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What Is A Cut Crease? Everything You Need To Know + A 5-Step Guide From Makeup Artists

Jamie Schneider
December 22, 2020
Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
By Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
December 22, 2020
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Of all the bold, dramatic eye makeup looks, a cut crease certainly ranks high on the list, right beside immaculate winged liner and a moody, smoky eye. For those new to the game, though, don't file it under the unthinkable—it's not so difficult to achieve this stunning beat. Better yet: Master the technique, and it looks downright professional. 

Here's everything you need to know about the famed cut crease: what is it, how to do it, and who it suits best. 

What is a cut crease?

Essentially, it's just how it sounds: You're using shadow to "cut" into the crease of your eyelid. It yields a dramatic contrast, which can exaggerate the shape of your eye and make the eyelids stand out. "It's just basically a very drastic play on shadow and light," says celebrity makeup artist A.J. Crimson.

That said, it's perfect for those looking to define their lids and separate them from the brow bone; although, you can play around with different outlines to achieve the exact shape you're looking for. "You can elongate a cut crease, you can make it more round, you can manipulate it in so many different ways to get the effect that you want out of it," Crimson adds.

How to create a cut crease. 

Full disclosure: Even some of the most seasoned makeup artists battle with the precise cut crease. It takes practice! Time! Skill! But the end result, striking and razor-sharp, is well worth the lift. Here's what you'll need:

  • Angled brush
  • Stiff concealer brush
  • Eye primer or lighter shade of concealer (Either works.) 
  • Eyeshadow (You can choose whichever shade you please, as long as you have some sort of deeper hue for the cut crease and a lighter shade for the lid.) 

Then follow these five steps: 

  1. Paint your primer or concealer all over the eyelid: "You do want something that will dry down and not be too creamy," says Crimson. Especially if you have oily eyelids already, you don't want your product to budge.
  2. Next, take your angled brush and fill in the natural curve of your crease with a deeper shadow. You can place a spoon over your eye to help you get that perfect arch (like this makeup artist's viral hack), or you can even snag a crease adhesive to help guide the process (here's a set with multiple pieces for a few eye shapes). 
  3. After "cutting" into your crease with the darker shadow, you should have this drastic side-by-side of shadow and light. Crimson then suggests going back in with an "in-between" shade to slightly blend the two together. "Only concentrate on the crease and that gradation of color from the outer corners, in," he says. You still want to keep that stark contrast between the crease and the lid, but you can blend multiple colors on the crease line. 
  4. Next, you can apply a lighter shadow on the lid, or keep a matte look with the concealer alone (you can apply more concealer on the lid as well if you need to clean up the area a bit). 
  5. Finally, take your eyeliner of choice (gel, felt tip, etc.) and line your upper lash line. Many like to flick out a sharp wing, as it looks extra graphic when paired with a cut crease. 

Who should do a cut crease?

"The good thing about it is literally every single eye can have a cut crease," says Savannah St. Jean, makeup artist and owner of Savannah Rae Beauty. That is, anyone can create this striking beat, no matter your eye shape. The finished product may look a bit different, as everyone's natural crease falls in various areas on the lid (some even lift at the corners, which creates more of a winged effect). 

Although, both St. Jean and Crimson note that this look was practically made for those with hooded eyes. Says Crimson, "If you have a hooded eye, you can create the illusion that you have more of a lid and a separate brow bone." You're quite literally carving your own crease here and offering more definition. "It gives [hooded eyes] more of a crease where they wouldn't have it before," Crimson adds. 

If you do have hooded eyes, though, you'll want to make sure to keep your eyes open, looking straight-on at the mirror the entire time (when you apply makeup on closed lids it's not too accurate, as the hood will smudge your progress once you blink those eyes open). When you apply that first coat of primer or concealer, perhaps go over your natural crease line and extend to wherever you want your faux "crease" to begin. Then resume with the rest of the above steps, using your new carved crease as your baseline.

The takeaway.

With a cut crease, you're basically carving into the lid and defining your crease—wherever you want it to begin. And for what it's worth: Anyone can achieve this dramatic, dolled-up look, as long as you're hoping to pronounce and accentuate your eye shape. A little practice, and you'll have professional-looking lids.

Jamie Schneider author page.
Jamie Schneider
Beauty & Health Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.