4 Tips For Creating Flawless Winged Eyeliner, According to a Makeup Artist

March 18, 2020
Jessica Harrington
By: Jessica Harrington
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You would think that as a beauty editor creating a common look like winged cat-eye wouldn’t be so hard, but that couldn’t be further from the truth — for me, at least. No matter how many times I’ve tried it in the past, my liner always ended up uneven, too thick, too long or too over the top. 
Consider it an occupational hazard, but I have the privilege of working with and learning from some pretty exceptional industry professionals, from makeup artists to hairstylists estheticians and more. Each time I meet someone I learn something new, but to be honest, I thought winged eyeliner was a skill completely lost on me, despite having ample supplies to play with and makeup artists at my disposal to tap for tips and tricks.

Recently, however, Maybelline New York Global Makeup Artist Erin Parsons did my makeup so I could try a few of Maybelline New York’s latest launches. I showed up with my usual, very natural-looking beat, and she immediately asked if she could give me a wing. I told her all about my struggle with this basic makeup technique and that’s when the tips started flowing. Read on for what she taught me about creating and nailing a winged-eye look.

TIP #1: Place a Dot — With Your Eyes Open
Armed with the Maybelline New York Hyper Easy Liquid Pen No-Skip Eyeliner, Parsons explained that the best way to start a wing — no matter what eye shape you have or what wing style you’re going for — is to place a dot where you want the tail of your wing to end at the outer corner of each eye. Keep both of your eyes open when doing this, to ensure the dot lands where you want it and is even on both sides. As you would expect, the first side is a piece of cake; Parsons and I had a good laugh as she adjusted and then re-adjusted the dot on the other side to match.
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TIP #2: Anchor Your Hand at Your Chin and Begin Drawing

Once she marked two even points at the outer corners of my eye, she began drawing the wing (when applying eyeliner on yourself, she recommended anchoring the palm of your hand to your chin to keep it steady). Starting at the very edge of my upper lash line, she dragged the liner out towards the dot. This created a sharp line to connect the points. Now it was time to fill in the “wing” portion of the eyeliner. 


This is usually where things go terribly wrong with my application. But, I finally discovered my biggest mistake: Instead of tracing my entire upper lash line, Parsons started the liner only about halfway on my lash line. This kept the liner looking natural and subtle, rather than the thick dramatic wing I usually ended up with.


She kept gradually drawing on the liner until the wing part made a small triangle that blended seamlessly into the liner on the outer half of my lash line. Then it was time to do the other side. 

TIP #3: Clean Up When Needed
The other side went as smoothly as you’d expect with a veteran celebrity makeup artist doing your makeup. But still, when Parsons made a mistake she reached for pointed Q-tips and micellar water. Using just the tiniest bit helped wipe away any eyeliner that was out of place and keep the wing sharp.

TIP #4: Know When to Stop
Once both wings were drawn on, Parsons kept turning my head back and forth and looking at me straight-on to assess her work and make sure the line was even. She adjusted and removed the liner as needed until she finally went, “Does that look even to you? It looks pretty good to me. I need to stop before I take it too far!” And that might be the most important tip she shared of all. 

Since this little makeup tutorial, I’ve worn a wing (that I’ve completed myself!) a handful of times, which happens to align with my 2020 beauty resolution. Considering I wouldn’t dare attempt the eyeliner look prior to meeting with Parsons, I would say it was a life-changing occasion — at least in terms of my makeup routine. 

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn