via Gabriel Olsen / Getty

Mastering the art of the feline flick is no easy feat—even Ariana Grande admits that she occasionally needs to call on a higher power to nail her now classic cat eye, and she’s been practicing for years. Whether you wing it (quite literally) or put your faith in Scotch tape to help guide your hand to on-point eyeliner, you never quite know how the final look will turn out—at least, until now. Makeup master Troy Surratt shared a few of his tricks for conquering the cat eye, so you’ll never have to keep makeup remover wipes at the ready again.

1. Start basic—and your liner will be anything but.

No need to enroll in beauty school for this one. Even if you aren’t aiming for out-of-this-world liner, you can still fake the look of wider eyes—and make lashes appear infinitely thicker—by simply tracing along your upper lash line. “In its thinnest form, liner is great for playing up the shape of your eyes, making them appear larger,” Surratt reveals. “Plus, a tiny line gives the illusion of denser lashes in a subtle way.”

via Jon Kopaloff / Getty

2. Don’t just pick a formula and stick with it.

Whether you prefer the careful precision of a gel pot, or find yourself leaning towards the edgy, rawness of kajal, it’s key to find a formula that you’re comfortable using. For beginners, Surratt suggests sticking with standard liquid liner until you perfect your flick, because the formula is fairly easy to manipulate—and even easier to clean up if you don’t get it right on your first try. We love Surratt Beauty Auto-Graphique Eyeliner, which doesn’t pill or peel off, no matter the amount of liner you layer on. Surratt also cautions newbies to stay away from gel liner pens, which don’t glide on as easily and require a bit more precision on your part.

3. Switch it up.

Ignore your natural eyeliner intuition, and start with the most difficult part: the flick. “It’s hard to do an entire cat eye in one sweep. Instead, aim to bring the liner out and up—trace towards the end of your eyebrows,” Surratt suggests. “This technique sets you up with the perfect angle for your eye shape to trace liner along.” And, if you find yourself still struggling to get both lines symmetrical, try ABLE Cosmetics Cat Eye 101 liner, which comes with a soft, rubber edge that you can use to trace the line. An added bonus? It won’t pull tender eye skin (we’re looking at you, Scotch tape).

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