Much unlike many a magazine editor who recommends you buy all sorts of crap that they most likely got for free, your Jezebel staff doesn't get jack shit (other than books, unsolicited). And that's how it should be. But on our own time, in our personal lives, we still buy stuff. So this is Worth It, our daily recommendation of random things that we've actually spent our own money on. These are the things we buy regularly or really like, things we'd actually tell our friends about. And now we're telling you.
If the idea of putting the above contraption near your eyes makes you start to panic and blurt expletives, I understand. I was with you. But after enough years sticking contact lenses directly into one's eyeballs, you get a little less squeamish about these kinds of things.
Have you ever had the kind of friends that were like some kind of brilliant encyclopedia for cosmetic products? My girls Melissa and Kate were just that. One night, as we prepared our faces for the rowdy night ahead, one of them busted out their Shu Uemura eyelash curler. I'm sure I made some comment about never, ever, putting that thing near my face. However, they explained to me that there was no better product for lengthening one's lashes, and even better, explained — in detail — how to use the damn thing.
First of all, the the curling will "take" much better if you already have a light coat of mascara on your lashes, so do that first. Make sure the rubber part of the curler doesn't have any build-up of old mascara, dust, or whatever else there may be lingering on it by simply wiping it off with a wet paper towel before using it. To properly hold the thing, put your middle finger in the front loop and your thumb in the second loop. (Your pointer finger can just rest atop of the curler.) You should be holding the scissor-like contraption straight up, so that the top mirrors your eyelids and the middle area (where the scissor-like bottom meets the top part) is lightly resting on your cheek. (There's no need for force here, so don't push it into your cheek. It will leave a mark.)
A trick that will make the whole process a lot less intimidating for you (or at least, it did for me) is that you shouldn't do feel like you have to get the entire width of your eyelashes in one try. Doing this will result in less of a curl, and will likely pull at your lashes, causing pain. This is bad. Try just doing one half at a time and you'll see it works much easier. Also, I've found that it helps to pump the the curler more than once as you're lengthening your lashes. Only doing it once (for me) often results in an C-shaped lash, and you don't want them to be teeny little curls, you want length! After you've sufficiently lengthened your lashes, give yourself one more coat of mascara and you're good to go.
After finally becoming comfortable with eyelash curlers, I revisited the old, drugstore brand curler I had in my makeup drawer. It did not work as well. Shu Uemura's curlers have a resilient, springy pad that isn't at all painful (especially with mascara already on), and I think that makes a difference. It also comes with three refills, which I haven't yet had to replace, so in my opinion, it's worth it to spend a little more on a curler that won't cause you pain, or worse, make you scared of eyelash curlers forever.