With winter in full swing, I've been delving into my collection of hand creams more and more often to help my hands survive the constant assault of the cold, dry, windy weather. An almost daily staple this season has been Santa Maria Novella's Crema Per Le Mani, an amazing hand cream that protects my hands practically all day and manages to smell delicious while doing so.
Watkin's Lemon Crème Body Butter is one of my favorite lemon-vanilla scented lotions, and its probably superior for all over body use, but the Santa Maria Novella cream, with a similar lemon-meringue pie scent, is far better for hands. Here the lemon is far more prominent, fresh, and zesty, so that one less likely to feel like a walking dessert. The thick, frosting-like texture of the Watkin's makes it impractible for use on the hands; the Crema is thin and light, but forms a very effective, emollient but non-greasy barrier against dryness that lasts even through hand washings for at least six to seven hours.
My only quibble with the product is that it comes in a jar, which makes for a messy application as some cream will always annoyingly get caught under one's nails. Nevertheless, I've grown fond of the quaint ceramic packaging, with its pleasant heft, old-world style decoration and hand-numbering. The other flaw is of course, its price: though it is much cheaper in Italy, it retails for a hefty $45 here in the US. It is a lot for a hand cream, but one can rest assured that the cream is of the highest quality, and it is at least more economical than Santa Maria Novella's other hand care offering, Pasta di Mandorle (whose smell is not quite so appealing, although it does make one's hands feel like pure velvet), which contains less than half the amount at the same price.
The Crema Per Le Mani is $45 for 100 ml. For buying information, see the listing for Santa Maria Novella under Perfume Houses.