How to Get the Perfect Cat Eye for Your Eye Shape

March 28, 2023 logo
By: | by L'Oréal

If we wrote a book of classic makeup looks, it’s safe to say we would dedicate an entire chapter to creating the perfect cat eye. While we love a fierce winged liner, the cat-eye look isn’t one-size-fits-all: It’s important to take your eye shape into consideration when creating your wing. To help you determine how to apply a cat eye for your eye shape (read: hooded, upturned, downturned, monolid and more), keep reading for tips from makeup artists Elle Leary and Emily Oliver.

Cat Eyes for Wide-Set Eyes

The dramatic wing of cat-eye makeup can sometimes widen your already-wide-set eyes. You can minimize the effect by keeping your wing short and pointed upward. “I like to keep the eyeliner on the waterline,” says Oliver. “When working with a liquid eyeliner, I extend the line inward a bit at the inner corners of the eyes to create intrigue and balance the look.” For a liquid eyeliner, we like the NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Matte Liquid Liner. For tightlining and lining the waterline, choose a longwear pencil like the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil

NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Matte Liquid Liner

Cat Eyes for Close-Set Eyes

You can use eyeliner to extend close-set eyes outward. Make your line sleeker, longer and slightly more horizontal, so it widens the eye shape. “I like to line the waterline of the top lid,” says Oliver. “Make sure not to bring the liner all the way to the inner corners. Keep the focus outward to open up those eyes.” For this technique, we recommend the Lancôme Drama Liqui-Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner, which is super pigmented and long-lasting.

Lancôme Drama Liqui-Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner

Cat Eyes for Small Eyes 

For smaller eyes, try smudging the line a bit — a very precise line can make the eyes appear even smaller. “Oftentimes I'll forgo a pencil and use a liquid eyeshadow, such as the Giorgio Armani Eye Tint Liquid Shadow,” says Oliver. “This makes the eyes pop and adds structure without closing down the lid. Should you want to use a waterproof eye pencil, line the waterline of the top lid and push the product into the lashes on top of the lids.” Smudge out the wing to give it a more smoked-out effect that enlarges the eye area.

Giorgio Armani Eye Tint Liquid Shadow

Cat Eyes for Hooded Eyes

The thicker the liner, the better for hooded eyes. “Because the lid is hooded, if you do a small line you will never see it when you open your eyes,” says Oliver. Use the Maybelline New York TattooStudio Ink Pen Eyeliner to perfect this cat eye. Oliver recommends getting under the hood of your lid to let your liner take full effect. “I’ll get under the top lash line and into its waterline to add some balance,” she says. “I also love to smudge the line outward a little for a sexy, smoky cat eye.” For hooded and small eyes, Leary also suggests forgoing eyeliner along the bottom lash line, as it tends to make the eyes look smaller. “Instead, just keep it at the outer edge of the bottom lash line."

Another tip for hooded lids? Try bat-wing eyeliner, an on-trend look that was made to complement your eye shape. 

Maybelline New York TattooStudio Ink Pen Eyeliner

Cat Eyes for Almond Eyes

To accentuate an almond shape and make eyes look bigger and longer, Leary says to keep the line thin along the first two-thirds of the eye. “At that point, intensify the thickness and finish with a semi-dramatic wing at the end,” she says. For this shape, Leary also recommends bringing the liner onto the bottom lash line to really emphasize the cat-eye shape. We recommend using the IT Cosmetics Superhero No-Tug Sharpenable Gel Eyeliner for a seamless application.

IT Cosmetics Superhero No-Tug Sharpenable Gel Eyeliner

Cat Eyes for Upturned Eyes 

Upturned eyes take on a similar shape to almond shapes, but they have a natural lift at the outer corners that draws them upward. This makes them ideal for a cat eye. “Follow the natural uplifted shape and work the liner outward toward the temple,” says Oliver.

Cat Eyes for Downturned Eyes 

Downturned eyes droop slightly at the outer corners, so a wing is ideal in creating a natural lifted effect. “The trick here is to start the line much higher than you would think,” says Oliver. “Try leaning your head back and making a line that points at a 45-degree angle, starting from the middle of the eye outward toward the temple.” 

Cat Eyes for Monolids

Because this eye shape doesn’t have a crease, you want to keep the liner as close to the lash line as possible, and then go for a thick, elongated wing. “It really helps to give the eye some definition, shape and length,” says Leary. To create a precise line, draw a base with a pencil eyeliner and trace over it with a liquid formula. If you want your eyes to look rounder and more doll-like, Leary suggests keeping the liner thicker in the middle of the eye and shorter at the wing. “This will create the illusion of an eye that is more curved.” The Urban Decay 24/7 Inks Liquid Eyeliner has a sharp, precise tip that makes drawing a thin, controlled line shockingly easy. 

Urban Decay 24/7 Inks Liquid Eyeliner
Image: Chaunte Vaughn

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