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Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes Part 1: Where to Apply


Hi-ho-and-a-merry-oh, everyone!

Haven’t blogged for a week coz I’ve been working on a series called Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes. Man! It was a lot of work but I’m really pleased with the outcome. I hope this series can help more Asians better understand their eye shape and those who have Asian clients!

In this 1st installment of the Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes series, we take a look at where to place eye makeup on the Asian eye.

When I first started out, I had no idea where or how to place eyeshadow. My eye makeup efforts were previously limited to eyeliner and mascara and sometimes, just a light dab of ONE eyeshadow color.

When I purchased my first eyeshadow quad, I was lost.


I had no idea the eye could be divided into so many parts – lid, crease, contour, highlight, etc.

I had no idea that there are so many ways to shape the eye, combine colors, or use colors to emphasize or recede certain parts of the eye.

Google and Youtube, of course, presented me with tutorials and eye charts from their wealth of resources, but most of them were limited to the Caucasian eye.

It took me quite long to understand that I cannot copy the Western way of applying eyeshadow because one of the most prominent differences between an Asian and Caucasian eye is the ‘crease’, or rather, lack of.

If you haven’t already checked out my post on the differences between the Caucasian and Asian eye, please do. It will definitely help you understand this post better too!

You would realize by now, if you have read the post mentioned above, that while the Crease of the Caucasian eye coincides with the Orbital Rim, theCrease of the Asian eye merely defines the Fold of the eyelid. If you have aFold, it means you have double eyelids – prominent or hooded.

It is the fact that the Orbital Rim and Fold of the eye do not overlap that characterizes the Asian eye, and not the stereotypical slanted eye shape.

In half of the world’s Asian population, there is complete absence of a Fold. For the remaining half who possess a Fold, the Fold commonly does not coincide with the Orbital Rim.

I am very proud to be Asian, and it is my wish to help as many girls out there to understand the Asian eye better and apply the most flattering eye makeup for their own eye shape and contour.

Here is, finally, my own eye shadow placement chart to share with Asians who want to understand how and where to apply eye makeup better.

This chart would also be useful to help makeup artists understand how eye makeup looks can be better applied on Asians.

The chart is based on my own eye – large, round, with prominent double eyelids, and does not coincide with the Contour Area. I throw in tips for monolids and hooded lids as well!

The placement of eyeshadows can vary for different looks, but here is the basic breakdown of parts of the eye.

I included pictures for every part of the eye instead of having just one complete picture with all the different parts outlined, simply because I always find it troublesome to read and refer to only one picture at the top all the time. Took me many hours to draw the outlines, but the result is definitely worth the effort. I’m sure you will find it more straightforward to understand too!


Now let’s get started!




While the Lid can be covered in just one eyeshadow color, it can also be divided it into vertical halves – inner 1/2, outer 1/2; or thirds – inner 1/3, middle 1/3 and outer 1/3.

The first eye makeup look in this tutorial shows exactly that.


Inner 1/3

The inner 1/3 of the Lid spans from the inner section of the eye to the edge of the iris. A lighter color compared to the middle and outer colors is usually placed here.

Middle 1/3

The middle 1/3 of the Lid is directly above the iris. A darker color than the inner 1/3, but lighter than the outer 1/3 is usually placed here.

Outer 1/3

The outer 1/3 of the Lid covers the edge of the iris to the outer edge of the eye. The darkest color of the lot is usually placed here.

Note that I used ‘usually placed here’ for all thirds. Firstly, the 3 colors can be of equal color strength, and secondly, the vertical division method is not as often employed on the Asian eye.

For many Asians, the Lid area can be rather small, and some may not have aFold at all. In most Asian eye makeup, the Vertical Gradient Method, which involves applying eyeshadow horizontally across the Lid so that a vertical gradient is formed, is ideal. Confusing much? Check out this post to understand the difference between Vertical and Horizontal gradients.

The Vertical Gradient Method will be discussed in the 2nd installment, andHorizontal Gradient Method in the 5th installment, of the Eye Makeup Tutorial for Asian Eyes series.

Inner Corner

The Inner Corner is the small area that points towards the nose. It can be expanded a little onto the inner 1/3 of the lid and also the the inner 1/3 of the lower lashline.

A little highlight color at the Inner Corner of the eye does wonders to make the eyes look brighter and more awake. I like to use MAC Eye Kohl in Fascinating or NYX Jumbo Pencil in Milk as a base, then layer with a light eyeshadow color like silver, beige, while, pink.


Ah, the Crease.

In Caucasian eye makeup talk, the crease is the line of indentation right above the lid, where the Lid folds. That indentation below the brow bone marks the natural Crease, and it is further emphasized by using a deeper eyeshadow color to create depth in the eye.

The Crease of the Caucasian eye typically coincides with the Orbital Rim.

For Asians, if the Crease is defined by where the lid folds, then placing a deeper color at the crease will only serve to make the eyes look smaller, especially if you have heavily hooded eyelids, or a very small lid area.

Check out the different types of Asian eyes and appropriate makeup!

The Crease of the Asian eye typically does NOT coincide with the Orbital Rim.

For all my tutorials, I rarely use the term ‘Crease’, because that would be confusing to many Asians, and ‘Crease’ really means ‘Fold’ to me.

If I need to state that eyeshadow color must be placed ‘at/above the Crease’, I will simply say that it needs to be placed ‘at/above the Fold’.

More explanation will be done in the 4th installment of this Eye Makeup Tutorial for Asian Eyes series – Defining the Contour Area.


Contour Area

I like to use Contour Area and Orbital Rim interchangeably.

A transition color is usually placed at the Contour Area, to transit from the eyelid color to the brow bone highlight. One color can be used as a transit color on the Contour Area, but it can also be divided into a gradual transition of colors, moving towards the brow bone.

For Asians, there is no clear indication (just by looking) of where the Contour Area is exactly, unlike in the Caucasian eye where the Crease is at the Orbital Rim. In that case, you want to apply the transition color at the Orbital Rim, and blend the color out so that there won’t be an artificial-looking line sitting on an unseen indentation.

Therefore, instead of trying to fake a Crease that isn’t there (like if you have a low Fold or none at all), ignore the Fold and transfer your energy to work on theContour Area.

By sweeping eyeshadow above the Fold onto the Contour Area, you bring instant lift to the eyes and enhance the shape of the eye area.

If this is not clear yet, an entire tutorial on Defining the Contour Area will be covered in the 4th installment of this Eye Makeup Tutorial for Asian Eyes series.

(I know this is hard! =S I took a long time to figure it out too!)

Outer V

As if it is not already hard enough to locate the Outer V on the Caucasian eye, the lack of overlapping of the Crease and Contour Area on the Asian eye makes the task even more daunting.

To start, imagine a line extended out from the Lower Lash Line, but not beyond the Border (to be covered in a while). That is one stroke of the ‘V’.

In Caucasian eye makeup talk, the other stroke of the ‘V’ is found on the ‘Crease’. Easy. The Outer V is also called the Outer Crease, because it really lands on their Crease. But I prefer not to use the word ‘Crease’ for the Asian eye to eliminate confusion.

Since we Asians cannot use the ‘Crease’ as an easy way out, the other stroke of the ‘V’ is usually found sitting on the Orbital Rim. You can see from the diagram above that the upper stroke is above the Fold. This will be the case for most Asians. Again, you want to blend the Outer V out well so that it does not look too unnatural on the Asian Eye.

Placing a dark color on the Outer V creates shadows and brings more depth to the eye.

Because there is much more to discuss on the topic of the Outer V, a tutorial onDefining the Outer V will be covered in the 3rd instalment of the Eye Makeup Tutorial for Asian Eyes series.


Kinda heavy, isn’t it, the top parts?




Now what’s left are the easy parts, because there are no obvious differences for these parts between the Asian and Caucasian eye.



The Highlight area is also known as the Brow Bone Highlight because, well, the Brow Bone Area (aka Contour Area) is right below and placing a highlight above that makes it the Brow Bone Highlight. Geddit? =D

The Highlight area is directly below the brow, and a light or bright shade like white, beige, silver, is placed here to make it stand out when light hits the face.

This area can be larger or smaller than the area I circled on my eye. My favoriteHighlight colors are Shroom from MAC and Tequila from Kat Von D Beethoven Palette.

Oh, one little difference I need to mention between Asian and Caucasian eyes is that the brow bone highlight will look more noticeable on the Caucasian eye because of a more pronounced brow ridge.


Upper Lash Line

The Upper Lash Line is where you apply eyeliner. This must be the most understood area of the eye. Haha!

Gel eyeliners work best on my oily eyelids because the pigmentation is great, long-lasting and does not smudge. My favorite gel liner is the Kate Gel Liner in BK-1. I like Bobbi Brown Gel Liner in Black Ink too. Also apply eyeliner as close to the Upper Lash Line as possible. Follow up with Tightlining the Waterline.

This is also where false eyelashes should be applied, as close to the Upper Lash Line as possible.

Done with the upper part of the eye! YAY!


Lower Lash Line

You can have great fun with the Lower Lash Line!

Just like the Lid and Upper Lash Line, the Lower Lash Line can be divided into inner, middle, and outer. If you divided the Lid into vertical thirds, you can follow the exact order in which the three eyeshadow colors were placed.

Alternatively, you can simply use dark eyeshadow colors to create a smokey look. Smaller eyes should avoid using black or dark brown all along the Lower Lash Line as these colors on the Lower Lash Line tend to make the eyes look smaller. A dark color can be used on the outer 1/3 of the Lower Lash Line, a mid tone on the middle, and a lighter color on the inner 1/3.

Some people use eyeliners on the Lower Lash Line, but since I am allergic to anything but eyeshadows there, I don’t use eyeliner in any form.

It is definitely alright not to put anything on the Lower Lash Line as well, but I prefer to apply a color or two for balance and dramatic definition.

I like to use Smog, which is a gorgeous bronzey brown from the Urban Decay Naked Palette, on most occasions when I want some color there, but nothing too OTT. I love having colors on the Lower Lash Line too!

Use a pencil brush like the MAC 219 for precise placement of eyeshadow on theLower Lash Line.



The Waterline is the watery area that is close to the eyeball. There are two – the upper and lower.

The Upper Waterline is where Tightlining is done – a method used to give the illusion of thicker eyelashes with the use of a black (typically) eyeliner.

On the Lower Waterline, some people use beige, white, silver to make the eyes appear bigger by visually extending the area. Or black, to give that dark look, but unless you have large eyes that won’t get compromised by black, try not to rim the entire eye with black liner.

I love Tightlining my Upper Waterline, but nothing stays or works on my Lower Waterline. After realizing that I am allergic to eyeliners on my Lower Waterline,especially eyeliners with shimmer, I don’t touch it anymore. So no good stuff on the Lower Waterline for me, can only play with the Lower Lash Line and only with eyeshadows.



I mention the Border here to show where eye makeup should not go beyond. An imaginary line can be drawn from the edge of the Outer Lower Lash Line towards the edge of the brow.

Normally, no color or line is place on or beyond the Border, unless an artsy look is intended – some people place rhinestones or draw dots at the border or extend eyeshadow way beyond the line.

While it is important to keep regular or even dramatic eye makeup within that zone, don’t go draw a harsh line along the border or abruptly stop there. Remember to diffuse any color so that it looks naturally faded out.

Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes Part 2: Vertical Gradient Method


(Update 10 Mar 2012: All ‘horizontal’ terms in this post have been changed to ‘vertical’. Please read this post for clarification. :) )

Hey guys! I’m so happy the first installment of this series (Where to Apply Eyeshadow) was so well received! Thank you all for your support! :D

In the second installment of the Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes series, we discuss the Vertical Gradient Method of eyeshadow application.

The Vertical Gradient Method is widely used on Asian models I often see in Japanese, Taiwanese, or any other magazines that showcase Asian models.

While there are no rules when it comes to makeup, the Vertical Gradient Method is one easy method of eye makeup application, and looks great on people with limited lid space, have heavily hooded eyelids, or have monolids.

The Vertical Gradient Method is basically dividing the lid horizontally, most commonly into 3 sections and with the darkest color placed nearest to the eyelashes.

In my opinion, why the Vertical Gradient Method is not as popular among Caucasians is because having just one color on the bigger lid space will not bring out the contours of the Caucasian eye as much as having more colors and defining their Crease.

On the other hand, the Vertical Gradient Method looks polished andsophisticated on many Asians because the lower position of the Fold and non-coincidence with the Orbital Rim creates a smooth canvas for color gradation. Monolids or heavy hooded lids will benefit the most from this eyeshadow application method.

Because I have slightly more prominent double eyelids, this look is quite not as optimal on me as compared to a person with monolids or with a lower Fold. It must be the existence of the Fold that causes interruption to the beautiful gradation of colors.

It is because of my eye shape that I find it necessary to define the Outer-V andContour Area to make my eyes look more defined and dimensional. The Outer Vand Contour Area will be covered in the third and fourth parts of this series respectively.

Using multiple shades of color of the same family builds dimension and definition. For this look, I used Sin (light champagne), Smog (bronzey brown) and Darkhorse (dark brown) from the Urban Decay Naked Palette.

Now let’s go through together the simple steps of the Vertical Gradient Method!

Step 1:

As with all eye makeup, make sure that the eye area is free of oils and water.

Then apply an eye primer to prolong eyeshadow lasting power and bring out the vibrancy in them. Having an eye primer on is especially important for people with oily eyelids like myself. Without a primer, even MAC, Urban Decay and Sugarpill eyeshadows tend to fade like nobody’s business by mid day on my eyes.

Step 2:

Apply the lightest color (Sin) on the entire eyelid area. Don’t stop beneath the fold – go ABOVE it instead, especially if your eyelid fold is very low.

See, with just one color the eye is brightened up instantly! =D

Step 3:

Now use a darker color than the first (Smog) and apply it from the lashes upwards, stopping just slightly below the first color (Sin). Now you have 2 colors on the lids and it is most important that they don’t look like 2 blocks of colors.

With neutral colors such as browns, bronzes, and pinks, blending is a lot easier than say, loud bright eyeshadow colors that are of a different color family.

So if you are just starting out on eyeshadow makeup, neutrals are a safe bet. But you know me, I LOVE my bright colors and I think that everybody should try a wild look at least once in their lifetime! Heh! =D

Step 4:

Take the darkest color of the 3 (Darkhorse) and place it nearest to the lashline, almost using it as a guideline for the ensuing eyeliner.

You can see from the picture on the right the gradation of 3 colors. If I didn’t have such a thick eyelid fold, the picture on the left would reflect well the 3 colors too.

You may also do it the other way round – applying the darkest color near the lash line first, and then work your way up in a gradient, ending with a highlight color under the brow.


You’re done!

I guess this is how it will look like if I didn’t have double eyelids (looking down so that the crease is not visible). That’s why people with monolids or heavy hooded lids can totally rock this look.

Blending is key here. You want a natural progression of colors, not blocks of colors (unless that is your intention, like Color Blocking), nor a muddy mess of brown.

Bun Bun Eyeshadow Blending Tips: By ‘blending’, it means to blur the intersection of 2 colors, not the whole 2 areas. There must not be a definite start and end to each color. It’s like you can see it, but can hardly put a finger to where the start and end points are.

I prefer using makeup brushes, but sponge applicators can definitely do the job for the Vertical Gradient Method.

Complete the look with eyeliner and mascara!

Remember in the first tutorial for this series I mentioned the Inner Corner of the eye?

Can you spot the difference?

Yup! I highlighted the Inner Corner of one eye with Sin.

See how a little spot of light eyeshadow brings light to the eyes? =D You should try it!

Both eyes with Inner Corners highlighted

Gradients don’t have to be boring or limited to browns and neutrals. I, for one, am more of a COLORS fan. LOL. I love to use purples, blues, reds, greens, oranges, yellows, pinks to bring out my dark brown eyes.

Browns tend to drown out my brown eyes, as mentioned in a post on the Bobbi Brown Gel Liner Chocolate Shimmer Ink. Shades of browns are nonetheless important in neutralizing or toning down colors, or to diffuse strong colors in theContour Area.

Here are some looks I found in my stash of makeup looks that exhibit the Vertical Gradient Method. Somehow I never posted them as tutorials or makeup looks. Haha. I’ll put up tutorials if requested though!


Oh, by the way, I don’t think Vertical Gradient Method is an official term. Heh. I just named it so because it describes the method as it is. =D