The Most Flattering Way to Wear Eyeliner According to Your Eye Shape

Mel Ho
by Mel Ho

It’s one thing to be able to perfect a cat-eye (we've spent countless hours in front of the bathroom mirror in that pursuit), but being a true eyeliner master is all about knowing how to use the right product for your eye shape. While we love the fact the cat-eye is a flattering fail-safe, relying on it too heavily means potentially missing out on what could be the best technique for your eyes. (And who doesn’t want to bring out the very best version of themselves?)

To that end, we presented makeup artist Jasmin Lo with a challenge—to customise complementary eyeliner looks catering to four real women from the Byrdie Australia office. From big peepers to small, to hooded, to almond-shaped, we road-tested each one IRL to prove (once and for all) that eyeliner shouldn't be a one size fits all deal. Lo used our holy grail eyeliner (Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Matte Gel Eye Crayon) to experiment, and the results (as you'll see below) are gorgeous. Best of all, each technique is simple enough to try at home, so you too can get amongst. Ready to step away from the traditional cat-eye? Let's do this.

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Big Eyes 


Sevak Babakhani

Fashion credits: Acler Top and Elke Tremble Tassle Earrings ($170)

According to Lo, big eyes have the benefit of size which enables you to play with darker colours and defined lines without affecting the balance of your features. To recreate Katie's dramatic, smouldering look above... 

1. Define both top and bottom lashlines using a liner in the colour of your choice. We mixed two shades of brown for a custom hue that made Katie's brown eyes pop. (Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Matte Gel Crayon, $36, in Earthquake and Brownie.)

2. Use a cotton tip to gently blur both lines, adding more product if necessary to create a smoky finish.

3. Line the top and bottom waterlines (or inner rims) with a black gel liner like Highliner Matte Gel Crayon, $36, in Blacquer.

4. To finish, add two to three layers of mascara. (We used Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara, $39.) Wiggle the brush in as close to the lashline as possible to help lashes appear more dense.

Small Eyes


Sevak Babakhani

Fashion credits: Witchery Dress

Fun fact: A cat-eye can be too top heavy for a smaller set of eyes. Lo suggests tweaking the shape by adding liner below the bottom lashline for balance. This helps smaller eyes, like Lisa's, appear larger than they are. 

1. Draw a line along the top lashline using a deep brown (black can make small eyes look smaller), like Highliner Matte Gel Crayon ($36) in Earthquake. 

2. Draw a second line underneath your lower lashline, starting at the outer corner of your eye and ending about a third of the way along.

3. Use your ring finger to smudge the top and bottom lines for a smoky effect.

4. Line the inner rims of your eyes with a flesh-toned pencil—this will make them look larger. We like Highliner Matte Gel Crayon ($36) in Pink of Me.

5. Finish off with a few swipes on a plumping mascara like Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($39).

Hooded Eyes


Sevak Babakhani

Fashion credits: Acler Edmon Dress ($395)

Hooded eyes like Rena's can appear smaller than they are due to a layer of skin that hides the lid crease. Lo explains: "If your go-to is black liner, the outline can get lost, especially if you draw it on too thin." To make the most of this shape, draw your flick straight out (not winged), and try a colour to help eyes stand out. 

1. Dot in a guide of where you want your cat-eye flick to end. Aim for straight out to the side, over flicked up towards the brow, for more visibility.

2. Etch a line along your lashline, starting at the inner corner of your eye and ending at the guide point. (Try Highliner Matte Gel Eye Crayon, $36, in Grape Vine.) If using a colour other than black, start thin and build up in layers to intensify the opacity. 

3. If needed, use a cotton tip and oil-free remover to clean up your line so it appears sharp and crisp.

4. Apply one to two coats of Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($39) to top lashes only. (Skipping the lower lashline helps to open up the eyes visually.)

Almond Eyes


Sevak Babakhani

Fashion credits: Eugenie Top and Susan Driver Sunset Earrings ($499)

If you've got almond-shaped eyes, thank your mumma, because they're the most versatile to play with. For a cool upgrade on the classic cat-eye, add a second wing underneath your bottom lashline. As you can see on Amanda above, the effect is more subtle than it sounds. 

1. Line your top lashline with black liner like Highliner Matte Gel Crayon ($36) in Blacquer, flicking the end up towards the outer corner of your brow.

2. Line your bottom lashline as above, but this time angle the flick downwards.

3. If the top and bottom wing touch at the ends, use a cotton tip dipped in oil-free remover to separate them, redrawing either line if necessary.

4. Finish off with a heap of Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara ($39) on both top and bottom lashes.

Talent: Katie Fowler, Lisa Patulny, Rena Phuah and Amanda Stavropoulos; Photographer: Sevak Babakhani; Makeup: Jasmin Lo; Hair: Anthony Nader for Oribe; Styling: Amanda Stavropoulos; Creative Direction: Lisa Patulny.

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