The Mysterious Allure of Cat Eyes on Women


The “cat eye” or “fox eye” makeup look has become an extremely popular trend in recent years, especially driven by social media and makeup influencers on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. The defining characteristic of the cat eye look is elongated, winged eyeliner that extends past the outer corners of the eyes. This creates the illusion that the eyes are more lifted, elongated, and angled than they actually are – similar to the almond-shaped eyes of a cat or fox.

History of the Cat Eye Look

The cat eye look has its origins in the 1950s and 1960s with the emergence of winged eyeliner. Movie stars and fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn popularized the dramatic, feline-flick look during this era. Thick black eyeliner drawn in an exaggerated wing shape along the upper lash line became a staple in many women’s makeup routines. This iconic style helped define the glamorous yet alluring aesthetic of 1950s Hollywood and high fashion.

According to Vogue, winged eyeliner first emerged as a trend in the 1920s, but it was in the 1950s that it became mainstream and ubiquitous in both street style and on movie stars of the era (Source). The dramatic flair of the cat eye captured the essence of 1950s style and beauty. Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and other celebrities made bold, winged liner their signature. As these stars graced magazine covers and movie screens, the cat eye was cemented as a classic, glamorous makeup look.

How to Create the Cat Eye

The cat eye look is all about drawing a winged eyeliner shape that extends past the outer corner of your eyes. Here are some tips for achieving the perfect cat eye flick:

Eyeliner Techniques

Start by drawing a line across your upper lashline. As you reach the outer corner, let the line extend upward and outward, flicking the tip up slightly. You can make the flick as dramatic or subtle as you like. Keep your eyes open while applying eyeliner and use small strokes for better control.


Liquid or gel eyeliners are best for creating a smooth, crisp cat eye. Use an angled eyeliner brush for liquid formulas. For gels, opt for a thin angled brush or stiff pointed eyeliner brush. Pencil eyeliners can also work but may not be as precise.


Use tape placed at an angle from the outer corner of your eye as a guide for the liner shape. This helps you draw even wings. Apply eyeshadow primer to eyelids first to prevent smudging. Go slowly and do small sections at a time. Draw the wing outline first, then fill it in. Finish by running the brush along the lashline to smooth and define the line.

Celebrities Known for Cat Eyes

The cat eye look has been popularized by many celebrities over the years. Some of the most iconic cat eyes in history belong to Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy, and Amy Winehouse.

Audrey Hepburn was known for her signature winged eyeliner in the 1950s and 60s. She often wore a bold, black liquid liner swept up into a dramatic cat eye shape. According to Pinterest, Hepburn’s cat eyes became a classic, elegant style that many women still try to emulate today.

British model Twiggy also made the cat eye look famous in the 1960s with her own interpretation featuring lower lash lines extended out and up towards the end of the brows. Twiggy’s mod style cat eye became an iconic part of her look during the height of her modeling career, as noted by Allure.

In more modern times, singer Amy Winehouse was known for her bold, winged cat eyes. Winehouse often wore dramatic liquid or pencil liner flicked up into an exaggerated, retro cat eye shape. Her signature eyeliner style helped showcase her unique look and became a beloved part of her aesthetic.

Psychology Behind the Appeal

The cat eye look taps into powerful psychological associations people have with cats and the feminine mystique. As one psychology study noted, cat-shaped eyes in humans are perceived as more attractive because they are a rare trait, creating a sense of exoticism (source). The elegantly winged eyeliner creates an illusion of elongated, almond-shaped eyes that are reminiscent of a cat’s mysterious gaze.

There is also an association between cat eyes and femininity. Cat eye makeup has historically been seen as a way for women to accentuate their eyes and highlight their natural beauty. The subtle flick of the liner conveys a sense of mystique and allure. As this beauty forum discussion noted, the cat eye is seen as an exotic, elegant look that brings out a woman’s eyes in an aesthetically pleasing way (source). The bold yet refined cat eye communicates feminine confidence and grace.

Cultural Differences

The cat eye look has long been popular in Asian beauty standards, especially in countries like Japan, China, and Korea. Some researchers speculate this may stem from the influence of anime and manga, where characters, especially women, are often depicted with large, feline-looking eyes ( This aesthetic has crossed over into mainstream Asian beauty culture, with techniques like aegyo-sal, which emphasizes under-eye bags, and circle lenses, oversized color contact lenses, used to create a doll-eyed look.

In Chinese culture, cat eyes are seen as a sign of attractiveness and intrigue in women. The term “cat eyes” in Mandarin is “mao yan”, which carries an implication of feminine mystique and charm. Historically, Chinese painters depicted beauties and goddesses with elongated, upward-tilted eyes resembling those of cats ( This ideal persists today, with eye shapes like Fan Bingbing’s considered especially alluring.

Advantages of the Cat Eye

One of the biggest benefits of cat eye makeup is that it can make the eyes appear wider and more lifted. By extending the eyeliner past the outer corners of the eyes in an upward diagonal line, the cat eye shape creates the illusion of a lifted look (Allure, 2022). This can add a striking accent to the eyes and make them seem more open and awake.

The cat eye is particularly advantageous for women with smaller or downturned eyes, as the winged shape helps correct the outward appearance. By angling the liner upwards, the cat eye can counteract drooping eyelids or eyes that turn down at the outer corners (Wonderskin, 2022). Just a sweep of liner can create a subtle lift that opens up the eyes.

Overall, the cat eye can add an instantly eye-opening effect, making the eyes appear more alert, youthful and dynamic. The flick of a cat eye along the lashline transforms the shape in a way that calls attention to the eyes and showcases their beauty.

Disadvantages and Considerations

While cat eye makeup can be striking and beautiful when done well, it does come with some disadvantages and considerations to keep in mind.

One of the most commonly cited downsides of cat eye makeup is the difficulty in applying it smoothly and symmetrically. As noted in one Reddit thread, “Cat eye make up is a classic but can be so hard to master!” (Source: The angled wing shape requires a steady hand and practice to replicate on both eyes. For those new to cat eye looks, it can take time to perfect the technique.

The cat eye may also not be suitable for all eye shapes. As cat eyes elongate the eyes and create the illusion of a lifted, angled shape, they tend to be most flattering on almond-shaped eyes. Round or downturned eyes may not complement the look as well. Additionally, those with smaller or hooded eyes may find it challenging to create symmetrical wings.

While cat eye makeup undeniably has an artistic appeal, it’s worth weighing the potential frustrations and limitations before committing to the look.

Modern Variations

The classic cat eye look has evolved over the years into creative new variations that offer a fresh, modern take. Some popular modern cat eye styles include:

Colored Liner

Using colored eyeliner is a fun way to put a new spin on the cat eye. Blues, greens, purples and other bright hues make a bold fashion statement. Black liner can be combined with pops of color for a more subtle look. Colored liner is versatile for different eye shapes and makes eyes pop (1).

Graphic Liner

Graphic liner takes the cat eye to artistic new heights. Instead of a simple flick, graphic liner involves using eyeliner to draw shapes, symbols and other designs extending from the outer corner of the eyes. This edgy look stands out at music festivals, costume parties or nights out. The shapes are only limited by your imagination (2).

Glitter Liner

For some sparkle and shine, glitter eyeliners add a dose of festive glam to the cat eye. Gold, silver, multi-colored and crystal glitters catch the light. Glitter liner can be used alone or as an accent over traditional dark liner. It’s the perfect way to glam up your holiday party look (1).




The cat eye look has a lengthy history and is still popular today due to its allure and versatility. By winging out the eyeliner at the edges, the eyes appear elongated, sultry, and striking. Celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe popularized the style, which became a classic 1950s and 1960s beauty trend. Though dramatic, a cat eye can lend glamour and sophistication when applied properly. The look flatters numerous face shapes and eye types. While tricky at first, the cat eye can be mastered with the right tools and techniques. It allows women to unleash their inner diva and feline goddess. However, those with sensitive eyes or vision difficulties should exercise caution. Overall, the iconic cat eye remains a go-to makeup style for creating a bold, sexy aesthetic. When executed well, it makes the eyes pop beautifully. The cat eye look empowers women to accentuate their femininity and confidence.

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