How to Get the Perfect Cat Eye for Every Eye ShapeNovember 23, 2023
If we wrote a book on classic makeup looks, it’s safe to say we would dedicate an entire chapter on how to create the perfect cat eye. As easy as it would make things, cat eye makeup is not one-size-fits-all, because everyone has different eye shapes. It’s so important to take your unique eye shape into consideration to achieve the most flattering end result, even if it takes some trial and error to get it just right.
“Play around with various techniques to discover what complements your eye shape best,” says Nikki DeRoest, celebrity makeup artist and Ciele Cosmetics founder. “I would recommend dedicating some time to practicing the cat eye look and experimenting with different styles. I love playing with shapes in the morning before I shower, so I can practice and give myself space to mess up or experiment without ruining my makeup for the day if it doesn't work out,” she adds.
To help you learn how to apply a cat eye for your eye shape (read: hooded eyes, upturned eyes, downturned eyes, monolids and more), keep reading for expert tips from DeRoest and makeup artists Elle Leary and Emily Oliver.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Wide Set Eyes
Wide set eyes sit further apart on the face. According to DeRoest, 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, drawing your focus to the inner corner of the eye.
“I like to keep the eyeliner on the waterline,” says Oliver. Instead of lining the upper lash line, stick to tightlining with a longwear gel pencil, like the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil.
“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,” she adds. A liquid eyeliner with a precise felt tip, like the Lancôme Idôle Liner, is perfect for creating wings in the inner and outer corners.
Don’t forget to finish with mascara, like the Maybelline New York The Falsies Surreal Falsies Surreal Extensions Waterproof Mascara, to bring the look together.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Close-Set Eyes
If you have close-set eyes, you can use eyeliner to extend their shape 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. Unlike wide-set eyes, keep the focus outward to open up those eyes.” For this technique, we recommend the L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Gel Mechanical Liner, which is super pigmented and long-lasting.
“Extend the wing slightly outward to visually balance the close-set eyes,” says DeRoest. “This creates the illusion of more space between the eyes.” According to DeRoest, a light colored eyeshadow applied to the inner corner can also help to brighten and open the eyes. Try the Peripera Sugar Twinkle Duo Eye Stick for easy application. Finish with a few coats of mascara to define the upper lash line.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Small Eyes
If you have small eyes, this means they are small in comparison to the rest of your features. It’s also possible to have small eyes with hooded lids or an almond shape and beyond. “Oftentimes I'll forgo a pencil and use a liquid eyeshadow, such as the Giorgio Armani Beauty Eye Tint Liquid Shadow,” says Oliver. “This makes the eyes pop and adds structure without closing down the lid.”
To avoid overwhelming your small eyes, keep your cat eye short and sweet. “Opt for a shorter wing to maintain a proportional look” says DeRoest. “A subtle flick can enhance the eyes without making them appear smaller.”
Finish with a few coats of the Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara to define your lashes — the combo of length and volume will help open your eyes.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Hooded Eyes
Hooded eyes lack visible lid space thanks to extra skin on the brow bone. Dramatic eye makeup looks (winged eyeliner included) are totally possible, you just need to find the right application technique to make sure your cat eye is visible when the eye is open.
According to DeRoest, start with a thin line in the inner corner and make it thicker as you reach the outer corner to prevent it from getting hidden in the lid. To achieve this, we suggest the Danessa Myricks Beauty Groundworks Palette: Use one of the powders on a liner brush to create a precise line, easily making it thicker as you reach the outer corner.
Oliver also recommends tightlining to add definition to the upper lash line. “I’ll get under the top lash line, 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.” A pencil formula, like the NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Rich Mechanical Pencil or the About-Face Line Artist Longwear Gel Eyeliner is ideal for this.
“To ensure that the eyeliner is visible, especially the winged portion, it's often recommended to extend the wing slightly higher than the natural crease when the eyes are open,” says DeRoest. “This helps to showcase the eyeliner design and prevent it from getting hidden within the hooded area of the eyelid.”
Batwing eyeliner is a great hack for hooded eyes: “Your eyeliner will look like there’s a step upward in the middle of the wing, but when the eyes are open, the line will match up perfectly,” explains DeRoest.
To brighten the eyes, finish by applying a lengthening mascara like the Amie Colé Lash-Amplifying Volumizing & Lengthening Mascara to the upper lash and lower line.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Almond Eyes
To accentuate almond eyes and make them look bigger and longer, Leary says to keep the line thin along the first two-thirds of the eye when lining the upper lash. “At that point, intensify the thickness and finish with a semi-dramatic wing at the end,” she says.
Leary also recommends bringing the liner onto the bottom lash line to really emphasize the cat-eye shape. Try using the IT Cosmetics Superhero No-Tug Sharpenable Gel Eyeliner for a seamless application.
Finish with a couple coats of volumizing mascara, like L’Oréal Paris Voluminous Panorama Washable Mascara. You can also add a lash cluster in the outer corner to further emphasize the shape of your eyes — try the Velour Beauty Too Easy Lash Starter Kit.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Upturned Eyes
Upturned eyes take on a similar shape to almond eyes, but they have a natural lift at the outer corners that draws them upward. This makes them ideal for a cat eye. “Emphasize the natural upward tilt of upturned eyes by following the curve of your lower lash line when drawing the wing, and be cautious not to extend the wing too far,” says DeRoest. We suggest an eyeshadow stick, like the About-Face Smokesticks, to create your wing.
Finish by lightly smudging eyeliner across the lower lash line, connecting it to the upper lash line. Then apply a few coats of mascara to finish off the look — YSL Beauty’s Lash Clash Extreme Volume Mascara is great for this.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Downturned Eyes
Downturned eyes can tend to 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.”
“Lift the wing slightly upward to counteract the downturned shape and create the illusion of lifted eyes,” says DeRoest. “Keep the wing relatively short to avoid emphasizing the downward slope of the eyes.” For extra precise feline flicks, try the Valentino Beauty Twin Liner Eyeliner.
When applying mascara, focus on adding definition to the outer corner of the eye to help balance out the downturned shape. Adding a lash, like the Velour Beauty Classic Velour-Xtensions Lash Clusters, can also help with that.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Monolid Eyes
Since 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. A thick eyeshadow pencil with a pointed tip, like the Maybelline New York Color Tattoo Longwear Multi-Use Eyeshadow Stix, works really for this. Plus, it’s super long-wearing.
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.
Finish with a few coats of the Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Sky High Mascara for lifted lash fringe that doesn’t smudge. If you want to add a false lash, try a pair from the Velour Beauty Monolid Eye Shape Set.
How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup on Round Eyes
When you have round eyes, the white part of your eye is visible above and below the iris. A sharp wing with a slight upward curve at the outer corner will help balance out the shape of round eyes. To achieve this, a liquid eyeliner, like the LaBomme Angle Baby Eyeliner, is best. If this is slightly different from your go-to technique, no worries: DeRoest recommends exploring different application techniques to discover what will best suit your eye shape.