The Secret to Getting a Perfect Cat Eye Every Single Time—and 5 No-Fail Liners to Try

Kristen Bateman
The Secret to Getting a Perfect Cat Eye Every Single Time—and 5 No-Fail Liners to Try
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I distinctly remember the first time I committed to wearing a cat eye every day. I was in college and studying abroad in London at the fashion and design school Central Saint Martins, where—I kid you not—every inspiring person there sported one. What was so interesting to me was how they each interpreted the style (neon colors, multiple lines). It really made me believe the stereotype that New York women don’t have as much fun with their makeup as the Brits. And I wanted to be like them!

Up until that point, I’d attempted to try and do a cat eye but found it always looked misplaced on my face—either too heavy or as if I was trying too hard. I’m not really sure what changed, but that summer in London I picked up a few different eyeliners from local drugstore Boots (international beauty product heaven) to try and perfect the look. 

Three years later, I haven’t stopped. No matter what outfit I choose to wear or whether I’ve opted for a bright, bold lip (bullshit that you can’t have both), the cat eye remains on my lids upwards of 80 percent of the week. It’s my version of a no-fail staple. A cat eye instantly makes me look more awake and at once fashion-forward and classic—not many other beauty maneuvers can offer that combination. There’s a reason seminal beauties like Elizabeth Taylor as well as icons in the making like Alexa Chung are known for making the flicked-out eye their trademark.

Along the way, I’ve realized not every liner is perfectly suited to a cat eye, and it took me about three months to be able to effortlessly apply the look without wiping away half and starting over. (All the Internet memes out there can attest to this too.) Eventually, I came up with my foolproof secret: Sweep the liner up high and back down, creating an outline of the winged shape before going back to fill it in.

Above, my five favorite liners I use regularly, so I strongly suggest checking them out if you’re ready to start sporting a cat eye—even once in a while.

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The liner that kicked off my cat-eye obsession is L'Oréal Paris' Infallible Blackbuster Liner. I found this one in London. You can't beat the price, and it lasts all day. Since this one is a felt-tip marker liner, I use it to create a really graphic look, as seen on Gwen Stefani. It's the blackest of black and pairs perfectly with a red lip. The only downside? Don't use this one if you're looking for a more minimal, discreet look. It's impossible to do anything but a bold look with the thick tip.

Photo: Getty

For Givenchy's recent Fall 2016 show, makeup artist Pat McGrath reinvented the cat eye with an exaggerated smoky brown. Though it's not as wearable for daytime, I've worn a similar style of cat-eye liner for nighttime looks. My favorite product to use is Dior's Diorshow Waterproof Pro Liner, which comes in neutrals like brown, khaki, and gray. The angled tip helps to create the wing shape, while the consistency, which is kind of like a shadow, makes it super easy to smudge and shape it into this look.

Photo: Getty

One of my new favorite cat-eye discoveries is Milk's Eye Marker. With its chisel tip, it can be used to create a traditional cat eye, or an extreme one like seen at backstage at Giamba Fall 2016. The secret is all in how you angle the marker. You can turn it as you use it to change the thickness of the line, too—making your cat eye look more detailed and almost as if it was painted on. This marker is also one of the longest-lasting ones out there—it can even be difficult to remove with eye-makeup remover at times.

Photo: Getty

Sometimes I need a little bit more color on my cat eye. Like Rita Ora, I layer a second line over the top of a black base. Using Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil, I trace over the original cat-eye liner in black. I've tried a ton of colored liners, but these are definitely my favorite. Like the name implies, they really do effortlessly glide on—making application easy. After that, they dry fast and stay put. I've even slept with an Urban Decay cat eye, and it didn't smudge.

Photo: Getty

In all honesty, sometimes I want to wear a cat eye without all the intensity, as seen on this model. My favorite liner to use for this is Lancome's Artliner Precision Point EyeLiner. The tip is very fine, allowing for you to create the most minimal look. Bonus points: The liquid foam tip allows you to apply it effortlessly over most shadows; no matter the texture, it glides on.

Photo: Getty

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