ½ honey

1 teaspoon olive oil

“This recipe is 100 percent edible and actually tastes pretty good!,” says Los Angeles-based facialist Vanessa Hernandez. “Crush 10 almonds. (If you are lacking a food processor, pull out a cutting board and a mug with a small base. Push the bottom base of the mug onto the almonds, keeping the mug in close range and slowly pushing into the cutting board to crush the almonds.) In a bowl, add your 10 crushed almonds, 1 tablespoon grape seed oil, 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 1/2 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon olive oil. Stir with a spoon, muddling everything together for 1 minute.

Next: apply onto dry skin. Do not scrub aggressively—less is more when it comes to exfoliating. Gently massage your hands together, rubbing your DIY concoction over the tops of your hands, on each finger, massaging evenly around your fingernails; feel free to take it up to your elbows—this will definitely soften, rehydrate and nourish your skin. Massage into skin and leave on 3-5 minutes. Rinse with warm water. Follow up with your favorite moisturizer.”

Lakeisha Dale of Melaskin Studio’s Healing Brown Sugar Treatment


1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil

1 tube of your favorite lotion or cream

Cerave or Aquaphor Healing Ointment

1 pair latex-free gloves


“This is a great mask to give you super smooth, baby soft hands,” the New York-based aesthetician Dale says. “Mix together the light brown sugar and grapeseed oil until it makes a paste, then set aside. Wash your hands, then scoop the scrub into your hands and massage while your hands are wet slowly but gently. You don’t want to be aggressive because the sugar granules can scratch the skin if there is too much pressure and friction. Massage until you notice the texture of your hands feeling softer. Rinse and pat your hands until they feel damp, but not wet. Apply lotion to your hands, followed by less than a pea size amount of the Cerave healing ointment or Aquaphor. Put on the latex gloves, then put the sock over the gloves. Sit with your hands covered for 10 minutes then remove the socks and dispose of the gloves. Blot or wipe away any excess ointment and you’re done.”

Nachi Kanemaru Glick of Mist Beauty’s Healing Coffee Hand Scrub

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

¼ cup honey (raw honey is best)

½ teaspoon coffee grounds

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

“When I was working at a spa in the West Village, we made this homemade scrub to serve to our clients. Everyone was obsessed with it. The scrub exfoliates extremely well and thoroughly moisturizes the skin,” the model favorite NYC-based skin guru (Juana Burga, Steph Shepherd and Maryna Linchuk are devotees) says. Kanemaru Glick advises her clients to use the power of coffee grinds, honey, and lemon juice for a soothing hand scrub to relieve cracked hands. “The added bonus is that the aroma is so yummy. The brown sugar contains glycolic acid, contributing to the exfoliation. The lemon juice contains vitamin C and citric acid, (used for its detoxifying effects,) and coffee grounds are gentle as a skin exfoliator. Honey has a moisturizing effect, as well as anti-bacterial properties and antioxidants. When these ingredients are combined, they leave skin smooth and soft. Mix all ingredients together, leave on for a few minutes and then gently exfoliate hands for a minute or two and then rinse off.”

Ada Ooi’s Brightening Hand Peel

1 egg white

½ teaspoon lemon juice

“I recommend using the power of egg whites and lemon juice to brighten and soften hands. This mixture make use of the acids and proteins to perform exfoliating actions while keeping the hands moisturized and supple,” London celebrity aesthetician Ooi says. “It will also allow any hand mask or hand cream to absorb better afterwards. Mix well and use a brush to apply on the hands. Leave for 10 minutes then gently peel and scrub, and rinse off with warm water.”

Related: Dry Hands? A Guide to the Most Nourishing, Moisturizing Products