"Best cat-eye makeup tutorials" is a phrase we've searched endlessly over the years in an attempt to nail down the classic, sultry look. But the perfect application method remains elusive. We mess up, we try to clean it up, we thicken the line, it looks uneven, it smudges, and we're left wondering where it all went so wrong. We've tried a cat-eye stamp and clenching our toes (yes, really) all to find out there's nothing better than a tutorial from an expert.
Luckily, there's YouTube for that. Endless makeup artists and vloggers have made it their business to show us the ropes. Below, find our top four.
Almost two decades ago, Lisa Eldridge was one of the first makeup artists to have a stand-alone website. Now, she's staked her claim not only as one of the most celebrated artists in the industry but also as one of the most accessible. Eldridge creates well-lit, easy-to-follow YouTube tutorials so followers and fans can tune in and learn to get each look. This winged liner video is especially helpful.
"I'm using a Suqqu Eye Brow Brush S ($24)," Eldridge says. "I just hold the brush at the outer edge and just pat and slightly dampen the brush to pick up a little more of the color. Just keep patting from about halfway along [your eyelid], and then, using your angled brush, start to lift up your shape. Pat to fill in the shape. You can do this with any eye shadow or angled brush. The thing about this is it doesn't need to be perfect. … If you're not doing a beauty shoot for a magazine, makeup is about effect and not perfection.
Just keep patting to thicken [the line] up, you'll be able to tell what will suit you. As the brush is drying, you get a softer effect with the powder. It's easier than using a liquid or gel, which is pretty unforgiving."
Rather than sticking to just black liner, why not try out the "denim" trend (it's one of Sir John's favorites)? "Cobalt is one of those shades that is universally flattering for anyone, at any age, with any skin tone," he says. "The denim-cobalt look brightens up your eyes with essentially just one product—the liner."
We looked to Nyma Tang for a super-easy tutorial. "I'm using L'Oréal Paris's Infallible Paints Eyeliner ($10) in the shade Electric Blue," says Tang. "I'm just going to try and keep this really, really tight along my lash line." She thickens the line as she moves along her lid and colors in the flick so it's more pigmented toward the outer corner.
Unfortunately, makeup tips for hooded eyelids are shockingly underrepresented in the beauty space. Since one size does not fit all when it comes to liner application, we spoke to a few makeup pros who agree that accentuating your eye shape can be the key—it's all about creating the illusion of space. "Staring into the mirror directly will allow you to examine your eye shape and help you see how much of your eyelid area we really see when it is completely open," Honey Artists makeup artist Robert Greene explains.
"This helps with placement of winged liners or finding and defining a cut crease since a hooded eye can vary in shape and depth."
So we found a tutorial that was zoomed in and certainly helpful if you've been struggling. "My right eye is slightly more hooded than my left, so my right eyeliner has to be a little thicker than my left—just so when I look up, it looks even," explains Shirrls. "I like to start my eyeliner in the middle corner, going outward. I don't like to start in the inner corner because I feel like it closes my eye up. I'm going to draw from the middle to the end of my eye, and then I'm going to flick the end of my eye out.
I start with a very little wing and then progressively make it long because you can start with a little and build it up (rather than cleaning up)."
For a bolder, sharper cat eye, we looked to Katie Jane Hughes, a celebrity makeup artist who creates awe-inspiring eye looks. She starts with a black eyeliner pencil—this one's Charlotte Tilbury's Rock 'n Kohl in Bedroom Black ($27), and it's freshly sharpened, which is important. "I look down and start in the center of the eye on the top lid and work my way over to the tear duct and look in the mirror," begins Hughes. "Then I carry on from where I left off and work my way to the outer lid. I try and keep it as close to the lash line as I possibly can.
Before it dries, I'm just going to soften the edges of it with a little brush. I'm not going to blend it outside the lines. I'm just going to smudge it so it looks smoother. And then I'm going to go inside the waterline on the upper side. Then, what I'm going to really focus on is adding a little bit of bulk in the center of my eye. So right where my iris and pupil are should be the thickest part of the line. And then what you'll find is you'll have a really big, doe-eyed kind of look. It's opening the eye up; it's not going to stretch it out.
"Move on to the next step to make it into a big, feline, sexy cat eye. I'm going to work with the same pencil that I started with, look straight into a mirror and really relax my eyes. Work from where the bottom and top lid meet and etch outwards. Then I'm going to take that same blending brush and blend the top to meet the line I already created. Lighten your touch to create a sharp wing with the pencil."