There's a Risky Beauty Trend for Getting the Perfect Curled Eyelashes


Fire doesn't seem like a wise tool to incorporate into your everyday beauty arsenal. But it's exactly what some Korean women have been using to achieve a lasting, natural eyelash curl.

The eyelash curling technique involves breaking a non-plastic cotton swab or wooden stick, and running it through a flame to heat it up as several recent beauty tutorials have demonstrated. You then let the stick cool (otherwise you risk burning off your eyelashes or, duh, worse), then run the stick along the lashes, from root to end.

So no, the flames don't actually come too close to your face. But bringing a match or lighter into your makeup bag does demonstrate just how far women will go to meet an increasingly forceful beauty ideal: big, curvy lashes.

t0inkyTV Beauty/YouTube
t0inkyTV Beauty/YouTube
t0inkyTV Beauty/YouTube

Seeking heat for perfect lashes: The fire trick is an old-school technique that's been around in Korea, experts say, but only recently made its way to the United States thanks to the help of beauty vloggers sharing it on YouTube.

"Korean women tend to have sparse and straight lashes that have difficulty holding a curl," Angela Kim, of the Korean beauty shop Insider Beauty, told the Coveteur

Using literal fire isn't the only trick, but it's a popular one because of how quick, natural-looking and long-lasting it is, Korean makeup artist E.J. Kim told the CutFaith Xue, who tried it out for beauty site Byrdie, attested to the trick's staying power. She couldn't tell the difference until she applied mascara, Kim wrote, after which her lashes "remained upright, curled, and perky—like an invisible force was keeping them shapely."

For anyone wary of flames, there are companies incorporating heat into their eyelash-curling products. There are plenty of electric or battery-powered curling tools for eyelashes, although plenty look clunky and aren't necessarily super effective. One writer who tried a Korean heated eyelash curler lamented the not-so-dramatic results. 

"The lashes ... which had undergone some rigorous heated curling, were slightly more fanned apart, making it appear as if I had a lot more single lashes instead of a few giant spikes of shorter lashes," Maxine Buider wrote for Bustle. "But it wasn't anything you'd notice unless we were nose-to-nose."

A more DIY trick involves using the basic eyelash curler you always have, then adding a different form of heat: a blow dryer. It's been a pretty well-established trick in beauty circles: Beauty vlogger and YouTube sensation Michelle Phan first wrote about using a blow dryer's heat to warm up her eyelash curler in 2012. Running an eyelash curler under warm water will also do the trick, she noted.


The perfect eyelash standard: Of course, all the heated eyelash tricks come with a bit of risk if you literally stick a heated metal or wooden stick in the wrong place. (Seriously, just avoid your actual eyeball.) But the fire tricks are an indication of how far we've come with eyelash obsession, one of our strongest #BeautyGoals today. 

Beauty fixation on eyes has gone back centuries. The ancient Egyptians, for example, loved wearing kohl around the eyes to accentuate them. A industry-wide focus on eyelashes was established in the first half of the 1900s, with the invention of false eyelashes and, later, the creation of the metal eyelash curler

But it's really been in the last couple of decades that lashes have risen to prominence in our beauty routines, in no small part thanks to the industry. As the Wall Street Journal reported, there's now a host of products, from vibrating mascaras to lash perms, to satisfy the customer needs of "volume seekers," in industry parlance.

False eyelashes have become even more mainstream these days, thanks in part to celebrities who regularly sport them on the red carpet. "You remember when J-Lo came out wearing these big false eyelashes at the Oscars that were supposedly made of mink? That started this craze of bigger, fuller, more outrageous," makeup artist Lori Klein told the New York Times.


The popularity of celebrities like the Kardashians has also had an outsized influence on the beauty industry. Their full lash look is recreated over and over by notable beauty bloggers whose makeup tutorials have further normalized a lash look that was once reserved for the red carpet.

And the key to getting that perfect doe-eyed look often begins with nicely curled eyelashes.

It seems that with every new beauty tutorial on the web, the list of things in our mascara routines — yes, applying mascara is now it's own routine — only gets longer. Plenty of women already count mascara in the list of items on the " must have on before leaving the house" list. A fiery cotton swab is where we might draw the line.