By Lisa Somerset
Cat’s eye liner has been a weapon of mass seduction since the days of Cleopatra. Feline-inspired eyes came back in a big way in the 1960s and in millions of different incarnations in every decade since then. When you’re packing a great cat eye, you feel like a million dollar minx.
Growing up in Echo Park, one of my first makeup memories is of the chola chicks having the fiercest and most precise black cat eye liner. It was an extraordinary exaggeration of the standard cat eye, very editorial looking. At the time, this was likely achieved with Maybelline products pinched from Thrifty on Alvarado. Their liner seemed to be a combination of Mayb’s familiar little red pencils (burned soft with a lighter) and liquid liner with the skinny little brush.
Before long, I was saying “Liquid eyeliner!!” and winging it out to meet my own drawn on brows. I’m also a long time worshiper at the altar of cat-eye liner goddess Tura Satana of “Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill” fame. Something about having thick black winged liner makes your expressions more lively (assuming you’re not part of L.A.’s frozen face crowd) and makes people watching from afar want to know what those eyes are sayin.’ Whether you’re a fan of tiny little flicks or big fat Winehouse wings, I’ve got the best eye liners and technique to get you looking kittenish.
There are many schools of thought on the subject but I generally find that gel liners and felt tipped liners give you the sharpest and cleanest lines.
Bobbi Brown Gel eyeliner in Black Ink and MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack are pound for pound the longest lasting gels. Both of these go on so smooth, so black, and so opaque. The Bobbi Brown works really well on the waterline too. Unlike some other gel liners that come in the little glass pots, these two won’t shrivel up after a few uses.
Yves Saint Laurent Shocking Effet Faux Cils felt tip pen goes on super carbon black and doesn’t move around. The black stays black and doesn’t fade or become transparent like some do. For the jittery handed among us, pens are sometimes easier to draw with. NYX Felt Tip Liner in Jet Black is my favourite of the budget brands. The felt tip stays firm and goes on with a good amount of pigment. I’ve found that it has great lasting power.
Tips on applying a great cat eye:
1) To keep liner from making the two half moons on your upper lids and to keep greezy lids at bay, slap on some eyeshadow primer. Urban Decay‘s rocks.
2) You need a good brush for gel liner. It’s the one situation where stiffer does not equal better. A thin, medium length brush with dense and semi-stiff bristles is best. I like the MAC #209 but in a pinch, I will use a pointed lip brush.
3) Start drawing the liner right next to the base of your upper lashes, above your pupil in short strokes. Draw to the end of your lashline. Draw another line extending upward and out towards your temple from the outer corner of your eye and then colour in the space between the two. You will need to draw backwards (inward from the outer corner) then back outward, thick to thin. Make sure when you get to the inner corner of the eye nearest your nose that you make the liner really thin. this is important because if you make the line too thick near the inner corner, it can make your lids look tiny. It should just be a gradual slope from super thin to thick at the outer corner and then thinning out again at the tip of the wing.
4) Line the upper waterline to fill in any skips. You can use your gel liner, just run the brush under your upper lashline with a small amount of product. You can also use a waterproof pencil for this step.
5) Keep some non-greasy makeup remover and some of those pointed tip cosmetic cotton swabs. You’re going to need them to perfect your wing tip.
6) Don’t stress out if the two wings are not perfectly even. Try to get them as even as possible, keeping in mind that the fold in your eyelids will be slightly different on each side.
7) Please don’t pull your eye skin! Trust me, you’ll thank me for this later. Use a small compact mirror and look slightly downward to get a smooth line.
Add some mascara or fake lashes and you’ll be eye-flirting like a champ. MAC, Bobbi Brown and YSL are at most major department stores. Urban Decay is at Sephora, NYX is at ULTA in Burbank or next to Target at Santa Monica and La Brea.
Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaSomerset.