Friday, July 10, 2009

Alice and the Cat Eye

Alice is a freelance makeup artist from Mississippi and a long-time friend of mine. She can do it all, but she works some serious magic with eyeliner; every time I see a picture of her, I'm asking for another tutorial on how to accomplish the perfect cat eye (my shaky hands leave much to be desired). I've been begging her to guest blog for YFF for months, and she's finally given in! The girl is a genius--if you don't believe me (or even if you do), check out her website: Her photography, writing and art is breathtaking, much like her beauty. Girl is fly, and hopefully she'll be blogging here in the future (we must get her an account so I don't have to introduce her each time!)

If you want even more Alice, follow her on twitter @neutralizing.


I'm not an especially flashy dresser. I'm mostly drawn to a somber color palette of greys and blacks with (increasingly occasional) pops of yellow and red. I very rarely find myself attracted to print. I mean, I love print (houndstooth! buffalo plaid! stripes! leopard!), but I usually feel like the prints that are sold to fat women leave, uh, somethin' to be desired. I am so over big floral abstractions that I could puke.

Anyway, that means I need to get my visual interest another way. I ain't tryin' to look boring. My mom is a hairdresser, and I learned from an early age that the details of a look can have just as much impact as the rest. That means clever and style driven accessorizing, hairstyle choice, and make-up, my favorite part of the whole thing.

When it comes to beauty, trends are worthless. A smoky eye is not hot right now; it's always hot. A bold lip? Always hot. Big hair? Straight hair? A fine brow? A thick brow? Heavy blush? When it comes to beauty, what's important is what compliments your own personal style, not just what plays well with the fashion of the day. If you know a few simple make-up looks that you understand how to modify, you'll be set for life.

One of my all time favorite looks is cat eye liner. Nothing is more versatile. With adjustment, it'll go with everything. Once you know how to execute it, you can try it in different sizes (Winehouse! Jolie!), finishes (creamy! powdery! glossy!) and colors (black is standard, but try aqua blue! grassy green! purple!). I'm going to teach you how I personally do it.

First, find the angle at which your liner should be drawn. Lay a straight edge between your nose and the outside of your eyebrow, being sure it meets the outside corner of your eye. The angle is probably more steep than you would expect, but I find that flatter angles have a different effect on the shape of the eye than I usually like. Experiment!

Using whatever product you want (liquid liner, pencil liner, or powder/cream/gel on an angle brush all work fine), draw a line from along the angle you found before. You can keep your line short or take it further out depending on your taste! I go pretty far out there, partly because I wear glasses. This line needs to be straight on the outside, but you should feel comfortable going over it again if you need to straighten things up! Mistakes will likely be dealt with later.

Starting at the outside tip of your first line, draw a line down onto your eyelid. Check the picture! You want a narrow but not too narrow triangle happening. Again, as long as it's straight outside, you're fine. If you're not comfortable, make this shape a little thinner than you think it needs to be. You can thicken it up later.

Starting near the inside corner of the eye, draw a line that will connect with the shape you drew before. Follow the curve of the eye but don't keep draw the line at your eyelashes unless the wing at the outside corner is very small.

Fill it in! As you fill in your shape, you can smooth out any errors you made before to make sure everything's as smooth as you want it to be.

I like my liner to taper to a very fine point. If you do too, taper it! With just a little product on the brush and very light pressure, extend the corner to a very fine point.

Finish your make-up! I prefer to put foundation on after I do my (or a client's!) eye make-up, which means that I don't need to be as careful when I'm doing the eyes. When wearing a strong cat eye, I wear lots of mascara on my top lashes and none on my bottom lashes. This is a personal preference and another of the many things you can do to personalize something like this for yourself.

If y'all have any questions about this look or any other look you're curious about, tell me or Gabi! I want to help! If I can't explain it to you, I'll come over and do it myself. Pinky swear.


  1. love this tutorial! I need to invest in a good liquid eyeliner - any recommendations?

  2. @cutselvage/

    I've used so many liquid liners. It's crazy. I need a lot of lasting power, and as far as that goes the best I've used is a liner by this trash brand called L.A. Colors. Their web presence is, uh, weird at best, and I find it at the local Dollar Tree for a buck. But it's awesome and it peels off at the end of the day.

    If that's not as big a concern for you, Prestige has an excellent liquid liner (in different colors!), L'Oreal Lineur Intense is great (and I use it for part of my process!), and Black Radiance has an awesome very matte formula with a fantastic little brush.

    M.A.C.'s are probably awesome too, but they're $17 bucks. Gross.

  3. hi :)
    i have a question for the beautiful alice.
    i wear my eyeliner pretty much like this anyway but when i've tried wearing shadow underneath it, the eyeliner seems to sorta crack and not last as long.
    any tips?

  4. Love it! I need more practice, but I definitely love this look.

  5. I love this. I am dying to try it now. Thanks so much for this Gabi & Alice. : ]

  6. I like Wet N Wild liquid eyeliner - it's only about $3. For something pricier, Kat Von D has a line for Sephora with some bitchin' colors of liquid liner. I want to try this!

  7. Nice, can you give some tips on how to use liquid liner without getting it in your eyes, please

  8. Hey guys! Sorry it took me a minute to answer your questions! I'm so glad you guys liked the tutorial.

    @Miss Amanda,
    Is your eyeliner cracking at the crease of your eye, or all along the line? Are you using a base, like Urban Decay Primer Potion or Two Faced Shadow Insurance? The only thing I can imagine is that you're not using a base or maybe your liner's dried up, but if it's not happening unless there's eyeshadow under it, I don't know! I have that problem but only when the liner's too dry, which usually means it's old and the shadow is absorbing what little moisture is left.

    I love Wet N Wild's eyeliner too! I've only used the green, but it's a beautiful color and I wore it all summer a few years ago. I've heard good things about Kat Von D's, but I don't have a Sephora around here and want to test 'em before buying any. Rats!

    @Omosi T,
    Definitely be cautious of how much product is on the applicator! Always wipe a little off either on the inside rim of the tube/pot or on the back of your hand. If there's enough product on the applicator to drip when it touches your skin, there's too much! I'd also consider trying another brand of liquid liner, because yours may just be too thin. I've used some that were hopelessly runny no matter what.

    I hope my answers helped some! If you have more questions, post 'em here or e-mail me. I'll be checking both places to make sure I can help with whatever I can.

  9. Okay, I have been messing around with this look for AGES and could never figure out what I was doing "wrong" (not that it was wrong, really, but it didn't look the way I wanted), and your tutorial fixed it! It was the angle of the "wings."

    And for brands, I use Almay liquid liner and am obsesssssssssed with it. It's a great consistency and stays on really well.

  10. oh alice, I can't wait for you to do my makeup!

  11. Thanks so much for this! I needed this tutorial like 3 years ago. but we'll make due now. also, when you're done, open your eye up and you can get a bit closer to our inner eye when looking straight ahead if it doesn't freak you out.

    I entered you in this contest: but you have to go back to get some code. good luck!

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