Hand models share behind-the-scenes secrets to entering profession

By Minh Tam   October 9, 2022 | 01:55 am PT
Hand models can make several million Vietnamese dong an hour without having to worry about their appearance or spending time applying makeup like regular models.

At the end of her last photoshoot in September, which lasted 12 hours, Vong Dinh Y sat down to massage her tired hands.

"Two years ago, when I was working as a promotion girl, many people praised me for having beautiful hands and asked me why I didn't do hand modeling. I tried it once and fell in love with the profession," the 21-year-old native of central Binh Thuan Province said.

At the time, Dinh Y was an accounting student at a university in Ho Chi Minh City. At first, she thought this was just a side hustle and only worked part-time to earn some extra money. However, when she entered the profession and became passionate, she decided to make it her full-time career.

Vong Dinh Y during a photoshoot for a jewelry brand in September 2022. Photo courtesy of Y

Vong Dinh Y during a photoshoot for a jewelry brand in September 2022. Photo courtesy of Y

Most of her contracts involve modeling for jewelry products, which requires precision movements as directed by the photographer.

"The most difficult thing is making your hands express different moods, suited to different jobs or contexts," she revealed.

For example, when shooting and filming with food, she needs to express hand motions that show she is someone who often goes to the kitchen and has great cooking skills.

Dinh Y reveals that her first ever hand model job was for a foreign nail brand. At the time, she took a photo of her hand, didn't need to edit it, and sent it to the recruiter for immediate approval. From her first job working for VND50,000 ($2.09) an hour, until now, Dinh Y's remuneration has jumped to about VND500,000-1 million per hour. For difficult projects, the rate can reach VND5 million per hour.

"Hand modeling is a recent development in Vietnam, especially in the fields of jewelry, cosmetics, nails," she said. Thanks to her efforts to build an image on social networks along with her experience in shooting in many locations, Dinh Y admits she has a very good income.

According to statistics from International Modeling Association, hand modeling generates a very high income. A professional model can earn $13,000 for two hours working for a famous brand.

Y strikes a pose with her hands during a photoshoot. Photo courtesy of Y

Dinh Y strikes a pose with her hands during a photoshoot. Photo courtesy of Y

Dinh Y said a standard hand must be nearly perfect, that is, without any defects like scars, moles, wrinkles or tattoos. In addition, the skin of the hands should be smooth, without showing blue veins.

"The shape of the hands must be innately beautiful, but to have smooth and white skin, it must be taken care of," she said.

To prepare for a shoot, her usual routine is exfoliation, manicures, hand waxing, cleansing, and cream. When shooting, she always has to use sunscreen to protect the skin from the light of the flash.

"Many people think that modeling is a leisurely pursuit but the reality is the complete opposite," said Phan Thuy, 23, from HCMC’s Binh Thanh District, who has been doing this job for more than three years.

There are times when she must work long hours, even two days in an air-conditioned room, having to apply many different cosmetics. In order to create a satisfactory and standard photo, the model has to hold the product up high for a long time, resulting in cramps and stiff tendons.

Since her hands are an important part of Thuy's work, she sometimes takes a few months off work to take care of the skin on her hands, which peels and wrinkles due to the weather.

Besides the hard work, Thuy thinks hand modeling is very interesting and fun.

"My body can show all kinds of weird poses, but no one notices," the girl from Gia Lai Province said.

Phan Thuy poses for a photo with a calabash. Photo courtesy of Thuy

Phan Thuy poses for a photo with a calabash. Photo courtesy of Thuy

Like many other professions, according to her, hand modeling is divided into many fields and has different requirements. Because it is about beauty, it is required that the model's hands be slim, long, white, smooth and have few defects. Nails are also quite important; customers often prefer solid nails with rectangular molds rather than raft or square ones.

"My hands still have moles and show a few veins. However, most customers who come to me prioritize the hand appearance first. Faults on the skin can be quickly fixed by using concealer," she said.

The biggest thing Thuy has gained after three years in the profession is a new experience.

"This is a profession that I enjoy doing. The important thing is that I get to interact with many brothers and sisters in the artistic field and also staff behind the scenes," Thuy confided.

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