There’s a reason the cut crease has remained popular from the ‘60s until now (and we don’t see the trend going anywhere anytime soon). The popularity of the cut crease has every beauty creator and makeup lover sporting the dramatic look that widens eyes and adds an extra oomph to eye makeup (think of it like contouring your eyelids). If you’ve been holding out for fear of accidentally ending up with raccoon eyes, this is the guide for you. Trust us: If you can hold a pencil, you can master the cut crease.
Scroll on for two cut crease makeup tutorials and pro tips from celebrity makeup artist Ash K Holm that will have you mastering the cut crease in no time. Plus, we’re including some major inspiration for pushing this dramatic eye makeup look to the next level. Whether you’re a budding makeup artist or a makeup beginner who wishes their eyeshadow palette came with a paint-by-numbers cheat sheet, we promise these step-by-step guides will work for everyone—and every eye shape (more on that below)!
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The cut crease combines a lighter shade of eyeshadow application with a line (or “cut”) across the middle crease of your eyelid. On its own, the look makes your eyes appear wider and draws more attention to the colors on your lids, but you don’t have to stop there. When paired with cat eyeliner or false eyelashes, cut creases bring on Adele-levels of drama (no singing required) and mod '60s vibes. It’s a unique yet super easy technique that’ll take your eye makeup to the next level.
The classic cut crease is your key to making a statement in the blink (or wink!) of an eye. Even better, the classic cut crease relies on just a few eye makeup staples. Keep scrolling to see how to get the classic, neutral cut crease at home.
When it comes to eyeshadow primer, be lighthanded with your product usage. A little eyeshadow primer goes a long way to create an even base for your lid look and help whatever you layer on top blend easily and lock in place. You’ll want an eyeshadow primer with maximum staying power, like ANASTASIA BEVERLY HILLS Eye Primer. This water-resistant primer creates a smooth base for your cream, powder, liquid, or loose pigment shadows to blend on flawlessly and stay put all day. Plus, the light hue makes colors pop.
As much as we love a good makeup brush or sponge, we suggest ditching makeup tools for this step, so you can have maximum control over how much pressure and product you apply. Squeeze the primer directly onto your ring finger and gently pat over your entire lid. Let the primer set for 30 seconds before moving on to the next step.
Your base eyeshadow will set the tone for your cut crease makeup look. We love the NATASHA DENONA Alloy Eyeshadow Palette for the neutral mix of matte and shimmer shades and the buttery texture that makes blending super easy. For a traditional cut crease, you’ll want to pick a light, matte eyeshadow color, like the middle shade from this palette.
Using a soft, flat brush, like BEAU GÂCHIS Large Shader Brush, pat the color over your entire lid. Press, don’t sweep, an even layer of your base color gently onto your lids beginning with the inner corner of your eyes and working outwards.
“People think you can only use creams to really cut the crease, but that’s not true,” says Holm. “You can get that same look with an eyeshadow, and you can even control it better and make it look a lot softer.” Pick a darker shade for the outline of your crease, like the deep brown matte color from the Alloy Eyeshadow Palette. Make things easier for yourself and apply it with a slim eyeliner brush with packed bristles, like ESTATE COSMETICS Brush #3 EEL03. The slim tip makes sketching out the creases really easy.
“Keep your eyes open while you’re mapping [your creases] out so you can bring the cut crease slightly higher than your natural crease to create the illusion of more elongated, wider eyes,” says Holm. This trick also helps if you have hooded eyes or monolids, so you can ensure the crease will show when your eyes are open. “I love using eyeshadow for a cut crease because you can really just take your time. It’s way more forgiving than eyeliner. You can even work the eyeshadow brush forward and backward to create a more perfected line.”
At this point, your eye makeup will look like a paint-by-numbers work in progress, but a few strokes of a blending brush will up the look instantly. Reach for a petite blending brush, like Stay Sharp pencil brush from the TARTE SUGAR RUSH™ A+ Brush Set to ensure a gentle blending of color without any accidental lifting or fallout. “Take a pencil-shaped brush and blend the line back and forth,” says Holm. “Place the brush just above the line to blend it out the top and keep the bottom of the line sharp. Don’t worry if you accidentally get the crease color a little low and onto the lids. You can actually take the eyeshadow you have on your lids and pat it right on top like an eraser.”
To create the cut crease in reverse, start by laying down your crease shade. In this version, you can be a little less precise. Take a small blending brush and your deep matte shade, and work it back and forth into your crease until you’re happy with the shape. Then, pack a cream eyeshadow shade similar to your skin tone with a flat shader brush (you can even use your concealer and concealer brush in a pinch) over your lids and up to your crease creating a sharp line where the two meet. Using a cream shadow, like BOBBI BROWN COSMETICS Long-Wear Cream Shadow Sticks, ensures full coverage and will help you get that sharp line at the edge of your crease.
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Makeup artist Paige Pelfrey shows how you can use a spoon as a stencil to create not only your sharp cut crease shadow but also a winged liner along your lash line to match. Just make sure the spoon is large enough to cover your entire lid, and you’ll be good to go.
Once you’ve mastered the basic cut crease techniques, your creativity is only limited by the eyeshadow colors in your makeup bag. There’s no need to stick to neutral, natural colors when there’s a whole big world of glitter and color out there! Here are some of our favorite cut crease eyeshadow looks we know you’ll love, too.
When the cut crease travels back in time to the ‘70s era colors of NOMAD COSMETICS Berlin Underground Palette, you get a bright and bold mix of vintage and modern. Dip your pencil brush into the shade pink-red shade to create an entrancing look that will leave everyone doing a double and triple take.
Follow Holm’s cut crease tutorial above, then add a winged liner with liquid eyeliner and another coat of mascara to complete the look. Connect the end of your cat-eye to the outer corner of your crease for a cohesive, V-shaped eyeshadow look that is flattering on all eye shapes.
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Looking to make a statement with your eye makeup? Ditch the subtle pastel shades and go for a gorgeous electric pink and white ombré cut crease. The combo of cotton candy and glimmer in BEAUTY CREATIONS Bomb AF Eyeshadow Palette has our inner Lisa Frank hearts singing.
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In our books, you can never have enough glitter, and this glittery cut crease look is no exception. To get the look, follow the tutorial above, then pack on a shimmery shade over your base lid color to amp up the shine. Remember to press the glitter into place rather than swiping it on to get the most payoff and avoid a glittery mess.
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