Beauty Breakdown: The Perfect Cat Eye Every Time

I’ve suffered from depression for much of my life. It’s generally well-controlled, thanks to a carefully calibrated hybrid of therapy (which I’ve admittedly been slacking on) and psychiatric drugs, but when I’m feeling down about something or other, I find that my usually-rational brain takes it upon itself to think terrible, terrible thoughts. Honestly, I mentally berate myself to an extent that I wouldn’t subject my worst enemy to. I have plenty of pretty unhealthy habits, but this is probably the worst one because it has zero benefits — nothing can ever come from it but more negativity. Lately I’ve been making a conscious effort to stop and re-channel my energy into something positive, so today while I was looking into the mirror and putting on my makeup, I decided to think something nice about myself instead of my usual, God, you could really use a nose job. And I thought, I am really, really good at cat eye liner. I do it every day, and it only takes me a few minutes, and I only fuck it up, like, once a week.

Of course, feeling good about my ability to execute flawless cat eyes only goes so far. How do I intend on maintaining the positive energy? By sharing it with you, of course. Behold, my top tips and products for the perfect cat eye, every time…

There are two lining steps to my Scientific Process, and I will explain why. Liquid liner is great, but it is wet, and you can only get so close to your lashline before it starts to bleed into your eye. As a contacts-wearer, I cannot have this happening, so I start with Lancome Liner Design in Black Fishnets using a bent liner brush, like Sephora Collection Pro Bent Liner Brush #23. The brush is key: the angle, which is apparently called an “elbow-shaped ferrule,” makes applying gel liner so easy. I like to get my shape right first with the gel liner because it’s a) easier to control and fix and b) way less messy than liquid, then I just go over it with liquid to make it as dark and inky as possible.

All you really have to do with the bent brush to get the liner on right is rest the side of your hand against your cheek and pull it from inner to outer corner, just following the natural contour of your eye. Get it really close to your lashline so that there are no gaps of skin; it should be filled in seamlessly so it’s flush with your lashes. I like to line the eye simply first, then add the wing after, so don’t feel like you have to do it all in one swoop. If you’re having trouble with the wing, think of it as a little triangle angled up and out toward the end of your eyebrow. I start with the bottom line, then thicken the area above it and fill it in and finish it off with a little flick. And I always, always clean it up and make the line sharper with a q-tip, it just doesn’t happen otherwise. I’m good, but I’m not that good.

Once you have the shape right, you can go ahead and top it off with liquid liner. I have the shakiest hands Of All Time as well as oily eyelids (????? I know) that love to smudge whatever I’ve put on within minutes. Maybelline Line Stiletto in Blackest Black, from any old drugstore, is the only liquid liner (or any liner, for that matter) I’ve used that holds up to both of these obstacles. Something about the felt-tip makes it incredibly easy to control and apply, especially for super-thin lines and flicks, and once it dries, it does not go anywhere. Trust me: I am a connoisseur of all beauty products expensive and exclusive, and this $6 liquid liner is the only one I’ll use. I would trust it with my life, okay? I will wear it on my wedding day. If anyone will ever marry me, that is; I am super fucking weird.

So you’re probably a cat eye master now, right? If you aren’t, I want to hear about it. Practice makes perfect, of course, and I have only developed these critical skills after years and years of trial and error and having eyeliner all over my face. But I have faith in you.

Is there a celebrity beauty look you want to steal? A new product you want to learn how to use? Don’t know which foundation, moisturizer, volumizing spray, or novelty eye glitter to invest in? Want to see how many Momofuku birthday cake truffles I can fit in my mouth at once? If you’ve got a beauty question, concern, or demand, any at all, hit me up on my videophone. I mean, uh, my email. Or Twitter! [email protected] or @frigidbardot — make it ring, or rain, or something like that, babes!