We asked dozens of makeup experts and enthusiasts and found the crème de la crème.
The eyelash curler: medieval torture device or makeup-bag essential? Hopefully you consider it the latter, but even if this tool doesn’t scare you, it can still feel like a nightmare to shop for. Have no fear—finding your holy grail is simpler than you might think.
How to Find the Perfect Eyelash Curler
A girl can burn a lot of time and moola looking for an eyelash curler that caters to her eye shape or lash growth. But according to Makeup Madeover’s celebrity makeup artist Kim Do, the silicone pad and the weight and design of the curler are what matter. “I liken it to nice or luxurious pens,” she says. “They feel good to hold and the ink glides nicely—similar to a well-designed eyelash curler, which should feel comfortable to hold and give a nice curl without too much force.”
Here’s the $30 question: which eyelash curlers are worth the splurge? “A high-quality eyelash curler can be a good investment if you have stick-straight lashes and want to open up your eyes,” says Do. “Just like a person with acne might want to spend more on products that address that issue versus other skin care. If you have a decent natural curl, by all means, spend your money on something else.” Luckily, there are some pretty great options for every budget.
6 of the Best Eyelash Curlers
We polled dozens of women—pro makeup artists, minimalist “Glossier girls” and would-be makeup experts with many years of self-experimentation under their belts—and found six eyelash curlers that really deliver. Whether you want to splurge or save is up to you. Drumroll, please!
The Rolls Royce of Eyelash Curlers
Great for: most eyes—if you’re willing to spend the cash.
Created in the same vein as famed Japanese eyelash curlers (it was crafted by a grandchild of the man responsible for making the iconic Shu Uemura), the award-winning Relevée sold out instantly when it debuted at Barneys in 2013. Currently there’s a wait list for it again. Psst: It’s in stock at Sephora.
The Curler for Short Eyelashes
Great for: shorter lashes or flatter lids.
This is one of the very few options for short lashes. It’s more precise, letting you curl lashes -- particularly those pesky difficult ones -- in sections so none of them get missed. It's also great for those who don't need much curl and need to only focus on a small portion. If it’s too expensive, there’s still hope. Cheat the look with a good eyeliner trick instead: “Get the liner really close inside the lashline to make your eyes look lashier,” suggests Do.
The One, the Only
Great for: most eyes.
This is hands down the most popular lash curler on the planet. It won our poll of Mexican, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Filipino, African-American and Caucasian women by a landslide. This seems to be a testament to its quality and craftsmanship more than its fit for any particular eye shape. Do says it’s all about that soft silicone pad, which she says “is malleable and gentle and helps give the lash a nice curl and bend as opposed to pads with a hard rubber.” Unfortunately, you can’t buy any replacement pads. “Mine got worn out and I replaced it with a cheaper brand—wack as hell,” says social worker and makeup enthusiast Vanessa G.
Pro tip: Shiseido offers replacement pads that are very similar -- and they fit in a pinch.
The Hot One
Great for: gadget lovers, post-mascara and people who fear regular eyelash curlers.
Heated eyelash curlers had a moment, but they seem relatively rare now. Here’s one that gives lashes a natural curl that lasts. It’s battery powered and looks like a mascara wand. The technique is simple: turn it on and let it heat for 20 seconds, then use the same motion that you use to apply mascara, repeating until you get the curl you want. The best part? The outcome is comparable to using a good eyelash curler!
The Super-Cheap Dupe
Great for: most eyes.
Ah, good old e.l.f. This Target gem is like a dupe factory. The brand seems to really understand cosmetics market trends, and their makeup, brushes and other tools are surprisingly effective for the price, ranging from $1 to about $6. Their “mid-range” eyelash curler (there’s also one for $2 and another for $4) has been called a Shu Uemura dupe by fans. Even if that’s too good to be true, it’s such a steal that it’s really no biggie if it doesn’t work out, right?
The Unsung Hero
Great for: deep-set eyes.
Had to throw this one in the mix because this budget brand is truly underrated. Recommended by a friend who frequently gets asked if her lashes are fake (they’re not), it holds a curl like a champ, and you can’t beat the price. Hit up the local drugstore and snag one—or three.
How to Curl Eyelashes the Right Way
A solid eyelash curler isn’t enough — you need to master curling technique, too. “Sometimes when people curl their lashes at the base, they don’t curl all the way through, so their lashes stand straight up like they’ve been electrocuted,” says Do. Here’s how to get it right every time:
- Always start with clean lashes without mascara. Carefully place the eyelash curler against your eyelid, close to the lashline, with your lashes in the opening.
- Slowly and gently clamp the curler closed with only slight pressure. Hold for 10 seconds.
- Repeat twice more up the length of your lashes.
- If you’ve missed any of the outer lashes, simply rotate the curler towards your outer eye and repeat.
What’s your favorite eyelash curler? Or do you have eyelash curler mishaps? Let us know in the comments!