What the Fuck is That? Confusing Beauty Tools Explained!

Some of them are obviously a brand's lame excuse to make some cash, but others are actually extremely useful...
Publish date:
February 26, 2013

"People are frightened by what they don't understand..." ~The Elephant Man

I met my friend David the first week of high school after I pulled out an eyelash curler in homeroom. He was utterly confused, and maybe slightly afraid. He inquired if it was in fact a nipple clamp, because you know, what 13 year old girl doesn't have one on hand to whip out in class?

It was an outrageous question, I mean he didn't even know me yet! If he did it would have made slightly more sense. I've received similar questions over the years whenever I'm using a slightly more obscure or complicated-looking beauty tool.

Some of them are obviously a brand's lame excuse to make some cash, but others are actually extremely useful. You can find some nifty gadgets anywhere from Selfridges to Superdrug. My friend Laura and I spend a good chunk of our day in the chemist, checking out and trying the new latest thing.

My boyfriend doesn't understand, he will ask "What are you and Laura doing today?" and I explain we are going to the chemist. Then he's like "But what about after that?" and I'm like "No, you don't get it. WE ARE GOING TO THE CHEMIST!" and then he questions why he's dating me, but you really can find some cool things if you're patient and willing to experiment and potentially alienate loved ones.

I crowd sourced a few of my friends because I aim to give the public what they want and I'm lazy. They came up with a list of things that confused the fuck out of them and now I'm sharing it with you good people. Yay excitement! Here we go:

Eyelash CombThis guy is not for people with sensitive eyes. If you can't even line your water line, don't bother with this. It's just not gonna happen. However, if you're one of those freaks who thinks sticking a brush in your eye is a good time the eyelash comb works beautifully. The type with plastic teeth is less intimidating and harder to injure yourself with, but the metal teeth separate your lashes better.

You use it the way you would a regular comb, just slide it up your eyelashes to separate them. They are best used after each coat of mascara and you must comb from the root upward. This is the best way to keep mascara clump-free. If you think this is scary, just remind yourself that people used to separate their eyelashes with straight pins.

Comedone ExtractorThis is the little metal tool with the loops on the ends.. It is used to pop zits, and extract blackheads. As an esthetician, I have to give this one a disclaimer: please do not be rough with these! You can really fuck up your skin and give yourself a scar if you are not careful! It's really best to leave this task to a skilled facialist, but no one is going to listen to that so if you insist on doing this to yourself I'm going to tell you how to do it safely.

Using an extractor is much safer than using your fingers if you're dead set on popping zits, even though you should really leave your face alone. It's the skincare equivalent of the needle exchange program, the lesser of evils and whatnot.

Cleanse and tone the area and steam your face to open your pores. If you are extracting a blackhead place the loop over it and press down slowly and gently, it should come out easily. If it does not then it is too deep to extract and you should leave it be. If you are extracting a pimple, you will get the best results if you use this in combination with a lancet.

Make sure there is a visible whitehead. If there is not the spot is not ready to pop and attempting to do so will only irritate it further and could even cause scarring. If you do see a whitehead, stick it with the lancet. Then place the loop over the area and gently, slowly press down. After an extraction be sure to follow with more toner.

Blending SpongesThe blending sponge is used to apply foundation, bb cream, or even under eye concealer. Start by wetting the sponge and wringing the water out. Then place the desired face product on the back of your hand and dip the sponge. Stipple the product onto your face with the sponge. Stippling is bouncing or dabbing a tool against your face to pat something on as opposed to rubbing it in.

You get better coverage with this sponge than using your fingers. Use the wider, rounded side for larger areas like your cheeks and forehead and the smaller pointed side for under the eyes and around the nose. It gives an even and flawless application.

Tanda ZapThe Tanda Zap is a blue light/heating device that kills acne-causing bacteria. There are other similar devices, but this is my favorite. It's pretty high-tech-looking but is actually very easy to use. Cleanse and tone the face, place the Tanda Zap over the zit who's life you would like to end and turn it on. The blue light essentially forces acne bacteria to produce free radicals and thus self destruct.

The heat is also effective to reduce swelling. Each 'cycle' of blue light lasts for about two minutes. This really does work, but you'll have to do about 10 two-minute cycles on each pimple to drastically reduce its size.

Stippling BrushThis is the feathery-looking powder brush. People seem really confused when to use this one. If you would like to use it to apply foundation you would use it in the same way you use the blending sponge except you keep the brush dry (or you can mist it with a spray bottle if you would like, but never get it very wet). You can also use it to apply bronzer by lightly tapping the bronzer wherever the sun would hit your face, including cheeks, nose, forehead and chin.

If you are dealing with a highly pigmented blush and are worried about it being too bright, you can use this instead of a blush brush to get a softer look.

Eyelash CurlerThis is a pretty classic beauty tool, but many people still have trouble with it. If you are using a metal curler, you should heat it up with a blow dryer for a few minutes to get the best results. Touch the curler to be sure it isn't too hot. It works best on clean lashes so use this before putting on mascara. Open the curler and place and as close to the roots of your upper lashline as possible. Clamp down and hold for 10 seconds. Release.

Curling someone else's lashes is even harder but possible. A good rule of thumb is to ask them to look at your shoulder as you are curling.

This is a pretty decent sampling of what you will find in the wild. Be cautious when trying something new, but you will eventually get the hang of it. Some of these formidable tools may seem intense, but I assure you you will be popping, curling, and terrorizing your enemies in no time!

Kristine Rose gives free beauty advice on Twitter @prtoftheprob