Everything You Need To Know About Tweezers

The ultimate guide to the ultimate multi-tasking beauty tool.
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The ultimate guide to the ultimate multi-tasking beauty tool.

If I had to pick one beauty product to take with me to a desert island, it would be my tweezers.

What other tool has this many uses? My tweezers keep my brows looking flawless and ingrown hairs in check, they help me to apply fake eyelashes, fix jewellery, reset my wireless router and remove splinters. They are the true workhorses of the beauty world.

So desert island or not, having excellent tweezers is essential for one's beauty game. But there are so many types out there! How do you which ones are right for you? How do you store them? What's the deal with sharpening?

Never fear, for I have ALL the answers! Let’s get into everything you’ve ever wanted to know about tweezers!

SO MANY TWEEZERS.

SO MANY TWEEZERS.

Care And Feeding

You should ALWAYS look for stainless steel tweezers. Do not accept any other metals, especially nickel, which can irritate skin. Who wants to run that risk?

Stainless steel forever. No alloys!

Stainless steel forever. No alloys!

Ever since high school, the only tweezers I use are by Tweezerman. They make incomparable products that last forever (I've had a few pairs for over 10 years), they're reasonably priced, and they have the perfect grippy end. They're also made out of 100% stainless steel, which is exactly what you want!

You must also keep your tools in optimal working order, which, for tweezers, means keeping them clean and sharp.

Even if you’re the only one using them, clean your tweezers after each use. I use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, unless they’ve been in contact with blood (like from splinter removal). In that case, I clean them with alcohol and then boil them in a pot of water for five to seven minutes. 

Hygiene is so important!

Hygiene is so important!

As for sharpening, you’ll know when your tweezers have gotten dull because they won’t feel as “grabby” when you use them. You’re best off having them sharpened by pros--which is another reason I love Tweezerman. They offer free repairs and sharpening FOR LIFE, so when mine are dull, I send them away and they come home good as new.

It takes a couple weeks, but it's worth it.

It takes a couple weeks, but it's worth it.

Storage is also important. A quick survey of my friends found that most throw their tweezers in with their makeup brushes, which is not great! I store mine in a glass cup beside my sink with the tips facing up, so that they aren’t banging around and getting dull.

You can also store them in the soft travel cases, or laid flat on a washcloth, if you have that kind of bathroom space.

You can also store them in the soft travel cases, or laid flat on a washcloth, if you have that kind of bathroom space.

If you carry tweezers in your bag, keep the little plastic safety cap over the ends. Not only will this prevent you from getting poked, it’ll keep the tips nice and sharp.

Dig these colors, right???

Dig these colors, right???

Now let’s discuss the major types of tweezers out there, and what they’re good for!

The Good Witches of the West: Slant tip, pointed tip, pointed-slant tip, wide grip

Existing in a million sizes and colors, these are the tweezers that you WANT to use.

L-R: Slant tip, pointed tip, pointed-slant tip, wide grip (with a slanted tip).

L-R: Slant tip, pointed tip, pointed-slant tip, wide grip (with a slanted tip).

Slant tip tweezers have an angled edge and are by far the most popular, especially for plucking eyebrows. These are the classic; what you think of when you think "tweezers."

Slant tip tweezers.

Slant tip tweezers.

It’s easy to see why: you can hold them point-up and directly against the brow bone for easy tweezing, or flip them over so that the point faces down for precision removal of short or delicate hairs.

L: Point up, general tweezing. R: Point down, precise hair removal. Versatile!

L: Point up, general tweezing. R: Point down, precise hair removal. Versatile!

These are also really useful for applying fake eyelashes, as the tip is fine enough to get close to your lash line but isn’t SO sharp that you risk poking yourself. I’ve also been known to use these for emergency jewelry repair--I can open and close even delicate chain links easily with them.

Pointed tip tweezers have very pointy, sharp-looking tips. Sometimes called needle tweezers, these are perfect for removing extra-fine hairs or ingrowns. They can be a bit scary for brow maintenance, though.

Pointed tip tweezers.

Pointed tip tweezers.

These are not great for beginners, as it’s easy pluck the skin instead of the hair. It’s also easy to get nuts with ingrown removal; these tips are sharp, and you can hurt yourself if you aren’t careful.

However, pointed tip tweezers are the BEST for first aid. These bad boys will remove a splinter in no time, with the least amount of pain. I use mine almost entirely for this reason.

Imaginary splinter removal! They're also good for removing ticks, which are GROSS.

Imaginary splinter removal! They're also good for removing ticks, which are GROSS.

Pointed-slant tip tweezers are what would happen if the above tools had a baby.

Slant + pointed = pointed-slant tip.

Slant + pointed = pointed-slant tip.

With a serious angle, the pointed-slant tip tweezers are as easy to use as the classic slant tip, but the fine point gives you far more precision and control. They’re also not as needle-sharp as the pointed tweezers, which lessens the odds of hurting yourself accidentally.

Pointed-slant tip tweezers.

Pointed-slant tip tweezers.

The pointed-slant tip tweezers are my new go-to for brow maintenance, as they’re precise without being fiddly, and grab even the finest renegade hairs without me worrying I’m about to blind myself. They’re also excellent for removing ingrown hairs on my legs without accidentally destroying my skin. Truly the best of both worlds!

I like the angle on this a lot better than the classic slanted tip. It's comfortable to hold and doesn't block me from being able to see my work.

I like the angle on this a lot better than the classic slanted tip. It's comfortable to hold and doesn't block me from being able to see my work.

Wide grip tweezers have a variety of tips, but the thing they all have in common is a a wide, round “paddle” in the middle of the arm. This allows for an easy, comfortable grip.

Wide grip tweezers.

Wide grip tweezers.

The paddle means that you don’t have to squeeze hard to tweeze, and the shorter arms mean they’re extra easy to maneuver. These are amazing if one isn’t super-dextrous or if you have mobility issues. People who have arthritis in their hands, for example, may find these much easier to use.

L: Wide grip tweezers. I have to exert very little force to squeeze them shut. R: Normal tweezers. A little trickier to hold.

L: Wide grip tweezers. I have to exert very little force to squeeze them shut. R: Normal tweezers. A little trickier to hold.

So these are the tweezer types that you SHOULD use. What about the types that you should NEVER use?

The Bad Witches of the East: Round tip, flat tip, jagged tip

L-R: Round tip, square tip, jagged tip.

L-R: Round tip, square tip, jagged tip.

Fortunately it’s getting pretty hard to find these suckers, which is why I have drawn pictures of them for your viewing pleasure. You do NOT want to use these tweezers at all, ever, for any reason. Round and flat tips just rip at big patches of hair, which is not what you want, and jagged tips--which I remember VIVIDLY from my dancing days--seem to ignore the hair entirely and scrape up your skin. Avoid these at all costs, unless you’re dropping a house on them.

Phew! Tweezer 101 was more involved than I thought! Which is your favorite tweezer type? Does anyone else remember jagged-tip tweezers, or did I hallucinate them all through the '90s? Do you have any more tweezer-related questions for me? Let me have them in the comments!