Inside the Limited World of Hand Models

It's lucrative but involves patience and lots of lotion
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2016 5:00 PM CST
Inside the Limited World of Hand Models
A close-up of a model's hands with rings as she's prepared backstage at a fashion show.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Amanda George usually wears gloves and opens car doors with care. She eats with plastic utensils, applies hand lotion and cuticle oil regularly, and avoids bright nail polish that might stain. "I see girls in public with designs, a nice purple," she tells California Sunday Magazine. "I'm so jealous." But as a hand model, George can also use her perfectly thin-fingered, spotless, size-seven hands to earn $1,000 for a day's work. And in an advertising world full of hand-related products like jewelry, watches, nail polish, handy wipes, and toilet paper, there's a small but lucrative market for hand models to earn extra money or even make a career of it, Forbes reported in 2014. "A top girl ... can make around $75,000 a year," says the president of Body Parts Models Inc., and VOA News says the most elite hand models pull in $10,000 a day.

So what does it take? "Perfect hands," Vanessa Helmer wrote last year at That means "slender hands, straight fingers, uniform nail beds," good skin tone, and male hands that aren't "too hairy," she explains. Hand models also need to be comfortable "doubling" for models or celebrities in close quarters—running arms under their armpits, say, or putting hands on their face "to make it seem like my hands are theirs," writes hand model Susan Schell at XOJane. It's also important to convey "moods" with hands ("I know it sounds crazy," admits model Katrina Nelson) and keep hands steady when they go numb from being held up so long. A sense of humor might help, too: "Working one hand job to the next is my slogan, from Manhattan to Malibu," says top hand model Adele Uddo. (Meanwhile, a girl with Down syndrome became a Gap model.)

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