Of all TikTok's biggest makeup trends, nothing has created quite as much hype as the reverse cat eye. Not even lipstick blush, homemade BB cream or the ten-second smoky eye hack come close to the number of views that the app's makeup lovers are racking up with their take on the winged liner look (currently 39.9 million and counting). The reverse cat eye isn't exactly new, though, having been spotted on Kim Kardashian at at red carpet event in 2019. But with the world opening up again, it makes sense that we're willing to try more bold and dramatic beauty styles.
What is the reverse cat eye makeup trend?
Whether you're a beauty enthusiast or not, chances are you've come across at least one reverse cat eye makeup tutorial while scrolling through TikTok. Unlike the traditional winged liner look (which sits on the upper eyelid with a flick at the outer corner) the reverse cat eye starts underneath the lower lash line. The look keeps the wing element, which lifts and shapes, but it connects from underneath the eye, instead.
TikTokers are ditching standard liquid eyeliner for a kohl or gel eyeliner pencil. The steps appear to be pretty simple: scribble a little liner underneath the lower lash line and use an angled brush to wing it out at the corner, connecting the wing to the upper eyelid. Next, the look requires you to blend the liner under the lash line using a fluffy brush, which gives it a smoky feel. Liquid liner in the inner corner adds more definition and mascara on the top and bottom lashes is the last touch. Judging by the many TikTok videos, the finished result is striking and dramatic — more so than traditional winged liner. In other words, it's not a beauty look for the fainthearted.
How do you do the reverse cat eye makeup trend?
I took inspiration from @alicekingmakeup and @shoaanaaa on TikTok and began with an eyeliner pencil: Makeup By Mario's Master Pigment Pro Pencil in Super Black, £19. Starting from the centre of my eye, I etched a line that extended towards my outer corner and used the flat brush on the end to blend the line into a smoky wing. It wasn't the best liner for the job, though, as it started to ball up and roll off my skin (perhaps I took too long) so I changed tack and reached for my trusty Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in Blacquer, £15, which is one of the creamiest liners out there. It stays put for hours on end, too. I opted for a more dense angled brush (the Anastasia Beverly Hills Dual Ended Firm Angled Brush, £18) to shape the wing, which I joined to my upper eyelid. You can apply more pencil to thicken up and define the wing further.
The smoky vibe is what makes this look vixen-like, so I blended the eyeliner underneath my lower lash line with a fluffy brush. A point of liquid eyeliner in the corner of the eye and a slick of pencil in the waterline pulls everything together. I'm not particularly skilled when it comes to false lashes, so skipped them in favour of a swipe of Jones Road's The Mascara, £24, which I loaded up on my top and bottom lashes.
Does the reverse cat eye makeup trend work IRL?
I'll be honest: it isn't the easiest trend to achieve — or wear. Getting my other eye to match was tricky to say the least. I used five cotton buds cleaning up mistakes and I still couldn't make it symmetrical. I think I went overboard, too. As a self-proclaimed emo kid, I like to think I'm a dab hand at eyeliner, but I applied way too much, and it was too strong a look even for me.
Next time, I'll take a leaf out of @makeupbyasta's book. The TikTok makeup artist has nailed it in a more subtle way that seems better for every day. Her trick to acing it is to make sure your eyeliner pencil is super sharp at all times, otherwise you'll end up with very thick lines that are difficult to blend.
What is the best eyeliner pencil?
The right products are key to getting the reverse cat eye right. Try Rimmel London's Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal Eyeliner Pencil, £4.99, or Too Faced Killer Liner 36 Hour Waterproof Eyeliner, £16, which boast much longer wear than others. I also love Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil, £17, which is available in a handful of playful shades.
I hate to break it to you, but this look's lifespan isn't great. No matter how expensive or "waterproof" a liner claims to be, it will end up melting and slipping slightly over time thanks to the warmth of your skin. If you're worried about smudging, pack on a little translucent powder like the Huda Beauty Baby Bake, £17, and go over it with more eyeliner for longevity. And if you're heading out, take the liner with you for waterline touch ups, as it tends to disappear quite quickly here.
On the whole, it's perhaps a trend to try for dinner or drinks rather than a big night out or a summer festival given how long it lasts. But it is alluring — and it looks really great on Instagram.
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