Eyeliner may be a makeup enthusiast’s must-have, but not all wings, rims, and waterline delineations are created equal. Eyeliner styles like a classic cat-eye and puppy liner (a TikTok favorite; we’ll break it down shortly) are just as personal as shadow palettes and foundation shades, crafted to elevate natural features by working with them rather than against them.
Puppy liner, originally a Korean beauty trend, adjusts the concept of the cat eye to suit a broader audience of eye shapes, punctuating gazes and widening eyes with one subtle pull of product. The liner packs a certain level of Mod appeal, too, calling to mind the iconic beauty and rounded shapes favored in the 1960s (think Diana Ross, Cher, and more).
If big, doe eyes are your goal, puppy dog eyeliner may be your new favorite application method.
What Is Puppy Eyeliner?
The puppy eyeliner look aims to widen and round eyes via a reversed wing that veers slightly down rather than up and away.
“While the usual cat eye that is created by applying eyeliner in an upwards direction from the outer corner of the eye and lifting the eyes up, the puppy eyeliner follows the natural lash line, making the eye appear larger and rounder,” explains Ana de Armas’s makeup artist Mélanie Inglessis.
“The look is especially flattering on downturned and hooded eyes,” says makeup artist and founder of CTZN Cosmetics Naseeha Khan of the K-beauty trend. While an upward flick can get lost in the fold of a hooded lid or deep-set eyes, puppy liner augments the eye by extending in the opposite direction, following the natural curve of the eye—and the results are sweet, accessible, and easy to incorporate into any makeup routine.
Why Should I Try Puppy Eyeliner?
Those looking to widen almond-shaped eyes or who simply want to test-drive a new liner look would do well to sample a puppy-inspired approach. While a cat-eye tends to skew sultry and even mysterious, puppy eyes are named for the innocent expression best exemplified by, well, puppies. “When my dog, Prosecco, wants more treats he looks up at me with his puppy dog eyes and I give in,” laughs makeup artist Lisa Pimentel.
Cute and quietly coercive, all with a single flick? That’s an effective aesthetic.
What’s the Best Way to Apply Puppy Eyeliner?
The main thing to remember when applying puppy eyeliner is that the look follows your natural eye shape. “First, apply the liner on the upper lash line, taking it from the middle of the eyelid out to the corner of your eye, edging slightly downward,” says Khan, reiterating that your own eye shape should be your guide. Fill in, perfect, and even exaggerate the top line before applying the bottom portion.
“For the lower lash line, outline just the outer half and connect to the top liner,” says Khan, who recommends smudging and smoking the liner out a bit, should you opt for kohl (liquid will offer a sharper look). Personalize your puppy by adding shadow to complete the look, or limiting the liner to the top lash line or outer corner alone. One warning: “Don’t extend too far down,” advises Inglessis of your main line. “We don’t want droopy-looking eyes.”
As far as beauty products go, liquid liners like Stila’s Stay All Day or On Stage from Diorshow will provide a precise finish made to last. Opting for a liquid liner for the top line and puling a pencil like Armani Beauty’s Smooth Silk Eye Pencil along the bottom lash line allows for a blend of sharpness and smudge, aka the best of both worlds.