When it comes to pulling out enviable
makeup looks, Selena Gomez has always been ahead of the curve. She’s not afraid to take risks, and with the help of her trusted makeup artist, Hung Vanngo, the singer has demonstrated how to pull off every look from disco-ball eyelids to bold lips with ease.
For their latest showstopping look, the duo reminded us that exaggerated ’60s-inspired cat-eye makeup is a vibe we’d very much like to invite into 2020. The bold cat eye, or wing, as it’s referred to more casually, is one of those classic makeup looks that seem easy but actually take a solid amount of skill to execute well.
Coincidentally, we’ve been hot on the trail of the perfect winged liner for some time now. We’ve long been asking our best makeup artist pals for their tips for achieving the perfect cat eye, so scroll on to see the best products and techniques you’ll need to live your best Selena Gomez (by way of Twiggy and Cher) life.
In a recent interview with Vogue, Vanngo shared that his process included creating a cat eye and then going back in to soften it a bit. “We extended the liner and smoked it outwards at the ends,” he said when asked about the Twiggy-esque look he’d created for Gomez’s appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this week. Reading between the lines of this little nugget offers some insight into the type of eyeliner Vanngo used to draw the dramatic look since only certain products, such as gel and powder liners, stay malleable long enough to create any kind of smoking effect. Others, such as liquid eyeliners, dry too quickly to achieve any kind of manipulation after they’re placed on the skin.
This gel eyeliner is a makeup artist favorite since it offers more control as you create your wing. Celebrity makeup artist Mai Quynh recently told us that this one by Bobbi Brown is one of her favorites for opening the eyes with a dramatic cat eye.
It’s an added bonus that gel eyeliner products stay tacky for a few moments so you can easily soften the edges of the wing with your finger or a brush, as Vanngo instructs. This clean one from Rituel de Fille is so sultry and perfect for creating both super-sharp lines and more smudged looks alike.
This eyeliner by clean-beauty trailblazer RMS is also a fan favorite. Reviewers have said time and again that applying it with a damp eyeliner brush helps to create the bold liner that dreams are made of.
This classic makeup artist staple is really a no-brainer for cat eyes. Euphoria makeup artist Doniella Davy agrees and even used this exact formula to create the enviable cat eyes Alexa Demie’s character, Maddy Perez, had all season.
Stila is a go-to for many eyeliner products, including this gel formula. As mentioned above, the trick for this particular cat eye is the soft, smoked-out ends, which are easy to create with this product.
From subtle eyeliner to full-on cat-eye drama, this deep black gel employs Amazonian clay to make sure it stays put all day long.
You’ll also need the right tools to make your winged eyeliner look its best. This angled brush is perfect for dipping into gels and powders to get those angles just right.
If you’re not into potted gel eyeliners, then your best bet will definitely be super-soft eye pencils like this one from Victoria Beckham Beauty. It even has a sponge on the end to smoke out your liner to your heart’s content.
This long-lasting, waterproof liner is a must-have for those with oily eyelids because it locks into place and won’t smear at the first sign of moisture. That said, you’ll need to move quickly if you want to smudge out the ends of your wing à la Gomez.
This iconic eyeliner has been called out by so many makeup artists at this point that it’s quickly ascending to holy-grail status. The texture is soft and luxurious, but once it’s fully dry, it doesn’t budge. For red carpets and TV appearances, that’s of paramount importance.
Although Vanngo divulged that smoked-out edges were the secret sauce here, it’s clear that some serious cleanup has taken place to keep that wing on the straight-and-narrow. Any cat-eye aficionado knows that even the most skilled practitioners need to perform a little triage from time to time. Thankfully, there are tons of expert tips for making it work without ruining the line you’ve created.
Celebrity makeup artist Pati Dubroff, who’s famous for gussying up the faces of Margot Robbie, Kate Bosworth, and Laura Dern, told us that her trick for cleaning up rogue eyeliner is micellar water. This French pharmacy staple is internationally beloved for its makeup-removing and full-face-cleansing abilities. Dubroff even sends her clients off with a travel-size bottle of this stuff so they can easily fix any makeup that’s moved out of place in a flash.
Another beloved micellar water makeup artists just can’t get enough of is this one by Koh Gen Do. It’s super gentle, oil-free, and can easily erase makeup mistakes with precision when used with a light touch.
Here’s another well-loved micellar water that will help neaten up any less-than-sharp wings.
Quynh also told us that her trick for changing the direction of any eye makeup is Q-tips. This might seem too basic to be true, but these little tools really are the perfect size and shape to make small edits that don’t wipe out your whole look.
If you’re not in the mood to bust out Q-tips and micellar water to edit the ends of your cat eye, another solid option is to take a small portion of a makeup wipe to get the job done. These ones by Klorane are nice because unlike other wipes that are creating immense landfill waste as we speak, these ones are biodegradable and won’t end up as earth-contaminating trash.
Vanngo has yet to mention anything in particular about what he added to Gomez’s eyelashes for this look, but these close-ups he shared on Instagram put those fluttering babies on full display. Her top lashes appear lengthy and full, while her bottom ones are expertly darkened and defined.
Quynh couldn’t hide her enthusiasm for falsies when we spoke late last year. She said that pairing them with winged eyeliner is a stellar, eye-opening combination.
Davy is also into the strip-lash look when working with a cat-eye situation. She recommends these dramatic wispies by House of Lashes.
If you want just a little something extra without having to apply a full strip to your eyelid, these individual lashes are for you. You can add a few pieces just at your outer corners to exaggerate your cat eye even more.
If you’re not into falsies, have no fear. There are plenty of mascaras available that will just make everyone think you’re wearing them, like this super-affordable volumizing option from L’Oréal.
Just today, I heard Who What Wear co-founder Hillary Kerr spreading the gospel of this iconic Dior mascara in the office. She’s quite the discerning consumer, especially where mascara is concerned, so take this rec seriously, people!
Speaking of resounding mascara endorsements, Victoria Beckham uses this one by DHC. Enough said.
This mascara was literally formulated to mimic the effect of falsies, so it’s an excellent option for adding some extra oomph to your eyes without the need for adhesive.
I might be a little late to the party, but I finally got my hands on this celebrated mascara this week, and it’s seriously life-changing. If you want lengthened and defined lashes that look like they’ve been doused in volumizing spray in just one swipe, then this is the tube for you.
This mascara won’t do much for you in the volume department, but when it comes to defining your individual lashes and making them stand at attention, it can’t be beat.
Even after all the work you put in to achieve it, I would seriously encourage you to wash off your fabulous ’60s-inspired cat eye before going to bed. However, in the event that you sleep in the look, this killer mascara will still be in place when you wake. Up next, these are going to be the eight biggest makeup trends in 2020.