How to Create the Perfect Cat Eye in 5 Steps, With Tips From a Makeup Artist

  • The cat-eye makeup look has been a classic for centuries, and there are many ways to create it.
  • We spoke to a makeup artist to break down the tools you need to create a perfect cat eye.
  • Read our step-by-step cat-eye makeup guide for the perfect flick.

Over the past couple of years, eyes have become everything in makeup. This was inevitable: the area above our masks is the only place we can safely showcase our personal makeup style. Eyes have long been a feature to be admired and accentuated, with eye makeup dating back to ancient Egypt. Looks like the cat eye are as coveted today by makeup-lovers as they were in the 1950s by Old Hollywood starlets. "I always think of Marilyn Monroe's sort of liner," makeup artist Troy Surratt says. "She would keep the lid light and then have a beat of liquid liner traced against the upper lashline." The look was right up there with roller-set hair and red lips.

Today, the cat eye is still a huge trend, whether classic, modernized with color, or applied in an artfully edgy structure. The go-to graphic eye enhancement works on pretty much everyone, complementing nearly all eye shapes and colors by creating the illusion of a lush lash line. Achieving the cat-eye makeup look is pretty quick, but some might struggle to get it right.

We're here to make sure the struggle isn't real. Read on for our expert tips on how to create the perfect cat eye, with product picks and techniques.

Tools You'll Need to Create a Cat Eye

Black liquid liner: choose from a brush (Surratt's preference) or felt-tip liquid liner.

Eye-shadow primer: primer will lay the foundation you need for a long-lasting look.

Concealer: The idea is to create a clean canvas for your cat eye, Surratt says. Having concealer on hand also will also help you even things out at the end.

Cotton swabs: Pick the pointy kind, if you can find them. You'll dip them in micellar water or makeup remover for a precise clean-up job.

Loose, translucent powder: Top off your efforts with just a dusting of powder to set your look.

How to Do a Cat Eye, Step by Step

Step one: prep your lid. Surratt suggests priming your lid and doing the rest of your eye makeup first: "If you start with your concealer, shadow base, and then do your eye shadow, you create the canvas for the graphic liner, so you'll get the sharpest, most precise edges." By doing your shadow first (if you're going to wear it), you won't mess with the liquid liner.

Step two: paint the outer flick. Start with the hardest part first. "I usually aim the line from the outer corner of the eye straight up toward the end of the eyebrow," Surratt says. How far out you go and how thick you make the line is up to you. A dual-sided design with fine and broad applicators will give you options. If you need help drawing a straight line, you can place a Post-it diagonally against your lower lash line as a guide and trace above it — a favorite cat-eye hack of Surratt's.

Step three: check if everything's even. "I make sure those flicks are even in width and position," Surratt says. He suggests cleaning and adjusting with a pointy cotton swab dipped in makeup remover or micellar water. From there, he might take a little bit of concealer to make sure everything is sharp and defined.

Step four: look down into a mirror. If you look straight into a mirror, you'll have to contend with your eye lashes. Instead, take Surratt's advice: "If you have a desk or vanity surface, place the mirror on it, and then look down into it. That creates a really beautiful vantage point for painting on your liquid liner." Plus, it will keep the liner from transferring to your upper lid as it dries.

Step four: paint the rest of your line. At your tear duct, draw a fine line. "Then, connect those two ends with an arc over the lash line above the iris of the eye," Surratt says. The line should graduate from thin to thick from your eye's inner corner to the outer edge.

Step five: finish with powder. A translucent powder will absorb oil and moisture. Take an airy, fluffy shadow brush and lightly sweep it across your liner and lid. Be gentle as you apply it, so you don't disturb all your hard work.

Best Cat-Eye Looks

Classic Cat Eye

Thick Cat Eye

Thin-Line Cat Eye

Long-Line Cat Eye

Long-Line Cat Eye

Dramatic Cat Eye

Smoky Cat Eye

Smoky Cat Eye

Color Cat Eye

Color Cat Eye

Graphic Cat Eye