There's an episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza's unexpectedly on-fire career as a hand model is cut short when Kramer's girlfriend pushes him—and his beautiful hands—into a hot iron. This, of course, was all I could think of when I met InStyle's favorite hand model Jay Wen (you may recognize her hands from such shoots as the jewelry story "The Shape of Things" in our March issue, on newsstands now and available for digital download). Considering her hands are her livelihood—and she must do everything possible to protect them (like staying away from hot irons)—I knew she'd have some good tips for keeping them in shape. Here, the rules she lives by:
She's Constantly Moisturizing
"Hydration is key for keeping hands looking good," says Wen. That's why she keeps at least three hand creams on her at all times, especially during the winter. Her current favorite: "The Burt's Bees Almond & Milk one ($9; burtsbees.com) is really creamy without being oily, and it absorbs quickly, which makes it great for on-the-go" she says. For her cuticles, she turns again to Burt's Bees for their Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream ($6; burtsbees.com). "I'm really generous with it, and slather it all over my nails; eventually it rubs in and gets rid of any dryness." Once gray skies give way to sunshine in the spring and summer, though, she slathers the water-resistant Nature's Gate Aqua Vegan SPF 50 ($10; drugstore.com) on her hands to leave them smooth and protected from damaging UV rays.
She Avoids Emery Boards
"Regular files are too abrasive on nails and can cause breakage and splits," says Wen. Instead, she uses a glass file (like Swissco Emory Glass Nail File, $8; sallybeautysupply.com) to shape her nails into a short "squoval," the shape that's most requested on her shoots.
She Wears Gloves Indoors
Wen won't go near a dirty dish without covering up her hands with plastic gloves first (like Casabella Waterblock Gloves, $7; containerstore.com). She also sleeps with her hands protected: "I mix beeswax, coconut oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, vitamin E, lemongrass and lavender oils that I buy on eBay and Amazon into a small tub. I lay it on really thick and then put spa gloves overtop (like Earth Therapeutics Moisturizing Hand Gloves, $8; drugstore.com) before I go to bed."
She Speed-Heals Cuts and Scrapes
Despite her best efforts, Wen does get a cut now and then, but she attends to every little nick immediately. "I found a recipe for an at-home healing ointment that called for grapeseed oil and vitamin E," she says. "I started using it, and it really works! I apply it three times a day, and whatever the irritation is, it recovers in just a couple of days."
She Cleans Under Her Nails with Mascara Wands
You know that gunk behind your your nails? Instead of picking at it with her nails or a file, Wen follows this advice from pro manicurist Julie Kandalec: "Take a disposable mascara wand and use a non-acetone nail polish remover to get under there and remove stains and dirt. It does a really good job without being abrasive or messing with the natural white line on the tips of your nails."
She Avoids Dark Polishes
Deep shapes lead to staining, which Wen can't afford to have on her nails, so she keeps it simple by rotating between a lustrous top coat (she loves Sally Hansen Big Shiny Topcoat, $6; walgreens.com) and a strengthening treatment (she prefers Revlon Treat & Boost, $8; ulta.com).
She Steers Clear of Sharp—and Hot—Objects
Luckily for Wen, her boyfriend does most of the cooking, so she can stay away from the stove. She does help him with food prep, though. "I'm terrified of knives!" she says, but not because she's seen too many horror flicks. "I'm just so worried I'll accidentally cut myself." Her solution? A chopping machine (like Ninja Express Chopper, $20; walmart.com). "It's lazy," she admits. "But I feel safer cutting up vegetables this way!"