Weekly Beauty Advice: How To Get Perfect Winged Eyeliner
What do Amy Winehouse, Dita Von Teese, Brigette Bardot, and Diana Ross all have in common? They’re all famed for their perfect “feline flick,” or winged eyeliner.
The cat-eye look has been around for decades, and for good reason. This eyeliner style instantly opens up the eye and lends a feminine edge. But it can be an intimidating look to try. However, as any makeup artist will tell you, it just takes a little practice (and the right materials) to achieve this dramatic look.
Let’s explore several tips and tricks on how to master the perfect cat eye liner.
What You’ll Need
In order to accomplish your perfect eyeliner, you’re going to need a few tools.
When exploring the cat eye, you’ll want to try either a liquid eyeliner, a gel eyeliner, or a pencil eyeliner. You can also try out a gel liner in a pot with an angled brush. Some people find an eyeliner brush easier to use. There’s no right or wrong choice here. It comes down to what feels easiest for you to use.
The perfect eyeliner also relies on a few “helpers” to maximize the look. You’ll want a good concealer to help cover any under-eye skin blemishes and to highlight the eye area. Also, seek out a killer mascara. Look for ultra-pigmented formulas that may help add visible length, volume, and definition to your lashes.
Now, let’s get started.
Drawing The Perfect Cat Eye
1. Shape Your Outer Corner
This technique is a classic, and it isn’t as hard as it sounds. The more you practice, the closer you’ll get to perfecting your eyeliner.
- Start by imagining a thin, diagonal line from the outer edge of your eye toward your brow. You’ll want to imagine that if your brow extended a little farther out, this line would intersect it. Along this imaginary line, place a small dot where you’d like your cat eye to end.
- Then, take your eyeliner pen and draw a line from the very corner of your eye to this dot.
- Next, draw a little line in the very middle of your eyelid, close to the upper lash line.
- Starting from the end of that diagonal line, bring the eye liner pen back toward the eye, aiming to meet that little line in the center.
- You’ll have a gap between the two lines – that’s your wing. Carefully fill in the wing.
- From here, you can neaten up the eye as it feels fitting. For example, you may need to fill in parts of the lash line so there are no white gaps.
- Some people like to extend the lash line all the way to the inner corner of their eye, while some prefer to begin the line halfway across the eyelid (check out the tips for round and hooded eyes below for more on this).
- Finally, make sure to apply a couple of coats of good mascara.
2. Connect The Dots
This trick plays to the fact that many people do find it hard to get a nice “freehand” straight line. Connecting small dots can also help to create the perfect eyeliner.
- Draw tiny dots or dashes along your upper lash line, from the inner corner outwards.
- Then dot a couple of times along that imaginary diagonal line toward your brow for the wing.
- Now, simply connect the dots. Try to pull the eyelid taut while doing this.1
3. The Tape Trick
If you feel like you need a little bit more help drawing that first line of the cat eye, you can use this simple cheat for perfect eyeliner.
- Take a piece of tape and stick it to your skin at an angle at the corner of your eye. Again, imagine that if your brow extended a little further this tape line would intersect it.
- Take your eyeliner pen and trace the line of the tape.
- Now you have that perfect first line, carefully remove the tape from your skin and continue the steps above.2
4. Turn To A Stencil
If you feel you need even more precision for perfect eyeliner, you’re in luck. Several brands of liquid eyeliner now come with a stencil. You simply hold the stencil against your eye with one hand and trace the stencil with the other hand.
How To Get Winged Eyeliner For Every Eye Shape: Hooded Eyes, Round Eyes, And More
One big issue that comes up for people when perfecting winged eyeliner is that eyes come in various shapes and sizes. So, one set of instructions doesn’t truly fit everyone.
If you have hooded eyes, you’ll notice that your upper eyelid covers some of your eye crease when your eyes are open. You’ll want to be sure that your eyeliner isn’t hidden in this crease.
Winged Eyeliner Fix: Thin lines can get lost due to less eyelid space. But if your line is too thick, it can make your eyes look smaller. So, focus on starting your winged eye only 1/3 or halfway across your upper lash line, then make the wing thicker at the outer corner. This will have the effect of opening up your eyes.
Inspiration: Blake Lively, Tyra Banks, Jennifer Anniston, J-Lo
Imagine an invisible, horizontal line running through the middle of your eyes. If you have downturned eyes, you’ll find that your outer eye drops a little lower than this line. Sometimes, a cat eye can get lost in this downward-sloping crease.
Winged Eyeliner Fix: You want to lengthen and lift that lash line, so start by finding the center of your eyelid to begin your cat eye. But extend the wing only as far as your outer crease, so it doesn’t get lost.
You may need to keep the tail short, so it remains visible. But flicking the end up still creates lift at the outer corners, giving the illusion of more upturned eyes.
Inspiration: Katie Holmes, Anne Hathaway, Charlize Theron
A round eye shape is large and distinct. If you can see the whites of your eyes around your entire iris, then your eyes are round. Your eye crease is also very visible.
Winged Eyeliner Fix: You don’t want your eyes to look rounder. So, aim for a more elongated wing to provide more width – like an almond-shaped eye. You can achieve this by keeping the liner thin at your inner corners and much thicker at your outer corners, extending the wing as far as you like.
Inspiration: Michelle Obama, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Katy Perry
Monolid eyes are where most of the eyelid is concealed. So, you have very little lid space to work with.
Winged Eyeliner Fix: A dramatic cat eye looks fantastic on monolids. Begin with a thin line at your inner corner and taper the line to become much thicker as you reach the outer corner. This way, the liner remains visible. Extend the cat eye to go even bolder.
Inspiration: Awkwafina, Sandra Oh, Lucy Liu
Smoldering Eyes Without Liquid Eyeliner Precision
Some days, you’re just not in the mood to battle straight line perfection. But you can stop traffic just as effectively with another eye makeup classic – the smokey eye. No need for liquid liner here.
- Start by applying a medium weight eyeshadow all over the lid in a grey or brown tone.
- Then, grab a basic kohl pencil liner in black or brown, and draw a thin line along your lash line. This does not need to be too neat.
- Next, select a darker shade of shadow – an espresso tone for example. Blend this over the first shadow so that it goes only halfway up the lid this time. Also, blend it out into the corners of your eyes and down into your eyeliner.
- Apply a little of this darker shade along your lower lash line as well.
- Now, using your fingers, smudge your shadow even further for an extra smoky finish.
- Finally, clamp your lashes with an eyelash curler and top with several coats of your favorite mascara for the perfect look.
The Perfect Winged Liner Look: Just Like A Makeup Artist
Perfect eyeliner can be yours. Once you’ve found the tool you like best, just keep on practicing. That way, when a big event arrives, you won’t be trying to teach yourself last minute.
Once you get the hang of it, you can also mix things up depending on the occasion – like smaller wings for daytime, or a sprinkle of sparkly shadow over a larger wing for nightime. If you dare, you can even layer a little colored shadow on the outer wing for a little fun.