How to Curl Lashes?

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Learning how to curl lashes is an important milestone in every beauty lover’s life! Once you’ve mastered mascara, it’s the obvious next step. You don’t just want long or thick lashes, but you also want them to curve upwards where they can better frame your eyes. 

In this post, we give the lowdown on how to curl your lashes and answer all of your questions about the process. 

Should You Curl Your Lashes Before or After Mascara?

There’s no doubt about it - the best time to curl your lashes is before you apply mascara. Then, once you do apply mascara, it’ll help to lock your lashes into place.

Most makeup artists will caution you against curling your lashes after you’ve already applied mascara. There’s a greater risk of damaging your lashes, especially if the mascara has had time to dry partially. If the mascara is still wet there’s less of a risk of breakage, but you can end up with lashes sticking to one another. Plus, your lash curler will get pretty dirty. 

That said, later on, we describe a method to curl both before and after applying mascara that helps avoid some of these issues. 

Can I Curl My Eyelash Extensions?

It’s generally not recommended to curl eyelash extensions, especially not with a mechanical eyelash curler. Any friction against both professional lash extensions and DIY extensions can lead to lash or extension loss - it’s a definite no if you want your lash extensions to last longer

Plus, if you have extensions in, you shouldn’t need to curl your lashes. Modern eyelash extensions are made of a vegan material that holds its shape. 

If you feel like your natural lashes could use a bit more of a curve to better blend with the extensions, there are a few methods to curl your lashes without a mechanical eyelash curler that are extension-safe. 

When to Curl Your Lashes?

The best time to curl your lashes is right before applying mascara. Make sure all of your other eye makeup (especially cream eyeshadow and eyeliner) is already set and dry so that your curler doesn’t smudge it.  

Some makeup artists actually recommend curling before you’ve applied any makeup, but we disagree. By the time you get to the mascara step, your lashes could actually lose their curl so we think it’s best to curl and then apply mascara immediately.  

How to Curl Lashes Using an Eyelash Curler?

how to curl lashes

Are you ready to learn how to curl your lashes? Here is our step-by-step guide to mastering the mechanical curler.

Step 1

Place your thumb and index finger through the rings of the curler, much like you would with a pair of scissors. Look straight into a mirror, and bring the eyelash curler close to your eyes. Make sure that the curler is slightly opened. With your eye closed, angle the curler forward slightly, so that the top rim comes in contact with your top lid. 

Step 2

Slowly open your eye, allowing your top lashes to line up with the bottom part of the top rim of the curler. Then, slowly close the curler while moving it into a more vertical position. Finally, finish closing it as close as you can to the base of your lash line, but without pinching the lid. Clamp the curler down and pump it for a few seconds to curl your lashes. 

Step 3

Next, open the curler a little. Then, tilt it upwards by a few millimeters, so it’s higher up over your lash line, and pump again for a few seconds. Repeat the same process to continue curling all along your lash line. This guarantees beautifully curved lashes, as opposed to crimped lashes. 

Step 4

Depending on the size of your eye and the length of your lash line, you may want to repeat the process a couple more times to curl the lashes in the inner and outer corners of your eyes. 

Step 5

Finally, set that gorgeous curve into place by applying your favorite mascara. Make sure to start at the base of your lash line, and to gently wiggle the mascara from side to side as you work it up along the length of your lashes. 

Step 6

Now, do the same on the other eye! You can curl the lashes on both eyes and then apply mascara, or work on one eye at a time. Once you’re done, wipe any makeup residue away from your curler, and don’t forget to clean and sanitize it periodically. 

Other Curling Methods

Don’t have a mechanical eyelash curler? That’s okay! We have a few suggestions for how to curl lashes without an eyelash curler. Some of these will even work with eyelash extensions! 

Use Your Finger

This is the easiest and safest method of curling your lashes without a lash curler, and as a bonus, it requires absolutely zero equipment. That said, it does take a little longer than using a curler.  

Make sure your hands are clean. Then, with your eyes open, gently bring your finger against your lashes from below. Slowly close your eyes while using your finger to press your lashes against your top eyelid. Don’t apply too much pressure, to avoid hurting your eyes. Wait around 30 seconds or so, and then do the same on the other eye. 

The result is a subtle but effective curl. Make sure to apply mascara as soon as you can to lock the results in place.  

Use a Spoon

Curling lashes with a spoon is a time-tested beauty hack that probably originated with Latin American beauty lovers. You can use just about any spoon, but it’s best to choose one that’s a similar size to your eyes.

For best results, heat your spoon a little. You can just warm it up in your hand, or place it in a cup of warm water for half a minute. 

Then, hold the spoon with the curved part against your eye. Use your finger to press your lashes against the bottom of the spoon, and then pull the spoon upwards in a curved motion. Be careful not to pull too much on your lashes, but the friction will curl your lashes dramatically.  This classic curling method doesn’t work with extensions, since it requires some pulling. 

Alternatively, you can hold the spoon with the curved side facing outwards, and then press your fingers against the metal. It’s not as dramatic, but it’s more gentle and safe to try with extensions. 

Heated Curler 

There’s a category of lash curlers that look like a small brush, like this tool from Panasonic. They heat up gently, which is how they’re able to manipulate the lashes into a curved shape. 

Because they don’t actually pull on the lashes you can use them if you wear lash extensions. Using a heated curler is a lot like using mascara so they’re quite beginner-friendly, as well. 

Try a Spoolie 

If you already have lash extensions in, you can also use a spoolie to simultaneously brush and lift your lashes. If you don’t have a spoolie, you can find one in our lash cleaning kit


Bring the brush close to your lash line, and lift the lashes up against your lid. Hold it in place for 15-30 seconds. Then, wiggle it from side to side as you brush it through the length of your lashes. Your lashes will have a bit of a curve and they’ll look more separated. 

How to Keep Lashes Curled?

Some lashes are especially resistant to holding a curl. These are our favorite tricks for keeping our lashes looking lifted for as long as possible. 


After you’ve curled your lashes, mascara is pretty much a must. Otherwise, your lashes will sag soon after you’ve curled them. Some mascaras are designed specifically to help lashes maintain their curl, but any mascara will do. 

If your mascara is too wet, however, the moisture in it might cause the curl of your lashes to drop, much like getting caught in the rain with your hair styled. If you have a very fresh mascara, you can wipe excess product off of it in a tissue and then hold the wand in the air for a few seconds to let it get a little tacky before applying it.  

Layering Method

This layering method (recommended by professional makeup artist Dino Dilio) is time-consuming and it’s going to make your lash curler dirty, so we recommend saving it for special occasions. First, curl your lashes and then apply a very thin layer of mascara. Then, curl your lashes again before the mascara dries, and then apply a final coat or two of mascara. While this can take a bit of a toll on the lashes, curling them when they’re covered in mascara will provide a longer-lasting curl. 

Add Heat

A bit of heat can transform your lashes even more dramatically. The classic tip is to use a blow dryer to heat up your lash curler, but you can also soak it in warm water or use your hands to warm it up. Don’t let your curler get too hot - you’re aiming for pleasantly warm. 

Lash Lift 

If you want your lashes to stay curled for days on end, you can consider getting a lash lift at the salon. A lash lift is like a perm for your lashes, where a chemical is applied to the lashes to change their basic structure and encourage them to sit upwards. Lash lifts can last for 6 to 8 weeks. If you want, you can also get extensions after having your lashes lifted. 

DIY Extensions

DIY extensions can do a great job of keeping your lashes always looking curled and lifted. Instead of attaching to the top of the lashes, like falsies and professional extensions, DIY extensions are attached from below. Because they’re designed with a flattering upward curve, they always frame the eyes beautifully while also helping to lift your natural lashes. 

Curled and Lifted

Knowing how to curl your lashes makes a big difference, especially if the only other lash-enhancing product you use is mascara. Figuring it out takes a bit of practice, but it’s not difficult once you get the hang of it. Plus, there are some methods for curling lashes without a lash curler that make things even more simple! 

Eyelash extensions can make the process a little complicated, but there are a few ways around it. If you choose DIY extensions that attach from below, you won’t have to worry about keeping your lashes curled ever again! 

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Maya Adivi

Make Up Artist | Beauty Writer

Maya Adivi is a makeup artist and beauty writer originally from Toronto, Canada. She’s passionate about all things makeup, skincare, and beauty. She takes a science-based approach to writing, ignoring the marketing buzz in favor of facts and re...