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How to Make the Perfect Cat-Eye Liner

Vincent Oquendo, a makeup artist for famous people, shows L’OFFICIEL how to draw a perfect cat-eye liner in 6 steps that anyone can do. The cat-eye eye makeup look is a classic that everyone should know how to do. Winged eyeliner has been worn by stars as far back as Sophia Loren and as far forward as Bella Hadid, proving that it is timeless. Even though it looks easy, drawing on the flick can be tricky and even scary. When done right, it makes you look twice and adds instant appeal. Vincent Oquendo, a celebrity and editorial makeup artist who has done great cat-eyes on Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Lily Collins, and more, loves this liner. The MUA swears by a technique for applying eyeliner that uses layers to create a bold look that lasts all day. This technique is used on the runways and on the red carpet.

L’OFFICIEL talks to Oquendo about the six steps to get the perfect winged liner so that you can master the cat-eye.

Step 1: Get your eyes ready

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Just like when you put on foundation or other face makeup, you need to get your eyes ready for makeup. “The Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops are one of my favorite tools to use,” says Oquendo. “I never skip this step, especially when I am putting on eyeliner.” The handy product helps get rid of any redness around or on your eyes, making them look brighter and more awake and, most importantly, giving you a clean slate to start your makeup look on.

Step 2: Choose the right pencil

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Once the eyedrops have taken effect, you can use a soft eyeliner pencil like Mac’s Eye Kohl to line the upper lash line. Oquendo says, “Use a kohl pencil instead of something long-lasting because you want it to be a little more malleable.” This first layer of liner is called a “safety layer” by the artist, so there’s no need to make it perfect. In fact, Oquendo suggests having some micellar water and pointed cotton buds on hand to make it easy to clean up around the edges. The makeup artist’s favorite is the Garnier SkinActive micellar water. Just make sure that the makeup remover you use doesn’t have oil in it. If it does, it will make any other products you put on slip off. Oquendo also says that you should do your eye makeup first so that you don’t mess up your foundation.

Step 3: Make the eyelashes curl

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Before making the cat-signature eye’s flick, Oquendo stops with the liner and curls the lashes for a moment. “If you curl your eyelashes the right way, they can change the shape of your eyes,” he says. This, in turn, will change how you draw your winged liner and how long it is. Oquendo says that the right eyelash curler is the key to giving the lashes just the right amount of oomph. When looking for the best eyelash curler, you should think about both the shape of your eyes and the color of your hair. Oquendo says that people should look for a curler that is different from their hair color. For example, brunettes should use a metallic gold or silver tool, while blondes should use a dark one. This way, you can see your eyelashes better against the curler and you won’t pinch yourself as often. The makeup artist says to use light pulses before putting on mascara for the right way to curl your eyelashes. Imagine that you’re drawing something. You’ll use a pencil because it has an eraser and you can fix your mistakes.

Step 4: Put on mascara primer

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At this point, you’ll want your eyelashes to stay curled while you draw on the winged liner, but a full coat of mascara could smudge or your eyelashes could get in the way. Oquendo likes to use a softer mascara that can act as a lash primer and keep the lashes curled while the rest of the eye is being done. Oquendo says, “One pro tip I have for red carpets is that I always use two mascaras.” “One to outline and one to add volume.” The MUA swears by the Maybelline Lash Discovery for the first one. He says, “It’s a really skinny, tiny brush.” “I dig it into the base of all of my famous clients’ lashes and then spread a thin layer of it over the whole lash. I use it like a lash primer.” After you’re done with the cat-eye liner, you can finish the look by putting on a volumizing mascara.

Step 5: Draw a pencil outline of the wing

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To get the right angle for the cat-eye flick, you should look at a mirror that is level with you and doesn’t move. This means you can’t tilt your head back or use a hand-held mirror, which could make it harder to make the wings of each eye look the same. Once you’re looking straight ahead with your chin level, Oquendo says to take your eyeliner pencil and draw small ticks or dots from the corner of your eye up toward the end of your brow. This will help you get the best angle for the cat’s eye. Oquendo says, “It’s okay to make a mess. That’s why having those cotton swabs and micellar water nearby will help.” “Think about what you would do if you were drawing. You’ll use a pencil because it has an eraser and you can fix your mistakes.” You can make the lines for the flick as long or as thick as you want. Then, use a micellar water-soaked cotton bud to shape the edges of the wings for both eyes. “Evening out your eyes is the step you want to take the most time on,” the artist says.

Step 6: Use a liquid or gel liner to finish

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After making the base layer look good with a pencil liner, you can go over it with a liquid or gel liner that is opaque. “The best part about drawing with pencil first is that when you get to the scary parts, all you have to do is trace,” says Oquendo. Even if you draw outside the pencil liner by accident, the base will still be there so you can see where you need to clean up. Some of the artists’ favorite eyeliners are the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner, the Inglot AMC Eyeliner Gel, and the Shiseido Archliner. Before putting the liquid or gel right on the foundation liner, Oquendo says to make sure that the two products work well together. If you put a waxy pencil on top of a long-lasting liquid liner that has alcohol in it, the products may come off all at once. Taking a quick look at your hand will tell you if you’re ready to go. The use of layers also makes the liner stand out more. Oquendo says, “That’s my big secret about the red carpet.” “It has more than one layer, but it doesn’t look that way. It doesn’t look like a lot going on, but it has depth and stands out in a picture. It looks great even for a selfie.” For a softer look, the makeup artist suggests only putting liquid eyeliner on the flick of the cat-eye. This will make the winged liner look more defined while still letting the pencil eyeliner show along the lash line for a more natural look. Oquendo also likes colorful cat-eyes, which are a simple way to make a statement with your eyes, or playing with more lines to highlight the shape of the eyes, like he did for Christian Siriano’s Spring/Summer 2021 runway show.

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