Dos and Don’ts for a Cleopatra Cat Eye

by Allison Ford

Dos and Don’ts for a Cleopatra Cat Eye

The cat eye liner look. Bane of women’s existence, Mt. Everest of beauty trends. It’s the ultimate in glam, and the ultimate tricky technique, requiring precision, restraint, and an extremely steady hand.


Have I scared you? Honestly, a cool cat eye—whether retro or modern—isn’t really so difficult. Grab your inky black liner and let’s get started.

DO use one of today’s easy-peasy liquid liner pens. They feature the ease of a pencil combined with the precision of a traditional liquid, except you don’t have to paint the liner on with wimpy little brush strokes—you draw. We love Nars Eyeliner Stylo in Carpates, a deep pitch-black.

DON’T try to get the same effect with a pencil. Pencils are great for smokiness and smudging, but a cat eye look requires the precision of liquid liner.

apply with the right technique. Start at the inner corner of your eye, and apply a thin line directly along the lash line, working outward. (Use small strokes if your hand isn’t steady enough for long ones.) Keep the line thin. When you get to the outer corner of your eye, draw straight out along the arc of your lower lash line, as if you were completing the end of a sideways “C” until you’ve got all the wing-age you want. Then bring the liner back toward your eye and finish the triangle, filling in the middle.

Once you’ve got the base line drawn, you can thicken the look for more intensity by going over it again (and again) with your liner pen. For daytime, leave the line thin and delicate. At night, try something more bold, like lining the lower lash line

DON’T try to create the thick line right away. It just presents more opportunities for smudging. If you do make a misstep, wipe the liner off immediately with a Q-Tip soaked in makeup remover, or a handy makeup remover swab like Jane Iredale Dot the Eye Make Remover Swabs, $23.

DO pair cat eye liner with a simple shimmery shadow on the lid, and a matte lip, whether va-voom red or plush pink.

DON’T add smoky shadow, shimmery lips, glitter, or other elements to interfere with the liner. The best thing about the cat eye liner is its simplicity—it does not play well with other makeup looks.

DO wear your hair thick and blown-out or in a voluminous ‘60s-style updo.

DON’T wear cat eye liner with a wash-and-go style or wet look hair. The “done-ness” of the liner requires similarly high-maintenance complements, otherwise it makes the rest of your beauty regimen feel unfinished.

DO be daring and play with lines that are thick and thin, big-winged or small. A great variation on the traditional black liner is a colored liner pen, which is perfect for daytime and incredible for spring. I love Mirabella Magic Marker Eyeliner, $24, in green, gray, or blue.