11 Tricks for the Perfect Cat Eyeliner

Cat eyeliner, not to be confused with fox eyeliner, is a classic look that everyone should master whether you’re sticking to the classic single black line (ahem, Aubrey Hepburn), or venturing into a more creative and dramatic look (look out, Zoe Kravitz). Mastering these 11 tips and tricks will eliminate any messy fixes, and will have you looking fun & flirty or red carpet ready in no time!

Tricks for Cat Eyeliner

1. Determining Your Natural Eye Shape

image depicting an eye looking through a hole in a large leaf

Before you set out on finding your perfect look, the first step is to consider your natural eye shape. Understanding your unique eye shape will help you to choose the perfect liner first, and make using the rest of these tips a breeze.

Check out this great article from IPSY on exactly how to determine your natural eye shape.

Hooded Eyes

If the crease of your eye is not visible when your eyes are open, you likely have hooded eyes. Think, Jennifer Lawrence. Many that have hooded eyes believe that cat eyeliner is just not for them-not so! Simply start applying the eyeliner at the outermost corner of where the lid’s hood starts. Work inward in light strokes, ensuring the liner isn’t concealed by your lid. Voila!

We have a whole article on eye makeup for hooded eyes, if you want some more easy tips! 

Small Eyes/Close-Set Eyes

If the space between your eyes is smaller than the width of either eye itself, then you likely have close-set eyes. Applying liner from mid-lid only to the outer flick will maximize the look of your eyes.


Those with monolid eyes do not have an eyelid crease and have the appearance of having a double lid. Sticking with a thin line and liquid liner is the best bet as well as sticking as close to your lash line as possible.

2. Prime Your Eyes

For your perfect cat eye to last, you need to apply an eye primer first. Primer is essential as it not only helps to ensure you’re smudge-proof all day but also provides a smooth canvas for easy application. Look for one that boasts 24-hour wear and is on the translucent side for the best overall value. 

No primer? No problem! Just brush on a light layer of translucent setting powder first, being sure to brush off any excess.

3. Choosing the Right Pencil

hand holding a liquid eyeliner pen

Choosing the right pencil depends upon the shape of the eye and desired look. For those with hooded, small or monolid eyes, opt for a high-quality liquid pencil with a felt tip. This is also true for other eye shapes who prefer a more precise and/or dramatic look. Those looking for less precision but easy application might want to opt for a gel pencil. Gel liners are loved for their creamy consistency, but be sure to grab one that can be sharpened, as retractables lose their pointy tip with use.

If you’re on the hunt for the best eyeliners to perfect your cat eye look, Vogue lists their 22 best eyeliners in 2022 here, according to celebrity makeup artists.

4. Use an Eyeliner Brush

For first-timers with a not-so-steady hand, simply apply your eyeliner to the edge of an eyeliner brush and have fun playing around with winged looks!. This method is more forgiving for those who are unsure of technique and allows for more control. A little practice with an eyeliner brush is a great way to ease into a more precise application.

5. Use Tape

Beauty vlogger Kat Longoria using tape to create a stencil for cat eyeliner

This trick has gone viral for a reason — it works! Check out beauty vlogger @Kat_Longoria and her video showing exactly how to perform this easy trick. 

Using surgical tape, apply a strip at an upward angle for each eye, ending just below the eyebrow. Place two pieces of tape — one piece on each eyelid — to form a triangle. Fill in the space between the triangles created using your favorite eye shadow. Peel off the tape, and fill in the triangles of shadow you created with your favorite eyeliner. This is a great trick for those who are short on time (cause aren’t we all?).

The technique varies a little from person to person. Some suggest just cutting two strips at the edge of your eye, using it as a guide to create the perfect flick, and then drawing on the liner on the rest of your eye. Once it’s dry, pull the tape off for a flawless, symmetrical look (via The Guardian ).

6. Use a business card

image depicting a woman holding a blank business card

This is a great trick for last-minute plans or anyone who flies by the seat of their pants! If you can’t get a hold of tape, simply grab a business card from your wallet and hold it at an angle at the edge of each eye. Draw the wing from the corner of the eye upward first, then extend the line back to the upper lash line. This will give you a great clean look in minutes for those on the go!

7. Always Start at the Outer Corner of the Eye

image depicting someone drawing on black liquid eyeliner

Now onto the more functional application tricks. Beginning at the outer corner of the eye is a much more natural movement for your hand, especially as a beginner. Think outside-in. Draw the wing from the outer corner inward using light strokes or even dashes and dots that you can then connect with a more firm stroke.

8. Give Yourself an Outline

Similar to the dashes and dots method above, giving yourself an outline ensures your wings are straight as an arrow, and not wonky at the ends. Imagining a line that spans the corner of each eye to the outer brow bone, place a small dot by the outer lashes. This should be the end of the wing. Using the outside-in method above, draw your wing inward connecting to the lash line. Widen the line with more strokes for a more dramatic look.

9. Get Comfy

image depicting someone drawing on eyeliner

Similar to any other make-up application you have to find what works best for you. We all know you can’t apply mascara without opening your mouth (I’m not alone, right?!). Whether you’re resting your elbow on a flat surface, or free-handing with a magnifying mirror, try out a few different methods to see what feels most natural to you. But don’t forget, lighting matters! Opt for a space with good quality lighting so your finished look is as perfect as you are!

10. Use the Erase Method

Even the pros make mistakes. Whether you’re a newbie or an old pro, if your wings don’t come out as planned, don’t fret! Simply grab an angled brush and a drop of your favorite concealer, straightening out the line from the bottom upward. You know the saying, Onward and Upward!

11. Take Chances and Have Fun!

After all, beauty is only skin deep. Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new looks. Whether you’re channeling your inner cat-woman (Hello, Robert Pattinson) or just want to try something fun for a night out, remember, there’s nothing that a little make-up remover (or rosè) can’t fix. Give some of these on-trend looks a try with a non-waterproof liner for a fun and non-committal look; double wings, floating wings, or colorful and wild!

image depicting an alternative cat eyeliner look

Master the Perfect Cat Eyeliner Using These Tips and a Little Practice!

Whether you’re going for glamorous and sexy, or fun & flirty, using these11 tips will change your eyeliner game and help you create the perfect cat eyeliner look! Just like finding your favorite beauty products is sometimes trial and error, using these 11 tips could make the cat eye part of your signature look.

Once you have mastered cat eyeliner, test out your new skills on some other animal-inspired look such as the butterfly eyeliner trend or spiderweb eyeliner! Cat eyeliner is a great first look to nail before branching out to even more graphic eyeliner looks.