Since Ancient Egypt, women (and men, too) have enhanced their appearance by applying black eyeliner to their eyelids. While the cat eye style was around for years beforehand, it didn’t gain mainstream popularity until the roaring ‘20s. French Singer and dancer Josephine Baker made the look fashionable. It went out of style for a while but made a comeback thanks to movie stars such as Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren. Most recently, singer Amy Winehouse used the cat eyeliner as her signature look.
Black eyeliner is a severe choice to begin with, but many are afraid to even attempt the cat eye look. You need a steady hand that can pull off a flawless flick of the liner. Some people swear by the business card trick, while others use the tape method. More seasoned makeup artists apply the cat eye freehand. Read more for tips and tricks for the perfect cat eye.
What is the cat eye look?
The cat eye is a dramatic eyeliner technique that can be applied with gel, cream, liquid or pencil eyeliner. The general technique is the same for everyone, but your eye shape determines the length and thickness of the line. It is a bold look usually reserved for a night on the town, though some choose it for their daily makeup routine.
The makeup style got its name from a cat-like appearance of the eye once the liner is applied. The look is achieved by lining the upper eyelid at the lash line, extending a little past the outer corner of the eye. Another line is drawn extending from the eye crease. The lines at the lash-line and eye crease meet in a triangle shape. The triangle shape is filled in with liner, giving your eyes a bold flourish.
The cat eye is considered one of the most difficult makeup tricks to master. For a newbie, it might require a bit of trial-and-error and a lot of makeup remover to fix smudges. If you mess up while applying the cat eye, don’t get discouraged. No one is an expert without practice!
What is the difference between a cat eye and a winged eyeliner?
Cat eye eyeliner and winged eyeliner are often used interchangeably. However, there is a small, slight difference between the two. A thin line, you might say. The cat eye technique includes a dramatic line to connect the top lash-line to the lower lash-line.
For winged eyeliner, the product is only applied to the upper eyelid. Cat eyes require a thicker lining rimming both the top and bottom eyelids, similar to the eyes of a cat. Winged eyes can be worn all day long and into the night. Cat eyes are bolder and are generally reserved for nighttime.
While they look similar to the untrained eye, the winged liner extends in an upward direction at the corner of the eye and the cat eyeliner extends in a straight line from the outer corner of the eye. The cat eye also incorporates liner from the bottom lid to create a triangle shape at the edge of the eyes.
More simply put: Winged eyes are just a simple wing. A cat eye is a wing connected to the bottom lash line.
Tricks for the perfect cat eyes
Perfecting the cat eye look takes patience and practice. Here are some tricks to keep in mind to get you started:
What’s Your (Eye) Type?
Not even twins have the exact same eye shape, so why would everyone else? The shape of your eyes greatly determines the best types of makeup for you and how to apply it. When it comes to the cat eye look, the shape of the eyes tells how far out from the corner of the upper eye the wing should extend.
The six different eye shapes are:
Almond eyes – oval shaped eyes
Round eyes – The white of the eye is prominent around the iris
Upturned eyes – corner of eyes angle upward
Downturned eyes – Corner of eyes angle toward the cheekbones
Monolid eyes – minimal crease when eyes are open or closed
Hooded eyes – Crease of the eye can’t be seen when your eyes are open
The shape of your eye also determines how visible your eye crease is. The less visible the crease, the longer the wing. This helps your eyes really pop from the dramatic cat eye lining.
Choose the Right Eyeliner
There are a ton of different eyeliners available at your local drugstore or favorite beauty store. However, eyeliner comes in only three types – gel, pencil or liquid. Liquid eyeliner is the preferred choice for achieving the cat eye look. Many eyeliners are packaged with precision tips at the end for easier application.
As popular as liquid eyeliners are, you should use whichever product you’re most comfortable with. There’s no rule stating that cat eye has to be done with black eyeliner.
Use Tape or Small Card as a Guide
This is a trick for anyone with an unsteady hand. You can cheat the professional makeup artist system by using a business card of a piece of masking tape as a placeholder to mark the edge of the wing.
The tape or card should be placed at a 45-degree angle at the corner of your eye, where the eyelash line ends. The best part of this cheat is that there’s no clean-up needed if you accidentally get eyeliner on the card or tape.
Since you don’t have to worry about messing up the straightness of the line, you can use this time to experiment with the length of the flick of the cat eye. Remember – A longer flick means a more dramatic finished look.
Play Connect the Dots
Another trick is to use dots instead of a straight line. This helps keep the line even. Just lightly dot liner along the edge of your eye and connect the dots when you’ve extended the wing to your liking.
This is one reason liquid eyeliner is preferred. It’s easier to make dots with the liquid liner than with the gel or pencil liner. The dot method also works along the top and bottom of your lids.
Clean Up Smudges
If you do mess up your attempt at cat eye (and you will at first,) you don’t have to remove the eyeliner completely and start over. You can use a rounded q-tip dipped in makeup remover to clean up the smudges or erase lines that you’ve extended too far for your liking.
The final step after you’ve created a sultry cat eye is applying mascara. The mascara accentuates the eyeliner and completes the look. Some people take this a step further and use fake eyelashes to increase the dramatic effect of their makeup.
Best eyeliners for cat eyes
The cosmetics market is saturated with eyeliners. While eyeliners can come in many formats, from gels to pencils, liquid eyeliners are easiest for cat eyes. Many eyeliners now have precision tips to make the application easier than ever.
Here are four of our favorite eyeliners for perfect cat eyes:
NYX Matte Liquid Liner
Kiko Make Up Milano Ultimate Pen Long Wear Eyeliner
L’Oréal Paris Infallible The Super Slim Liquid Eyeliner
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Cat eyes aren’t the right look for everyone. It takes a bold person to pull off the sexy look. With these tips and eyeliner recommendations, you’re ready to take on Cleopatra.