How to Do Winged Eyeliner for Beginners: A Cheat Sheet
6 minutes read
In 2021, Clarins released a Skindex report which revealed that one in five women wanted to learn how to do winged eyeliner, and 31% of beauty lovers chose winged liner as the make-up trend they loved most. But what is it about the feline flick that makes it so sought-after, yet so hard to get right? There are many factors: there’s symmetry, precision and the apparent need for a steady hand.
The good news is that once you’re in the know about the best techniques and armed with the right products, you can crack the ever-elusive winged eyeliner look.
Easy winged eyeliner techniques
We know that practice makes perfect — this applies to eyeliner application too. But in addition to consistent practice, there are some tricks that could make the job easier.
Slow and steady is the way to go
“Some people don’t wear eyeliner because they’re worried that they can’t do it all at once,” make-up artist Hannah Martin said during a masterclass with Clarins. She insisted that “you don’t have to do one perfect line in one perfect stroke. Just do lots and lots of little strokes that you blend together as you work to create your line.”
Use your bottom lash line as your guide
Draw your wing starting from the edge of the lower lash line by imagining it extending up towards your brow. Alternatively, you could also use the tip of your eyebrow as a guide — just direct your wings to the point where your eyebrow ends.
Eyeliner pencils and powders are ideal for beginners
If you’re new to the game, choose formulas that are easier to use and quicker to correct. An angled brush dipped into a dark powder eyeshadow can create a beautiful soft wing. Similarly, a pencil eyeliner gives you more control than a liquid one (remember to sharpen it first), and can be slightly smudged for a more effortless, lived-in winged liner look.
But if a liquid liner is what you want to use, here’s how to get it right:
Using liquid eyeliner
- Step one: Take a minute to plan the placement of your wings before drawing them on. You could do this with an eyeshadow or pencil liner. Look straight into the mirror and trace the wings on both eyes, making sure they’re as symmetrical as possible. Once you’re happy with the placement, it’s time to make them permanent.
- Step two: Choose a liquid liner with a smudge-proof formula like the Graphik Ink Eyeliner. It has a felt tip applicator which allows you to be extra precise in your application. Use the tip of the pen to trace a line from the inner corners of your eyelids to the outer corners.
- Step three: Draw the wings with your liquid liner over the powder or pencil you used to trace the shape.
- Step four: Connect the wing to the rest of the liner you painted along your lashes and colour in the gap.
How to do winged eyeliner on hooded eyes
If you have hooded eyes, you may notice that eyeliner seems to disappear when you open your eyes and that your wings are harder to get right. But these tips will help:
- Look straight into the mirror when you’re applying eyeliner (try not to raise your chin) and relax your eyes (no squinting).
- For a natural look, draw a thin, delicate line that takes up as little lid space as possible, from the inner to the outer corners of your eyes. Then, extend to a pencil-thin wing.
- Instead of angling your flick towards your brow in a dramatic upward wing, opt for a 60s-inspired straighter line. This will avoid having to draw over the crease of your eye.
- If you do want a more lifted cat-eye effect, creating bat-wings could be the answer. Draw your flicks over the fold of your eyes and then tilt your chin up to gently colour in the area that is hidden under the fold of your eye socket in a C-shape.
Winged liner for mature eyes
To achieve a flattering and natural-looking winged eyeliner on mature eyes, use a soft, creamy eyeliner pencil in a dark brown or black shade. Keep the line thin and close to the lash line, extend it slightly beyond the outer corner of the eye, and lift it upwards. Avoid pulling or tugging on the skin around the eyes, and consider using a gel or liquid eyeliner if you have experience. Finish with mascara.
Cat eye vs winged eyeliner
Cat eye and winged eyeliner are both techniques used to create a lifted and elongated shape to the eyes, but they do differ in their execution.
Winged eyeliner is typically a thin, straight line of eyeliner drawn along the upper lash line with a subtle flick or wing at the outer corner of the eye. The wing is usually pointed upwards towards the temple, and the overall effect is more subtle and natural-looking.
Cat eye, on the other hand, is a more dramatic and bold version of winged eyeliner, featuring a thick and elongated wing that curves upwards towards the end of the eyebrow. The line is often thicker and bolder than winged eyeliner, and the overall effect is more dramatic and intense.
Is there a way to cheat winged eyeliner?
While there isn’t a single easy method to help you ace a perfect wing, there are hacks that could make the process easier. Remember…
It’s not just about the wings
While the flicks may seem like the most difficult part to master, the rest of your eyeliner application matters too. You want to get your liner as close to the roots of your lashes as possible to really anchor the wings and make your lashes appear fuller. An eyeliner like the 3-Dot Liner makes it easy to fill the space between each lash. “Apply this really close to your lash line and it creates a beautiful straight line and intensifies your lashes,” advises beauty blogger Simply Sona.
Use a stencil
If you find that your hands are never steady enough to create a crisp line, using some form of stencil could help. Stick on some make-up tape or even regular tape (just weaken the adhesive first on the back of your hand) from the corners of your lower lash line, angled up towards the ends of your brows.
Use the edge of the tape as a guide to paint your wings on. Wait till the eyeliner has dried completely before gently peeling off the tape. You will be left with a crisp, sharp wing. You can also use a credit card or a business card as a stencil.
Clean up well
To create wings that are super sharp, dip a cotton bud in some makeup remover and use it to clean up the edge of the wing — swiping it from the outer corner of the eye to the temple. Use a flat brush to apply a hint of concealer along the edge of the flick, to fix any makeup that may have come off and also make the wings crisper.
Once you’ve mastered the art of winged eyeliner, you may want to conquer the smokey eye next. Read our full story on how to do a smokey eye the easy way.