The provocative drama of the cat-eye is a cosmetic classic that looks stunning on women of all skin tones, hair and eye color, and every age and ethnicity. This eyelining technique lifts the outer corner of the eye for a youthful look that’s also quite flirtatious and captivating, as seen above on the breathtaking Norma Jean Baker, a.k.a. screen siren, Marilyn Monroe. What’s interesting about this technique is the effect. It can complement the coy or the coolest, depending on just how aloof you’d like to appear, and just how thick and far you want to pull that line when creating the trademark winged edge.
This fall the coveted cat-eye is back and looks fresher than ever, as seen paired with a vibrant red or beguiling bordeaux lip…although some would argue that the look never left due to its timelessness and versatility. I love seeing women with this glamorous look, identified at once by both pin-up girls and haute couture runway models, seemingly opposites on the scale of the bold and the beautiful. Yet both types embrace wholeheartedly this drop-dead sexy technique: the flick eyeliner, as it’s known in the biz.
If you are obsessed with recreating fall’s coveted cat-eye, as seen above on the Valentino catwalk recently, included here are some quick tips from Australian makeup artist and friend o’ mine, Susan Markovic.
They say that if you want to learn something, you should read about it; and if you want to understand something, you should write about it; and if you want to master something, you should teach it. Susan, herself a gifted artist specializing in bridal hair and makeup, owns Make-up Mode Masterclass–a wildly popular and highly-esteemed makeup artistry school in Sydney, Australia. At the very helm of her very successful business, Susan mentors newbies and cosmetic veterans alike in the art of making faces. She is a brilliant sensei in her craft.
The before and after photos of Susan’s clients–and the photos of her students’ work–are nothing short of extraordinary, exhibiting the kind of miraculous transformations that ordinarily accompany a great plastic surgeon, but Susan’s medium is far less invasive and far less expensive than that of a scalpel and sutures.
I am convinced that Susan has tips for every makeup technique that you can imagine, as well as a few that we don’t know exist! Here she shares with us her top tips for flick liner made easy! G’day, Susan!
First, notice the model’s skin in the shot above, which has an airbrushed quality compared to the fresh-faced looks pictured top; this can change the effect entirely, creating a more formal and more mature end result. If you are lucky enough to have perfect skin, go for the bare-skinned approach–it’s more on-trend. Otherwise, avoid applying a thick mask-like layer of foundation over your entire face. Remember that foundation need only be used on spot areas in as sheer a manner possible.
Susan loves MAC’s Penultimate pen eyeliner to create the cat eye. The Penultimate is sorta like a felt-tip pen…it’s a liquid liner, and Susan loves it for creating this look on yourself. For hygienic reasons, she advises against sharing the pen when working professionally from person to person, instead favoring Bobbi Brown’s Long Wear Gel Liner or Makeup For Ever’s Aqua Cream, for the makeup artist.
It is important to remember that when creating an eyeliner on yourself, you will tilt your head slightly back and keep your eyes open. This will ensure you don’t have bumps along the lashline, which result from keeping your eyes tightly shut.
“The shape and skin around your eyes will affect the length and direction of your flick,” Susan said. “If you have hooded eyelids that drop past your natural eyeline then you will not be able to create an upturned flick as you will be going over bumpy skin. Consider instead creating a pull out horizontal flick rather than an upturned flick,” she added.
First, curl your lashes. This will help with the angle of the flick. If you have eyelashes that turn down this can influence the direction of your flick and in effect drop the line.
Susan recommends you begin by drawing the outer flick, starting at the corner of your eye and pulling out, with an angled brush.
Use your lower lashline as your guide. “This is the angle that you will follow,” Susan explained, “and always make sure that the flick finishes finer, and to a point,” she continued.
Susan said that you can use masking tape as your guide, which is less adhesive than sticky tape, meaning it’s kinder to the delicate skin around your eye area. “Place the tape on both sides of the eyes at an angle from the cheekbone up to the flick’s end. This will ensure symmetry as you apply the eyeliner over the edge of the tape and onto the skin,” she said. “You will always have the perfect line.”
Another hint to ensure the same length and angle to your flick is to place a dot on both sides of the eyes where you would like your flick point to finish.
Now, bring the line of the flick you have drawn towards the center of your eye–the main body of the eyeliner–and stop there. Take your brush (“this is where I like to use a bent brush,”) Susan said, to the inner eye, tear duct area. Lightly glide along towards the center of your eye to join the line you have already created. Susan told me that you should graduate the line so that it is thinner towards the inner eye than it is at the flick.
“Don’t forget to apply kohl pencil on the lower inner water rim, known as the waterline,” Susan said. You may also need to apply the kohl to the upper waterline as well, as some women have a wide upper inner rim which is made more obvious when an eyeliner is drawn on the top of the eye.
If you want to get a little funky, you can add a line in the crease of the eyes, and perhaps a dotted lid, like these examples by Senna’s Eugenia Weston, above and below, where the cat-eye adopts a pop art vibe reminiscent of a Roy Lichtenstein print.