Liner Notes: 10 Essential Tips to Perfect the Cat Eye

If you're ready to try a new look, we've got some expert eye makeup tips and tricks that will make your quest for the perfect cat-eye almost foolproof.

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If you’re looking for eye makeup tips for the holiday party season, the cat eye is a classic that never goes out of style. Winged liner is super versatile and a universally flattering statement look that can be a ladylike whisper or a glamazon roar. We can thank fifties and sixties icons like Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe for popularizing it. Today it seems like everyone’s doing it in their own unique way. Sofia Vergara has mastered the sex kitten cat eye; Vanessa Hudgeons rocks a smoldering, smoky version on the red carpet; Ariana Grande has the flirty Audrey look down; and Angelina Jolie keeps it elegant and minimal.

For those of us who don’t have a makeup artist on call, the cat eye can be a bit intimidating. Sarah Lucero, global director of education and artistry for Stila recommends, “Apply mascara before liquid liner to create a guide for the perfect cat-eye flick.” While it definitely takes practice to perfect your flick, there is also an ever-increasing range of pencils, gels, brushes, and pens to make it easier. And we’ve gathered some expert eye makeup tips and tricks that will make your quest for the perfect cat-eye almost foolproof.

1. Follow Your Lashes


If you’re ready to brave a freehand cat eye, use your lower lash line as a guide and extend your line up at the same angle.

2. Scotch Tape

Who knew Scotch tape would have a place in your beauty arsenal? It turns out magic tape makes the perfect guide for your winged liner. Just gently apply a one-inch strip of tape starting just under the outside edge of your lower lashes at an angle that follows the shape of your eye. Apply your liner along the edge of the tape, making the line thinner as you go. Remove the tape and it takes any eyeliner mistakes with it.

3. Daytime Cat Eye

One eye with cat eye

If you love the look for evening, why not tone down the drama for a daytime look? If black liner is your go-to, keep it clean and minimal with nude shadow and mascara. Or go softer by using brown, gold or bronze liner to create a low contrast cat eye and finish with neutral shadow. The best part is that it’s so easy to do a quick touch-up, increase the intensity and add a few more coats of mascara to take you directly from the office to cocktails.

4. Pop of Color

The spring 2015 runways were bursting with bold, colorful eyeliner looks. Honor featured bold electric blue wings while Peter Som added swipes of neon highlights. Whether you make a big color statement or just a thin blue line, pop of color-winged liner is a fresh take on the classic cat eye.

5. Start with a Pencil

One eye painting with purple cat eye

Most makeup artists agree that it’s easier to draw a clean shape with a pencil. You can create an outline or do the entire wing with a creamy pencil first, then fill in with gel or liquid liner to make it last.

6. Q-Tips

Keep plenty of Q-Tips with makeup remover or moisturizer on hand to clean up edges and remove mistakes.

7. Use a Spoon

Eyes with cat eye

If you don’t have any Scotch tape on hand, you can also trace the edges of a spoon to create the perfect cat eye.

8. Map it Out

Before lining, make a small dot at the spot where you want your flick to end. Then, starting at the middle of your lid, use a pencil to draw a dashed line out to the dot and finish the triangle by drawing a line from the corner of your eye to the dot. Extend the to the inner corner of your eye and fill it in with more pencil or liquid liner.

9. Reverse Cat Eye


If you really want to make a bold, modern statement try the reverse cat eye. It’s just like a regular cat eye except it starts on your lower lid. To soften it up a bit try using bronze or gold liner for a pretty yet edgy evening look.

10. The Right Tools

Never underestimate the importance of having the right tools for the job and it’s a good idea to try a few different types of liner to find out what works for you. A creamy, easy to glide on pencil like L’Oreal Infallible Silkissime ($8.99) is a must. Then you can play with liquid liners like Revlon Colorstay Skinny Liquid Liner ($7.99) with an ultra fine point or Hourglass Calligraphy ($32) or the ergonomic NYX The Curve Liner ($14.99). And everyone’s buzzing about Benefit’s They’re Real! Push-Up Liner ($24).

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