Including her favorite product.
Taylor Swift has been rocking a cat eye since she was introduced to the world in 2006. It started off small and delicate, more of a kitten eye than a cat eye. But as Swift matured and her stardom grew, so did the liner. Fast forward nearly 20 years, and the star's micro liner look has blossomed into a thick, fierce, statement-making wing.
"Her cat eye is iconic is because it's consistent," says celebrity makeup artist Neil Scibelli. "If you look at Taylor's makeup archive, she rarely wears heavy makeup on her actual eyelids, but rather accentuates her eyes with eyeliner. It brings out her eye color and also frames and accentuates her eye shape."
The Origin of Taylor Swift's Iconic Cat Eye
Swift has always loved the definition that comes with a black cat eye. When she first stepped on the scene, her wing was teeny tiny. But around 2008, she started using liquid eyeliner and her look started to take a form that looks a bit more like the liner we've come to know now. This is thanks to an interesting moment with a Sharpie.
"I was on a plane to Japan about two years ago and I had no makeup with me, so I went into the bathroom and I used a Sharpie to line my eyes," Swift shared with Stylecaster in a 2010 interview. "From that point on I started using liquid liner because I realized it was obviously pretty easy for me to do! I definitely don’t recommend drawing on your eyes with a Sharpie, though."
Why Taylor Swift Wears a Cat Eye
A black cat-eye liner look is a great way to accentuate your eyes. "When you juxtapose such a bold tone against the eyes, it really frames the eye shape and brings out the eye color as well," says Scibelli. So whether she's performing or hanging out casually, she's rocking the wing. "When I’m on tour, I do my own makeup," Swift told W Magazine in 2010. On my eyes, I like "bold intense eye liner and a rich red on my lip...But when I’m not on tour, moisturizer, foundation, a quick swipe of eyeliner, mascara and then I’m good."
The Evolution of Swift's Liner
Throughout the 2010s, Swift's liner remained pretty consistent. She mostly kept it thin with a bit of length. But for certain outings and performances — like the 2012 VMAs (pictured above) — she'd go a little heavier. She was a face of CoverGirl from 2010 to 2012, so she used the brand's liners often. "For the defined bold eyeliner, I used CoverGirl LineExact Liquid Liner," makeup artist Lorrie Turk told Teen Vogue during a 2012 interview about the look. "Starting at the inner corners of her eyes, I drew outward to the end of the eyes, going from thin to thick and flicked up when I reached the end of the eye to create a cat-eye look."
In 2018, Swift was using Tom Ford's Eye Defining Pen Liquid Eyeliner Duo. We saw her apply it to her lids during her documentary Miss Americana. She kept the line clean, thin, and precise. "A liquid formula gives the liner texture that seamless, silky finish — and typically glides across the eyes easily," says Scibelli. "Many liquid formulas are also waterproof or at the least water resistant, which holds up in various weather conditions and long hours."
Her Current Liner
Swift's liner look took its current form once she worked with Pat McGrath on her Bejeweled music video. Although the video dropped on October 25, 2022, we saw her wear a bold Bejeweled-coded look to the VMAs in August of that year where she revealed that new music was coming. The dazzling look features gems lids anchored by a substantially thick cat eye achieved by using the Perma Precision Liquid Eyeliner in the shade XTREME BLACK.
"The inspiration [for the Bejeweled makeup look] came from Taylor herself, the song’s title, and the lyrics: 'Best believe I'm still bejeweled when I walk in the room/I can still make the whole place shimmer," McGrath told Elle UK at the time. "I also went into my own archive, thinking about contoured red ombré lips, jeweled smoke, crystal cat eyes, sublime skin and divine blush. With all that inspiration and Taylor’s brief, I had a million ideas of how we could use make up to communicate her directorial vision and storytelling through make-up artistry."
Why Swift's Cat Eye Is So Impactful
Swift's liner has become part of her staple beauty look. While she still plays around with different looks, she always comes back to a clean cat eye and a bold red lip. "You'll also notice she likes to leave a clean, neutral space between her eye crease and brow bone," says Scibelli. "There's a simplicity, and a girl-next-door feel to it. So, I think she found what works for her, and sticks with it."
If you're new to cat eyes, you can recreate Swift's iconic cat eye in a few easy steps. "I would suggest planning out how far you want your wing to go on both sides by placing small dots on both ends of the eyes — for even distribution of your wing," says Scibelli. "I always suggest creating a wing liner on a table-top mirror so that you can look down, and also lean your elbow on a surface for support."
Plus, you can put your own spin on it, letting it become your go-to look. "You can also achieve this look with variations of a cat eye — whether it be with a navy or brown liner, or maybe your wing is flicked upwards more than outwards," says Scibelli. Wear the look just the way you like it and you'll effuse that signature Tay Tay confidence.
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