Eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara are standard tools in any makeup kit. But makeup pros know that using an eyelash curler can further enhance your eyes by making them look wider and brighter. Inexpensive and easy to use, an eyelash curler is also safe if used properly. Read on for information about types of eyelash curlers and step-by-step instructions.

Eyelash Curler Options

There are two types of eyelash curlers to choose from, the conventional clamp-down kind and the newer heated eyelash curler.

  • Traditional eyelash curler. This curler is metal and has the same kind of handles you'd find on a pair of scissors. The handles open and close a clamp that, when squeezed tight for a few seconds, produces the curl. The curling end has a rubber pad to protect delicate eyelashes from the metal clamp. The curler works by crimping your lashes up toward your brow, making them look longer and more pronounced. To avoid possible infection, you'll want to replace the pad on the curler every two months. An eyelash curler costs less than $5 to as much as $15, depending on the brand and the store; consider buying a replacement pack of the rubber pads at the same time.
  • Heated eyelash curlers. Pam Messy, a makeup consultant with the cosmetics firm Mary Kay, says, "One new type of eyelash curler uses batteries to warm up the rubber pad while the rest of the curler stays cool to the touch." Another heated model uses a small heated brush rather than the clamp to curl the eyelashes. You run the heated brush from the base of the lashes to the tip, working from the center of the eye out to the edges. Heated eyelash curlers cost from $10 to $20.

Step-by-Step Advice from the Pros

If you have one of the newer, heated curlers, you should follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you prefer the traditional, inexpensive model, follow these tips to get the best curl.

  • Start with clean lashes. For the best results, make sure to remove any old mascara from your eyelashes before you start to curl them. Use a gentle, oil-free eye makeup remover; any oil on the lashes would cause your new application of mascara to smudge. Why must you use the eyelash curler before you apply fresh mascara? "As mascara dries, lashes can stick to the curler and get pulled out," explains Helga Surratt, president of About Faces Day Spa & Salon in Towson, Md.
  • Make your own low-tech version of a heated curler. Surratt suggests gently heating your traditional curler with a blow dryer to make your eyelashes retain the curl longer. But, says Surratt, don't heat it for more than five seconds. Check the temperature of the metal by touching it with your finger before using. If it feels too hot, let it cool for a few seconds so that you don't burn the delicate skin of the eyelid or singe lashes.
  • Clamp with care. Open the curler and clamp the lashes near the roots. "Hold for 5 to 10 seconds to ensure your lashes will hold the curl," Messy says, "The longer you hold it, the more curl you get." To avoid a sharp bend and create a natural curled look, gently release the curler and move it up the lash, away from the lid, by 1 or 2 millimeters and again clamp the lashes for 5 to 10 seconds. Gently release the curler and repeat the process one or two more times, moving the curler up the lashes, closer to the end of the lashes each time.

You can repeat the process if you feel that your eyelashes are not sufficiently curled. Then apply your favorite mascara. You may no longer need two coats, but if you do, be sure to let the first one dry completely before applying the second. And be gentle as you brush on mascara, to avoid pulling out the curl.

You might need a little practice to learn how to maneuver eyelashes through the clamp and how close to the roots you can comfortably clamp down. But in very little time, these simple steps will have you creating the look of beautiful, long lashes with almost no effort.

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