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How to do the kitten eyeliner look, according to makeup artists

It's perfect for everyday wear.
Woman wearing a lime green jacket with hanging earrings and a kitten eyeliner wing
Hanna Lassen / Contributor / Getty Images

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The cat eye is a classic eyeliner technique that features a bold top and bottom winged eyeliner that looks great for nights out or special occasions when you really want your eyes to pop. But for those of us who are not particularly makeup savvy, the style can be a hard one to nail.

Enter, the kitten eye. The easier-to-master cousin of the traditional cat eye is currently having a moment and has been popping up across our social media feeds and on the lids of celebrities. Though, make no mistake, the kitten eye is nothing new. Andrew Sotomayor, an Emmy-winning makeup artist and founder of Oracle Jayne Station, said that it's been one of his favorite looks since the early 2000s.

But its current popularity is likely thanks to the fact that we all simplified (or skipped altogether) our makeup routines during quarantine, and now want an easier way to take our look up a notch. "We still want a little bit of a lift, we still want to recreate that lifted outer corner that we see so many supermodels doing," said celebrity makeup artist Cara Lovello of the winged look. "But it's a little bit more wearable and more everyday."

It's more subtle than a cat eye, with a lighter line and a smaller flick at the end, so both experts say it's much easier to do. And because the cat eye is so bold, people often feel the need to do a full makeup routine, adding things like lipstick and eye shadow, to make the look feel truly complete. However, Sotomayor and Lovello agree that this style will look great on its own, or with just a little mascara.

"If a cat eye is your dressed-up look, a kitten eye is your casual look," Sotomayor said. Also, unlike its more pronounced counterpart, it's great for those with hooded lids because makes your eyes look larger but won't get in the way of your natural fold, he added.

Below, we had the two makeup artists walk us through the steps that you can follow to achieve the look, as well as some of their favorite products to use.

How to do a kitten eye

To start, take the eye liner (liquid works best) and point the tip toward your ear, Sotomayor instructed. Then press it down just outside the corner of your eye and drag along your top lid toward the center. Once you reach the middle, pick up the tool and do the same thing, this time dragging from the inside of your eye, near the tear duct, and connecting in the center. Since you're working in sections, there's less room for error.

If you're not totally confident in your eyeliner skills, you can use eyeshadow instead to mimic the effect, Lovello said. Here's how she does it: Dip an angled brush in eyeshadow and then place it at the corner of your eye, aligning it with the angle of your lower lash line. Then press down to "stamp" on your wing. If it looks a little messy or you want to tighten it up, you can take a small brush with concealer and drag it along the bottom of the wing to straighten and even out the line. Then, go back with the angled brush, flip it, and work your way across your top lid.

Surratt Auto-Graphique Liner

Sotomayer said this liner is his "favorite product for doing a kitten eye." It features a precise applicator brush that was inspired by the design of a Japanese calligraphy pen. It's refillable, too, so you can just grab a new cartridge for less than $20 when you run out.

Reina Rebelde Liquid Eyeliner

For a more affordable pick, Sotomayer likes this option from Reina Rebelde. The long-lasting water-resistant liner won't run or fade. And as an added bonus, he said it's made by a female-owned small business.

NYX Professional Makeup Epic Ink Liner

This eyeliner is an Amazon customer favorite with more than 31,000 five-star reviews. "It basically fits all of the requirements I would want in my perfect eyeliner," wrote one reviewer. "It's affordable, extremely black, opaque, easy to use, waterproof, stays on for a long time, and the tip is quite thin so you can get wings as sharp as a sword."

ZOEVA 322 Brow Line Brush

If you're going the eyeshadow route, Lovello likes to use this brush. It can be used with both cream and powder products and features a sharp, angled tip that will help you create the perfect line every time.

Mented Everynight Eyeshadow Palette

Sotomayer said this palette from Mented is "amazing." It has a deep black color that is perfect for the look, although you could also get creative and experiment with some of the other shades.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Eye Shadow Singles

Lovello said that she often uses the single shadows from Anastasia. And for this look, she recommends using a black or dark brown shade. "Dark brown will be a little bit more natural, so I would say start there," she said.

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