Reviews & Recommendations

Products for a Twelve-Hour Nursing Shift

The Trusted Team
February 5, 2019
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Twelve-hour shifts are long. Unnaturally long. On top of that, nurses don’t have the luxury of stepping away for a run to the store or cafe around the corner for a pick-me-up. For a smooth shift, everything you use must last (many hours), and anything you’ll need has to be easily accessible, or you’ll likely have to do without it.

Nurses preach self-care day in and day out, but it’s not as often that we get to actually do it ourselves. It’s natural to feel over-extended and exhausted at times.

We are mentally, physically, and emotionally challenged on a daily basis, but there are some things we can do about it while on the clock! We’re not sponsored for any of the following (we wish), but want to share our favorite nurse products with you!

Best Products for 12-Hour Nursing Shifts

The below are our favorite products for those long shifts you might have and are also great gifts for nurses working 12-hour shifts. Nursing students take note!

Hand Creams

nurse shift hand cream

Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve

When you’re sanitizing your hands when entering AND leaving a patient room (and a million times in between), there’s no doubt that your hands will be dry as a desert. This hand salve helps to protect and repair any damage caused by the hard work that our hands do on a daily basis without making them feel super greasy. Another plus is that it’s not scented! (This is key for all the hospitals that enforce scent-free policies.)

nurse hand cream

Medline Remedy Hand Cream

Yep, this is the good, old-school, quick-run-to-my-unit’s-supply-closet hand cream that never fails us. Whether or not your hospital keeps this in stock, it’s another (cheaper) option for protecting your hands from cracking or peeling after days worth of hand sanitizer and soap. It’s hypoallergenic, contains many natural ingredients, and is safe for all ages!

Coffee Mugs

nurse coffee mug

Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug

These widely beloved mugs are so popular you might have to sharpie (or label-maker) your name all over yours to avoid mug mix-ups! Lock the no-leak lid for an added layer of security (ya know, when you throw it in your bag and run out the door), and it’s designed for single-handed sipping (yep, we just coined that as a term). They also fit in most car cup holders!

Drinks retain heat up to 5 hours and will stay cold for an average of 12 hours (perfect for those 12-hour nursing shifts). While these mugs are great at keeping your beverages piping hot or freezing cold, their lids are actually somewhat challenging to clean thoroughly and, for our germaphobes out there, the place that you drink out of is… exposed. But there are always alcohol pads laying around, right?

hydroflask for nurses
nursing hydroflask

Hydro Flask Double-Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel

These coffee mugs come in 12 oz, 16 oz, and 20 oz sizes and have a rep for keeping beverages hot or cold for hours. BUT, the flip-top lid that comes with the mug has been known to leak (just enough to be annoying, but not enough to make a huge mess). The River Stainless Steel Hood Cap can be purchased separately (and provides a convenient handle for carrying) if you are concerned about leakage.

This takes away from being able to maneuver the mug with one hand but offers an extremely easy-to-clean and reliable lid. These mugs also fit in most car cup holders! Drinks retain heat up to 6 hours and will stay cold for an average of 24 hours. So when you leave it untouched for your shift and show back up the next day, it’ll be waiting for you!

Face Lotion

face lotion for nurses

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion

Although we barely see the sun on work days (or nights), it’s helpful to have an all-in-one, non-comedogenic facial moisturizer. This one is designed to deliver a controlled release of moisture for 24 hours without leaving your skin greasy or irritating it with fragrances. Most hospitals filtered air is super dry, so be sure to moisture up!

Eye Drops

eye drops for nurses

Systane Long Lasting Lubricant Drops

To piggyback on the need for moisture in your skin, the lack of humidity in the hospital will either make your eyes water like mad, or dry them up. Systane eye drops are awesome because they don’t burn on application, like some other brands, and they’re known to help even the driest of eyes remain moist.


nurse lipstick

Dior Lip Glow

You won’t have to worry about a lip color that smears or shows up on your teeth. This lip balm is sheer (so you don’t go to work looking like you’re headed for the red carpet) and simply works to enhance the color that your lips naturally have. Not only that, but it operates as a moisturizer and helps to protect your lips for up to 24 hours!

Smudge-Resistant Shiseido Full Lash Multi-dimension Mascara

Long-lasting and smudge-resistant are keywords when nurses look for eye-makeup. Tears happen. Flying bodily fluids happen. Watery morning-eyes happen. Sweat happens. Heck, steam from your coffee happens! And when is there time to look in a mirror? Every 6 hours when you finally get to pee?

nurse eyeliner

Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

This easy-to-apply (because who wants to spend the time they could be sleeping on makeup application?) and precise eyeliner isn’t going to run no matter how much running you do. Sweating because you spent 12 hours in PPE? No problem.

nurse concealer

Estee Lauder Double Wear Concealer

If you haven’t noticed a theme, it’s sweat and time. This is a quick, simple, durable solution to spending excess time on your makeup in the morning (or at night before you head to work). This concealer can last up to 15 hours, and it’s one less thing to think about when you’re busy focusing on your patients all day long.


nursing shoes clogs

Danskos XP 2.0 Pull Up

If you have flat feet and/or over pronation and need solid arch and ankle support, these shoes keep your feet (and ankles, and knees, and hips) comfortable throughout a twelve hour day of running to and fro. They’re easy to clean and can handle CaviWipe Disinfection with ease. Some folks have trouble walking in these or feel that they are too heavy while others swear by them. Keep in mind that they take some time to break in, but once you’ve done that, they’re a win.

Try them out in a store where you can get feedback on the fit and walk around in them for several minutes.

nursing shoes nikes

Nike Free RN Flyknit 2018

These shoes make you feel like you’re barefoot. They’re super lightweight and flexible. For all our sneaker-wearing nurses (now, now – let’s not scoff at our clog-sporting friends), these shoes will help you make your shift the most productive and comfortable twelve hours on your feet. However, because they're porous, so watch out for those body fluids!


sockwell socks for nurses

Sockwell Socks

Nurses stand for hours (and it’s not natural for our bodies). Sockwell stands for nurses (and their wellbeing). You may not have a choice over the color or type of scrubs you wear, but you get to choose from some of the coolest colors and designs of the comfiest socks. They’re not hot or itchy, they don’t inch down until they’re bunched around your ankles, they’re not so tight that they make gnarly indentations in your legs, and your feet won’t sweat in them!

Hair Tie

nursing hair tie

Invisibobble Traceless Hair Ring

Hair can only handle so many ponytails before it stops bending and starts breaking. Our scalps can only handle so many hours of tight buns before the onset of a headache. These hair rings help to alleviate the pinching, the pulling, and the classic ponytail hair puckering (when you finally take your hair down at the end of the day).

The last thing you’d want is your hair falling into your face (or sterile field) during a dressing change, so here’s a middle-of-the-road best-of-both-worlds.

Meals (the occasional luxury)

lunchbox for nurses

Built NY

Packing a lunch is a healthy (and cheaper) way to go despite taking some extra planning and prep. Built NY has popular lunch bags including ones that fold flat and fit in your freezer for simplicity and convenience! They’ve got some solid colors or more elaborate designs and colors to prevent mix-ups in the break-room refrigerator!

nurse meal prep

Pyrex or Jalousie Glass Meal Prep Containers

Microwavable, easy to clean, leak-proof, and environmentally friendly, these containers will be your best friend for meal prep and storage. They are also space efficient and durable.

Snacks (the lifeblood of nursing)

gr8nola nursing snack


Ten simple, natural, clean, delicious ingredients, AND it’s soy, dairy, and GMO free. Gr8nola is convenient and portable, making it a go-to for busy mornings at the hospital, clinic, school, or while out and about. Plus, there are some super cool flavors you won’t find elsewhere.


nurse mouthwash

TheraBreath Oral Rinse

After you eat your snacks (or lunch), you might want something to refresh your breath. This oral rinse is perfect for you – it’s made with natural ingredients and relieves dry mouth symptoms. It’s also considerate for your patients who don’t want to smell what you’ve eaten!


headspace meditation for nurses


The night before a shift, the morning after, or during a lunch break in the middle… sometimes we just need to turn our thoughts off. The Headspace app has  meditations which are themed, guided, short, long, and everything in between. If forgetfulness is what keeps you from meditating, never fear! The app offers notifications which you can tailor to your daily habits and schedule.

According to company research, use of Headspace has been found to “enhance compassionate behavior toward others, reduce daily and perceived stress, and promote subtle improvements in focus, attention and the ability to ignore distractions.”

calm meditation for nurses


It’s natural to feel on-edge before your shift or after something wild happens on your unit. How do you process these emotions? With over 100 meditations focusing on themes from anxiety to sleep, and with 7-day as well as 21-day meditation plans, Calm boasts of its ability to help you work better, sleep better, and live better.

Unlike Headspace, however, Calm has a $60 annual fee associated with it (although purchase of the app is free).

All of these products are great for nurses who work day shift or night. If you're not a nurse yourself but know one, you can use the above to give the perfect gift to a special nurse in your life!

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