Makeup » How to Use an Eyelash Curler (And Mistakes to Avoid)?

How to Use an Eyelash Curler (And Mistakes to Avoid)?

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There are countless reasons that someone would want to use an eyelash curler. Maybe your lashes aren’t naturally curly. Or possibly you want to improve the volume and create a more fanned effect with your lashes. And in other scenarios, maybe you want to blend your lashes in with a cool pair of faux lashes. Whatever the reason, knowing how to curl eyelashes is a must-have skill for anyone who wants to be well-versed in makeup application.

If you’ve always been a bit intimidated and weren’t sure how to use an eyelash curler, this is a quick guide that will help you master this skill like a pro. Even if you don’t use lash curlers all the time, by the end of this how-to guide, you’ll feel more confident of picking up that tool.

In this article:

How to Curl Eyelashes with an Eyelash Curler?

Eyelash curlers can look like intimidating instruments. But if you’re using them properly, there’s nothing to fear. While some experts recommend that you curl your lashes before you begin applying any other eye makeup, you can also do this as a final step before applying mascara. It’s going to depend on which feels best for your “get ready” routine.

  1. Match the Curler to Your Eye Shape

    Before you put anything near your eyes, you need to make sure that you have the right tool for the job. Eyelash curlers aren’t a one-size-fits-all tool. They come in a variety of widths, operation styles, and curves. You need to pick an eyelash curler that’s suited for your eye type.

    Picking an eyelash curler with a flatter curve when you have rounded eyes can create awkward results like crimped lashes. And in extreme cases, using the wrong eyelash curler can lead to pinched lids and even lost eyelashes.

  2. Start with a Clean Eyelash Curler

    Whether you pick an expensive luxury eyelash curler or a cheap dollar-store tool, you should always start with a clean eyelash curler. You don’t want to introduce bacteria into your eye area and end up with an eye infection.

  3. Should You Curl Your Lashes Before or After Applying Mascara?

    Depending on who you talk to, you can use an eyelash curler on bare lashes or after applying a coat or two of mascara. There are benefits and drawbacks to both. But regardless of which option you choose, clean your eyelash curler between uses.

    More importantly, if you apply mascara first, make sure that it dries completely before you use an eyelash curler. Along with the risk of product build-up on your tools, trying to curl lashes when mascara is wet can be damaging. In particular, wet mascara is sticky and may adhere to the eyelash curler’s clamps, pulling your lashes out with it.

  4. Hold the Eyelash Curler Against Your Eye

    The first step is to line up the curler with your eye. At this stage, you can simply rest the curler against your upper lid. Open the clamps and be sure to properly line the bottom of the upper clamp against the base of your lashes.

    This is where picking the right-size eyelash curler will become essential. If your curler is too short, you’ll have to work in sections. If it’s too long, you might miss lashes on the outer and inner corners. Be sure to focus on the base of the lashes and not your eyelid to avoid pinching your skin.

  5. Should You Heat Your Lash Curler?

    Some people swear by heating their eyelash curler with a blow dryer before curling their lashes. In their opinion, this guarantees better results that last longer. Whether or not this is true is debatable.

    But if you decide to heat your curler and you’re using a metal tool, let it cool down a bit before you place it against your eye. The last thing you want is to burn your eyelids or eyes! If the idea of putting a hot metal instrument near your eyes sounds terrifying, opt for a self-heated eyelash curler. These models feature silicone tips, and they only get warm – not blazing hot.

  6. Time to Curl Your Lashes

    Once you’ve lined your eyelash curler clamp up with your lash line and ensured that your eyelid isn’t in the clamp zone, it’s time to start curling. Gently squeeze the lower clamp up to close the clamp.

    Most experts agree that holding the eyelash curler closed for 20 to 30 seconds should work for most people. But if you have very straight lashes, you might want to try holding the curler closed for 45 seconds to a minute.

    Once you’re finished, release the clamp and gently move the clamp away from your lashes and face. Depending on where within the makeup application process you curl your lashes, you can either continue applying the rest of your eye makeup, finish by swiping on a few coats of mascara or apply your false lashes for an undetectable effect.

  7. If You’re Using a Lash Curler That’s Not the Same Size as Your Eyelid

    While the general goal is to pick an eyelash curler that is designed specifically for your eye shape and eyelid length, there are going to be times where your curler won’t be a perfect match for your lid. If this happens, you’re going to repeat the curling process, working through sections across the length of your lid.

    However, you’re going to want to be careful not to catch previously curled lashes in the clamp as you work in new sections. If you don’t line the tool up properly, you could end up with crimps in some of your lashes.

How to Curl Eyelashes with an Eyelash Curler?
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Eyelash Curler Dos and Don’ts

Eyelash curlers are a fairly straightforward beauty tool. But it is possible to make mistakes that can leave you with lashes that look less than ideal. If you’re still unclear on how to use an eyelash curler, check out these best practice tips.

Don’t Use a Dirty Eyelash Curler

We can’t stress enough how important it is to use clean makeup tools. While you should use clean tools all over your face, you want to avoid the risk of introducing bacteria or other gross debris into your eyes, which could cause an eye infection, pink eye, or worse.

Clean your lash curler after every application. If there’s any makeup on it, simply use micellar water or a makeup removing cloth to wipe down the clamp area. Follow up by using a cotton pad soaked in rubbing alcohol to clean both sides of each clamp and the rubber or silicone pad to remove any germs and dirt.

And it goes without saying, please don’t share eyelash curlers. Just like with makeup, this is a great way to spread germs amongst friends.

Do Curl Along the Length for a Fanned-out Effect

If you want your lashes to look more voluminous, experts agree that curling along the length is a great way to build drama, and it won’t cause crimps. To nail this look, start by curling your lashes as usual, beginning at the base.

But after you finish the initial curl, you’re going to open the clamp and shift it outward until it’s mid-length along the shaft of your lashes. Clamp down again for five to 10 seconds (depending on how straight your lashes are), and release. Then shift the eyelash curler clamp out towards the end of your lashes and clamp down again, holding for five to 10 seconds.

Don’t Use a Lash Curler with a Worn-out Pad

Just like makeup brushes can get worn out and need replacing, so can the pads on your eyelash curlers. There’s a reason most curlers come with replacement pads. Always inspect your curler before you use it to make sure that the pad doesn’t have visible damage, such as splits or cracks.

However, your mileage with an eyelash curling pad will vary, depending on usage. For people who only curl their lashes occasionally, you might be able to go quite a while before you need to replace the pad. Regular users should expect to swap out those pads around every three months.

How to Use Eyelash Curlers?
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Don’t Be Too Forceful

Eyelash curlers don’t require an extreme amount of force to effectively curl your lashes. Remember to be gentle. Squeezing too harshly could cause you to accidentally pull out lashes. And you can also increase your chances of pinching your lids.

Tips for Curling Lashes If You Have Monolids

Using a traditional lash curler if you have monolids can be a little challenging as you might struggle to find a curler that can effectively grab your lashes. In particular, many people with monolids have longer lids, and because of their unique eye shape, lashes are forced to grow straight. Their longer lid length is often not compatible with most budget lash curlers you find in drugstores that feature a more pronounced curve.

You’re going to want to find either a lash curler with a flatter curve like the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler or opt for a mini eyelash curler. While you’ll need to work across your lashes in sections, a mini eyelash curler ensures that you access every lash and that you’re less likely to accidentally crimp other lashes because of overuse.

Additionally, you need to curl along your lash length. Along with creating that coveted fanned-out effect, this also ensures that you’re not left with crimped lashes. Immediately follow up with mascara (preferably waterproof) to help hold your newly curled lashes in place.

Do Use a Waterproof Mascara to Finish Your Look

For people with straight stubborn lashes that fall shortly after you curl them, a good waterproof mascara can force those lashes to behave. Immediately after you’re done curling your lashes, add a few coats of waterproof mascara. It dries faster than traditional mascara, and once dry, it won’t budge until you’re ready to remove it.


How to Curl Eyelashes Without an Eyelash Curler

If you still feel uncomfortable even after our tutorial on using an eyelash curler, there are other ways to get curly lashes that don’t involve using one. Some are DIY, some are obvious, and some require a trip to a salon!

Curl Your Lashes with a Spoon

If a traditional eyelash curler has you clutching your pearls because it looks like an instrument of torture, you can get the same voluminous impact by using a spoon. Yes, we said a spoon. Pick a teaspoon, so it’s more manageable and not too big against the length of your lid. And, of course, make sure that spoon is clean.

You can try this with a plastic spoon, but most likely, you’ll have better results with a metal spoon. Fill a cup with warm water and put the spoon in the cup. Let it sit for three to five minutes before removing it from the water and drying it. Be sure to test the spoon’s temperature by touching it to your wrist. Make sure it’s warm but not hot.

With the curved side of the spoon facing outward, hold the spoon sideways and line the side edge against your lash line. Use your fingers to press your lashes up against the curve of the spoon and hold your lashes in place for at least 10 seconds. Once you’ve achieved the curl you want, lock it in place with a good waterproof mascara.

Although there are other DIY lash curling methods, like using a warm toothbrush or your fingers, the reality is that these options often provide inconsistent results, making them unreliable go-tos if you’re trying to get ready and out the door in as little time as possible.

Using Eyelash Curlers
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Invest in a Curl-popping Mascara

Thankfully, the beauty industry has come a long way, and there are countless mascaras on the market that are designed to lengthen, volumize, and curl your lashes. Depending on the technology, many mascaras can more or less force your lashes to curve upward. Just make sure to follow up (after the mascara dries) with a lash comb to properly separate your lashes for the perfect fanned effect.

Opt for a Salon Treatment

This is a more expensive option. But a lash lift or lash perm both rely on chemicals applied at the base of your lashes to lift and curl your natural lashes. Of the two, lash lifts tend to be more popular because they feature better techniques and gentler formulas.

Both lash lifts and lash perms are temporary procedures that usually take 45 minutes to an hour to complete. This is because both are designed to be used on your natural lashes. And since your lashes eventually fall out – much like the hair on your head – during their growth cycle, you’ll need to come back for touch-ups, usually every six to eight weeks.

While you do need to wait 24 hours before applying mascara to your newly curled lashes, there aren’t restrictions against the types of mascara or eye makeup that you can use, like with lash extensions.

Even though there are at-home lash perm and lift treatments, experts agree that this is best left for professionals. Keep in mind that you’re using chemicals near your eyes. You could end up experiencing everything, from irritation to actual damage to the surface of your eye. 

Go Big with Eyelash Extensions

If you’re not satisfied with simply having curly lashes, you can go extra big with added volume along with that curl. Eyelash extensions are another salon treatment that can give you big, fanned-out, voluminous lashes for anywhere from four to six weeks, depending on how quickly your natural lashes grow.

Much like lash lifts and perms, this is a solution that’s best managed by a professional rather than as a DIY at-home process. With eyelash extensions, faux lashes (usually mink or a synthetic fiber alternative) are attached individually to your natural lashes using semi-permanent glue.

The benefit of lash extensions is that you can customize the lash volume and length to your preference. So, you can have a full, daytime natural look, or you can go all out with a bold, dramatic, thick lash effect if you prefer.

Expect to spend anywhere from one to two hours having lash extensions applied. Although the process is fairly straightforward and pain-free, lash extensions – along with being expensive and requiring frequent touch-ups – do come with more restrictions. In particular, you need to avoid oil-based skincare products, as they can break down the lash glue and cause premature lash loss.

Additionally, you need to avoid rubbing your eyes, as this can also cause lash loss. Also, note that you can’t use a mechanical eyelash curler with lash extensions because this can damage them too.

More importantly, picking a qualified lash technician who knows how to avoid using too much glue or placing too much weight on individual lashes is essential. And as your natural lashes grow out, the added weight can cause unexpected breakage. Plus, it’s not uncommon to have uneven fall-out as your new lashes grow, causing your lashes to look awkward.

Photos via @beautsoup, @rebekahannewilliams, Instagram