Cat Lady Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie can’t be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat-eye lining technique (meow!)

DG Fall 2011 beauty Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

I have a theory. You know how Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie are all considered not just icons of beauty but also (if I may be frank) sexiness? Well, I think it has to do with their eyeliner.

Specifically, their cat-eye look. It nevah, evah goes out of style—and it magically makes your eyes look bigger and your lashes thicker. The extended feline flick, of course, is what takes it from everyday, run-of-the-mill eyeliner to sexy seductive. RAWR!

Problem is, it’s one of the toughest beauty tricks to master. Right up there with curling your hair and applying fake tanner, I’d say. I’ve been giving this look a time out for the past few months, but with holiday party season about to start in T minus two days, I’m ready to bust out some of my pet tricks (collected from all the times I’ve interviewed makeup artists about this, and now implanted in my brain). So, because sharing is caring, here they are…

1. Before you start, know what the F/W ’11 version of cat-eye liner looks like.

This is from D&G’s show, and it’s very ’60s with a thick line that appears to be drawn horizontally (but as you can see with the pic at the top of this post, has an upward tick when the eyes are open):

DG Fall 2011 beauty 2 Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

At Stella McCartney the line was thinner and seemed to follow the natural curve of the eye, tapering to pointy ends:

Stella McCartney Fall 2011 beauty Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

The Lanvin version was very squared-off and meant to look like the girls had drawn it on themselves. So, you know, this could be a back-up plan…

 Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

And how could we forget the utterly gorgeous (and probably technically next to impossible to re-create) double lines at Giorgio Armani?

Giorgio Armani Fall 2011 beauty Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

Overall, I think the message is to make your lines more straight across rather than trying to deliberately do a diagonal flick. Think OUTWARD not UPWARD. And, as you can see, these lines are quite deliberate and graphic (i.e., non-smudgy). That means the pressure is on to make your lining job purr-fect! (Sorry. Couldn’t resist. I’ll stop with the cat jokes now.)

2. Choose the right tool for the job.

The best prodz for said graphic looks are gel and liquid liners, because they dry quickly and won’t smudge. Gels come in little pots like this:

MAC Fluidline Gel Eyeliner Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

And you use an angled brush to apply ‘em, which is helpful for the precision finish we’re aiming for here.

I find liquid liners trickier, and it also depends on which one you’re using because the tips vary so much between brands. Lise Watier’s is pretty good:

Lise Watier 24 Hrs Glam Eyeliner Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

Or you might try a liquid liner pen, which is basically like a felt-tip pen. (They’re also super-easy to use because you can just press the side of the tip to make a line and repeat all the way along the lash line). Stila recently sent me their new one in grey (it’s also waterproof!) and I’m in love:

Stila All Day Liquid Liner Pen Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

You CAN use a pencil but they do tend to smear more and you’ll need to sharpen first unless you’re going for a smudgy look. Oh, and please buy a waterproof one: suggestions here.

3. Here’s how to avoid lopsided flicks.

This tip came my way via Lise Watier’s international makeup artist, David Vincent. Have you ever executed a seriously PERFECT flick—but then when you repeated it on the other eye, it came out totally uneven so your eyes didn’t match?

Well, here’s the fix. To avoid looking deranged, you want to do everything in reverse. Start the job by drawing two dots at the point where you want your flicks to END. That way, you know exactly where you have to finish the lines when you draw them…

4. Start drawing at the outer, not inner corners.

eyeliner technique Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

I know! Crazy, huh? This follows on from point #3: instead of drawing your line from the inside corner out, you want to start at the outer edges. At the dots!

Why? Because unless you’re pulling a Lanvin, the most wearable cat’s eye is as per the Stella McCartney show, where the line tapers off to a thin point at the outer edges. And you have a lot more control at the beginning of the line than at the end.

5. How to avoid the shakes.

Draw with conviction! That’s advice I picked up from the great Val Garland (makeup artist extraordinaire). She basically said to be fearless and just Draw.That.Line. In one swoop! Come on, you can dewit. You can always go over it later to clean it up.

However, it you still get shaky and nervous—resulting in shaky and uneven lines—feel free to rest your pinky finger on your cheek to help steady your hand. And if you truly can’t do it in one stroke, then your best bet is to do a bunch of short, quick ones and then connect them.

6. After you’ve made one pass, go over the lines again to perfect the shape.

Even if your line looks like crap the first time, all is not lost. Just draw over it again to make the shape more deliberate and fill in any gaps.

I like mixing my materials for this. For example, if I start with liquid liner I might go over it with some gel liner and an angled brush. Think of the first pass as just a guideline—the second time’s a charm.

7. Don’t forget to consider your eye shape.

If you have perfect, almond-shaped eyes then feel free to skip this step. If you don’t… well, know that small eyes will appear larger with a thicker line. (Think D&G instead of Armani.)

As for the wings, if your eyes are round then they are a VERY good idea. Extending out that flick will definitely make them look more almond-shaped.

PS: Skip the mascara on your bottom lashes for a true cat-eye look. Angelina tends to do this—see?

Angelina Jolie eyeliner Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

8. Clean up your work with a makeup wipe and/or concealer.

This is your money tip. It’s what you keep in your back pocket to use when all else fails. So your line is a bit messy, a bit too thick… not graphic enough. All you need to do is bust out a makeup wipe and take away what went wrong.

Then take some concealer, on a concealer brush, and paint away any remaining problem areas to make the lines and any pointy bits more precise. I do believe that is what’s happening here:

backstage eyeliner Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

9. Even if it’s not so on trend, you can still do smudgy.

Smokifying is not wrong. It might not be on the runways so much, but it’s not wrong. If there’s no saving your graphic cat eye, pull a Marc Jacobs and diffuse it out with a brush:

Marc Jacobs Fall 2011 beauty Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

10. Make sure the rest of your makeup is in balance.

I’m not going to say that you have to play down your lips, because some colour there can actually look awesome with a graphic eye… as long as the line is not too thick. Remember this look from Carolina Herrera?

Carolina Herrera Fall 2011 beauty Cleopatra, Brigitte Bardot and Angelina Jolie cant be wrong—10 tips to perfect your cat eye lining technique (meow!)

You can even go brighter than this. BUT: if you are doing a big lip and big eyes then my recommendation is to go easy on the blush.

If your lips are more neutral, however, then definitely add a bit more colour on your cheeks to balance things out. I guess it’s all about the blush, isn’t it?

Tell me:

Which one of these looks is your fave?
Have you mastered cat-eye liner yet?
What are your go-to prodz and techniques?

39 Comments

Emma
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 3:32 pm

I have the worst time with eyeliner on the upper lash line. I don’t feel like it suits me, and don’t even get me started on the shakes – I am so shakey! I’m not going to give up though, practice makes perfect and these looks are gorgeous…

http://www.thebeautyblot.wordpress.com

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 8:50 pm

I find the angled brush or liquid liner pen are the easiest…

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lisa
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 3:54 pm

Black eyeliner and bright lipstick are all I seem to want to wear lately. Practice helps, as does a good felt tip liner (I love Geisha Ink). If the flick is messy or uneven or I’ve smudged somewhere, I go over it the sloppy bit with a pointy wet Q-Tip and redo it.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 8:51 pm

Yep Q-tips work great too! I rarely get the flicks right on my first go.

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Chelsea C
Monday, December 5/2011 at 10:17 pm

I received a sample (30 ml sample) of the Clinique Rinse-Off Eye Makeup Solvent, which I have been using with a Q-Tip to do my “cat-eye” clean-ups. “Unique formula quickly removes all eye makeup, from lashes to brows. Perfect for quick makeup changes, touchups, repairs. Cleans eye area easily without disturbing other makeup. No rubbing necessary. Oil-free, blur-free, sting-free. Ophthalmologist Tested.”

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Michelle (LipstickRules)
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 4:00 pm

I LOVE this look. I still haven’t mastered it and to be honest not sure if it works with my eye shape and lid. Have to do a variation of it somehow.Thanks for the tips!

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 8:53 pm

Instead of flicking up you might want to try just following the natural shape of your eyes. That’s what David Goveia did on me here (since I have kind of Asian shaped eyes): http://beautyeditor.ca/2010/08/20/10-little-tips-for-getting-awesomely-sexy-feline-angelina-esque-eyes/
I was surprised at how much I liked it, even though the flick sort of went down instead of up!

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Michelle
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 4:25 pm

I have been doing this look for years (since 1994). Easy, simple, go to. Pair with stained berry lips or a light gloss and voila: beautiful.

The trick that I use? If you go liquid learn to use a liner brush not felt tip(they’re garbage). Urban Decay is the best. I have 2 different liners (smog and perversion) Excellent for switching up a classic look to go in olive instead of black.

Next: I use a magnifying mirror so that I can see what I am doing.

Another trick? Sit down when lining your eyes. I actually have a vanity by my bedroom window. Remember you can always add but it is a pain to take a way. Build on layer the color onto you lid very carefully until you get the desired amount.

Also make sure you start to where the center of the pupil is not the tear duct. Then build towards but not all the way to the tear duct. when you go all the way it gives your eyes a smaller, close together look.

Hope that helps! :)

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Chelsea C
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 7:47 pm

Thank you! I also like the look with the cat eye and tightlining the upper lid only. I have tried this look a few times but its another technique I have yet to master and/or find the right product(s) to use to keep the liner in place (and not mess up my contacts). Thanks for the tips! <3

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 8:55 pm

Oh yes tightlining! I forgot to mention that… I usually will line the inside rim as well if I’m doing a cat-eye effect. It makes the eyes pop even more!

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Chelsea C
Monday, December 5/2011 at 10:26 pm

After a bit of research I decided to purchase the Laura Mercier Cake Eyeliner (specifically for tightlining) – Black Onyx. It’s a very nice product that is easy to use and is mess free. I had no smears or smudges – even after eight hours. I applied it with one of my Smashbox Eyeliner brushes -the flat one. As a contact wearer, tightlining is tough, as it tends to transfer onto the contact. With this product I didn’t have any transfer.

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Chelsea C
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 4:30 pm

I have always been interested in the cat eye look. My problem is that I have a small crease or a scar on one of my eyes so it is hard to get it perfect and the other eye, as weird as it sounds, is a little wrinkly on the eyelid. From trial and error I agree that gel liners work best with an angled brush or a MAC 209 liner brush and or a long lasting black eyeshadow (I use one by bare minerals). Youtube is great for demos….
http://youtu.be/pxox_MFpy7c
http://youtu.be/xBteOfqeyEA (liquid eyeliner tip)
http://youtu.be/414rIJdNYog
http://youtu.be/uPTJp4LpcB0

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Jessie
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 4:40 pm

Thanks for the tips, I always have that problem-not getting them to look the same- I’m going to try that ‘dots’ trick.

Just discovered your website last week, LOVE IT!

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Lauren
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 5:16 pm

Perfect timing! I LOVE this timeless, classic, elegant and sultry look so much I have just had it applied with permanent cosmetics. It looks gorgeous and I love it!!!! The finish isn’t a wet black liquid liner look, but a little bit matte, a little bit wet. Not to mention it will be a lifesaver when I depart for India for 6 months next year! There’s no way I’ll be able to worry about perfect makeup application each morning, so a curl of the lashes, a sweep of mascara and some well chosen tinted lipgloss with foundation will do the trick! Bring on the winged eyeliner! BTW, before getting it done permanently (FYI “permanent” is actually only 5 years) I always used MAC Black Track gel liner with the MAC slanted brush.

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Me my best and I
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 5:46 pm

Ive aslo seen marvelous results with a little piece of strategically placed scotch tape angles as per the flick, draw then peel for razor sharp edge………yet to try, am sure I will get it stuck to my eyelashes and be in a world of pain!

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Alex
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 7:47 pm

Me my best and I: If you haven’t seen this before, Jane Marie over at The Hairpin does a magical video tutorial of the scotch tape technique. One of her tricks is to stick the tape to your clothing first so it doesn’t stick too much to your eyebrows! Go look! http://thehairpin.com/2011/11/the-cat-eye-tutorial

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Me my best and I
Sunday, December 4/2011 at 6:56 pm

Oh thats very reassuring about removing the sticky factor. Good tip. This is the video I saw, same theory , done thinner & maybe focusing more on the outer flicks http://www.primped.com.au/how-tos/makeup-how-tos/how-to-felicity-jones%E2%80%99-peachy-keen-lips-winged-eyeliner

I was meant to try it out this weekend but I didnt leave the sofa, Xmas party this week, I’ll give it a go. I have the Sigma version of that fine brush Rae Morris uses which makes it look quite easy (famous last words!!)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 8:59 pm

Oh wow! Scotch tape? I love it! (Although not sure I’d want to do it on the daily since the pulling could cause wrinkles… )

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Chelsea C
Monday, December 5/2011 at 10:28 pm

I also stumbled upon Rae Morris’ technique with the tape (I included it’s Youtube in my comment above). There must be a tape out there that we could use as a template, that won’t pull on the skin/pull off make-up.

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Donna Marie
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 7:00 pm

I’m loving the double wing look. It’s different and edgy. Also liking the Lanvin eyeliner look!

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Stephanie M Andrews
Wednesday, November 30/2011 at 11:12 pm

Me-yow! I love the cat-eye look, and actually wear liquid liner and some version of it every day.

My fave is the total 60′s seductress look, but for day I keep it pretty darn simple and straightforward.

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Nomadic D
Thursday, December 1/2011 at 2:58 am

Honestly I usually end up giving up towards the end and just smudging the outer flick into smoky nothingness. But maybe over the holidays, when I have a little more time on my hands, I’ll give it another go. I actually had really good luck getting a good flick with the mufe aqua eyes liquid liners, (and the colors were so gorgeous!), but then the perfect flick would flake off! Argh. So I think it’s a lot about the perfect technique coupled with the perfect tools. Also recently read a good tip somewhere about using scotch tape as a guide…

http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 9:01 pm

The MUFE liners flaked on you? Ugh… I thought they were supposed to be long lasting! I know my Kiss Me liquid liner is totally flaky and annoying, so I’ve tossed it.

So many mentions of the Scotch tape tip, I feel another post coming up about that! I’m going to try it this week.

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Lauren
Thursday, December 1/2011 at 6:42 am

Would anybody have the brand and colour of the lip colour on the carolina herrera model?

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 9:02 pm

It’s a M.A.C lipstick called Prince Noir, but looks blotted down to a stain.

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Shailene
Thursday, December 1/2011 at 8:50 am

Oh my, WHAT is the eyeliner in the picture under #8? That is by far the blackest eyeliner I’ve ever seen!!

Also, I have huge almond-shaped eyes that only truly look their best when cat-lined, so i’ve become a savant-grade catliner extrordonaire. Well, maybe not. But i think I do a bang-up job haha! I love the Armani look-so dramatic and fierce.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 9:03 pm

I wish I knew! Not sure what show that was from…

Lucky you with the almond-shaped eyes!

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QuiteLight
Thursday, December 1/2011 at 2:47 pm

Yay! More Cat’s Eye tips! It’s one of my daily looks (mixed with lightly smoky neutral eyes), but I’m always looking to tweak it.

LOVE Armani’s double flick eyes. LOVE.

Mine actually looks a lot like #10 (down to lightly darkened natural lips for work), but I only line 1/2 way across. My eyes are actually pretty slanted (odd on blonde), and this plays it up without overdoing. I haven’t mastered the full eye line consistently yet (I muck it up more than I get it), but I’m going to take another bash at it!

I’ve been playing with Avon’s gel eyeliner lately (on sale for less than $10 when I got it), and I really like it! Goes on evenly, but too light for my taste, needs repeat applications. Stays on better than the wet eyeshadow I had been using though, & more precise than my pencil. I always mucked up liquids.

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 9:05 pm

Oh I didn’t know Avon had a gel liner! I agree they are the best… pencils have never worked for me for lining the inner half.

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Chelsea C
Monday, December 5/2011 at 10:30 pm

That Avon Eyeliner is not available in Canada yet. I have heard through the Youtube grape-vine that they are amazing! Like Urban Decays 27/7 but a lot cheaper.

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QuiteLight
Tuesday, December 6/2011 at 9:00 am

Actually, you can get some in Canada; I did! My best friend sells Avon (yay for sales & discounts!), & it is an older Avon gel liner, something-Shock. Mine’s even a more solid than I think they’re supposed to be, so it might be an end-of-line sell-off before they launch a new one.

Stays put pretty well, even on my heavily creamed & powdered lids, which need lots of cream for dry skin, then heavier powder on eyes only so eye makeup will go on. A little sheer, though, possibly because it is a little dry.

I hope they do offer a new one, actually soft & gel-like!

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Lemon
Thursday, December 1/2011 at 4:55 pm

Amazing tips, thanks!

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Jane
Saturday, December 3/2011 at 8:23 am

Oooh I MUST know the lippy from the Carolina Herrera photo! So so so pretty. Number 9? Just…no.

And now I know why my daughter came to me 3 days ago asking me if I had MAC gel eyeliner…you’re wreaking havoc on the make up budget ;-)

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 9:06 pm

Ha! Sorry to be an enabler. :-)
The Carolina H. look is M.A.C Prince Noir lipstick, but blotted.

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Jane
Tuesday, December 6/2011 at 2:59 pm

Oh you ARE an enabler! That’s why we come here :D

I hadn’t read your reply but went shopping at the Channel counter at Murale, with your post on my iPhone. In the end we chose Rouge Coco Shine in Bel Ami. Sheer and perfect. I was so excited lol.

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Renee | Beauty Fool
Sunday, December 4/2011 at 5:00 am

Thank you for the excellent tips, definitely learnt a lot! I love a cat eye but have done it successfully only ONCE. After that I kind of lost it and gave up :-P Will definitely try it out again, and thanks for the tip that a thicker line is better for smaller eyes – had NO idea!

xx Renee

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Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, December 5/2011 at 9:06 pm

Glad to help! Let us know how you get on!

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Kirsten
Thursday, March 1/2012 at 2:18 pm

I’m not tryin ta be a hater but Angelina is gettin old and she needs bangs. Everyone talks about how great she looks but with her high forehead and inevitable fine lines(i’m in my forties as well) she needs to make some subtle adjustments. She’s really starting to look like Maria SHRIVER to me. Maria was once very pretty too.

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Niesha
Friday, January 18/2013 at 2:43 pm

I like to experiment when it comes to eyeliners and cat eye liners are their versions here look fabulous.
I am going to try all of them .
I am more comfortable with the gels than the liquids.

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