When it comes to makeup techniques, few are as challenging (and satisfying) as pulling off the perfect cat eye. When both wings are smooth, even, and actually match we feel like instant winners. But (if you’re like us) those moments are few and far between. A cat eye is a classic makeup look that’s so versatile, you can wear it for any occasion—and it’s also one of the most difficult to achieve. We’ve had our fair share of cat eye meltdowns from drawing uneven lines to overcorrecting to scrapping it all out of sheer frustration. And if someone breathes in our direction while we’re perfecting our wings? #Sorrynotsorry for being dramatic about it.
Because we’re all about positive vibes during our makeup routines, we decided to bring back the fun in creating one of the most iconic makeup looks ever with an easy how-to from celebrity and editorial makeup artist Kendal Fedail, who counts cat eyes as a go-to look. “I love a cat eye because it helps to elongate and add definition to the eyes,” she says. “You can wear it with no eyeshadow, eyeshadow, a nude lip, a colored lip. It truly goes with everything and is the perfect way to bump up your makeup from day to night.” Ready to try your hand at this beautiful makeup look—minus the fuss? Continue reading to create your best cat eye ever.
It may be tempting to look down and pull your eyelids taught, but the best way to achieve a smooth line is by looking straight ahead to ensure your eyeliner looks good from every angle. Fedail says, “ I first start by looking straight and seeing where I want to place my lines for my cat eye. I prefer starting with the top line since I want to be specific about where the line falls between my lash line and my eye crease,” she says.
Once you’ve figured out your placement, Fedail says to start drawing your eyeliner starting at the base of your lash line in the middle of your eye. Then, angle it up and out in the direction of the end of your eye crease. Using the end of your eye crease as a guide will help make sure you're angling your line evenly on both eyes.
Pro tip: Fedail says, “I prefer to freehand, but if you’re just starting out or are less comfortable you can definitely line up a piece of tape or even use a card to get the straightest line.”
Now, take a deep breath—it’s time for the bottom line. Start at the edge of your bottom lash line, using the point of the upper line you just created as a guide. “From there, I draw a line out from the edge of my bottom lash line up to a point meeting the top line,” says Fedail. Sometimes, we like to create a dot at the edge of each lower lash line first to ensure we’re starting from the same point on both sides.
Pro Tip: Shaky hands? Fedail says, “Practice every day and find what works the best for you—and don’t try and apply after your morning coffee so your hands are nice and steady!”
You’re almost there! We love the sharp lines and flirty shape of a cat eye, but it's the inky black color that makes it truly eye-catching. Before you start filling in your cat eye, test your eyeliner on the back of your hand so you know how much pressure you’ll need to apply—too much or too little pressure and you’ll risk smudging your perfect lines. Then, color in your cat eye using your eyeliner starting from the area closest to your lash line. Use less pressure as you reach the point to keep it sharp, and to avoid having any color pool at the end.
Phew—you’re almost home-free. Now’s the time to compare your cat eyes and look for any smudges or stray marks. When it comes to a clean cat eye, a little makeup remover is your best friend. Just pour some on a Q-tip and use it to clean up any eyeliner marks you see. One line slightly thicker than the other? Use makeup remover and a clean angled brush to (carefully!) sharpen edges so they match. Once you’re done, it’s time for Fedail’s finishing touch, “From there I fill it in, add mascara, and voila!,” she says. A few swipes of mascara, focusing on the outer corner of your eye will take your cat eye to the next level. (We used: IT COSMETICS Lash Blowout Salon Volume Lift Mascara in Black for major root-to-tip volume and length.)
Pro Tip: Still find cat eyes daunting? Trust us, you’re not alone. Fedail says, “There are so many different methods of application and ways to apply for different eye shapes as well. Practice every day and you’ll find what works the best for you.”
When it comes to eyeliner, Fedail loves a good liquid formula. “I personally prefer a liquid eyeliner for the blackest, smoothest application. Gel eyeliner is also great but it’s a little bit more advanced since it requires application with a separate brush.” Here are two liquid eyeliners we know and love:
• IL MAKIAGE Black Card Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a winner when it comes to precision. The super-fine tip makes for sharp, clean lines that you can easily build from subtle to dramatic. Plus, the intensely pigmented black eyeliner formula is long-lasting, waterproof, and glides on easy for your smoothest lines yet.
• KOKIE COSMETICS Precise Longwear Liquid Eyeliner in Black has a felt tip that dispenses ultra-saturated black pigments that last all day long. The firm tip helps apply just the right amount of pressure (great for precise cat eyes) and won’t tug on lids so it goes on extra smooth.
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