A hand cream is a semi-solid spreadable preparation for application to the skin and consists of an aqueous and an oily or oily component, one of which is distributed emulsion-like in the other.
Physically speaking, hand creams have a complex structure that mainly combines the structures of emulsions and gels. A distinction is made between water-washable creams, in which the oily components are finely distributed in a coherent aqueous phase and those in which the aqueous component is dispersed in the oily phase. This type of emulsion should combine the advantages of W/O emulsions and O/W emulsions. A low water content gives a cream oint-like properties, the incorporation of large quantities of finely ground solids leads to a pasty consistency.
Terms such as hand cream, cream in general, ointment, gel or lotion are used colloquially in some cases.