The ever-elusive feline flick: It feels so simple, yet somehow it’s seemingly impossible to master. Even once you get a handle on the correct way to apply it, it takes forever. To get the process down to a less time-consuming science, I spoke with some of the greatest liner-wearing ladies on the Internet. They talked inspiration, technique, and the best products to get it right.
Keep reading to find out how to master a cat eye—in less than a minute.
“First, a few notes on what position you should hold your eyes/face in while applying your liquid liner. Always, always apply with your eyes open. Holding them shut while you apply will only cause your skin to bounce back when you release and open, meaning your eyeliner will get all wonky and uneven. Both eyes open is the key to making sure the lines are clean and symmetrical. In addition, you should tilt your head back slightly while applying to get a better view of the whole surface of your lid.
“When you go to apply, always start at the wing. Draw your first line from the outer corner of your bottom lid, outward and upward (I do it at about a 45-degree angle). Then connect the point of the cat eye by drawing a line from the inner corner of your lid to the tip of that first line, and fill in the triangle you’ve created. Try your best to do the exact same on the other side. If it’s uneven, add a little eyeliner here and there until they look just about symmetrical. The wings don’t have to be 100% perfect, though. (No one will notice.)
“My favorite cat-eye product of the moment is Tarte’s Tarteist Clay Paint Liner & Brush ($24), which allows for an incredibly precise, saturated, graphic cat eye. My cat eye icon? YouTube beauty vlogger Laura Lee.”
“While I don’t wear a cat eye every day—mainly because I’m a perfectionist and if the flicks aren’t 100% symmetrical, it will drive me nuts all day—I do have some tried-and-true tricks up my sleeve. The two best tips I ever got for nailing a cat eye were from Charlotte Tilbury, who told me to create a dot on the outer corner of each eye where the tips of the wings will be, so I know they will line up evenly. Regan Rabanal from MAC directed me to draw on winged liner with my eyes open and without tugging on the surrounding skin—otherwise it will alter the shape. Genius, right?
“As far as winged liner icons go, I love playing up and elongating my eyes, so I’d say ’60s model Jean Shrimpton would be my go-to for copying a cat eye. And my product poison of choice would be the Tom Ford Liquid Liner Pen ($56). Hands down.”
“I can get a little shaky when doing my liner, so for a cat eye, I always make sure to have pointed Q-tips at hand. Right now, I’m loving Lorac’s Front of the Line Pro Liquid Eye Liner ($23) in Black. I draw three dashes across my lash line and then proceed to fill in a straight line. I then flick the outer corners into a wing and clean any smudges with my Q-tips Precision Tips ($8). If things get really messy, adding a little Vaseline to your Q-tips can work wonders!”
“I am all about the evening cat eye. I use it as a way of making my lashline look thicker and more prominent, and giving my look more of a pop, without much effort. To achieve the perfect cat eye, you need two things: a steady hand and a really good liquid liner. Pencil liners are great too, but I reserve those strictly for the inner rims of my eyes. Gucci Power Liquid Liner ($38) and Eyeko Eye Do Lash Enhancing Liquid Eyeliner ($19) are my two favorites, as they are both equipped with that precision-tip pen. Using one hand, I pull my eye taut and starting on the inner part of the eye, and moving outward, I use small strokes to draw tiny dashes along the lash line. Then I go back again and connect the dots.”
“For me, I think experimenting until I realized what worked best with my eye shape has been most important to cultivating my perfect winged look. My eyes naturally turn down at the outside corners, and for the longest time, I was doing my cat eye in a way that made them look even droopier. I finally figured out what’s most flattering for me (only lining the outside half of my lid, and flicking up before I reach the corner), and it made a world of difference. The best way to figure this out is to try to apply the liner with your eye as open as possible. A cat eye usually looks great no matter what when you’re eyes are looking down or closed, but could look totally different when they’re open.”
“I am generally a cat-eye klutz, but two products have helped me improve. First is the Beautyblender Liner.Designer ($16). It looks like a little guitar pick but acts like a guide so you create an even, straight line every time. Simply hold the rubbery tool against your skin where you want the flick—probably right in the outer crease—and draw a little line. I use it tandem with Charlotte Tilbury’s The Feline Flick Liquid Eye Pen ($30), which has a continuous flow of formula so there won’t be any ‘skips.’”
“Anna Karina is my cat-eye icon. I discovered her feline flick and its ability to withstand her magnificent tears during a screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s Made in the U.S.A. in college. From then on, I started wearing a cat eye daily. My favorite liner is Merle Norman’s Pro Pen Eyeliner (it’s super precise, flows smoothly, and doesn’t smudge), but it can be tough to find, so I’ll nab L'Oréal Paris’s Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner ($8) otherwise. As far as my approach, I’m just like Dita Von Teese in that sometimes it’s a small flick and other times it’s huge. It just depends on how I even things out, going back and forth on each eye. Another tip I got from Dita was to really look at it from all angles. It’s a game changer as far as symmetry and the effect you’re going for.”
Now that you have the technique down, here's the best black eyeliners according to top makeup artists.