New York City’s Ellen Sirot is a top hand model, hand care expert, Founder/CEO of Hand Perfection, beauty launch consultant and motivational speaker. As you might expect, she didn’t grow up dreaming of being a hand model, but as a struggling dancer she discovered the world of “parts modeling” and actively pursued the niche of hands, coaxing, protecting and beautifying her hands until they met the strict requirements of the field. Her expertise in perfecting and protecting the perfect looking hands has let to the creation of her own hand care beauty line – Hand Perfection. Read on to learn more about this unusual career and Ellen’s tips for beautifying your own lovely hands.
Tell us something about yourself.
I grew up in CT. I was a serious dancer from a very young age and went to Barnard College as a double major: Dance and Economics – both of which have become very significant in my hand modeling career.
I never planned on being a hand model. It was not my answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow-up?” By a very lucky series of events I fell into the field of “parts modeling” as a way to earn extra money while I was trying to support myself as a dancer. My foray into the field was as a leg and foot model (quite a literal leap from the days of battering them in the dance studio). I quickly realized that modeling definitely beat waitressing. Just as quickly, I saw that the competition was fierce. I determined that the busiest area of the field was hand modeling, and that I would have to break into that tight market to make a full career out of parts modeling.
As I looked at my hands, I thought they were very nice. Since I had achieved some success in the leg and foot market pretty quickly, I was unprepared for the dose of reality from my agent. “You have nicely shaped hands,” she said. “But, in order for me to send you on auditions, you have to have perfect hands.”
I was given no guidance on how to accomplish this task. At that point, I began my quest for perfect hands. The first thing I needed to do was to define what beautiful hands were and why I did not have them. By speaking to experts, observing the hands of top hand models, and staring at every set of hands I came across, I became a “hand detective.” I discovered that a perfect hand combines the following qualities: skin that is even-toned, soft, smooth, and non-blemished, with a minimum of wrinkles; nails that are healthy, clear and strong; and cuticles that are supple and well-conditioned.
After realizing that there were no books to help me “make over” my hands, I spent a year seeking out effective products and developing my own systematic approach to hand care. During that first year, my hands changed dramatically. Their skin tone became extremely clear and even. My nails became strong and healthy. Soon my agent began sending me out for hand work, and before long I was booking job after job.
What kind of work have you done as a hand model?
My hands have played a starring role in thousands of print ads and TV commercials – from food to fashion, pharmaceuticals to electronics, and diapers to diamonds. They have appeared in every major fashion magazine, and have worked with the world’s top photographers. I’m even a “hand in” for A-list celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker, Hillary Swank, Rachael Ray, Jennifer Garner, Alana De La Graza and Josie Maran.
Is it possible to have a full-time career as a hand model?
It is possible to have a full-time career as a hand model as I have for the last 20+ years. But a “full-time” hand model career does not mean you are working on a set everyday. It means you are taking care of your hands 24/7 and being ready for the bookings as they often come in at the last minute. I am basically on call for HAND 911’s all the time. Additionally, the full time-ness of hand modeling is often auditioning, networking, marketing and doing PR for yourself. There are very few full-time hand models – you can count them on one hand!!
How much can a hand model expect to get paid?
A hand model can make anywhere from $150/day to $2,500/hour, depending on the product, visibility, etc
Usually as a hand model, it’s hard to become well known and famous like other models, does that bother you?
The fact that being a hand model means you are “unrecognizable” talent does not bother me. In fact it allows me to work more often as I do not have product conflicts as other traditional model/actors have. Also, I have been able to leverage my recognition within the advertising/modeling world into other areas where my expertise is also useful – as a hand care expert and as the Founder and CEO of my own line of anti-aging hand care products, Hand Perfection.
What do hand model hands look like?
Hand model hands must be soft and smooth, with even skin tone; no hyper-pigmentation, age spots or loss of elasticity; pristine cuticles and healthy nails; not a bump, scrape, bruise or bulging vein or muscle.
What are some tips that every woman can do to have the best hands possible:
The hands have very delicate skin – so they respond quite quickly to being cared for. I think every person can work hand care into their life by just adding a minute to their beauty care routine giving them the most ageless, soft, healthy hands that they can have.
Our hands are our fastest aging body part – due to constant use and exposure – and they can actually make you look and feel older than you really are! As we reach our 30s and 40s, our hands get even dryer than they have ever been and aging is accelerated. Take matters into your own hands and follow my quick and easy tips for soft, ageless hands easily and quickly:
1. Wash with a gentle, sulfate free cleanser to nourish hands – rather than harsh soaps or dehydrating anti-bacterials that strip the delicate skin! Also keep dishwashing gloves around for cleaning and messy situations so you can actually avoid further non-essential hand washing. Remember to gently pat dry – do not stretch out the skin.
2. Replenish the moisture after you wash your hands. Look for a nutrient-rich cream that is loaded with skin-friendly fatty acids and antioxidants to nourish the delicate skin of the hands, while helping combat signs of skin aging (lines, wrinkles, age spots). Petroleum-free formulas are designed to stay on through multiple washings – without any sticky tackiness. Plus optics technology helps improve the appearance (texture and tone) of hands instantly.
3. Take a minute each day to focus on your nails and cuticles, become less reliant on costly manicures, and work on helping your nails look good naked! Apply a gentle nail-specific oil to condition dry, jagged cuticles and nourish and strengthen nails. Gently push back cuticles with a washcloth while you are in the shower – or after you have applied oil to avoid the need to cut. It only takes a minute and makes a HUGE difference.
4. Use an overnight hand-specific serum to capitalize on the body’s circadian rhythms to give the skin of your hands an overnight boost while not in use!
5. Get in the habit of treating your hands like jewels – not tools. And use the tools to help you – letter openers, scissors and bottle openers all help us avoid hand harm.
6. Always remember to sun-proof your hands when going outside – by using sunscreen on your hands and/or using UPF Sungloves
Tell us something about your hand care brand “Hand Perfection”
As I pursued my goals of constantly fine-tuning and perfecting my hands and to become a super model in the field, I gained the upper hand with an unusual body of knowledge. As I entered my 40s, I began to see that my hands were beginning to show signs of age – and I could not find any products that were effective for the delicate skin on our hands. I began to experiment with various formulations I was hand-making in my kitchen! Eventually I saw that this part of the beauty industry had been neglected and I took the entrepreneurial plunge by launching my own line. Hand Perfection is the first award-winning, clinically-proven anti-age brand dedicated to the specific anti-aging needs of the hands and nails. Hand Perfection has received numerous beauty awards and has been featured in many major magazines and beauty blogs.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy everything about my job: earning a living within the modeling world by taking the utmost care of my hands; using my dance training to be the very best hand model I can be by being fluid, graceful and hitting my marks for my modeling work; being able to help others feel better about their hands through my work as a hand care expert and the CEO of Hand Perfection.
Does it make sense to focus on niche when it comes to a career or business?
I feel if you want to make a living within the modeling or acting world it is very important to differentiate yourself from the rest of the people in your “type.” So I would certainly agree it makes sense to focus on your personality, strengths and what you bring to the situation. On a business level, I completely agree it is most important to find a need or an untapped corner of the market that you can bring attention to – then give it 1,000%.
Do you think hands and feet are some of the most ignored parts of most people’s bodies?
I absolutely agree that hands and feet are very ignored parts of our bodies – yet they are actually one of our most sensitive and sensual areas, with more nerve endings than almost any of our other parts. Additionally, our hands tell so much about us – they show our age, our attention to detail and even can show self esteem.
Yet, we are not taught how to care for our hands and feet. We all know how to take care of our face, teeth and hair but the extremities are forgotten. And, due to constant use and washing our hands are our fastest aging body part – and they can actually make you look and feel older than you really are. I often hear people who have the “I hate my hands” syndrome.