Why I Checked Myself Into Cat-Eye Rehab

POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon
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We all have that one beauty product we can't live without — perhaps it's a bright pink lipstick you only rock on girl's nights out, or a pricey foundation you vow to only wear for weddings. Well, like you, I have a love affair with a product, and that's black liquid eyeliner. I remember leaving my high-school classrooms to spend 10 minutes in the bathroom perfecting what would later become my favorite makeup look ever: the cat-eye. The better I got at creating my wings, the more I wanted to wear it.

Since the day I was confident enough to effortlessly draw the lines above my lashes, the cat-eye has become my beauty addiction. Whether headed to dinner with girlfriends or running weekend errands, I never left home without my fierce liner. That all changed one day in June. As I stood on the subway platform in NYC, a train whizzed past and a tiny piece glass flew into my eye. In addition to the pain, it left me with a running, black disaster of eye makeup — my deconstructed, destroyed cat-eye. I looked like I has just spent the entire day watching romance movies on Netflix.

After making it home and running my eye under gallons of water, I was finally able to get the glass out. But a reoccurring discomfort the next day prevented me from grabbing my liquid liner and drawing a few swipes around my lashes. It was finally time to go 24 hours without cat-eye.

Throughout the day, I kept making frequent trips to the bathroom and checking my pocket mirror. While I still wore my everyday makeup, something felt off. I frantically checked in with my friends and my coworkers to be assured that I looked OK without my wings. They all assured me that I looked fine, but I felt naked without it. So, I decided to turn the situation around by checking myself into "cat-eye rehab" — a code for challenging myself to experiment with fresh looks for a week. Keep reading to see how I played with different colors and crayons to come up with unexpected new styles!

My Daily Cat Eye Look
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon

My Daily Cat Eye Look

Whoever said that cat eye was easy . . . lied. In fact, perfecting my lines has taken tons of practice, and I occasionally mess up to this day. I've found that using a gel eyeliner pen ($24) with a soft angled tip works best for achieving even lines.

I start off by striking two small lines on the outer corner of my eye. Then I line my upper lashes until the two connect. Finally, I take my pen and lightly fill in any gaps in my wing and voila! Cat-eye perfection.

Day 1: Cold Turkey

Day 1: Cold Turkey

In my first day of recovery, I decided to quit cat-eye cold-turkey, completing my makeup look by only wearing mascara. I packed on layers of my favorite Smashbox mascara ($20) and I was set!

Day 1: Final Look
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon

Day 1: Final Look

Eliminating eyeliner completely was difficult. I admit, my first thought when I looked at myself was how tired my eyes looked, but as my day went on, I realized that without my cat-eye I looked a lot more natural and alert. A look I could get used to. Not to mention, holding off on eyeliner saved me tons of time getting ready in the morning.

Day 2: Smudged Smoke
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon

Day 2: Smudged Smoke

On my second day of rehab, I decided to kick things up a notch and played with a neutral eye pencil ($21). I used a large eye shadow brush to blend the color all over my lids.

Day 2: Final Look
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon

Day 2: Final Look

Wearing any color other than black on my lids was something I never do, but I had to stick to my guns! I made sure to dress my look down with a neutral shirt and kept my lips and face makeup simple, so that my eyes would pop. The resulting smoky lid that was totally wearable for a work day.

Day 3: Bold Lip

By day three I felt completely bare and desperately craved eyeliner. Since I didn't want to break the no black liquid-liner challenge, I decided that brown was an easy alternative for a softer look. I lined my upper and lower lash line with a chocolate brown eyeliner pencil ($15) and paired it with a deep purple lip stain ($14).

Day 3: Final Look
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon

Day 3: Final Look

While the lip stain was a step outside of what I'm used to, I'm glad I went for it. After so many years focused up top, I forgot how uplifting it can be to swipe on a bright lipstick. My brown eyeliner thickened my lashes, but still allowed the focus to be on my vibrant pout. Who said you need a cat eye to be bold?

Day 4: Go For the Rose Gold

On day four, I wanted to experiment with color on my eyelids while keeping it daytime appropriate. I applied a rose gold eyeshadow crayon ($22) all over my lids and finished with brown eye shadow in my crease to soften the look.

Day 4: Final Look
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon

Day 4: Final Look

Day four was by far the hardest to get used to because I never wear colored eyeshadow. Before, I hadn't been that open to wearing pink on my eyes, but the metallic shadow was just enough to highlight them. Gold and rosy shadows are also the perfect complement for brown eyes, and any hint of sparkle can be easily taken from the office to a dinner date.

Look 5: Wild, Wild Red

Look 5: Wild, Wild Red

By the end of my week I was ready to go out with a bang, and I decided to do red! Out of the plethora of beauty products I own, I only have one red lipstick that matches my skin tone without making me look like a clown. I tight-lined my upper lash line and perfectly placed Jeanne by NARS ($32) on my lips. I held off on blush and amped up my bronzer for a supersultry look.

Day 5: Final Look
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon

Day 5: Final Look

The few times I've ever worn red lipstick, I always paired it with a cat-eye, and I was never 100 percent satisfied with my look. But this cherry-red shade made me feel totally sexy. Pairing a statement wing with a bold lip can likely cause the two to clash, and releasing my wings allowed me to pull off a style I've always wanted to try.

What I Learned From Cat-Eye Rehab
POPSUGAR Photography | Aimee Simeon

What I Learned From Cat-Eye Rehab

Doing this experiment made me realize that cat-eye has been my makeup crutch. Forcing myself outside of my comfort zone taught me that I can pull off diverse styles. But most importantly, I don’t need a cat-eye to feel fierce. I am still rocking my wings (in moderation) but I’ve also discovered a new love for the bright-eyed, mascara-only look and often bounce between that and the cat-eye. I also feel confident enough to occasionally throw on a bold lip or even go makeup free!