Like bold red lipstick, cat-eye liner is one makeup trick that is less of a trend and more of a lifestyle. It’s always en vogue, and those who embrace it do so with wild abandon. It’s no coincidence that nearly all of my style icons, the women past and present that I consistently look to for guidance (or whatever, I’m shallow), have been known to boast the eternally sexy black flick. There was no drought of eye-catching makeup looks at this year’s Golden Globes, some good, others shameful, but there’s only one that was so on-point that I said to myself, Never again will I wear my cat-eye liner is a manner that is not precisely this one.
That show-stopping pair of eyes belonged to Angelina Jolie, who has long been my eye makeup and otherwise idole supreme (see also: deity, muse, most beautiful praying mantis-woman to ever walk the earth). Never — never— before, in all my days, have I bore witness to such exquisitely blended, gorgeously defined black liner. Imagine my dismay when, come the day after the awards, Angelina’s makeup artist had yet to come forward with the tools and technique used to acquire this most enviable look. Luckily, I have the all-abiding patience and focus of a savant, which I put to good use by settling myself in front of the mirror in a series of trial and error. Forty-five minutes, three brushes, and one handful of spilled kohl later, and what do I have to show for it? Only the most gorgeous eyeliner ever, of course, and the goodwill to pass it on.
The Tools: You may already own similar products, but if not, there’s no need to go high end — this look can be achieved with very basic products from the drugstore. You’re going to need a black gel liner for starters. Many people use a liquid liner to produce their cat-eyes, but that liquid pens create too crisp of a line for this smoky, blended look. My favorite gel liner is Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner in Blackest Black, which you can buy at just about any drugstore (or on Drugstore.com for $9.99). You’ll also need kohl (like Rimmel’s Soft Kajal Eye Pencil, $3.59 at drugstore.com), which is the only type of liner that’s safe to use on your inner waterline, and some kind of blending tool — a q-tip will suffice.
- Begin by using the kohl to darken your top and bottom waterlines. The best way to do this is to shut your eye and rub the pencil between your lids, focusing on the outer 3/4, not the inner corner. Clean it up with a q-tip dipped in eye makeup remover to remove any darkness around the eye.
- With the brush dipped in gel liner, begin just above the inner curve of the iris. Create a thick line as close as you can get to your lash line, following your eye’s curve to the outer edge. Thicken and extend the outer corner without creating a wing; just pull the liner out slightly.
- Now that you’ve defined the shape of the eye, press a bit of kohl upward into the outer corners. You can also use the kohl to lightly define the outer half of the lower lid. Pull the kohl from the lower lid upward to the outer corner so as to create a joined v-shape.
- The key to this look is tons and tons of blending; there’s no harshness to the lines. Use a dry q-tip — or, even better, a shadow blender — to gently, without tugging, blur the edges of the line you’ve created on top. Lines should be smoky, not sharp.
- Curl lashes and apply black mascara as needed for a look that’s subtly sexy, never garish.