To say Instagram is a hotbed for makeup trends is an understatement. Without it, we may never have seen bloggers apply yellow eye shadow as blusher or brush their way to barbed-wire eyebrows. And while not everything you see in a hyperlapse video is suitable for everyday wear, one look that’s caught on (and seems to be sticking around) is the cut-crease eye.
It’s hardly surprising. Cut-crease eye shadow is not only easy but flattering, too, with the strong definition in the socket serving to make your eyes look bigger instantly. The look didn’t begin on Instagram—it was first used to draw attention to the eyes of actresses in black and white movies—but the social media platform has seen it come back in a very big way.
For the uninitiated, trying the trend involves applying a pale shade of eye shadow all over your lid, then adding a darker hue in an unblended line along your eye socket. Last year, when dramatic contouring was still rife, the harsh lines of cut-creasing seemed to fit right in. But what about now, when even Kim Kardashian West is shunning an oversculpted look?
How to Do a Modern Cut-Crease Eye Shadow Look
“Like all fads, cut-creasing has diluted down the longer it has been around,” says celebrity makeup artist Alexis Day. “The overall look has become less dramatic, and perhaps more suited to the wearer’s actual features.” You only have to type in #cutcrease to see how true that is, with pictures of traditional cut-crease eyes interspersed with softer iterations that require extra blending.
Which brings us to the modern way to wear a cut-crease eye. Keep scrolling to see three new takes that make the trend a lot more wearable.
It might not work so well with a knife emoji or a caption that says you’re ‘slaying’ your look, but the soft cut crease might be the most flattering take on the traditional cut-crease eye. To get this gentler cut, Lisa Potter-Dixon, head makeup artist for Benefit Cosmetics, says you should “start with a concealer as your base” and apply it all over your eyelid.
“Next, with your eye open, draw a line using a cream eyeshadow in the crease of your eye, blend it with a pencil brush and then go over the top of this with a powder eyeshadow, ensuring that you are sticking to just the crease of the eye,” she advises.
Lisa adds that, to finish, you should “blend backwards and forwards over the line to create a soft finish, and correct any mistakes with a concealer.” We like Benefit Cosmetics Boi-ing (£18) for full, creamy coverage.
Meanwhile, Sarah-Jane Froom, international makeup artist for BareMinerals, recommends buffing on a softer cut in a shade that’s opposite to your iris on the colour wheel. “Having this contrasting colour will really accentuate your eyes,” she says. So green eyes will look beautiful with purple tones, blue eyes can carry coppers and golds, and brown and hazel eyes will pull off steely blues and greys. BareMinerals Ready Eye Shadow 2.0 (£21) has you covered for eye-flattering shades.
The coolest way to wear the cut crease? That’ll be this sort-of graphic look, which sees your eyes looking bigger and brighter against a cut that, er, cuts halfway through the crease. To get the look, Day recommends applying a light shadow all over your eyelid first; then using an angled brush to etch a gel eyeliner from the outer edge of your crease to just halfway in. Try Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner (£19) for this, which comes in a bevy of shades, from neutrals to jewel tones.
“Smudge and blend this line upwards a little so it’s not too sharp,” she says. You can even smudge it down onto your lid to create an ombré effect. Finally, top the look with two thick coats of black mascara and a little flick of liner along the upper lash line.
I know, I know. First I say that I’m showing you a wearable way to do cut-crease eyes, and then I go and include a look that features heavy lines of glitter. You see, soft, blended lines aren’t the only way the trend is evolving. “I’m seeing a lot of twists on the traditional neutral colours used for the look,” says Day. “For example, people have started using glitter liner for the cut.”
It’s perfect for festival season, when dramatic makeup is at its most celebrated. To get the look, all you need is a glitter liquid liner, like Urban Decay Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner (£15). Glide the thin brush just above the socket in two precise coats for drama, paired with a pale or even neon eye shadow covering the rest of your lid.
Next: introducing the highlighter Topshop can’t keep in stock.