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What is Cat Eye Makeup?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 21, 2024
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Cat eye makeup is a dramatic style of eye makeup that relies heavily on eyeliner. The outer corners of the eyes are designed to look pointed, like a cat's. It was a common look in the 1950s, but is now experiencing a resurgence of popularity. Cat eye makeup can be a great, glamorous look for evening, and with practice, it is relatively simple to do.

To create cat eye makeup, it is necessary to choose a dark eyeliner. Most people go with a black or very dark brown color, in a liquid form. Though pencil eyeliner can work, it will not create a line that is as defined as liquid, and can begin to look smudged or messy. When selecting liquid eyeliner, choose one with a short, pointed brush to make application easier.

One might choose to only use eyeliner for the cat's eye look, but it can look more finished with eyeshadow. Choose a neutral base approximately one or two shades darker than natural skin tone, and then use a slightly darker, shimmery color for the lower half of the lid, underneath the crease. A shimmery brown color can look especially pretty. One more pale highlight color may be chosen as well. In addition, select a dark mascara.

To create cat eye makeup, begin by applying the neutral eyeshadow evenly over the eyelid as a base. It should not be very noticeable, but should just create a smooth canvas to apply the rest of the makeup. Next, take the palest highlight color and apply it just underneath the eyebrow, on the brow bone. Finally, the darker color may be applied into the crease of the eye, and taken out slightly to the outer corner.

Next, it is time to apply the eyeliner, the main focus of the cat eye makeup. Liquid eyeliner can be tricky, so it is best to start with a thin line, and build as needed. Starting above the iris, draw a thin line out to the corner of the eye, where the eyeliner may then be slightly twisted upwards for that distinctive cat eye, winged look. In cat eye makeup, eyeliner is only applied on the top lash line, not the bottom. Next, apply mascara to finish the look.

Of course, this is just one way to create cat eye makeup. Some choose to forgo eyeshadow altogether, only applying a neutral base and eyeliner. It may also be easier to apply a bit of liquid eyeliner first, then apply the eyeshadow, and then touch up the liquid eyeliner line. Many techniques can create this glamorous look, so just try to find the one that works best.

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Discussion Comments
By Scrbblchick — On Mar 20, 2014

Seems like this also made a comeback in the late 60s, albeit in a much more stylized way. When it's well done, the eyes just look more almond shaped or mysterious. If not done well, it looks like Halloween makeup -- bad Halloween makeup.

Not everything needs to come back in style, though. Cat eye makeup should probably be relegated to the back of the line with blue eyeshadow. Except that's coming back, too. Yuck.

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