Kitchn Love Letters

I Finally Found a Remedy for Dry Winter Hands (and It Smells So Good!)

published Nov 16, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Person washing dishes at a kitchen sink
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Anna Surbatovich

It’s the time of year where I wish I was Mrs. Weasley — remember that scene in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” where Ron’s mom uses the silent (yet extremely effective) cleanup spell to wash, dry, and put away a ginormous pile of dirty dishes? Well, even it you’re not a Harry Potter fan, my point stands: Doing dishes is far from the top of the list when it comes to my favorite activities. While I actually don’t mind the act itself (it can be somewhat relaxing, especially when you have the right washing and drying tools ), it’s the dishwashing aftermath that personally makes the chore so unsavory.

Because I refuse to wear dish gloves (they’re just not for me), when the cold, dry weather rolls around, my hands suddenly reach drought-level skin quality. To make matters worse, the colder months are those which contain most of the major cooking holidays. That means double the punishment for my poor hands. While I might be able to nourish my parched skin with moisturizing lotion on days when I cook just one meal, the cooking and baking marathons ahead require a little more magic (Mrs. Weasley, where’s your spell for healthy, moisturized skin?). Luckily, I found a little solution — before all the holiday shenanigans begin — that’s been a total game-changer for my desperate hands: Wonder Valley’s Two Deserts Soap.

This plant-based bar soap is carefully crafted by the makers of my favorite, extremely giftable olive oil, Wonder Valley. Lathering my arid hands with the nourishing bar is a special experience for me — because I’m from California, and spent much time in the mountains there as a child, the earthy high desert smells of galbanum, sage, eucalyptus, rosemary, and the sweet notes of cardamon, vetiver, bitter orange, and cinnamon practically transport me to Sierra sunrises and long hikes through the chaparral. I’m convinced those of you who are not CA-natives will also find the complex and subtle fragrance absolutely heavenly.

Aside from all the desert scents, the soap’s star ingredient is Wonder Valley’s small-batch olive oil (which is made with olives pressed within mere hours of leaving the branch). The healthy dose of antioxidant-filled oil that’s infused into this soap’s formula has some seriously positive effects on the hand-cleaning experience. When sudsing, I can feel a layer of oil coating my hands, and when continuing to scrub, it almost feels like applying a luxurious face oil. However, once washed off, my hands come out squeaky clean — not before the oil has soaked in, though. Don’t worry: Post-wash, my skin doesn’t feel greasy or oily. Rather, I’m left with fresh and clean-smelling hands that are more moisturized than they would be if even if I had applied lotion. Talk about spells and potions — this bar is pure magic.

Credit: Stella Totino

Since I discovered this bar of gold, I complete my dishwashing duties, then go ahead and wash my hands with the elegant soap. It seems counterintuitive to go back in with some soap after just emerging from a sudsy scrub, but think of it as a moisturizing step (the bonus is that there’s no way your fingers will be left smelling like food). This two-step routine keeps my hands happy and ready for the next inevitable cleanup.

There’s no denying the difference in the feel, texture, and look of my hands. The Two Deserts soap has so deeply effected my daily routine and comfort, I just can’t help myself from ordering a whole boatload of bars for my loved ones (I can’t think of a better stocking stuffer). Actually, I’ll be needing a secondary bar for myself. Seeing what wonders it has done for my hands, I can’t wait to use the soap in the shower. I expect I’ll come out as soft, silky, and smooth as olive oil itself.