Thursday, July 17, 2008

beauty on the cheap: the drugstore cat eye

For my second installment of Beauty on the Cheap, I want to take you back. Way way back to when I was a freshman in high school and equally obsessed with all things grunge and all things ladylike. I was listening to a lot of Nirvana, but I was also memorizing every detail of the film version of Breakfast at Tiffany's (except for Mickey Rooney's cringe-inducing performance). For the most part, I complimented my thrift store tees and ragged jeans with copious amounts of smudged black eyeliner, but I was also obsessed with creating the perfect Audrey Hepburn cat eye.

To give my cat eye a retro look, I avoided complicated shadow combinations and used only white eye shadow. From lashline to browbone, I brushed on a sheer wash of white, carefully blending to keep the application light (otherwise the look went straight from retro to kabuki). Try Cover Girl Eye Enhancers Eye Shadow in Snow Blossom. Next, I reached for my secret weapon: Almay Liquid Eyeliner in Black. This is my all-time favorite, holy grail, desert island liquid liner. I've dabbled in other brands, from drugstore (L'Oreal Voluminous Eyeliner, Cover Girl Line Exact, Physicians Formula Felt-Tip Eye Marker) to department store (Lancôme Artliner, Chanel Automatic Liquid Eyeliner), but I always come back to the liner I've been using since I was 14. The Almay Liquid Eyeliner was one of the first liners to incorporate a felt tip, which is far more user-friendly than the traditional brush. However, while other felt-tipped liners require multiple layers to achieve a bold black stripe, the Almay felt tip is saturated enough to create a strong opaque line in one swipe.

To begin, I'd hold my eyelid taut and start my application straight above the inner edge of my iris. As I followed my lashline outward, I gradually applied more pressure so that the thickness increased as the line extended outward. My biggest struggle was always with where to start the wing of liner at the outer corner. Start the wing too early and it looks completely out of place. Start the wing too late and your eye looks droopy. I found that the best time to start my wing was when the line came down far enough to be even with my pupil. As for the wing itself, it's my favorite part of the process since it's the easiest to correct if you make a mistake. Just keep a cotton swab dipped in eye make-up remover handy (the pointy ones at the drugstore are my favorites). If your wing gets too thick, use the cotton swab to gently shape it to your preference. If it's too thin, just add another flick of liquid liner.

Lining the lower lid is optional, and although I often do so when I'm going out, sometimes nothing compliments beautiful liquid liner on the upper lid than a clean canvas beneath the eye. This is especially true when incorporating a bright, bold lip. One step that isn't debatable is mascara. The cat eye is not a natural look, so this isn't the time to skimp. Feel free to load on the coats of Max Factor Volume Couture (though in high school, I used L'Oreal Voluminous). You'll be left with an elegant retro cat eye that would make Audrey proud. And since you can find these items at your local drugstore, you can put that cash you saved towards a fabulous party. Very Holly Golightly.

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