Cat Eye Makeup: How To Perfect Winged Eyeliner For Every Eye Shape
Cat eye makeup is an ace makeup technique to have in your back pocket, which means the time you take to perfect it will be well worth it. This versatile eye makeup look can give your eyes a dramatic flair. It can also help open up and accentuate your peepers for that fresh-faced look.
But there’s more to cat eye makeup than mastering a one-size-fits-all dramatic wing or upward flick. The true secret to the perfect cat eye is knowing which technique benefits your eye shape the best.1
To get your desired effect, you may need to vary where and how you apply your winged eyeliner, as well as other makeup products (like eye shadow). Every expert makeup artist will tell you: different eye shapes mean different line placements, to ensure you’re getting the effect you want.2
But first things first — what is cat eye makeup? Once you learn more, you may just wonder where perfect winged liner has been all your life.
Decoding The Classic Cat Eye
Social media is filled with posts showcasing the “perfect” cat eye. This dramatic, perfectly applied thin line of black liner on the upper lid and subtle upward flick at the outer edge is often seen on celebrities. It’s certainly a timeless aesthetic reminiscent of the ‘40s and ‘50s beauty aesthetic (especially when paired with red lipstick). Luckily, such modern cosmetics innovations as the cat eye stamp exist – to help make copping this classic eye makeup look even easier.3
Sure, while it may be easier to just pop on a stamp in a pinch, having a deft and steady hand for winged eyeliner application is a valuable technique every makeup lover should know. Keep reading for tips on how to apply this kind of eyeliner look perfectly, regardless of your eye shape.
Winging The Winged Look: What You Will Need
When perfecting the cat eye, you’ll certainly need a good quality eyeliner (more on that below). You’ll also need a ton of patience and a keen understanding of your eye shape, since that’ll impact the way you apply your eyeliner.
Choose Your Eyeliner Wisely
Your eyeliner product will depend greatly on your preference — some might like the feel of gel eyeliner applied with a stiff angled brush. Others might prefer the ease of a fine-tipped liquid liner pen that allows you to draw directly on your eyelid.
Choose whichever eyeliner product suits you, but make sure you pick a long-wearing formula that won’t smudge or flake off easily.4
Other items to have handy: makeup remover or micellar water and cotton buds or Q-tips for easy cleanup of smudges or imperfect lines — something you may experience often in the early days of practicing.5
With your chosen eyeliner and cleanup tools at the ready, try this simple cat eye makeup tutorial.
Cat Eye Tip #1: Consider Your Eye Shape
You’ll want to know your eye shape before you attempt your winged liner. Remember, your eye shape will dictate how thin or thick your liner should be — and how far you’ll extend that signature cat eye liner flick.
Tip: Stand in a well-lit area and assess your eyes without any makeup in the mirror (or take a good selfie). If:
- The whites of your eyes are still visible underneath your iris when you look straight ahead, you likely have round eyes
- The outer corner of your eyes slope downward compared to your inner corner, you probably have downturned eyes
- There’s no visible whites in your eyes above or below your irises when you look straight into the mirror, you may have almond eyes
- There’s an extra fold of skin over your eyelid resulting in no visible crease, you may have hooded eyes6
Cat Eye Tip #2: Prep Your Eye Area
Now that you know your eye shape, it’s time to prep the eye area for the winged liner application. Doing this helps ensure that liner glides on (and stays on) more effectively, eliminating the need for cleanups or do-overs.
Make sure your entire eye area is cleansed and moisturized. Deal with puffiness with your usual serums or patches, then brighten up your undereyes with the right concealer. Lastly (and most importantly), swipe on some eye primer to help make your liner budge-proof.7
Now that you’ve studied your eyes and have prepared accordingly, here’s the specific technique you need for each type of eye shape.
How To Apply Winged Eyeliner For Round Eyes
To help accentuate round eyes, avoid lining your entire upper lash line. First, to draw your wing, imagine a line that continues from your lower lash line to the tail of your brow. Use this as a guide for where to place your flick and connect it to the outer corner of your eye. Then, continue lining along the upper lash line, stopping in the middle (right above your iris when you look straight ahead). Avoid getting close to the tear duct.8 You may also want to skip liner on the bottom lash line, to help keep your eyes from looking smaller.
How To Apply Winged Eyeliner For Hooded Eyes
Opt for a heavy, more defined line along your entire upper lash line to help lift the eyes and give you a bright-eyed appearance. Extend the liner past the outer corner, ending with a light flick. The idea is to combat any potential droopiness often associated with hooded eyes. So, go for extra definition — including lots of mascara.9
How To Apply Winged Eyeliner For Downturned Or Almond Eyes
For this eye shape, line the upper lash line completely from inner to outer corner. A thin but consistent line works well. Then, open the eye and apply the flick while looking straight ahead — turn the liner up at the end but keep the wing aligned with your bottom lash line so it still looks natural.10
Think “up and out” when drawing your wings. You want to lift and open the eyes more using your dramatic wing, so experiment with how thick and long your wings should be.11
Bonus: How To Apply Winged Eyeliner For Close Set Eyes
Close set eyes can be tricky, as too much eyeliner can make the space between the eyes appear even smaller. Avoid applying eyeliner on the inner corners. Instead, focus your liner starting from the middle of the eye (above the iris). Extend and flick past the outward corner, but keep it thin and clean. The trick is to give an illusion of a wider space between the eyes — and the extended, thicker wing helps create this effect.12
Practice Makes Perfect
When it comes to drawing that even, defined line so close to your upper lash line, there are lots of options to do it. Try playing with different liquid liner pen tips (from fine felt tip types to angled ones) to see which one works best for you. Also, try using different methods — like using short strokes or drawing dots and connecting them. Practice, practice, practice with a patient and steady hand until you end up with clean, even lines that help bring out the natural beauty of your eyes.