Taking care of your most useful appendages requires commitment as well as a few well-honed tricks, like these from veteran hand model Ellen Sirot.

By Sarah Smith
Updated September 08, 2009
Victor Schrager
  • Keep lotion everywhere. Place a hand-cream pump at every sink in your house and stash travel-size tubes in your desk drawer and purse so you’ll never forget to moisturize.
  • Pamper your cuticles. After showering, use a wet washcloth to push cuticles gently back so they frame the nails. Avoid trimming, which can leave the area open to infection.
  • File nails, then cut conservatively. Clipping the whole nail in one fell swoop can be too aggressive, causing it to tear and peel. Instead, use an extra-fine emery board and file to a rounded shape. “Mirror the curve at the base of your nail to get the best natural look,” says Sirot. An additional benefit: Rounded nails are less likely to break than squarer shapes. If you do need to cut, do so in several small snips across the nail.
  • Wear gloves while cleaning and washing dishes. Chemicals and hot water can strip away the protective lipid barrier from your skin, making it susceptible to irritation and dryness.
  • Raise your hands above your heart for one minute. Dubbed “draining” by hand models, this trick reduces the amount of blood flow to the hands, making them appear less blotchy. “And when your hands need to look their best, minimize your salt, caffeine, and sugar intake to help make veins less prominent,” says Sirot.
  • Treat with at-home ingredients. For softer, more hydrated skin, mix raw oatmeal and honey together and apply to hands; let sit for five minutes. Rinse off with warm water.