Microbiome — refers to the unique ecosystem of “trillions of microorganisms (also called microbiota or microbes) of thousands of different species” that lives within our bodies — yet, it’s only recently that our skin microbiome has come under the health world’s microscope.

Why is this? All the hand washing. We’re hearing it from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from our doctors, from our friends, and our neighbors. Suds up and get those hands clean on a regular basis in order to avoid contracting and transmitting COVID-19.

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While this is incredibly important guidance that we all should adhere to, there’s also a caveat to over-washing your hands: damage to your skin’s natural microbiome.

Just as there are trillions of microbes living within our body, there are also “trillions of bugs that live on our skin.” This diverse ecosystem keeps our skin healthy, protected, and moisturized and consists of bacteria such as “Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.” The skins microbiome is a creation dependent on a variety of factors including “the amount of light and whether the area is moist, dry, hairy, or oily,” as well as “age and gender.”

With that said, the health of our skin’s microbiome isn’t just about the health of our skin, but the health of our entire body. The skin microbiome plays many roles including communicating with our immune system, protecting us against infections, reducing inflammation, and even protecting us against environmental aggressors.

What happens when our skin’s microbiome is damaged? An imbalance of healthy skin bacteria — referred to as skin dysbiosis — can manifest in a variety of ways including “psoriasis, allergies, eczema, contact dermatitis, acne, poor wound healing, skin ulcers, dandruff, yeast and fungal infections, rosacea, and accelerated skin aging.”

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While all that hand washing is zapping the moisture from within the deep layers of your skin, turns out regular old lotion may not do the trick for replenishing said moisture. Instead, it’s recommended to opt for a balm, salve, or ointment. Adding one of these agents to your skincare regimen will help restore the “barrier function of the epidermis,” protect “small crevices between scales,” help to increase the water content, and will soothe irritated skin.

1. GiDDY Unscented Vegan-Friendly Hard Salve

GiDDY Unscented Vegan-Friendly Hard Salve/Amazon.com

This GiDDY Unscented Vegan-Friendly Hard Salve is the perfect hardcore salve for a hardcore vegan. This salve has been created with 100 percent all-natural ingredients to spur quick healing for a myriad of hand ailments including rips, tears, cuts, scrapes, dry, chapped, or chafing skin. Great for anyone from rock climbers and gymnasts to those suffering dermatitis to healthcare workers. GiDDY salve is free of parabens, alcohol, phthalates, mineral oils, DEA, formaldehyde, and petroleum. A 1-ounce container costs $10.95.

donchaknome says “I am in healthcare and wash my hands MANY times a day. My hands and nails are doing great this winter thanks to Giddy hand balm. It lasts through more than one washing or hand sanitizer and I love the smell. Highly recommend.”

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2. Sam’s Natural Knuckle Wax Hand Salve

Sam’s Natural Knuckle Wax Hand Salve/Amazon.com

This Sam’s Natural Knuckle Wax Hand Salve is designed with natural oils and butter to protect the skin long after it’s been applied. This hand salve is free of harsh chemicals, is certified vegan, and is cruelty-free! A 6-ounce container costs $6.95.

LRamz says “Got this as a gift from my husband. Works great! Regular lotions just temporarily cover the problem but this actually healed the scarring that was building on my knuckles from dry skin. My knuckles were cracked and bleeding before this and it was hard to find a good vegan/cruelty-free resource that helped. I am so grateful that my hands no longer hurt and even look moisturized. I’ve only used it 3 times and it is already 10x better!”

3. WALRUS OIL Logger’s Vegan Hand Salve

WALRUS OIL Logger’s Vegan Hand Salve/Amazon.com

This Walrus Oil Logger’s Vegan Hand Salve may sound a bit too tough for you, but it’ll do the trick when your hands are overwashing and in need of protective moisturizer. Walrus Oil is certified plant-based, 100 percent vegan, and designed to soothe dry skin with a blend fo handcrafted coconut oil, olive wax, candelilla wax, cocoa butter, kokum butter, clove leaf oil, peppermint oil, and vitamin E. Especially great in cold, harsh climates, this Walrus Oil hand salve will save your overwashed hands! A 2-ounce container costs $6.99.

AP says “I’m obsessed with this stuff. I love it so much I ordered some for stocking stuffers! It is definitely more of a balm than lotion, but it is sooooooo great for healing dry, cracked skin. I definitely recommend.”

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4. Daily Hydration Shea Moisture Dry Skin Vegan Hand Salve

Daily Hydration Shea Moisture Dry Skin Vegan Hand Salve/Amazon.com

This Daily Hydration Shea Moisture Dry Skin Vegan Hand Salve is not only 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free, but Shea Moisture also sources only natural and fair trade ingredients. On top of that, this hand salve is certified organic. Designed specifically to restore dry, cracked skin, this vegan hand salve is a unique blend of virgin coconut oil, coconut milk, and acacia senegal. A 3.5-ounce container costs $19.99.

5. Healing Hand Salve

Healing Hand Salve/Amazon.com

Looking for a more savory scent rather than a flowery concoction? This Healing Hand Salve combines the warming spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove into their vegan hand salve. A unique blend of fatty acids and polyphenols from organic coconut oil, shea butter, candelilla, cocoa seed butter, grapeseed, kernel oil, clove oil, and cinnamon bark oil hones this salve into the ultimate healing tool. A 40-gram container costs $8.00.

6. SpaRitual Citrus Cardamom Hand Salve

SpaRitual Citrus Cardamom Hand Salve/Amazon.com

This SpaRitual Citrus Cardamom Hand Salve is vegan certified, Leaping Bunny Certified and is free of parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances, and dyes. This specific formula blends together marula oil, shea butter, and honeybush extract, which helps soften, moisturize, and rejuvenate dry, cracked, and chaffed skin. A 1.5-ounce container costs $17.99.

Ashley D. Brown says “othing has protected my sensitive skin like this formula! With repetitive hand washing and the drying seasonal weather, my hands had zero chance! Then I tried this miracle blend and pow! My hands have never felt better! Oh and the fragrance is heavenly! Do yourself a favor! SpaRitual has got it right! Love this brand!”

7. 100% PURE Gingerade Vegan Hand Buttercream

100% PURE Gingerade Vegan Hand Buttercream/Amazon.com

It’s all in the name of this one! This 100% PURE Gingerade Vegan Hand Buttercream is a deeply moisturizing concoction of anti-inflammatory argan oil, anti-aging rosehip oil, antioxidant-rich green tea, and skin-loving vitamin E. In order to provide moisture and softening powers, this buttercream includes cocoa butter and avocado oil. This buttercream is not only cruelty-free and vegan, but it’s also free of any toxic synthetic ingredients. A 2-fluid ounce bottle costs $15.00.

Jennifer says “It’s amazing! This brand is just unbelievable good! I’m really happy about the scent, it lasts for a long time and it even resists hot water washes. Cruelty-Free, environmentally friendly and without nasty chemicals. You get the best with 100% Pure!”

8. Nacomi Vegan Natural Coconut Oil Cream

Nacomi Vegan Natural Coconut Oil Cream/Amazon.com

This Nacomi Vegan Natural Coconut Oil Cream is made from a mixture of all-natural cold-pressed coconut oil and vitamin E. This vegan-friendly hand cream not only provides deep moisture, but it soothes chapped skin and slows aging. A 100-milliliter bottle costs $10.17.

Lee Langstone says “Smells lovely and very moisturizing.”

9. Native Essence Botanicals Vegan Herbal Healing Salve

This Native Essence Botanicals Vegan Herbal Healing Salve is a gentle, all-natural, preservative-free formula meant to provide natural first aid and healing powers to dry, cracked, and chapped skin. This vegan-friendly hand salve combines natural butter, oil, and organic herbal infusions, such as comfrey, calendula, and chamomile to provide organic botanical skincare. A 1-ounce tin costs $7.95.

Skye says “I had a bad dog bite on my leg that was going to scar badly and not heal properly but after applying this salve on my wound for two weeks healed it right up! ( No longer a scab ) I still apply it to the now scar and I feel it’s making it fade. Highly recommend this product and this company makes some great vegan products that are worth checking out! 5 stars from me :)”

10. Tamanu Oil Organic Vegan Balm

Tamanu Oil Organic Vegan Balm/Amazon.com

This Tamanu Oil Organic Vegan Balm is a unique blend of organic cold-pressed tamanu oil, natural plant wax, vegan camellila, shea butter, sweet almond oil, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, frankincense oil, and fair trade coconut oil. This rescue balm is developed to reduce pain, heal burns, and rehydrate dry, chapped skin. Loaded with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antibiotic, and antioxidant properties, this vegan hand salve is perfect to heal overwashed hands. A 2-ounce container costs $16.00.

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

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