Admit it. You spend a lot of time and money taking care of your skin and hair—from sheet masks to professional peels, DIY hair treatments and root touch-ups. But there’s one area that often gets neglected—your hands. Just like you invest time and energy into your skincare routine, you also need to take care of your hands — and no, leaving a little hyaluronic acid on them doesn’t count. Your hands need their own maintenance routine, which is why we reached out to Essie celebrity manicurist Michelle Saunders and professional hand model Christina Ambers for their tips on how to keep your hands moisturized and supple for life.
How to Keep Hands Soft and Young
“If you want to keep your hands looking young, just pay more attention to them—it’s that simple,” says Michelle. “For example, most people just wash their hands and then add hand lotion. I suggest going deeper, just as you would with facial skincare.” If there’s no time for a polish change or manicure, Michelle suggests using a quality base coat to protect the nail from daily wear and tear, along with an oil to keep nails healthy and cuticles soft. Michelle recommends using Essie Base Coat and Apricot Cuticle Oil for this — two products that are great at helping your nails flourish.
Below you’ll find Michelle's routine for achieving and maintaining youthful-looking hands:
STEP 1: Wash hands with a moisturizing cleanser.
STEP 2: Exfoliate hands to remove rough, dead skin. We like Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Hand & Body Scrub because it’s both exfoliating and nourishing.
STEP 3: Add a serum to hands depending on your needs (e.g. brightening or anti-aging).
STEP 4: In the evening, finish with a deep penetrating moisturizer, and for day, add a dollop of sunscreen to the back of your hands as you would your face.
So how does a hand model keep her hands looking ready for the gram? Christina Ambers, dubbed the “Heidi Klum of parts modeling” shares everything from how the parts-modeling business really works to things to avoid for perfect, supple hands (ahem, washing dishes).
What does the path to being a hand model look like?
First and foremost, you must make sure your hands and nails are in perfect condition. This may take time. Nails need to grow out and scars have to heal. Also, you may need to implement lifestyle changes. For example, if you like to make pottery or paint, you may have to give that up since clay and paint can get trapped in the skin and nails and cause staining. Next, you need to have professional photographs taken. Choose a photographer who knows how to light hand shots correctly—with and without products.
What do you put on your hands & nails in-between shoots to keep them looking beautiful?
When I’m not working, I keep my nails free of nail polish. Not surprisingly, moisturizing constantly is key. I find it works best to rotate between different hand creams on a regular basis. Cuticle oils and creams are very important.
Are there any things you have to avoid?
I avoid products that have a high concentration of alcohol and fragrance (since perfumes are mostly alcohol). Alcohol is extremely drying, so hand sanitizers are off limits. I scrub diligently with gentle options, like glycerine soap.
But, what about washing dishes?
I don’t wash dishes by hand. I use a dishwasher.
Is there something you do regularly to keep your hands soft and youthful that most people don’t know or forget to do?
Anytime my skin gets wet, I moisturize immediately after. And I avoid using nail files more than once. In the same way a hairdresser needs sharp scissors to avoid split ends, nail files should be sharp so they don’t cause splitting and breakage down the line.
Tell us about your most memorable hand-modeling experience.
I’ve had so many wonderful modeling experiences, it’s impossible to select just one. I’ve worn multimillion dollar pieces of jewelry and held all sorts of animals, from baby tigers to snakes.