Call it whatever you want—a cat eye, flick, or “the Cleopatra''—winged eyeliner is about as classic as you can get when it comes to makeup. In fact, some of the most iconic celebrities throughout history have rocked some variation of a winged eyeliner, making it a true Hollywood staple.
This inky flick is quite versatile, too. You can opt for a barely-there accent or create a dramatic, elongated wing that’s visible across the room. No matter what look you’re going for, you can follow these foundational steps for how to do a winged eyeliner.
How to Do a Winged Eyeliner
Before you begin, you’ll want to grab a high-quality liquid eyeliner, such as IT Cosmetics’ Superhero Liner, an innovative pen that makes creating a perfectly precise, sharp wing super easy. Unlike many felt-tip liners, this one features a luxurious brush hair tip that won’t fray. The tool you use can make or break your wing, so choose accordingly!
Step 1: Steady Your Hand
Take control of the situation by anchoring your elbow on a flat surface, such as a vanity, bathroom counter, or desk. This keeps your hand steady and strong and helps prevent mistakes. We also recommend getting as close to a mirror as possible, perhaps even using a magnifying mirror if you have one.
Step 2: Create a Straight Line Across the Upper Lash Line
Gently glide the tip of the liquid eyeliner across the entire base of your lash line making sure to get as close to the lash line as possible. Take your time as you move from the inner corner to the outer corner of your eye. The Superhero Liner allows for a no-skip glide, making this process even easier!
Pro Tip: When you press lightly it will create a thin line. For a thicker line, use more pressure.
Step 3: Draw an Upward Flick
Next, draw a straight flick that extends up and outward from the edge of your outer eye. If you’re unsure where to place the wing, a good trick is to follow the line upward from your lower lash line. Your wing should always move upward instead of straight across. This creates a more flattering, lifted effect.
Pro Tip: When you create this flick, use a very light hand and move slowly. That way, if you do make a mistake, it’ll be easier to remove and re-create. Once you’ve nailed it, you can go back in and trace with a firmer hand.
Step 4: Create a Second, Connecting Line
Starting at the outer corner of your upper lash, draw a second line that connects to the top of your wing. This will create a hollowed “>” shape. Where you choose to start this second line is up to you, and it will impact the drama of your wing. The further outward you begin, the smaller the flick. We recommend starting with a small winged eyeliner, then adjusting for more drama depending on your mood.
Step 5: Fill in Your Wing
As the final step, fill in the hollow space you’ve just created. You can also go back over what you’ve drawn to create a darker, inkier wing. Just make sure you allow time for your eyeliner to dry so it doesn’t transfer onto your lid. We recommend looking downward for about 15 to 30 seconds.
We know that applying liquid eyeliner can feel intimidating, but the worst that can happen is that you make a mistake and have to backtrack. That’s not so bad! To try again, simply dip a cotton swab into Miracle Water 3-in-1 Micellar Cleanser and gently wipe away the wing. Let it dry, then go back in. Practice makes perfect!
More Winged Eyeliner Looks to Try
Now that you know the basic steps for how to do a winged eyeliner, the world is your winged oyster! Consider building off your skill set by trying one of these other winged eyeliner looks.
Soft Wing with Eyeliner Pencil
Follow the same steps as above, only use an eyeliner pencil instead of liquid. This creates a softer effect that pairs beautifully with subtle smokey eyes and even more glamorous eye makeup. Use award-winning* Superhero No-Tug Sharpenable Gel Eyeliner—available in eight high-impact shades—to create the look. You can further soften the wing with an angled eyeliner brush.
Double Winged Eyeliner
A double winged eyeliner look is one way to indulge your desire for a little drama! After creating your first wing, simply go back in and create an additional wing off your lower lash line. It should be the same length or slightly shorter than the original wing.
Reverse Winged Eyeliner
Not for the faint of heart, the reverse winged eyeliner takes the same principles of a traditional cat eye and flip-flops it. Instead of creating the wing off your upper lash line, it’s created off your lower lash line. Use a pencil eyeliner to create the line underneath your lower lashes, then smudge it out with an angled eyeliner makeup brush. You can create the wing with your pencil eyeliner, as well. For a sharper line, use a liquid eyeliner.
This eyeliner look is also an inverse of the traditional cat eye. Here, a small wing actually points downward instead of upward. This creates the illusion of a more rounded, doll-like eye. Follow the same steps in our winged eyeliner guide above, only create a downward wing that extends from the upper lash line.
Now that you know how to do a winged eyeliner, check out these additional ways you can switch up your eyeliner game. While you’re at it, read through our list of viral beauty trends.*Allure 2020 Best of Beauty Awards