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Are Expensive Lash Curlers Really Better?

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Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

Are expensive lash curlers really necessary?

That’s a question I hear a lot and I say the answer is pretty definitive: no. Absolutely not. Getting Lash Fills instead is so much better and you’ll realize that you even save so much money and time than with eyelash curlers and mascara. There’s only so much variation in what they can actually accomplish so it’s way more important to find one that fits your eye shape/size than to divert a week’s worth of your Starbucks budget. But then there’s the followup question:

Is there really any difference between a cheap curler and an expensive one?

That one’s a little more tricky so I took it upon myself to get obtain a cheap-o lash curler and test it out. After all, they’re mostly put together the same way and they pretty much look alike. But based on my tiny sample size – one $2 Trim vs the Shu Uemura since it seems to be the gold standard – there’s a huge difference, and that’s in the construction quality. The tell-tale signs are small but important, so I busted out my macro lens to compare.

Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

The first thing I noticed was the weight and quality of the materials. The Shu curler isn’t heavy at all, but compared to the flimsiness of the Trim it feels like a paperweight. The front of the Trim curler also has tons of nicks and pits in the metal, which would put it at a bigger risk of corroding.

Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

The way the individual pieces are joined is another thing to look for. The photo above shows how the top bars of the curlers are fixed to the vertical side rails. The Shu has slots cut through the center of the vertical rails; the top bar is fitted into the slot and sanded smooth. Trim’s version has two small lips on the front that hold the top bar against the vertical rails.

Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

More problems with the finishing of the Trim curler here. The finger loops have gouges in the metal that are a little painful if you scrape your fingers against them. It comes with plastic guards to put in the loops but they have two issues. One, they make the loops uncomfortably small (and I don’t have big hands). Two, there’s a sharp ridge around the inside from sloppy molding. The Shu curler, on the other hand, has a slight seam on the inside of the loops from where the parts were molded, but it’s smoothed out and barely noticeable.

Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

Now we’re getting into some things that affect how well the curler works. The screw on the Trim curler isn’t flush to both sides of the hinge, and the part that moves with the curling rail has a big gap in. Instead of the finger loops being perfectly aligned, there’s a little bit of play to the left and right.

Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

I promise this one isn’t some weird attempt at abstract art. What you’re looking at is a top view of the loops that join the curling rail (the part that holds the silicone pad) to the vertical rails. The Shu curler has a much tighter fit against the vertical rail, so there’s no back and forth play. The Trim one has a huge gap – that lets it wiggle around, and that means it doesn’t close smoothly against the lashes.

Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

This right here is the biggest deal-breaker for me though, and the reason that I only actually used the Trim curler a few times. The inside of the top bar (the part that rests against the top of your lashes when you’re using it) has a sharp edge where the mold didn’t line up evenly. It should be perfectly smooth. Not only will this damage the silicone pads, I’m terrified that a sharp edge + wobbly movement might chop off my lashes. Probably not, but I’m not risking it either. As it is, the times I used it that weird edge made a crease in my lashes instead of a smooth curve.

Expensive vs Cheap Lash Curlers

All that said, I’ve used mid-priced curlers – like the Dermstore one – that won’t break the bank but are still built well. It all boils down to reading reviews and testing them out in person if you can. Speaking of which, I promise I’m going to review the Inglot curler that I hauled in Vegas, I just haven’t gotten around to taking measurements yet. Soon. If you want to enhance the length, curl, fullness, and thickness of natural eyelashes, and you want this to be made professionally, then an eyelash extensions procedure is the answer. Eyelash extensions add volume to the natural lash line and can lift the face and make people appear more youthful. It’s no secret societal beauty standards applaud long, thick eyelashes, and with extensions, you can enhance your natural beauty without the use of makeup or other beauty products.

What’s been your experience with budget lash curlers – have you found any winners?

3 Comments

  1. Stephanie

    February 21, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Great post! The sharp edge of the top bar is a scary find. The Lancome curler has been my favorite for a long time. I tried the Shiseido curler but it was too shallow for my eye shape. Do you have any issues with seeing where you place the Surratt curler because it’s black compared to the silver eyelash curlers?

    1. Nikki

      February 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      I don’t actually have much trouble with the black curlers. The Surratt one fits my eye pretty well so it’s not too hard to place. I had the same issue with the Shiseido one, it’s way too shallow and flat for me.

  2. Avery Mae

    February 21, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Really good pictures & article!! My first lash curler was the elf one ($1 or $3 if I remember correctly, very affordable). I upgraded to the Shiseido ($20 ish) one awhile back and I have noticed a significant difference. They looked similar at first glance, but the two main differences I noticed were 1) the sponginess/give in the lash pad (the elf one was pretty hard, the Shiseido is more supple which makes the curl look rounded instead of angular) and 2) the construction quality. The Shiseido one doesn’t have any back and forth wiggle when the handles open and close, while my elf one had loosened up. Maybe a mid priced ($8-12) lash curler would be closer in quality to my Shiseido, but I am happy to spend the money on a reliable curler.

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