The Smoked Out Cat-Eye Is the Latest Throwback Trend We’re Trying

This '60s-inspired look is everywhere.

woman with green eyeshadow

@311makeup

If it feels like every decade is trending these days, it's because they all truly are. Scroll through your newsfeed (any of 'em!) for more than a few minutes, and the screen will start to look like a time capsule: '90s baby braids coexist next to big '80s-inspired hair, Y2K phone charms, and hair clips live peacefully alongside saddle shoes, and the disco revival has its glittery hooks in half of all the latest makeup looks.

Most recently, there's been a massive influx of '60s-inspired smoky cat-eyes spotted on runways, on celebrities, and all over social media. This modern take on the signature eye makeup of French New Wave actress Brigitte Bardo is messy and wildly sexy, yet surprisingly easy to pull off—even if eye makeup isn't your strong suit. Keep reading to see some of our favorite takes on Bardot's famous bedroom eyes.

The Trend

Eye makeup is as central to the '60s as any pair of bellbottoms. Eclipsing the wholesome look of the previous decade with graphic liner, dark eye shadows, bright colors, and lots of mascara, the makeup of the 1960s—particularly in Europe—was ripe for experimentation. You're probably already familiar with some of the era's iconic looks, including Twiggy's famous lashes and Diahann Carroll's wide-eyed winged liner.

Bardot created one of the most defining looks of the 1960s with her signature cat eyes. Paired with her pale blonde hair (she was also an early adopter of curtain bangs) and otherwise neutral makeup, the dark eyes gave Bardot a permanent "come hither" look that would become her trademark.

More recently, celebrity makeup artists have been putting their own modern spins on the look. The dramatic, smoked-out liner has become a signature for industry icon Pat McGrath, who adds a colorful element to the looks by topping them off with a swipe of her ultra-pigmented shadows. 

Just last week, Nikki Makeup shared her own smoldering take on the trend, swapping out Bardot’s heavy black liner for a chocolate brown shade.

Over on TikTok, the smoked out liner trend has been cranked up a few notches. Users are sharing their bold versions of a look inspired not only by Bardot’s makeup, but also by her fashion sense. Makeup artist Alexandra Clare kicked off the TikTok trend when she shared an extreme liner look that reminded her of a Bardot top, the over-the-shoulder style that was the French actress’s signature.

Get The Look

As soon as we saw celebrity makeup artist Erin Parsons, Gigi Hadid's go-to artist, share her own wearable take on the trend, we knew we had to ask her to break it down step-by-step. "The smoky shadow is complementary to the black liner and will make your eyes look bigger," she explains. Much to our delight, Parsons not only showed us exactly how to recreate the look at home, but she also shared a few expert tips for beginners and pros alike.

To create your own smoked-out version of the alluring '60s cat-eye, Parsons suggests first laying down a base of taupe eyeshadow all over the lid, blending it up and out to the edges. From there, take a non-waterproof pencil (this is crucial) and draw on a graduated wing, focusing on creating depth in the very outer corner. If you have trouble with liner, stabilizing your dominant elbow on a counter or table will help considerably.

Next, grab a smudging brush and run it along the freshly-applied liner to smoke it out—the non-waterproof formula will smudge much easier than its waterproof counterpart, and save your delicate eye skin from tugging in the process.

Draw and smudge that same liner on your lower lashes as well, taking care to hit your upper and lower waterlines. Parsons likes the Maybelline TattooStudio Gel Eyeliner Pencil in Deep Onyx ($8) as well as the Jones Road Beauty The Best Pencil ($22)—they're both creamy formulas that will glide right on. A tapered Q-tip can sharpen the liner wing and clean up any fallout, she says, and is great for fixing any mistakes as you go.

Next, it's time to layer on liquid liner, which Parsons says is the key to this eye look. It's critical to perfect the liner shape with a pencil before applying liquid liner, she explains, as "this will seal the shape and make it last longer." Use a liquid liner with a precise tip—like the Pat Mcgrath Labs Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner ($32)—to add further dimension to your outer wing. The precise tip will help you get the perfect edge.

The hardest part of any going-out look is the liner, and with that complete, it's time to have some fun. Pack on lots of mascara—Parsons loves the Maybelline Sky High Mascara ($11) for ultra-long lashes—before adding a half-lash falsie to your outer corner.

By now, your wing should be razor-sharp and deeply pigmented. A little brow gel, well-placed concealer, and some of the French icon's legendary devil-may-care attitude, and you're out the door.

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