Old Trend, New Tricks: The Cut Crease

I saw a blog post declaring the cut crease to be a new make-up trend, and boy, did my eyes roll. New? Nuh uh. The cut crease is getting close to the big 6-0, seeing if not its conception but certainly its heyday in the swinging sixties.

A cut crease is a technique where a darker eyeshadow or liner is applied directly to or slightly above the crease of of the eyelid, thus creating the illusion of deeper set eyes. The possibilities for play are endless. While a classic cut crease is black or brown, contemporary variations are every colour of the rainbow. What’s more is that a cut crease can be worn smoked out or sharp and defined. It can have a huge impact on the eye shape too, depending on how the crease is cut around the eye.

There’s no shortage of products to help you create a cut crease. Eyeliner helps to provide a solid line for a more defined look, but with the right brush and base, eyeshadow works too, and it’s a little more maneuverable and malleable than eyeliner. For a really dramatic cut crease, a liquid or gel liner can be used; however, unless you’re looking to pay homage to 60s supermodel Twiggy, I recommend sticking to a smudgy eyeliner/kajal and eyeshadow. This will help soften the appearance of the line as it stretches towards your brow but keep that strong line against the lid.

Whether you’re trying this for the first time or looking to up your cut crease game, here are some tips to get you started:

1. Choose Your Tools

A bolder, more defined cut crease requires a product that doesn’t blend. Pick up a pot of fast-drying gel liner for precision application with either an angled or straight liner brush.

For something a little softer but no less bold, I start with the Stila Smudge Kajal Liner I’ve had since forever and a day. I can’t find it in stores anymore, but Kat Von Dee’s Basket Case Anti-Precision liner wears similarly, applying in a dark line that can be blended out without losing opacity where it’s initially applied.

The easiest, breeziest way to wear a cut crease is to stick strictly to powders. Avoid metallics or frosts; they’re going to reflect light and have the opposite effect. Grab an angled or a pencil brush to apply a line of dark shadow above the lid, then blend with a fluffy brush.

2. Work With Your Eye Shape

There’s a number of cut crease ‘hacks’ online including putting a bottle cap over your lid and holding a spoon up to your face. I’ve pondered the merits of both these methods, put them to the test, and found them both lacking. Unless you have an eye-shape that is perfectly complimented by a bottle cap or a spoon, it’s far more productive to work with your own features when teaching yourself how to apply a cut crease.

Ideally, you cut your crease at or slightly above where your lid naturally crease above your eyeball. Whether your cut crease extends all the way from the tear duct to the outer corner is a matter of the look you’re trying to create and the natural shape of your eye. I have large, round eyes, so applying a dark colour all around my crease makes my eyes look cartoonishly circular, almost like dinner plates. My ideal cut crease starts at the highest point of my lid and swoops out slightly above my outer corner. This makes my eyes larger (as if they need that) and more elongated. Smaller eyes will likely be better served by cutting the crease slightly above the natural crease, since this will give the illusion of larger eyelids and therefore larger eyes.

A good cut crease is a balancing act between light and dark. Whatever you wear on your lid is going to seem starker against your crease. Too much highlight on the lid without much dark in the crease will make the eye appear bulbous; too much in the crease will make the eye appear shrunken, hidden, and small. Similarly, if you’re winging out a cut crease, pulling out the colour too far will make the whole look unnatural and the illusion you’re creating with your eyes will be broken.

3. Blend for a Softer Look

The single, defined cut crease is helpful in creating baby doll eyes particularly when paired with false lashes, and while that works as an adorable throwback, it no longer fits with contemporary trends. Cut creases are now blended out for a softer look and added dimension. Gradients are a great way to hide how constructed make-up can be, since they offer natural-looking dimension even when they use unnatural colours and shades.

There’s also a growing trend of cutting the crease with a lighter colour like a shimmering metallic. As a person with hooded eyes, this would have the opposite effect of a cut crease; however, this can work to make small eyes seem larger or reinforce the sweeping shape.

Normally, when I apply shadow in the crease, I use a soft blending brush like the MAC 224, but in order to maintain the depth for a true cut crease, a stiffer blending brush works best. The MAC 217 works excellently, but a more cost effective option is from RealTechniques, which has an eyeshadow brush that is slightly pointed at the tip for more concentrated application as well as blending.

This is also helpful for creating a cut crease on hooded eyes. A thin, defined line will get lost on a hooded eye. Blending it out will make the shadow visible and actually help in hiding the hood of the lid. Dark colours create the illusion of shadows, so applying a light wash of darker eyeshadow will help that hood to look more receded.

4. Pair with a Strong Lashline and/or Lashes

This one is based strictly on personal experience, but a cut crease works so well with a bold liner and/or some false lashes. All that extra shadow in the crease gives it weight over the eye, and having such sparse lashes myself, there’s something really complementary about a lush wave of lashes to support a cut crease.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

No matter how many tutorials you watch, how many blog posts you read, how many pictures you view online, the key to mastering anything is practice. Make a point of including even a few of the techniques outlined here to perfect them on yourself. Accept that not every attempt is going to be a wild success but that every single one of them is going to help.

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