Seems like they should be easy, right?
Like, how hard can it be to draw a line along your upper lash line with a little flick at the end?
Um…yeah. I wish I was that girl — the one who can effortlessly draw flawless cat eye flicks in a single swoop, but that’s sooo not me.
Still, I have figured out a few secret space squirrel tricks over the light years that really do help with your cat eye flicks, and here are 10 of them. I’m using a bunch of products, by the way, from the new 25-piece MAC Star Trek collection, because, as you know, I’m a sci-fi nerd. 🙂 The collection arrives this September.
“Star Trek is an iconic pop culture phenomena whose storylines pushed gender and racial boundaries. For its 50th anniversary, we celebrate each of Star Trek’s powerful women in a transcending, transformational makeup collection.”
— MAC Senior Vice President/Group Creative Director James Gager
1. For big, bright eyes, line just a portion of your upper lash line
Nowadays when doing cat eyes, rather than lining my entire lash line, which I think makes my eyes look smaller, I like to start lining from about a centimer in from the side closest to my nose. So I’m lining about three fourths of the entire length of the lash line, and then drawing the cat eye flick out at the end.
There’s just something about lining the entire lash line that makes the eye look a little smaller, so this way keeps the inner quarter of the lash line unlined.
2. Use different liner formulas together in layers
I’m a big fan of layering different liners together and sketching out the shape of my cat eye before committing to it.
I like to draw the basic shape of my cat eye with a pencil liner first, because they’re easiest to control, and if I make a mistake, pencil formulas are usually easy to correct.
First, I tightline my upper lash lines with the pencil. Then I draw a thin line along the upper lash line and build up the product a bit toward the outer end of the line out to where the flick will begin.
Next, using an angled brush (because the angle fits the curve of the lid, and I think they’re easier to use than a pencil brush for this) to create the basic shape of my flick and set the angle, I drag the product out that I built up with the pencil in the outer side of my upper lash line in the previous step.
Then I layer a liquid liner on top of the pencil liner to intensify it.
After that, if there are any jagged areas along the edge of the line that need to be smoothed, I load my same angled brush with a gel liner (or a black eyeshadow, and then I spritz the brush with setting spray) and run it along the edge of the liner line, including the flick, to smooth the line.
3. Get thee a NARS 47
The holy grail of angled brushes, I swear! I can’t do a cat eye look without the NARS 47 brush.
It has stiff bristles, but it isn’t scratchy, and it draws perfect, precise lines that aren’t too thick or thin. I absolutely swear by the NARS 47 for cat eyes.
4. Try different line widths with your liner to find what works for you
There are all kinds of cat eyes, like dainty kitten eyes with thin lines and tiny flicks, or full-blown, dramatic cat eyes with thick lines, but you have to find what works best for you. Some people suggest always doing thick lines, but try a cat eye with a skinny line one day and a fatty-bo-batty thick line the next. Play with them, and you’ll figure out the most flattering shape for your eye.
I think thinner lines work best for me. I don’t have a ton of lid space on my eyes, so when I draw very thick liner lines, especially when I use black liner (because it’s so stark), it makes my eyes look smaller. The thinner I can get that liner along my upper lash line, the bigger my eyes seem, and I’m all about getting those BIG, bright eyes!
5. You don’t have to start your flick at the very end of your lash line
Have you ever noticed how some gals (and guys) line their upper lash line all the way to very outer corner? I tried it a few times, but it always made my eyes look sleepy.
With the shape of my eyes, it doesn’t work for me because my upper lash line curves down slightly below my lower lash line, so if I line all the way to the end, my eye looks a bit droopy.
I like to stop my liner line, and start my flick going up and out, a tad before it reaches end of my natural lash line because I think it gives a little lift to my cat eye look.
6. Play with the angles of your flick
One rule I’ve read time and time again for getting a purr-fect angle for your cat eye flicks is to visualize an invisible line that extends in the same direction up and out from the outer corner of your lower lash line, extending at the same natural curve.
I think that works for a lot of people, but it doesn’t work for everyone, and I know it definitely doesn’t work for me. It never looks quite right when I do it.
If you’re the same way, try varying the angle of your flick. I flatten mine out so they aren’t as steep (I lower the angle), which elongates my eyes and makes them look more feline, MRRROW!
The point here is to play. Experiment with different angles.
7. Don’t forget to also clean up the tops of your flicks (not just the bottoms)
Speaking of flicks, if you’re playing with your flick and you don’t like where it’s going — like if it seems too long or too curved or too steep or isn’t steep enough — you can clean it up with a pointy Q-tip soaked in makeup remover. Don’t forget to fix both the top and the bottom of the flick, because some people suggest just fixing them from the bottom.
You’ll often see people clean up their flicks from the bottom to fix a wonky angle, but sometimes the top of the flick can look wonky, too. Sometimes mine turn out too thick or curved.
Yeah, when I started also correcting the tops of my flicks, it was a whole new world for me!
Oh! — you can also use a soaked pointy Q-tip to thin out your upper lash line liner if you accidentally make it too thick.
8. Liner first, eyeshadow second
Most of the time when I rock cat eyes I’ll do my liner before my eyeshadow because then I can use the liner as a guide to help me place my shadow exactly where I want it. And if some of your eyeshadow ends up on your liner, just re-trace your liner to darken it.
When I apply my eyeshadow before my liner, I usually discover that I didn’t take the shadow out far enough or high enough, and I have to do a lot more adjusting.
9. Sometimes, skip lining your upper lash line entirely and just tightline and add a flick instead
Cat eyeliner can be tricky if you have hooded lids. With hooded eyes, you don’t have a lot of lid space to work with, and your line can seem to just disappear up into your hood.
Try tightlining your upper lash line with black liner, instead of lining your upper lash line with it — much like you’d see in a regular cat eye, but without using any lid space. Then add your flick at the outer corner.
10. Liven up your cat eye look with a metallic liner
Black cat eyes are timeless, but sometimes I like to switch things up, so I’ll incorporate a metallic liner along with my black liner.
Sometimes I’ll draw a line of metallic liner just along my lower lash line, or I’ll trace along the edge of the flick, or sometimes along my upper lash line. If you’re feeling extra frisky, you can even draw stars or hearts or dots.
When was the last time you rocked a cat eye? They never go out of style.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,