How to do a cat-eye: 12 Beauty Panel tricks for mastering winged eyeliner
With retro styles still going strong, cat-eye liner is one makeup trend that isn’t going away—and it’s easy to see why. The cat-eye gives off a seductive cool-girl vibe and often is appropriate for both day and night. This beauty look was once known as Amy Winehouse’s signature, but with stars from Lana Del Rey to Gwyneth Paltrow favouring cat-eye makeup, it really is a look that anyone can wear.
But for those of us who don’t have a personal makeup artist at our beck and call, how can we master this sometimes-tricky makeup look? We posed the question to our Beauty Panel this week to get their expertise on the best tips and tricks for applying winged eyeliner.
Challenge 4: What’s your trick for applying cat-eye liner? See the answers now! »
In terms of carefully applying the liner in a neat smudge-free line, one common tip from our Beauty Panel bloggers is to apply the liner in a calm, relaxed state. To find the perfect line, Christa Potter from Perilously Pale suggested paying close attention to the unique shape of your eyes; thinking about your own eye profile as opposed to copying someone else’s. If capturing the proper angle is difficult, Emily Chan from THISWASFOREVER recommends holding a business card against the outer corner of your eyes and using it as a ruler-slash-stencil. This makes it easier to create a straight line at a proper angle.
Of course, it’s important to think about the rest of your makeup as well. Many of our Beauty Panel bloggers embraced a “less is more” attitude when doing their version of the cat-eye, keeping it simple with the flicked black line. However, a few added a touch of colour to the cat-eye look, such as Elaine Atkins of Toronto Beauty Reviews who paired the cat-eye with a red matte lipstick.
Have a beauty question you want to see the panel answer? Send it our way at email@example.com. Read on for the answers to this week’s challenge and for more goodness, get to know all contributors on our Beauty Panel hub page.
Jump to: ALEXA LOWE | ANDREA VICTORY-LACASSE | ANJALI HANDA | CHRISTA POTTER | DEE THOMSON | ELAINE ATKINS | EMILY CHAN | FIONA MAN | JANELLA PANCHAMSINGH | JENNIFER FRANCIS | REMA BENALLAL | SANDRA D SOBON
Toronto | Shop Pretty
A good friend of mine, fashion design student Claire Oleson, rocks the cat-eye liner on a regular basis and she always has it done perfectly. I asked her for her best tip, and she said, “do it in black pencil eyeliner, then go over it in liquid liner, because it’s easier to get the shapes symmetrical, and it also helps with staying power.”
I tried her tip and totally agree! The pencil is easy to correct, and when you’ve got it right, simply trace it. I used a cream liner applied with an angled brush. I then defined the black line even more by running a pencil concealer along the edges to sharpen and define the cat-eye liner.
(Brow Notes: I generally don’t fill in my brows—they are very light and I like them that way—but with the precise look of a cat-eye, a sloppy brow can lessen the effect. For this post, I filled in my brows with a soft blond powder on an angled brush, starting from below the brow and working up.)
Products used: Ilia Lip Conditioner in “Blossom Lady,” Revolution Organics Lip Gloss in “Truth,” Alima Pure Brush 33, RMS Beauty Cream Eye Shadow in “Karma,” Studio 78 Paris Baked Eyeshadow in “Sleep In,” Sante Naturkosmetik Coverstick No. 1, Lily Lolo Eye Pencil in “Grey,” Studio 78 Paris Mascara in “01”
Montreal | Stealing Beauty
Products used: Essence Gel Liner in “Midnight in Paris,” Real Techniques Pixel-Point eyeliner brush, Sedona Lace Angled Detail Eye Brush EB 23, Lancôme Style Quad in “Showstopper” (discontinued, but any dark shadow will do), Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette, Revlon eye lash curler, L’Oréal Telescopic Mascara
Toronto | THISWASFOREVER
The trick is to applying cat-eye liner is to do it with an angled or pointed brush, painting from the inner to the outer edges of the upper lash line. Now, everyone’s eye shape is different, so you really want to think about your specific eye shape when you are trying to make the right winged tips. You can easily do this by following the slants of your eyes.
But what if you can’t make straight or sharp lines with the brush? Here’s my secret: Hold a business card against the outer corner of your eyes and use it as a ruler. You can also hold the business card at a 45-degree angle starting from your outer corner for the top part of your liner. Lastly, if you really can’t make a straight line, use an eyeshadow first to make your winged tip first and then go over it with a liner. Eyeshadows are always much easier to erase if you have made a mistake.
Products used: Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Foundation in “Bisque 2,” M.A.C Beauty Powder in “Pretty Baby,” M.A.C Eyeshadow in “Golden-Rod,” L’Oréal Paris Color Infaillible Eyeshadow in “Ultimate Black,” L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Power Collagen Mascara, Red Cherry 100% Human Hair Lashes in “#113,” Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in “Cupcake,” Royal & Langnickel Silk Green Line Eyeliner/Brow GL-8 Brush
Sandra D. Sobon
Toronto | Moms Makeup Stash
Applying winged liner can be a bit tricky and definitely requires some practice and a steady hand. The key to perfecting the look is to find the method that works best for you. When doing a cat-eye liner, I like to keep my shadow choices simple and usually stick to neutral colours.
To create the perfect cat-eye liner, start off by drawing a fairly thin line, as close as possible to your natural upper lash line. I start just shy of the inner corner of my eye and work towards the outer corner. Then draw a diagonal line (about a 45 degree angle) upwards. The line should almost look as though it is an extension of your lower lash line and extend upwards toward your brow. Next and with your eye closed, draw a straight line starting at the end of the first line and extending to the middle of your eyelid. Finally, fill in the area with liner and the “wing” is complete. Your liner should be barely visible near the inner corner of your eyes and thicker as it nears the outer corners. This will make your eyes appear longer and provide a more dramatic effect. It is entirely up to you whether you want the liner to be thick or thin. It is also a matter of preference whether you choose to line the lower lash line. Once I’m finished, I use an angled brush saturated in Bioderma Micelle Solution to clean up any edges.
Beauty Tip: If you are new to using a liquid liner, try practicing on bare eyes until you get the hang of it, then start incorporating it into your daily routine. And remember, liquid liner comes in many forms, so experiment with applicators until you find the one that works best for you.
Products used:Pixi Flawless & Poreless, L’Oréal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Makeup in “Neutral,” M.A.C Studio Finish SPF 35 Concealer in “NW25,” Annabelle CC Pressed Powder in “Medium/Dark,” Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzing Powder in “Original Chocolate,” Benefit Box Blush in “Hervana,” Maybelline Master Shape Brow Pencil in “Deep Brown,” Too Faced Shadow Insurance Anti-Crease Eye Shadow Primer, Maybelline Stylish Smokes Eye Shadow Quad in “Natural Smokes,” L’Oréal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes mascara, M.A.C Satin Lipstick in “Snob,” Lancôme Artliner in “Noir,” Bioderma Micelle Solution Sensibio h2O, M,A.C 266 Angled Brush
Durham | Spiced Beauty
I was really excited for this weeks challenge! I rock a cat-eye probably four out of seven days a week. Why? Because it’s simple, classy and easy! A good eyeliner is essential to mastering the perfect cat-eye. Gel liners are great but I prefer to use liquid because it’s quicker. Currently, I’ve been obsessed with Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner from Milani. It’s thin, waterproof and it has a grip.
I start of by lining my upper lash line. Thin liners are great because they let you get really close to the lash line. I then make a wing towards the end of my brows. Slowly connect the wing to the line that I have already made. Let it dry. If you made a mistake, wet a Q-tip to clean up.
Products used: Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner in “Blackest Black,” Milani Liquid Eye in “Black,” Maybelline Volum’ Express The Rocket Washable Mascara in “Black,” It Cosmetics Brow Power Universal Eyebrow Pencil, M.A.C lipstick in “Diva”
Toronto | Bold n Beautiful Makeup
Products used: Bobbi Brown Gel Liner, small brush
Toronto | Toronto Beauty Reviews
The cat-eye liner look is one of my favourites. I think it’s a really classic and clean look and is perfect for so many occasions. It’s office appropriate and can look very glamorous. However, achieving the prefect cat-eye can be tricky. It took me a while to “master” it and even then if I’m out of practice it can take me a while to figure it out again.
Here are my steps for achieving a cat-eye liner look:
– Your tools and products are really important. I like to use a gel liner and a very thin eyeliner brush. It can be pointed, flat or angled but it needs to be able to draw a precise line. It’s also key to make sure you’re working with a clean brush. It does not have to be just washed but it should not have old liner caked on it. You will not achieve a nice crisp line if there is product residue on your brush!
– I always curl my lashes first so that it’s easier for me to get the liner really close to my lash line. Line the eyes as close to the lash line as possible and build until you get the desired thickness.
– Now, the most difficult part: For the cat eye flick line up the brush (if using an angled brush make sure the thinner part is pointed to the outside of the eye!) with the end of the outer lashes. I like to imagine my lower lashes continuing up toward my temples and I draw my cat-eye along that imaginary line. Don’t extend too far unless you are going for a really dramatic look. Always keep cotton swabs on hand to clean up any mistakes and to help make the liner look more precise.
It’s important to treat both eyes separately as most people’s eyes are not symmetrical. This is why I like the trick of using your lower lash line as a guide so that the cat eye is always going in the proper direction. With the cat-eye I keep everything else simple but I love wearing a bold lip colour to finish off the look.
Products used: L’Oréal Infalliable Lacquer liner 24H in “Blackest Black,” Mark Make it Rich Lip Colour Crayon in “Royal”
Toronto | Liner and Glitter and Gloss, Oh My!
Ahhh, the cat eye. Easily one of my top beauty go-tos. I love how it’s feminine, flirty and versatile depending on your mood. Feeling edgy? Try a thick, straight line. Cheeky? Give it a little curl. Delicate? A thin line is your best friend.
First, I think it’s important to choose the right product for the look you want and your level of confidence when applying it. I like to use a gel liner and a super thin brush. It’s really easy to apply, leaves a solid line, and lasts. After choosing your weapon, it’s time to get to work. I like to start by applying the liner right along the curve of my lid, getting as close to the lash line as possible. Next, I draw on the tail, extending it from the outer corner of my eye towards the end of my brow. This is the part where you get to have a little fun—you can make the wing as thick or thin, curved or straight as you want. I like to give mine a little bit of an upwards flick. Once I’ve drawn the tail, all that’s left to do is connecting the wing to the liner on my lash line. I like to give it a bit of a curve when I fill it in so that the line flows nicely and follows the curve of my lid and lashes.
New to applying cat-eye liner? I suggest first drawing it on with a regular black liner, then retracing the line with you liquid/gel liner once you’re satisfied with it. It’s a lot easier to correct mistakes made with a pencil than with a liquid liner. Just keep practising and you’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Products used: Shiseido Shimmering Cream Eye Color in “PK302,” L’Oréal Paris Infallible Lacquer Liner 24H in “Blackest Black,” Diorshow Iconic Overcurl Mascara in “090”
Toronto | Rock That Look
We’ve all spent more time than we’d like to admit in front of the mirror trying to create the perfectly lined cat-eye—and achieving the perfect look is still a hit-or-miss process for me. What I find works the best, however, is using eye shadow to create the cat-eye look rather than liner itself. This allows me to be a little less precise with the liner and a little more creative with the shadow—just the way I like it.
1. Using a regular shadow brush, I apply a light shimmery shade all over the entire lid, just beyond the crease and a light dab at the inner corners of the eye.
2. I then take a medium-toned, neutral shade—like a chocolate brown or a grey—and use a creasing brush to create a V-shape at the corner of my eyes. This V is higher than normal, pointing upward toward my temples rather than sideways to my ears.
3. I then use a dark smoky shade, such as navy, dark gray or black, and with the creasing brush I outline the V-shape further, creating emphasis on the top corners of my lids.
4. Next comes the liner. For this look I prefer a smooth, gel-like pencil that applies like a liquid but has a thicker consistency. Staying very close to the lash line, I apply a thin line to the top lid and extend it out just at the corner of my eye, following the upward line created by the smoky shadow. This is not a long winged-look, the liner simply extends a few millimeters past the corner of the eyes.
5. I apply a thicker line of black liner along waterline of my eyes and finish the look by curling my lashes and applying two coats of mascara.
As you can see in the photos, the emphasis is more on the eye shadow than the liner itself. This makes it easier for those of us with shaky or unsteady hands to create a cat-eye look without the mess or frustration of using just a liner.
Products used: Urban Decay Naked Palette in “Half Baked,” “Darkhorse” and “Creep,” Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in “No. 1 Black,” Essence Extreme Volume Mascara
Kawartha Lakes| Perilously Pale
It can be difficult to pull of cat-eye liner when you have hooded eyes—though the hooded eyes I’m referring to in this instance are due to having sagging or excess eyelid skin, such as I do. There are two tricks to ensure as perfect a wing as possible on hooded eyes.
First, you need to ignore the usual rule of following your lower lash line as a guide for the angle of the wing. If you do so it will bring the liner across the area of folded skin where your crease is and it will look distorted. Instead, you need to bring the liner out just past the hooded area, on a more outward angle. (This also helps extend the eye in a more feline manner, which is perfect for my smaller eye shape.) Now, make a tiny dot to mark where you want the line to end on each eye. Then, at the lashline extend the liner past the outer corner of your eye before you trace it up to meet this point. If you look closely at my pictures you can see how I have extended the outer corner of my eye out even further before angling the wing up.
A second important tip when working with hooded eyes is to apply to the liner with the eye in as relaxed a state as possible. If you pull the skin taut to apply your liner then when you release the skin the line will no longer be straight. This can of course be tricky when your skin is a bit on the crepey side, as mine is.
For a full cat-eye look you want to make sure both corners of the eye come to a distinct point. To me, this is what makes the look a cat-eye and more than just a traditional wing. I also like to keep the lower lash line a little less harsh by blending out the line with a small brush or finger. Whatever eyeliner look you are going for I always find it best to create as fine a line as possible, staying close to the lashes, since there is less lid space to work with when working with hooded lids. I love the Bdellium Tools 760 angled brush because it is super small and fine.
Products used: OB for Shu Uemura UV Under Base BB Mousse in “BB Beige,” Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation in “Shade 38,” Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Powder in “Shade 110,” Benefit Dallas, Lancôme Blush in “Pommettes d’Amour,” Lise Watier Pastel Power Illuminating Beads, Too Faced Shadow Insurance, M.A.C Paint Pot in “Painterly,” Urban Decay Eyeshadow in “Buck,” Hourglass Visionaire Eye Shadow Duo in “Gypsy,” M.A.C Fluidline in “Blacktrack,” L’Oréal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Mascara, Bdellium Tools brush “760,” Anastasia Brow Wiz in “Ash Blonde,” Chanel Rouge Allure Extrait de Gloss in “Emoi”
Toronto | Product Wars
1. Decide on how slanted and big you want the flick to be.
2. Put some gel liner onto the bent liner brush. Remove excess gel liner on the back of your hand.
3. Use the tip of the brush to map the flick out, then use the side of the brush to line the eye.
4. Draw a diagonal line that connects the top of the flick to the centre of the eye. To prevent the gel liner from skipping, move the brush from the flick to the centre of the eye.
5. Fill in any gaps with more gel liner.
6. Dip a cosmetic applicator into the cleansing water and clean up any edges for a sharpen flick. Add concealer to sharpen the flick even more.
Products used: Sephora Pro Bent Liner Brush #23, Essence Gel Eyeliner in “Midnight in Paris,” Marcelle Soothing Cleansing Water, Quo Cosmetic Applicators, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in “Ginger”
Toronto | The Burgundy Book
I’ll be honest—I often struggle with my cat-eye flicks and it often ends up looking like I tried to apply it on a moving train. In fact, I’m pretty sure If I tried to do a cat-eye in a moving vehicle it’d probably end up looking better! But in instances where I’m lacking a locomotive I keep a couple of cotton swabs close by.
I prefer to work with a gel liner and brush when achieving this look and I’m really loving Shu Uemura’s 6 OB Badger brush with YSL’s Eyeliner Effet Faux Cils in “Ashy Black.”
Because of my hooded eyelids I find that there’s often no point in varying the shape of my flicks because they end up hidden anyway! I have a little trick for this though.
I start my liner from the very inner corner of my eye and sweep it as close to the lash line as possible continuing until I reach the outer corner. Then, I open my eyes and let the brush flow against the natural curve of my eye. It’s a neat little trick to help you get it even on each side because really, your eyelid is doing all the work by pushing against the brush.
Once you have that initial flick you can modify it to make it as graphic or soft as you like! And if you mess up, that’s why you keep some eye makeup remover and cotton swabs at hand. Just erase the error and continue where you left off.
Products used: Shu Uemura 6 OB Badger brush, YSL Eyeliner Effet Faux Cils in “Ashy Black0”