What Is a Cut Crease and Why Is It Such a Popular Look?

What is a cut crease? An eyeshadow technique you'll want to try. Learn how to achieve more dimension with this chic yet simple eye makeup style.

Cut Crease Eyeshadow Explained: How-To Guide

It only takes a few minutes on YouTube or browsing drugstore eyeshadow in the makeup aisle to realize how massively sought-after a proper cut crease is for makeup enthusiasts. Hundreds of beauty bloggers and professional makeup artists have released video tutorials for this look, with titles like “3-Step” and “For Beginners.”

Where is this seemingly worldwide obsession for a simple eye makeup trend coming from? To understand the look, let’s start from the beginning.

What Is a Cut Crease?

Cut-creasing is a makeup technique that creates an illusion of depth while making the eyes look bigger and brighter. Anyone can wear this look, as it is universally flattering.

The basics start with two contrasting shades eye makeup. Typically, the lighter color goes on all over the eyelid, while the darker shadow is applied and blended out on the space between the eyelid and the eyebrow. The makeup trick takes its name from the harsh, unblended line where the two colors meet: that sharp cut that marks or exaggerates the actual crease above the eyelid.

A cut crease can be subtle, with neutral colors and a softer line, especially for daytime wear. However, loud colors show off the effect of the cut crease best.

what is the History of the Cut Crease eyeshadow technique?

Some may think of the cut crease as a modern-day invention, but it has been around long before YouTube or Instagram. In fact, it even predates the birth of the oldest Kardashian sister.

The cut crease first became a prominent beauty trend in the 1960s, a time that saw youthful trendsetters with disposable income for the first time since the austere wartime period. Along with hippie and mod fashion came bold and geometric eye makeup. Famous icons that popularized the cut crease during this decade include Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Edie Sedgwick, Barba Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, supermodel Twiggy, and drag queen Divine.

During the turbulent ‘60s, the cut crease aesthetic matched the mood of the era. Thick and graphic eyeliner often defined the hard crease, with little to no blending of the heavily applied eyeshadow. The look was frequently paired with false eyelashes or mascara.

Contemporary Cut-Creasing with eyeshadow

How has the cut crease changed from the 1960s to the present day? It has become more common and wearable. The retro-chic technique can be spotted everywhere, from afternoons at the mall to high fashion shindigs in Hollywood.

Widespread knowledge of the cut crease also translates to more accessible ways to achieve the look. Search online and you will find several hacks that help even makeup beginners achieve flawless cut creases. Some use the edge of a makeup lid, eyelash curler or spoon as a guide to set the crease line. Others suggest applying excess concealer or foundation near the upper lash line, then immediately looking up and from left to right, which transfers an arc of the makeup product on or slightly above the crease.

While most hacks have to do with simply creating a clean line to follow, some take it even further. An actual single-function tool called the eyeshadow stamp is commercially available, which allows for concealer, foundation or eyeshadow to be pressed onto the entire eyelid all in one go. DIY stamps can also be made by cutting up false eyelash cases or other plastic products into the desired shape.

How to Do a Simple Cut Crease with eyeshadow

Before applying any makeup at all, make sure that your face is clean, hydrated, and moisturized. Beauty products can stick to and seep into dry skin, making your face itchy and irritated and the colors of your makeup less vibrant and effective.

It also helps to apply primer and let it sit for at least five minutes before putting on other products. You may prime just the eye area, from lash line to brow bone, if you’re not doing a full face of makeup.

1. Apply Dark Eyeshadow Above the Eyelid

The cut crease leads with the eyeshadows you use here, as this part of the look is completely visible even when the eyes are wide open. You can be adventurous and use two or more complementary shades. For a more natural look, you may choose a single brown or otherwise neutral color.

Start by defining the crease. Apply the heaviest and darkest hues on or just above the natural crease of the eye. Blend out the eyeshadow, making it softer and lighter as it approaches the brow bone.

2. Apply and Set Light Concealer or Foundation Across the Eyelid

Coat the entire eyelid with concealer or foundation. Use a small angled brush to freehand an arc of product following your crease, and use this as a guideline to fill out the lid. You may also try some of the hacks we mentioned above if you are worried about getting both arcs equal in shape and size.

Once the eyelid is completely covered with product, use a translucent setting powder to leave a natural-looking finish.

The edge of the applied concealer or foundation must be past where the dark eyeshadow ends. Darker makeup defines the crease, whereas lighter makeup is supposed to show the cut that gives the technique its name.

3. Apply Light Eyeshadow over the Concealer or Foundation

A general rule of thumb: Use a color that is lighter or brighter than the one used above the eyelid. It can be as simple as a nude shade that complements your skin tone, or as in-your-face as rainbow glitter eyeshadow. Keep the cut crease polished and sharp by applying the light eyeshadow only over the eyelid.

It is this step that emphasizes the illusion of depth and definition, which makes the cut crease so popular.

4. Finish the Look with Eyeliner

How the eyeliner is applied depends on your makeup skills. Lining the upper lash line with brown or black matte eyeliner is basic but still effective, especially if you are doing an everyday look.

Confident enough to use a liquid liner? Go the extra mile by doing a winged eye, or line both upper and lower lash lines and to create a full cat-eye. Keep the edges of the eyeliner as sharp and crisp as the cut crease to enhance the more sophisticated look. You may also apply mascara on your lashes to maximize the dramatic effect.

Resources— BlushElleMaybelline