Easy Winged Eyeliner: Five Steps for Beginners

Easy Winged Eyeliner: Five Steps for Beginners

If you were to survey people about what they consider to be the most intimidating makeup product in their bags, liquid eyeliner would certainly be at the top of the list! Specifically, winged eyeliner is one of the trickiest makeup skills to master.

Actual scientific studies have shown that eyeliner does indeed make eyes appear larger than they actually are. The use of eye makeup, in general, employs the same technique as The Delboeuf illusion, a geometric illusion of assimilation. Yay science!

Makeup beginners, don’t despair! If you want to branch out and try a cute cat eye, we are here to help. We have compiled some top tips and tricks for perfecting that winged eye. And yes, you CAN do it. Just keep makeup remover and cotton swabs on standby in case you make a mistake while attempting to get the ideal cat eye.

#1: Selecting an Eyeliner

Many of us started out with an inexpensive eyeliner pencil. We waded in the shallow end of the makeup pool, smudging that .99 cent eye pencil to our heart’s content. Now that we are grown-ups, it’s time to graduate to a more refined eyeliner choice. When it comes to winged eyeliner, you’ve gotta ditch the pencil.

Essentially, for a winged eye you are looking at three options: a true liquid eyeliner, a felt tip eyeliner, or maybe an eyeliner cream. Each behaves a little differently. 

Sugarlash PRO Tip: Eyeliner cream is not good for lash extensions as the oil content is too high.

Liquid Eyeliner With a Brush

This liner is great for high-drama looks because it is made with vibrant, intense, and long-lasting color in mind. It does, however, necessitate a gentle touch during application. Many consider this a “true” liquid liner, as it usually comes in a pot of liquid with a brush. 

This type of eyeliner is definitely the trickiest to master. It is very quick-drying, which means it is not ideal for smoky or smudged looks. That also means that it is more difficult to cover up a mistake. However, if you can master this type of eyeliner, it is fantastic for fine lines and precise details. 

Liquid Eyeliner in Felt Pen Form

Quickly gaining popularity in the last few years, liquid liner with a felt tip applicator is easier to use than the brush and will give almost identical results. Most people find the stiff felt tip easier to maneuver than the more unwieldy brush tip.

The great thing about the felt tip liner is that it will still have the ability to give a precise and detailed look. This makes it perfect for creating the ever-popular cat eye.  

Sugarlash PRO tip: Want the cat eye without the use of liquid liner? Talk to your lash artist about a liner effect lash style using an L or M-curl. Lash artists who have taken SLP’s LashStyle course, an advanced styling course, know how to create a variety of looks using lash extensions. 

If you struggle with liquid liner, lash extensions are definitely an option to consider if you’re looking to make your makeup routine a little easier! Who doesn’t want that? 

Cream Eyeliner

Cream eyeliners are usually best for creating a smokey eye look. They are ideal for smudging, and most brands behave similarly to other cream-based makeup like eyeshadow.

Depending on the brand, though, some long-wear cream liners might work for a winged eye. However, styling this type of liner is more difficult and it’s more likely to smudge in a way that you don’t want it to. For the best-winged eyeliner, it’s best to stick to liquid. Either the felt tip or brush tip will do.

#2: Prep the Eye for Battle

Okay, maybe “battle” is a little dramatic, but so is winged eyeliner! When approaching the cat eye, you want to start by prepping the eye area.

Typically, with dramatic eyeliner such as this, you will not want to be too aggressive with the eyeshadow. However, you definitely will want to use a primer or concealer. Honestly, either will do the job. 

Apply the concealer or primer on the eyelids to create a smooth, even surface for the eye makeup. What does primer do? Essentially, it evens skin tone and helps makeup adhere to the skin. Most people do like to use a little eyeshadow to complement winged eyeliner, but if you want the eyeliner to stand out, opt for a lighter, more subtle shade. Tightlining the waterline on the top helps to meet the liquid liner and the base of the eye so there are no gaps.

Sugarlash PRO tip: Lash extensions will eliminate the need to eyeliner, however, if you find you’re in between fills and needing a little help to fill the gaps, a felt tip liner is the best way to go. Ensure you’re cleansing your extensions thoroughly at night and before your fill appointment.

Don’t Neglect Your Lashes

Don’t forget about your eyelashes! If you don’t have lash extensions or a lash lift (definitely services to consider if you’re wanting an easier morning routine)), you may want to curl your eyelashes. If you are someone who curls their lashes on a regular basis, this is definitely a step to do prior to applying the eyeliner. The last thing you want to do is smudge the gorgeous lines you are working hard to achieve. 

Sugarlash PRO tip: Lash extensions and lash lifts eliminate the need for a curler! No more smudging or accidentally pinching your eyelid! 

#3: Make That First Line Fearlessly

At a 45-degree angle, draw a short, thin line from the outside corner of your eye up to the end of your brow. This is a general guideline. A 45-degree angle works for most eye shapes, but depending on your eye shape, you may need to make slight adjustments. We will get into that at the end. 

If you're having problems drawing a smooth line freehand, you could try connecting a succession of small dots, or use a piece of tape, stencil, or credit card as a guide. Some companies sell templates for this purpose, but regular old transparent tape or even painter’s tape works great!

Starting off with a brown shadow on an angle brush is an easy way to map out your wing as well as make any adjustments necessary—nothing is worse than having a perfect wing on one side only to have the other look like it was drawn on by a toddler.

Sugarlash PRO tip: Using SLP’s medical grade paper tape to help shape your wings is a creative use for lash tech supplies to achieve your desired makeup look. It’s safe to use near the eye area and is painless to remove.

#4: Line Above the Lash Lines

Now you will want to line all along the lash line. This is the easy part, and if you are a regular eyeliner wearer this should be a piece of cake! 

Using your liquid liner (felt tip or brush), follow the natural curve of your upper lash line and draw a thin line all the way across. Sweep the liner from the inner corner to the outer corner of the eye. If you want, do the same for the lower lash line. This is a completely personal preference.

Recent makeup trends allude to a “half winged liner” where liner is tapered to a wing, but rather than sweeping it across the full lash line, it tapesr to the halfway point. This gives a more natural sultry look to the eye. Depending on your unique eye shape, a half wing might be a useful technique to add to your skills.

#5: Add Final Touches

The look should be coming together at this point. You can make some choices now about how thick or thin you want the eyeliner to be. If you have lined your lower lash line, then now is the time to connect that first 45-degree line to the lower lash line.

Take a look and see if you want to thicken up the line. If so, add liner carefully and slowly, taking care not to use a heavy hand as this can undo some of the work you’ve already done. 

A good final step, once you have decided that you’re satisfied with your winged eye creation, is to use a setting spray. Lightly close your eyes and spray it about six inches from the face, in an X pattern. This will ensure that your liner will stay all day. 

Some Specific Tips for Certain Eye Shapes

You might be thinking, okay, I get the concept, but I’ve tried this and it hasn’t worked in the past. Well, here are some tips for the most common eye shapes.

Almond Eyes

Those with almond-shaped eyes will probably have the easiest time creating a winged eyeliner look. Most methods will work well with this eye shape. When creating your line, follow the natural eye shape and build out towards the outside of the eye.

Hooded Eyes

With a hooded eye, the crease of the eyelid is not visible when the eye is open. This sometimes makes eye makeup a challenge. 

To make sure that the liner isn’t concealed by your lid, you should try to make the outer wing of the liner where the lid’s hood starts. Then work inward as opposed to outward, starting with thin strokes and widening as you see fit. 

Small Eyes

If you have small eyes, using a very tight and precise line can make your eyes look even smaller. Your best bet is to create a smokey cat eye look by smudging some eyeliner along the lash line with an eyeliner brush. This may mean that you are doing double duty and using two types of eyeliner. 

For something a little different, you could consider trying a colored eyeliner, or a glittery liner that will reflect light around the eye area. One thing you definitely want to avoid with small eyes is drawing eyeliner around the entire eye, as this can really close off the eyes. 

Downturned Eyes

For downturned eyes, you want to take a slightly different approach. When creating that first important line, start at the middle of the eye rather than at the outer edge. You still want to take a 45-degree angle, but it should start from the middle of the eye and then you can fill in the rest. 

For downturned eyes, it’s a good idea to keep the wing short. It’s also best not to line the bottom lash line. 

Upturned Eyes

Lucky you! This is the ideal eye shape for a cat eye. All you have to do for the perfect wing is to follow the natural curve of the bottom lash line. Your eyes trend upwards anyway, so that natural upturn will lead you exactly in the right direction. 

With this type of eye, the thick or thin liner will work, you just need to try out a few different looks and decide what you like best.

Winged Eyeliner Is Easy

Winged eyeliner is both classic and modern and is a look that doesn’t have to be intimidating. Armed with this information about how to make that cat eye work for you, there will be nothing stopping you from creating the eyeliner look that you want. Work with your natural eye type, and be prepared to make a mistake or two. Keep at it until you find the perfect winged eyeliner for you!

At the end of the day, makeup is all about being creative and no one can tell you what looks best! Do what makes you happy!



Measurement of eye size illusion caused by eyeliner, mascara, and eye shadow | Journal of Cosmetic Science

How to Do Winged Eyeliner for Every Eye Shape — Cat Eyeliner Tutorial | Good Housekeeping

How to Do a Cat Eye for 9 Different Eye Shapes: Makeup Tutorial - 2021 | Masterclass 

Every Main Type of Eyeliner, From Cream to Gel | Byrdie

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