Cat Eye Makeup: How to Perfect the Look

Apr 13, 2020
Cat Eye Makeup: How to Perfect the Look

The cat eye is a makeup look that has withstood the test of time. You might even call it a classic, dating back all the way to the 1920s. Back then, the look was made en vogue by Josephine Baker when she combined the cat eye with lush, super dramatic lashes. Of course, the look getting adopted by the likes of Sophia Lauren, Bridgette Bardot, and Audrey Hepburn certainly didn’t hurt to help cement it in the halls of makeup and fashion fame.

In today’s culture, the cat eye is still a look everyone loves to push the envelope with. And thanks to helpful products like our Cat Eye Kit, creating the look at home is easier than ever, no makeup artist degree required.

Cat Eye vs Winged Eye

It should be noted that a cat eye can look very similar to a winged eye and sometimes the two terms are used to describe the same look. However, people that wear a winged eye look line typically only the top of the lash line and draw the wing outward, as a way to really emphasize the difference between the top and bottom lashes. A cat eye look tends to be bolder and more dramatic, usually achieved by applying eyeliner on both the upper and lower lash lines to draw a fuller winged shape. Done this way, your “cat eye” resembles more closely the eyes of a cat. Not to mention it really pops!

Cat Eye Makeup Tutorial

While drawing a cat eye can be a tricky makeup style to master, once you learn it, it’s the same every time, other than variances based on eye shape. How long you extend the wing and how thick of a line you draw will differ if you have, say, wide-set eyes versus close-set eyes. Thankfully, there are plenty of beauty tools available that can make the process easier and help you master the technique. Using our Eyeshadow Palette, create an in-a-minute eye look starting by sweeping Vanilla’d Velvet over your entire eyelid.

Our Best Cat Eye Tip

Start with the eye you have the most trouble with! Get the harder task out of the way first, and then the second task seems easy. In the case of drawing a cat eye, draw the eye that you have the hardest time with every time, and finish up with the easier eye because it will make it easier for you to duplicate.  

Discover Your Eye Shape

Everyone’s eye shape is different, which means you have to adjust your cat eye to suit you best. It may also affect what kind of liner you decide to use, although that is really more of a personal choice, not a hard and fast rule. But knowing your eye shape so you can learn how best to accentuate it is paramount and should be done before you even touch a makeup brush.

You may have one of several different eye shapes, listed below:

  • Small Eyes

  • Round Eyes

  • Close-Set Eyes

  • Wide-Set Eyes

  • Almond Eyes

  • Upturned Eyes

  • Downturned Eyes

  • Hooded Eyes

  • Monolids

Once you have figured out your eye shape, you can then start applying your makeup and drawing your cat eye.

Step One:

Figure out your best angle and how high or far you want to extend your cat eye. The trick is to draw a dot where you want your line to end and fill in backwards from there, pulling the eyelid taut to help keep the line smooth, or you can try using a piece of tape or a business card to help you draw your line precisely. Make sure you don’t draw your line downward or extend it too far. In most cases, you won’t want to go past your brows, unless there is a very specific look you are going for that requires it.

Step Two:

Create a small triangle by drawing another thin line starting from the top of your extended line, down to your lashes, just about where your iris begins. This is called the “cat eye flick.” Once you’ve got your triangle drawn, you can fill it in with liquid liner, or smudge it in using a brush.

Step Three:

Line the inner and outer corners of your eyes. On the top lash line, stay as close to your lashes as you can and repeat along the bottom lash line. Fill in the outer corners where the two lash lines meet, so there is no space between your lines. 

Step Four:

Clean up any smudges and unsteady looking lines by using an angled cotton swab with makeup remover. Most people that do a clean, sharp cat eye do so not just because of their skill, but also because they aren’t afraid of a little cleanup.

Step Five:

Apply the rest of your makeup, like eyelash primer, mascara and lip balm to complete your cat eye look. You may be wondering, “what does eyelash primer do?” Eyelash primer will help extend the length of your lashes so that when you apply mascara, you get that WOW factor. Some women like to use color when creating a cat eye look, while others prefer the classic black. There’s really no wrong way, it just depends on the look you’re going for.

Cat Eye for Small Eyes

Keep in mind that precise lines can make small eyes look even smaller. Instead, try going with a bit of a smudged look. It creates a smoky effect that helps a smaller eye pop.

Cat Eye for Round Eyes

A round eye means you can see white around the iris of your eye, either on the top or the bottom. The best look is to only line to the middle of your eye, right about where your pupil is, as you look forward.

Cat Eye for Close-Set Eyes

Close-set eyes benefit from a wing drawn further outward, long, sleek, and a little closer to horizontal, so that the eyes appear wider. Avoid drawing your line across the whole lash line to the inner corners, only go mid-way or so.

Cat Eye for Wide-Set Eyes 

A cat eye on wide-set eyes can work well if you modify your technique so that the line isn’t quite as dramatic. The trick here is to make sure your wing points up and remains short because a longer wing increases the wide appearance. You can also push the line more to the inner corner and keep close to the lashes, to help create the appearance of balance. 

Cat Eye for Almond Eyes

Since almond eyes already have a bit of a cat eye shape, you can trace a thin line from the inner corner and widen into the wing closer to the edge of the eye. Extend the flick to about where the crease begins and feel free to line the bottom lash line to really create a dramatic look.

Cat Eye for Upturned Eyes

Upturned eyes look a lot like the almond shape, with slightly more lift at the corners. You can usually just follow the natural line of your lid and flick the wing up and out, toward your temple with excellent results.

Cat Eye for Downturned Eyes

Eyes with a downward turn slope in the direction of the cheekbones at the outer corners. A winged cat eye is great for helping the eyes look more lifted. You’ll need to start the line a bit higher than normal and extend it toward the outer edge of your brow line. Use a very thin line along your lashes, from corner to corner.

Cat Eye for Hooded Eyes

Like small eyes, hooded eyes can seem smaller if you line both the top and bottom lashes. So, consider just doing the top and going for a smudged, smoky look. Usually, the thicker the line the better, because you won’t see much of a thin line. You should draw the tip of the wing right about where the hood of your lid begins.

Cat Eye for Monolids

Monolids usually work well with liquid liner. If you have monolids, you have little to no crease, which makes your eye shape perfect for the winged look. Think crisp and clean when applying eyeliner as close to the lashes as possible, then thicken up as you create and draw out the wing. If you want a more rounded appearance, keep the wing shorter and your line a bit thicker in the middle of the eye.

As you can see by our cat eye makeup how-to, it’s not nearly as difficult as you might think. Sure, it can take some practice to really get the hang of it, but once you figure out the best method that works for your eye shape, it’s really just a matter of repetition. The more you experiment with the cat eye makeup look in your beauty routine, the better you’ll get at it!

We aim to provide you with the most honest and credible information possible. This article was reviewed for accuracy by The Honest Team and was written based on trusted sources that are linked at the bottom of the article.