Eyelashes have the impressive ability to transform your face. The Everything Guide to Eyelashes is a week of stories on the Cut about lashes, from all the mascaras we’ve obsessively tested to our personal feelings about why eyelashes matter.
I’ve curled my lashes every day since I was 12. Even more so than Blue Bottle coffee or matcha, eyelash curlers have been my necessity for making me look more awake and opening up the eye area. In my decades of lash curling, thanks to stick-straight lashes, I’ve tried many eyelash curlers but have stuck primarily to two favorites. Still, in the spirit of exhaustive testing, I called in all of the top-selling curlers and retested them again, just to double-check. I tested them all on bare lashes to measure how they hold up, even without mascara.
Here are all the fancy, drugstore, Sephora, and makeup-artist-loved curlers I tried — including the one that I’ve deemed the best and have been using for three years straight.
For so long, this one was my favorite. My major pain point with most curler is that they curl my lashes, sure, if you count an unnatural 90-degree angle as a “curl.” I want there to be a smooth swoop to them, not a right angle. For years, this one did an admirable job and I would gift one to each of my friends. It’s a perfect starter lash curler — my only caveat is that my friends with wider or bigger eyes reported that the eye bed (the part you press up against your eye socket) wasn’t very comfortable.
The Dependable Back-Up
This one is often loved by makeup artists because its eye bed is slightly wider and less round, so it works better on a variety of eye shapes. It also “opens” a little wider, which makes it more comfortable to use. It feels very similar to the Shu Uemura curler which can be hard to find, and you can also find it in more stores, which is a huge plus. If you can’t find the Shu, this is a good backup.
The Affordable Option
The best part about Tweezerman’s extensive line of curlers is that they’re all affordably priced and work just as well as the pricier ones. I find that the curl doesn’t hold quite as long when I use a Tweezerman, but it’s what some might consider to be a negligible difference of a couple hours.
The Sephora-Loved One
Beauty obsessives widely consider this and Kevyn Aucoin’s to be the closest dupes to the Shu Uemura one. This one has over 1,000 nearly five-star reviews on Sephora. Strategist writer Rio Viera-Newton likes this one too.
The DIY Lash Perm
My fear of hair perms is low since my mom used to make me get annual perms starting at 6 years old. But suggest a heated eyelash curler or lash perm and I will pull a, “Eeeee, I’m going to have to pass” face. Still, I know there are benefits — heated lash curlers do hold curl for longer. This is one of the highest ranked ones online and easy to use — it doesn’t become unbearably hot and you gently press it against the middle of your lash to mold it into a curl. But no matter how I used it, my lashes were still more bent than they were curled.
The Smart Lash Perm
This curler works very similar tot he Chella one mentioned above. Except that you can actually charge it by USB. It’s pretty genius, sort of like if Amazon were to invent an eyelash curler (which they most likely already have and you can probably Prime it sometime next year).
The Very Good One
The One for Teeny Tiny Lashes
This tool looks like it would yank out your lashes, rather than curl them. But don’t worry! Its pincerlike shape actually ensures it reaches those pesky teeny tiny lashes that a wider eyelash curler wouldn’t be able to grab. I used this for the lashes close to my tear duct, which remain stubbornly short. Clamping them gently at the base easily lifted them into a pretty, rounded curl that lasted all day so that my eye looked bigger and more open. And it didn’t hurt — just make sure you don’t use the curler upside down. The pink curved section should go on the bottom.
Not My Favorite
Something about the handle and the hinge mechanism on this eyelash curler was not my favorite. It was really difficult to use this to get a curl in my lashes, no matter how hard I pressed to try to make it “stick.” It would work better on someone that already has some curl to their lashes.
The Best, Hands Down
In my heart, I knew this would be the best curler. But like that cheesy adage I never understood about needing to set something “free” to find out if it was truly mine, I called in a bunch of competitors and retested them to double-check. Unlike other curlers that I’ve tested out which pinch or prod or secretly yank an eyelash out when I’m not paying attention, using this one felt like coming home. This curler feels like a hug. The eye bed is formulated so that it delivers a gentle swoop of curl, and the pad (the slim strip of cushion you see when the curler is open) is so cushion-y that it feels like my lashes are resting on their own special pillow. Notably, even the handle of the curler is different — it’s double-barreled, which is like a fail-safe that prevents you from over-squeezing or crimping your lashes. I love it, in case you couldn’t tell. Don’t just take my word for it. One of my other colleagues tried it after hearing me rave about it and simply said, “I feel supported.”
This article was originally published May 4, 2018. It has been updated throughout. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.