I am a true believer in hanging on to age-old beauty tricks that work for you while carefully selecting a handful of on-trend options to blend into your routine. This is being truly stylish versus being trendy and shows a heightened level of self-awareness when you carefully curate your look. In my eyes, it also shows a certain level of maturity when you are not slapping on all of the newest styles and using a bit of restraint with that which you choose to adopt. Cat eyes are en vogue now, but this is a look that will forever be with me. I have been doing a cat eye since I was sixteen and calling myself “indie rockabilly.” It has become such a daily wear look for me that I can do my liquid liner in moving vehicles without botching the swoop. A crisp cat eye, groomed brow, and mascara is the LBD of eye makeup.
I am not a religious woman and there are few things that I pray for. However, wings so sharp that they could kill a man are definitely among those wishes while doing my liner. Crystal Carmen recently taught me an amazing trick – use concealer on the edges of your eyes in order to really get a dagger-sharp line that doesn’t bleed into fine lines from tugging across the surface of the skin. It’s basically the same idea as primer, but an extended surface better matched to the color of your skin in case you do not choose to bring your shadow color that far out and a perfect solution if you choose to keep your lids naked.
A cat eye can be modern, retro, or downright costumey – it is all in how you choose to use the line. You can end it just a touch past the natural line with a baby flip for a very subdued, everyday liner. Paired with either a bright or nude glossy lip, a couple of coats of mascara, and a ponytail, you get a super fresh yet classic look appropriate for literally anywhere – school, work, casual date, PTA meeting, funeral… yeah, I said funeral. It’s simple and ageless. Modern celebrities like Beyonce, Adele, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Jamie Cheung, and Lupita Nyong’o frequently channel this look made famous by Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and my favorite classic Cat Woman herself, Eartha Kitt, among many others of that era.
My everyday cat eye look is done with the Stila neutral matte “In The Know” shadow palette, NYX eyeshadow primer in “skintone”, Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies mascara in Black Drama, and Wet N Wild’s H20 Proof Liquid Liner. Yes, Wet N Wild. Yes, I know, it is under $5 USD at any drugstore in North America. If I can buy it for under $5 in San Francisco after losing mine somewhere on the BART, you can find it cheaper than that. It’s my secret weapon which I actually choose over my NARS Stylo liquid liner more often than not. I love my NARS, don’t get me wrong. I have simply found that my eyes water constantly during allergy season and my $25 tube of NARS simply cannot endure the constant moisture in the corner of my eye. Wet N Wild is the cat’s meow when it comes to liquid liner. The black is extremely black, they do not test on animals, and when they say waterproof, they mean you will be wearing it even if you fell overboard and washed ashore a week later.
You don’t have to limit yourself to black liquid liner. Thankfully, the cosmetic industry got the memo that we love liquid liner so they offer it in a ton of colors. That being said, I am much more likely to shell out the cash for a good palette of eyeshadows rather than a couple of eyeliners. If you do not have the money for new liquid liners in fun shades, you can always cheat by using an eyeshadow brush with your favorite eyeshadow and a good primer. Simply prime your lid, put on your eyeshadow as your normally would, and then lightly moisten your shadow brush, dip it in your chosen shadow, and draw the line on. Voila! If you are looking for less expensive liquid liners in vivid colors, I have to say that I adore NYX Cosmetics Studio Liquid Liner in Extreme Blue. It looks fantastic on all skin tones that I have seen it on and it’s around $5-6 a pop and it’s a damn fine dupe for Urban Decay’s 24/7 Liquid Liner in Radium. (It’s worth noting that it is on sale on the Urban Decay site for $10 instead of the usual $19, along with other more outrageous colors, which means that they are probably going out of stock soon.)
Alternately, you can use a sturdier gel liner. Some people prefer using a gel liner to liquid liner, as it is somewhere between the two previous options. You will need a couple of brushes because they do not come with an applicator or brush. You will want an eyeliner brush or an angled liner brush to achieve the right shape. I recommend using the angled liner brush if you are a beginner, as there is more surface area (width = stability) and the brush itself reflects the general shape that you should be aiming for. MAC Fluidline is the classic that I have used in the past, but I hear good things about the Stila Smudge Pot. If you want a budget gel liner, try NYX or Maybelline. I recommend using a setting spray after applying your full look, as my experience with gel liner is that it does smudge. This tendency can be used to your advantage, though. If you mess up the wing on the cat eye, blend it to smoke it out for a smoldering look that is somewhere between a smokey eye and a cat eye.
One of the most common cosmetic complaints that I hear is that people cannot get the flick at the end of the line correct, be it a baby kick or a full wing. Well, practice makes perfect. Sit down with some primer, black liner, and makeup remover and play with it until you are happy with the results. Watch a YouTube tutorial for a basic, Sophia Loren inspired look. Watch Samantha’s tutorial on how to be a gorgeous glittery bad ass Barbie. If you have hooded eyes, this is an excellent tutorial. This will also show you how to turn any eye shadow into eye liner. (pro-tip: You don’t need the product that she is using but this is a good example.)
The most important thing to remember is it’s all just makeup. It’s not permanent! You can mess up. Make mistakes and learn from them! You may even create a new look that is way more amazing than you originally wanted. Have fun and be fierce, kittens!