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How to Pull Off a Cat Eye Like You Know What You’re Doing

If you’re new to the liquid-liner game, bookmark these tips

Maybe you already have a few makeup tricks that make you look and feel like a boss. But unless you can catify your eyes at a moment’s notice, you are not living your best life. Even when you’ve just got minutes to spare, a classic cat eye can lend some confidence and attitude to your everyday look — whether you’re in more of an Audrey, an Amy, or a Nicki mood.   

Getting the perfect flick, of course, is a whole other story. 

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You know how it is: There’s the oft-cited “sisters, not twins” rule, but achieving passable sister flicks — much like dealing with an actual, real-life sibling — requires a ton of patience and commitment. From extending one wing a little too high to realizing your line is far too bumpy, to the dreaded blinking before your liner’s dried, you might be tempted to call the whole thing off.

But you’ve got this! Once you get past attempt number “who’s counting?” it gets easier. Natural. Like you’ve been doing it your entire life. To help, we chatted with NYC-based makeup artist Annie Kim about how to ace the look. Forget using spoons or any other paraphernalia with a traceable curve; all you need is a quality liquid liner. You should have nothing to fear about attempting an enviable cat eye — except for maybe accidentally jabbing someone with that razor-sharp wing.

Step 1: Gauge Your Sass and Start Lining

How to Apply Cat Eye Makeup Step 1
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Pick an eye, any eye! Choose whichever side you’re most comfortable with and begin by drawing a line from the outer corner of your eye upward. Kim recommends doing this first to determine where you want your cat eye to end and “how much sass” you want the look to have. While a short wing is probably more office-appropriate, you might want to up the sass when you’re heading to the clurb/dinner with friends/your bathroom mirror for a selfie pick-me-up.

Step 2: Hook In a Second Line

How to Apply Cat Eye Make Up Step 2
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Once you’re happy with the length of the line, draw another line downward, above the first line, from the top corner to create the wing shape; if you’re going for a more dramatic look, it should form a triangle (or almost triangle).

Note: For trickier eye shapes, like, say, monolids, Kim suggests applying the liner with your eye half-open rather than mostly closed for exact placement. “It’s tricky for monolids to see how it will actually turn out when drawing from the closed-eye position,” she says. And if you’ve got hooded eyes, a “disconnected wing” applied with your eyes open is your best bet. Read more about the technique here (#8), where you can check out more genius makeup tips for hooded eyes.

Step 3: Join It Together

How to Apply Cat Eye Make Up Step 3
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Connect the wing to your lash line, following the shape of your eye, starting from your inner corner. If you’re not as confident with your liquid liner, start off with a thin line — you can always build upon it, since it’s easier to add more than to fix a mistake.

Step 4: Fill It In and Tidy It Up

How to Apply Cat Eye Make Up Step 4
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

Fill in the wing and smooth out any uneven application for a nice, tapered line. If you do need to fix any snafus (and there will be a few, trust), Kim suggests using a wipe tightly wrapped around your index finger and swiping under or above the liner to clean up. Or, for even more precision, try micellar water (we suggest Garnier SkinActive, also our pick for best makeup remover) on an angled brush.

Step 5: Bonus Tip! Because Glitter.

How to Apply Cat Eye Make Up Step 5
Alexa Fishman / BuzzFeed

If you’ve got fun evening plans and want to add some drama to your daytime look, simply exaggerate the wing and flick it up a bit higher. Easy-breezy! And if you’re the type who finds themselves with an extra spring in their step when they slip on something sparkly, try adding a touch of glitter liner on top (when applied modestly, it’s not just for teens, we promise).

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Every product covered here is independently selected by opinionated humans. But so you know, buying stuff through our links may earn us a small share of the sale or other compensation.

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