If you’ve dabbled in liquid liner, you’re probably familiar with the grief—and pile of used makeup-remover wipes—that comes with trying to perfect it. Mastering a liquid formula can be a s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e, but when done well, a winged cat-eye is—*chef’s kiss*—gorgeous, sharp, and seriously envy-inducing. So we asked pro makeup artists for their tips for getting crazy-clean graphic lines, minus the mess-ups. Check them out in the video above, plus more deets below.
1. Choose a liquid liner with a precise tip.
Your application success lies in—drum roll—your choice of liner! Makeup artist Mark Edio suggests using a pen with a fine brush tip and richly pigmented formula. We love Maybelline’s Hyper Easy Liquid Eyeliner, which dispenses ultra-black ink super smoothly and accurately. Its hexagonal body also gives you a firm grip, making maneuvering it way easier. Plus, its staying power keeps things smudge-free for 24 hours(!).
2. Find your perfect wing shape using the pen’s body.
Truth time: Your wing’s shape is not going to be the same as that beauty influencer’s on your feed. To find the ideal line for you, Edio suggests placing the bottom third of the pen’s body against the side of your nose, pointing the other tip toward the outer corner of your eye. This will guide you to your best wing angle and placement, as well as help you draw both tails more evenly.
3. Mark your shape with tiny dots.
Makeup artist Joanna Schlip recommends using the very tip of your pen point to tap tiny ink dots along and slightly past the lash line, making an outline of the wing shape you’re going for. Then, just go back and connect them. Um, genius!
4. Tilt your head back for a clear view of your lash line.
Your instincts probably have you way up close and personal with the mirror when you’re trying to carefully draw your liner on, but Edio suggests taking a teeny step away and tilting your head back slightly. “This will enable you to see your lash line better,” he says.
5. Shaky hands? Trace a business card.
Whether your hands aren’t the steadiest or you’re just looking for an even cleaner wing, Schlip suggests holding a business card flat against your outer-eye area, at the angle you want your wing, for a little extra help. Simply trace along the side-edge of the card for a straight, neat flick.
Watch these tips play out in the video above, then try Maybelline’s Hyper Easy Liquid Eyeliner for yourself. Oh, and get ready to be swimming in unneeded makeup wipes.