Easy Winged Eyeliner for Beginners

Published in: Eyes, Makeup, Makeup Tips/How To

how to winged eyeliner

OK, straight up, by “easy winged eyeliner,” I mean easy in reference to being able to successfully draw the shape and angle you want, and not easy in terms of being able to do the whole thing in 30 seconds (it will probably take longer than that). This method here involves four steps, but they really are easy, and at the end of them you’ll have perfectly placed wings.


Now, we all know someone who can perfectly apply winged eyeliner in a single glorious swoop, but I’m totally not that girl. To get my winged liner the way I like it, I have to apply it in layers and steps.

It’s all about the layers. πŸ˜‰

If you’ve ever struggled to draw your wings just right, or if you can only do it with an obscene amount of Herculean effort and concentration, this method of layering will help you place your lines and wings exactly where you want ’em. Pretty soon you’ll have winged liner like a BOSS!

What you’ll need…

  • A black pencil eyeliner
  • An angled eyeshadow brush
  • A black powder eyeshadow
  • A gel or liquid eyeliner
  • Q-tips

1. Line your upper lash line (you can also do your water line, but it’s optional)

easy how to winged eyeliner beginners

I tightlined my eyes first, because I always tightline, but it’s completely optional. What we’re gonna do now is line our upper lash line, so grab a black pencil eyeliner with a sharp tip (or sharpen a dull one), and line the upper lash line on one of your eyes with it. The sharp tip just makes it easier to be precise than a dull or blunt tip does.

Try to keep your line as thin and as close to your lash line as possible. Don’t worry at this stage if your line isn’t as thick and voluminous as you’d like, or if the edge is a little wonky or jagged, because we’ll rectify that sitch in a second. Repeat on your other eye.

easy how to winged eyeliner beginners

2. Smooth the edge of the line and start building the shape of your wing

easy how to winged eyeliner beginners

To smooth the edge of the line and start building the shape of your wing, take a clean angled eyeshadow brush, and run it gently along the edge of the line you drew in step one (note: I do each step on each eye along the way to keep them symmetrical). Start at the inner corner and move out. When you get to the outer corner, drag the brush out a bit to create a faint outline of a wing using the remaining product on your brush.

To get both eyes symmetrical, it helps me to look straight into a mirror with both eyes open while I’m working.

If you find that your wings aren’t even, don’t panic! Use a Q-tip to tweak and adjust them.

easy-cat-eye-pictureAs for the angle of your wings, it’s up to you, but I think it helps to visualize an invisible line that extends up and out from the outer corner of your lower lash line. Just follow the angle of your lower lash line up and out.

Totally optional and up to your own personal preference, though. I usually like to flatten my wings out a bit (so not as steep), because it appears to elongate the eye, and I like that effect. Play around a bit until you find an angle that works for you.

3. Thicken the line and wing

easy how to winged eyeliner beginners

OK, so now it’s time to build up the shape of our line and wing even more, so let’s take our same angled brush (doesn’t matter if there’s leftover eyeliner on it), dip it into a pan of black powder eyeshadow, tap off the excess, and press the brush directly on top of the pencil eyeliner we applied on our upper lash line a moment ago. Drag it along the edge to smooth and thicken the line.

easy how to winged eyeliner beginners

How thick you want your line is up to you, but the general idea is to have it go from being thicker at the outer corner of the eye to thinner at the inner corner. The tapering gives a little “lift” to the eye, but it’s totally up to you.

For most looks, I keep my lines fairly thin because I don’t have a lot of mobile lid space (which is the part of the upper lid the moves when you blink). When I do a very thick line, it ends up covering most of my lid, which then makes my eyes look smaller (not what I want).

But again, it’s just personal preference. I break that rule all the time, haha!

(Oh! — you may need to draw the line on one eye thinner or thicker than the other if your eyes aren’t symmetrical.)

4. Intensify the effect with a gel or liquid liner

easy how to winged eyeliner beginners

For a soft winged liner look, you can stop here, but I want more drama for ya mama! πŸ™‚ So let’s layer either a liquid liner or a potted gel eyeliner on top of the powder we just applied to deepen the look. If you want a shiny finish, go for liquid; if you want a matte finish, opt for gel.

Liquid liners usually come in a felt-tip pen. I like ones with flexible tips instead of rigid tips because they’re easier to drag along my skin.


If you decide to go with a gel liner, use your angled eyeshadow brush to apply it. Just wipe it off with a dry paper towel before dipping it into the pot. That way the brush head is (mostly) clean, and the bristles can pick up enough product and deposit it smoothly onto your skin.

5. Admire your handiwork!

easy winged liner 7

Bravo! You’re done. Now spread your wings and fly. πŸ™‚

Products I used

Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,



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So far, 24 people have commented on this article. How cool is that?

  1. Musical says:

    Dude! You make it look so easy! 30 seconds? I think for me it will take close to 30 minutes! :)))))

    • Karen says:

      It definitely takes me longer than 30 seconds. By easy I mean in reference to being able to successfully get the shape and angle you want, and not easy in terms of being able to do the whole thing quickly. But whatever works, right? πŸ™‚

      • musical says:

        I know what you were referring to :). Sorry if my statement came across as weird. I meant like in terms of how klutzy I am! Seriously, I always have a hard time drawing fine lines and then I have friends who make it look so effortless! So for someone like me, it always takes furrever ;). Even then, the results are… ahem… uneven :(.

  2. Aditi says:

    This is such a useful post! You make it look so easy and comfortable, loved it! You look gorgeous as always! πŸ™‚ xx
    Aditi recently posted … Forest Essentials Facial Ubtan Multani Mitti | Review, Photos

  3. You make it look and sound so EASY! πŸ™‚ Even though I am not new to make-up I still struggle a bit with getting that winged eyeliner to look just right, so I’m definitely happy that you posted these tips. I guess I should just practice more… Thanks Karen!
    Kiss & Make-up recently posted … Review | MAC Prep + Prime Fix + Skin Refreshing Finishing Mist (Yuzu limited-edition)

  4. Your step-by-steps are great! Always clear and useful πŸ™‚
    Carol in a Page recently posted … 8 Beauty Hacks that Will Help You Travel Light

  5. sarahc says:

    Hi Karen, thank you for doing this blog. I’ve seen you talk about using tape before to get your perfect cat eyeliner. Do you still use tape and is this way easier than that way?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Sometimes I do, like if I’m in a hurry or if I have an event I have to go to and I don’t want to have to deal with free-handing the wings. I think tape definitely makes it easier. If you do use tape and apply your eye makeup after foundation, then run a little bit of your concealer or your foundation along the area where the tape is after you lift it off, since it will remove whatever product is beneath it. Also, play with the angles of your tape. You’ll eventually find one that you really like!

  6. Noirojos says:

    I love simple looks like this, you look so fresh and radiant! I usually just do my eyeliner with a prayer and a held breath, but I’ll try layering to see what happens πŸ™‚

    • Karen says:

      Hi Noirojos,

      Girl, I totally get it! I got tired of winged liner being hit or miss (or having it take FOREVER). Layering takes out the guesswork and gives you so much control. It takes a while to get the hang of it, but then it gets easy. πŸ™‚ I hope you try layering and that it works for you.

      Have a great Tuesday!

  7. Kiyanna says:

    Where was this for my pre bday brunch on Sunday…I just celebrated my Bday on the 10th!! Go Me!! And I did a cat like eye, But it was my 1st time. I used the Mac Kohl eyeliner, Black track fluidline & Mac extreme dimension lash mascara. Thanks Karen u really help me out for the next time!!

  8. Makyla says:

    Thanks so much for these tips, Karen! Just the thought of winged eyeliner has always been unnecessarily stressful for me, but with these tips, I think I can manage much better haha. Thanks so much for sharing! Hope you have a great day!

  9. Tatiana says:

    You make this look so easy. Your liner looks so perfect. I have seriously hooded lids with drooping corners, so this is one look I haven’t attempted.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tatiana,

      It gets easier with practice. For hooded lids, you might want to tweak the placement slightly. Try skipping the line on the upper lash line and just line the waterline, then build out your wing at the very outer corner, or about a quarter of the way from the outer corner. This type of line tends to flatter a more hooded lid, I’ve noticed. Hope this makes sense! If it doesn’t let me know and I can try to clarify. πŸ™‚

  10. Sarah says:

    This is the makeup look that I struggle with the most. Every single time I attempt this I end up wiping it off and leaving the house frustrated. I just cannot seem to get them even or the swoops to look gentle. I have hooded eyes so it’s difficult, I know you have them as well but you somehow seem to avoid the typical hooded-eye issues! I have been tempted by that Tom Fore eye liner because the one end is so tiny. I thought it might allow for better control… Here’s hoping. I feel like wings would make my eyes looks bigger

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Oh, I feel you. There are so many things you can try! If you have trouble with even wings, go to the drugstore and get some surgical tape (it’s in the section with the bandaids) to use as a guideline. Take a couple pieces of tape, stick them a few times on the back of your hand to remove most of the glue, and then attach one piece to the outer corner of one eye and the second piece to the other. When you do this, look straight into the mirror. Tweak the angle of the wings if you need to. Once you get them pretty close, then start lining, using the edge of the tape as your guide.

      Another thing you can do is to skip the line on the upper lash line and just line the waterline, then build out your wing at the very outer corner, or about a quarter of the way from the outer corner. This type of line tends to flatter a more hooded lid, I’ve noticed.

      And if all else fails there’s always Q-tips to correct your angles. πŸ™‚

      I hope that these things make sense. If you have any questions about anything let me know!

  11. Wow, this takes easy winged liner to the next level! I always struggle with getting my wing on point, but thanks to your easy step by step guide, it has become so easy! πŸ™‚
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us Karen!
    Have a great day <3

  12. Stefi says:

    Wow, such a great post and such great tips, I’ll definitely try this out tomorrow. Whatever tip I can get to make my life easier drawing a wing, I’ll take that πŸ™‚
    Stefi recently posted … Makeup Of The Day #5

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