This is an opaque white creamy lotion in a tube. It's not very creamy by the usual hand-cream (rich unctuous Channel Island) standards, but that also means it's quite spreadable. There's also a similar lotion in a bigger bottle which is thinner and more of a runny liquid; it's cheaper but not as moisturising. And then there's variations on the same theme but marketed differently (kids' stuff, scented versions, sightly different face versions, etc.) and the company also make a foot cream and a cleasing bar that's slightly scented with coconut, apparently (not used it).
While this hand cream has no fragrant ingredients at all, it has a slight smell to it. Some people dislike it. Some find it repugnant and offensive. This is individual. I'm OK with it, and that's no criticism either way on the product or on others who perceive its smell differently: individual noses perceive odour differently (and there's neuro-wiring and a genetic side with some scents, ex. cilantro). Be ye warned: try before you buy.
The odour is a definite problem because if this smells rank to you in a fresh new tube, it will smell just as rank if and when it goes off. Borage seed oil is very fragile and goes off quickly; to do with shorter-chain fatty acids oxidising faster. It is not a good idea to use rancid oil; it can indeed be a bad and dangerous one. If this stuff smells "off" to you, either it is off (in which case, return it whence it came) or you are one of the lucky people to whom borage oil smells off (in which case, ditto). Better safe than sorry and certainly better than olfactory misery. For the record, some other oils may smell similar to you, such as evening primrose.
I've used this off and on for some years. My man reason for using it in the first place was that I was looking for a North American equivalent to a stupendous much-beloved emollient cream I used in the UK and Ireland (Allergenics), that had some key ingredients in common. Particularly borage / starflower seed oil; yes, that's the key ShiKai ingredient, and that stinky stuff isn't just there to torment you, if you're getting massive skank off all things unscented ShiKai. It's a seed oil that's very high in the omega-6 fatty acid GLA, which can be a useful thing on skin. I'd used borage oil years ago, both applied topically and taken orally, for alleviating eczema symptoms. There's more evidence for it working when ingested--also easier and cheaper, capsules costs a lot less and are more stable than the oil--but some for it working directly on skin. It seems to help my skin when it has eczema, though I found it more immediately useful and faster in swallowed-capsule form.
Other useful ingredients: pretty much everything in here. Soothing stuff like aloe vera gel, hydrating stuff like glycerin, the well-tolerated safflower seed oil (high in omega-3 fatty acids, good on a range of skin sensitivities), jojoba oil (love/hate, I can deal with it in smaller doses as here but break out and dry up using it neat), emollient waxy stuff like cetyl alcohol and shea butter, plus antioxidant vitamins E and C.
The borage hand cream works decently as a hand cream. It sinks in fast and smoothly. The dimethicone heps form a decent barrier against dehydration. Backs of hands retained moisture well. Other emollient and barrier creams will do a similar job. For drier hands and cracked skin, I'll still resort to thick balms like shea butter, Prevex protectant cream, petrolatum; and heavy ointments like Aquaphor, the old Weleda unscented calendula one (was in "first aid" areas in health-food stores, alas reformulated for the worse in some countries and extinct in others), or the (scented but not as dire as that Skin Food catastrophe) Weleda baby calendula weather everything.
I've also used the ShiKai hand cream as a facial moisturising cream in colder drier winter weather. It's just right: my one peeve with Allergenics was that their cream was a little too thick and their lotion not thick enough; I'd often use that cream mixed with oil as a compromise. But the ShiKai borage hand cream feels, to me, on dryish sensitive skin, just right. It's also in a bigger tube for less money, compared to the ShiKai borage actual face moisturisers.
Best use and fabulous value for money: as an eye cream.
I'm not wearing foundation, but found that sunscreens (including silicone-based ones) and concealer in the eye area applied fine and smoothly on top.
COSTS: around $6-12 (USD or CAD), online is cheaper, often stocked in health-food stores and here in Vancouver it's in some supermarkets.
ETHICS, PACKAGING, ETC:
No animal testing or ingredients; that statement carries the usual caveats and limitations regarding historical testing of ingredients (especially in the 1940s-50s) and the sensible application of fixed cut-off date policies.
Contains preservatives, yay; not parabens, which will please many people; and neither silly idiocratically-toxicophobic pseudo-preservatives, nor the irritating frequent alternatives to parabens. This cream used to contain diazolidinyl urea (can be a common irritant and can be a formaldehyde releaser) in an earlier version; hasn't contained it on the Canadian market for some time now.
Squeezy tube, easy to use; the lotion is in a more convenient pump-bottle. Recyclable plastic and cardboard outer packaging. I don't see anything in the ingredients that's a known environmental hazard, so I'm guesstimating this cream is pretty biodegradable and water-safe. For more questions on ingredient-sourcing and production methods, sustainable and other ethical practices etc. contact the company. Made in the USA.
INGREDIENTS: Aloe vera gel, safflower seed oil, glyceryl stearate, glycerin, jojoba seed oil, borage seed oil, cetyl alcohol (vegetable wax), vitamin E acetate, dimethicone, shea butter, sodium ascorbyl phosphate (vitamin C), phenoxyethanol, L-ergothioneine, ethylhexyl glycerin