In the great book of classic makeup looks, it’s safe to say there would definitely be a chapter dedicated to the cat eye. The cat eye has stood the test of time. The winged look dates as far back as the 1920s—when starlet Josephine Baker helped popularize the cat eye by pairing it with super-dramatic, lush lashes. Since then, cat-eye connoisseurs like Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot have helped make the wing a mainstay in beauty.
The power of the cat eye is still going strong! Cat eyes are more dramatic (thicker) in general, and usually line both the top and bottom lash line (resembling the look of a real cat). A winged liner look would stay fairly close to the top lash line (in thickness) and only rim the top lash line, not the bottom.
Grab the eyeliner weapon of your choice–gel, cream, liquid or pencil– and check out these tips. To achieve a flawless flick at the wing, you’ll need an angled eyeliner brush, your chosen liner and a business card. The technique stays the same for everyone; it’s the thickness of the line and the length of the wing that change depending on your eye shape.
- Almond eyes are oval-shaped and have upswept outer corners. They resemble almonds!
- Round eyes are open and circular. If you can see all of your iris when you look in the mirror, your peepers are round.
- Monolid eyes are flat and have no crease.
- Hooded eyes have a small crease, however the lids are mostly hidden by the skin on the brow bone.
- Upturned eyes are almond-shaped, but have a pronounced lift at the outer corners, so the lower lid appears larger than the upper.
- Down-turned eyes are the opposite — the outer drop down, making the upper lid appear larger than the lower.
The basic cat eye method goes as follows:
Step 1: Find the right angle
Take your business card (a piece of tape will work, too) and align the edge with the bottom corner of your upper lash line. Make sure you’re holding the card at an angle so the wing is going almost directly upward (at least 45 degrees) and not facing down or angled too horizontally.
Step 2: Start lining
Using your eyeliner of your choice, draw a line along the edge of the card. The line should start as a continuation of your last lash, going up and out toward the outer edge of your eyebrow.
Step 3: Concentrate on inner and outer corners
Go back and line the rest of your top lash line to your inner corner, staying as close to the lash line as possible. Do the same for your bottom lash line. Then make sure you fill in the area between the top line and bottom line at the outer corners with liner.
Step 4: Find your shape
Now that the foundation is in place, find your eye shape below to figure out where and how much to build out the wing.
The dramatic wing of a cat eye can threaten to widen your already-wide-set eyes. Minimize the effect by keeping your wing short and pointed upward. Take care in lining the inner lower lash line and inner upper lash line. When working with a liquid, we extend the line inward a bit at the inner corners of the eyes to create intrigue and balance the look.
Just as you would want to draw wide-set eyes inward, you’re going to want to extend close-set eyes outward. Make your line sleeker and longer, and slightly more horizontal, so it widens the eye shape. Experiment lining the waterline of the top lid. Make sure not to bring the liner all the way to the inner corners. Keep the focus outward to open up those eyes!
For smaller eyes, try smudging the line a bit, as too tight or precise a line can make the eyes appear even smaller. Try a pencil and use a liquid eye shadow – this pops the eye and adds structure without closing down the lid. Should you want to use a waterproof eye pencil just line the waterline of the top lid and push the product into the lashes of the top lids. Add your wing and smudge it out, so it takes on a more smoked-out effect that will enlarge the eye area.
Since the lid is hooded, if you do a small line you will never see it when you open your eyes, so the thicker the better. Use an angled brush to perfect this cat eye. We recommend getting under that hood to let your liner take full effect. Get under the top lash line and into its waterline to add some balance. Smudge the line outward a little for a sexy smokey cat eye. For hooded and small eyes, avoid eyeliner along the bottom lash line, as it tends to make the eyes look smaller. Instead, just keep it at the outer edge of the bottom lash line.
To accentuate an almond shape and create the look of bigger, longer, more seductive eyes, keep the line thin along the length and through two-thirds of the eye. At that point, intensify the thickness and finish with a semi-dramatic wing at the end. For this shape, we recommend bringing the liner onto the bottom lash line to really drive home the shape.
Upturned eyes take on a similar shape to almond shapes. However, they have a natural lift at the outer corners that draw them upward. This makes them ideal for a cat eye. Follow the natural uplifted shape and work the liner outward toward the temple.
Down-turned eyes droop slightly at the outer corners, so a wing is ideal in creating a nice, natural lifting effect. The trick here is to start the line much higher than you would think. Try leaning your head back and making a line that points at a 45-degree angle, starting from the middle of the eye outward toward the temple.
Because this eye shape doesn’t have a crease, you want to keep the liner as close to the lash line as possible, and then go for a thick, elongated wing. It really helps to give the eye some definition, shape and length. To create a precise line, we go over the base pencil eyeliner with a liquid formula. If you want your eyes to look rounder and more doll-like, we suggest you keep the liner thicker in the middle of the eye and shorter at the wing. This will create the illusion of an eye that is more curved.