A great proportion of my time in making the wee creatures is spent keeping the clay as pristine as possible. I wish I worked in a hermetically sealed space, but I suffer from the same of dust, fluff and flob that everyone else does who works with polymer clay!
It's quite a sticky substance, and so attracts dust, fingerprints, etc like a magnet. Although it's a lot of hard work, the effort is definitely worth it to get a consistently smooth and clean finish.
First and foremost, I keep my hands clean at all times. I scrub them regularly, particularly when changing colours, or after having got up to do something. I try and work on one wee creature from start to finish to minimise the chance of getting my hands dirty again. I always work from light to dark clays to avoid colour bleed where possible (whites, blacks and reds are particularly notorious for bleeding into each other). I also keep several lumps of white scrap clay handy so I can roll that between my hands when I'm about to start work on a new creature. This helps to remove the worst of the dust, dirt and oil that are on your hands, even after cleaning.
White is the hardest colour to keep clean, and because I work a lot of with white, there are times when it's really frustrating, and I often 'write off' the first white mouse of the day because it usually attracts the worst of the dust and fluff.
Whilst working, I use a combination of a scalpel and baby wipes to keep the clay clean. I use the scalpel to carefully scrape off any debris on the clay surface - painstaking work! As for the baby wipes, I had to experiment a lot to find the best brand to use, because you don't want ones which shed too many fibres, or you're left in a worse position than when you started. It's trial and error - for those of you in the UK, the ones which seem to shed the least fibres are Morrisons Savers Fragrance Free Baby Wipes.
To get a smooth finish, I just use my fingertips, and lightly smooth the clay as I go. I don't wear gloves.