This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
If makeup were a college major, eyeliner would be like that psychology course you had to retake, and cut crease would be the economics elective you totally opted out of. While we’ve watched plenty of vlogger tutorials that show how to perfectly achieve cut-crease eyeshadow, it remains one of those skills that is just out of our reach. So, we called in the professionals for some tutoring on this Instagram-favorite look.
“It’s basically when there is a strong line of definition in the crease that makes the eyes look bigger and brighter,” says celebrity makeup artist Anton Khachaturian at Exclusive Artists, who does the makeup of Lana Condor and Tia Mowry. Fellow celebrity makeup artist Blondie at Exclusive Artists adds, “Cut crease was originally used to create definition to the eyes in the golden age of Hollywood before the days of color photographs. The cut crease has had a major comeback thanks to influencers and the popularity of ring-light photography.”
With a better sense of the overall cut-crease effect, we tapped several artists to help us get the look at home. Ahead, the pro-approved products for achieving an A+ cut crease — and it’s not all eyeshadow.
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To create a cut-crease look, there’s a specific technique to follow. First, use a fluffy shadow brush to apply a sheer color in the crease. “Cut crease requires you work from top to bottom, a transition shade is the wash of color — preferably matte — you see before the bolder, more opaque shades are layered on top,” says makeup artist and vlogger May Cintron.
Next, grab a darker shadow shade or eyeliner to create the dramatic, cut-crease outline. Blend. Intensify the outline — or “cut the crease” as Cintron calls it — by underlining the crease with concealer or eyeshadow primer. And finish the entire look with a shade on the lids. “You can freestyle and add a matte or shimmer eyeshadow on the lid, but shimmer shades are a favorite as it really contrasts with the matte shades used on top of cut crease,” says Citron.
Now, on to the products…
“My favorite product for creating a cut crease is actually eyeliner. I like to draw the crease in and then blend it out ever so slightly with super precise brushes. This eyeliner is the perfect shimmering brown. I like to blend the eyeliner out with the Eyeliner Brush (209) and Small Angle Brush (266) from MAC, which are the perfect tools to soften the edges while keeping the look sharp.” — Khachaturian
MAC Cosmetics Eye Kohl, $18, available at MAC Cosmetics
MAC Cosmetics 266 Synthetic Small Angle Brush, $20, available at MAC Cosmetics
MAC 209S Eye Liner Brush, $37, available at David Jones
“My favorite base for a dramatic cut crease is this eyeliner, it comes in a huge range of colors and has staying power to last all night long. Just apply to the eyelid — exactly to the crease of the eye — using a firm eyeshadow brush.” — Blondie
Inglot Cosmetics AMC Eyeliner Gel, $16, available at Macy’s
“For a flawless crease, I use this palette from my brand. You can use a slightly damp angle brush to carve in a razor-sharp, crisp crease. Then, use complementary shades to blend the upper edge.” — Kristofer Buckle, celebrity makeup artist to Mariah Carey and Kelly Ripa
Kristofer Buckle Premiere Palette, $40, available at Kristofer Buckle
“I love this palette for cut creases, because it’s extremely versatile. It has the perfect warm natural tones and some colors for more fun looks. The shimmer shades have impressive color payoff and are extremely reflective, while the mattes blend effortlessly. Use a smaller brush because it will allow you to create great precision work.” — Cintron
ColourPop PERCEPTION Pressed Powder Shadow Palette, $23, available at ColourPop
“This eyeshadow product is perfect for this because of its fantastic applicator. You can quickly put the matte shade on and then use the metallic shade to really outline that crease, which is going to emphasize that cut-crease look. My number-one tip is to start inside and go outwards, going slow slow and steady. I also recommend putting your elbow on a flat surface to help steady out your hand.” — Tobi Henney, celebrity makeup artist
Huda Beauty Matte & Metal Melted Double Ended Eyeshadows, $25, available at Sephora
“When doing a cut crease, it’s all about the primer you put on after applying your crease color. The primer needs to have some opacity to it in order for the effect to be pulled off flawlessly. This product has a neutral opacity to it, so you can really create a sharp line for your cut crease before packing on the lid color.” — Jill Powell, celebrity makeup artist & hairstylist
MAC Cosmetics Pro Longwear Paint Pot, $22, available at MAC Cosmetics
“I love using this palette, because it has the perfect combination of warm pigmented mattes and the creamiest reflective tones that allow me to execute the perfect cut-crease look.” — Yolonda Frederick, celebrity makeup artist to Ciara and Cassie
Pat McGrath Mothership V Eyeshadow Palette – Bronze Seduction, $125, available at Sephora
“I love a good cut crease, and when I do it, I use this eyeshadow palette. It has all the matte shades for dimension, plus a few shimmer shades that you’ll you need to create the perfect cut crease,” Merrell Hollis, celebrity makeup artist
Natasha Denona Gold Eyeshadow Palette, $129, available at Sephora
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