Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Essentials: A Winged Liner for Every Eye

This one's going to be a whopper, you guys. Cat-eye liner has been a part of my life for about a decade, and there are tons of way to rock it! So let's jump right in...

A cat eye is any style of eye makeup in which eyeliner is extended past the natural outer corner of the eye; its original purpose was to further enhance a lashline, making it appear that your eyelashes are so thick that they create this outer "flick." As you can see in the chart to the left (found here), there's a HUGE array of styles which that definition encompasses. Really, there are endless possibilities in terms of how you shape this look on your unique eye, what colors to use, what types of formulations, etc. My personal history with cat eyes is quite emotional, strange as that may sound. It goes way back to when I was 14 and attended a Catholic school with uniforms. My makeup and bright tights were one of the few ways to express my creativity in an environment where art wasn't encouraged. Those giant purple wings nearly touching the tails of my eyebrows made me feel unique in a sea of green plaid and polo shirts.

I'm going to show you four ways create cat-eyes. We'll start with an eyeliner pencil and create an understated kitten-flick, appropriate for a day at the office. Then, I'll use an angled brush and eyeshadow to show you a slightly more dramatic wing that still has a nice softness to it, and endless color options. Next, I'll use a precision liner brush and gel liner to sharpen up my lines. Finally, I'll use a liquid liner for the most graphic liner possible, but also the most difficult type of liner to work with.

Products Used:

  • Clinique Quickliner for Eyes in Slate — This is my go-to pencil when I want a soft cat-eye. The gray color defines yet is much gentler than black.
  • Smashbox's Shadow in Haze — These are two of my favorite neutral shadows. It's up to you whether you want to just rock a liner by itself or with a shadow. I like to have at least a bit of gray shadow applied in my crease just so the liner isn't out their fending for itself! Give it a little company
  • Angle Brush (sorry, brand has rubbed off the handle!) — This is a good tool to start with for gel or shadow liner options because it has a straight line right there on the brush, so you can dip it in your product and press at an angle at the outer corner of your eye to create a straight line easily.
  • MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack — A fantastic gel eyeliner. Maybelline also does a really nice one.
  • e.l.f. Angled Eyeliner Brush — I prefer to use a fine-tip brush with gel liner over an angled brush, but test out both and see what feels most comfortable. With a fine-tip brush, I feel I have more control over the line's thickness and shape. 
  • Stila Waterproof Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner in Intense Black — My favorite felt-tip liquid liner. A nice fine point & great staying power. Stila has an incredible selection of colors for both their pencil & liquid liners. If you're in a black cat eye rut, I highly recommend trying them out! I'm loving their periwinkle, turquoise & fuscia shades at the moment

I did all the looks at the same time, so the makeup aside from the liner is unchanging: starting out with MAC Prolongwear Foundation & Conealer; a bit of NYX's Powder Blush in Taupe for contour; Anastasia Brow Whiz in Soft Brown; and Smashbox Shadow in Butter all over the lid and The Body Shop's Eyeshadow in Chocolate Linger in the crease.

1.) The Pencil Kitten-Flick: I created this condensed pictorial for the simplest of all these looks. I start out by drawing a line just along my lashline up to around my pupil; you can draw the line all the way into your inner corner, but I find that liner that far in wears off throughout the day. Then, create a line going in the general direction of the end of your eyebrow. In general, but especially if you have hooded eyelids, try to draw this line with your eye open so you'll see how it will look normally. Finally, if you need to sharpen that line, take a Q-tip (I have these nice pointy ones from Ricky's NYC; I'm sure you can find them at your local beauty supplier) and pull out gently to get rid of the messiness on the bottom of the wing. If you're using a longwear pencil, you may need to dip the Q-tip in makeup remover to get a really sharp line.

2.) The Shadow-As-Liner: That's right! You can use any eyeshadow in any color as an eyeliner. You need either an angle brush (which I use here) or a pointed liner brush for application. You can actually just wet your brush with water and then dip in the shadow for this; here, I'm using an Inglot product called Duraline which transforms a powder into a liquid. This will help the liner last longer and have a nicer texture than if I just used water. I'm using that with probably my favorite neutral eyeshadow: Smashbox's Haze. And angle brush is nice because you can make a line very easily with the brush, and then fill in your lashline from there. Bada-bing, there you go!

Here's a quick side-by-side to show you the differences between these two softer options for winged liner. Aside from the color difference, on the left you can see that the Duraline+shadow has created a sharper line because the shadow was wet when applied, while the pencil on the right is a much softer line. If you normally wear super minimal makeup to work (or in general) these could both be nice ways to mix it up and add a bit more drama.

3.) Gel Liner with a Pointed Liner Brush: This is my favorite way to create a dramatic liner because a brush and gel liner give you the most control over your look. Your line can range from crisp and graphic to smudgy and sexy depending on how you apply it. Here, I'm basically tracing the pencil line and adding a bit more thickness to the lashline and pulling the line into the inner corner. Again, if the end of the wing gets messy, use a Q-tip or your fingers to pull the line up and away.

QUICK TIP: Incidentally, this is a great technique if you're really new to this and are nervous to work with a gel or liquid liner for the first time. Work on your shape with a pencil or shadow and once you have it the way you like it, trace with a gel or liquid.

4.) Felt-Tip Liquid Liner: These pens are great for liquid liner novices because they create very little mess. As you can see, I'm using the side of the marker to get at my lashline, and then will use the fine tip for the inner corner and end of the wing. With a longwear formula like this, you need to move fast in correcting mistakes or else the line will dry and get flaky if you try to remove part of it. Most liquid liners with a brush tip will allow you more time to correct, but also be messier in their application. 

Here, you can see that the liquid liner on the left has created a much sharper and glossier line, while the gel is a bit softer and much more matte in finish. In terms of getting your liner even, it's always a struggle! Believe me, there are days when I just have to leave the house knowing it's a bit off and hoping that most people won't be looking at me straight-on at any point. The best way, though, is to just look straight ahead in the mirror and see where you need to adjust. For instance, here, I can see that I'd need to thicken the lashline and wing of the left eye to make this more balanced.

Another thing I'd like to note in this photo is that on the right side, I've used the gel liner and brush to tightline on my upper lashline. Do you see that thin strip of skin between my lashes and eyeball on the left side? That's where I haven't tightlined. It's a very subtle thing, and a step I'm not including photos of because it can look a bit eerie, but I think it makes the liner much more intense. It basially creates the illusion that your lashes start at your eyeball instead of just after a strip of skin next to your eyeball. 

And here's an amped up version of the liquid liner option. I've thickened the line considerably and added false lashes for full effect. Please comment if you're left with any questions; getting these techniques right really is a matter of practice. If you don't feel comfortable leaving the house with your liquid liner yet, try practicing when you get home from work and build up to wearing it out to dinner. Most importantly, have fun with it!

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