(Edited to add: This is part 1 of a multipart series. Part 2 can be found HERE, and more parts are forthcoming.)
Welcome readers, to a brand new occasional series of posts: Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eye Shapes! In this series I hope to give out a few tips for Asian eye makeup. Note that I said that these are tutorials for Asian eye "SHAPES", with a reference to plurality, rather than "Shape", and this is going to be a very important point I'll be referring back to throughout these series of tutorials, and this distinction lies at the heart of my series of Asian eyeshadow tutorials.
There are, of course, gazillions of tutorials, tips, tricks and techniques for Asian eyes out there - however, often they lead to more confusion instead of actual enlightenment. In part this is often because a large number of thse tutorials are done by Caucasian girls using their own eyes, so imagining it on an Asian girl can be hard, but also, more importantly, this is because almost all these tutorials I've come across so far assume that there is only one "generic" Asian eye shape.
However, as anyone who is Asian will tell you, just as Caucasians have different eye shapes, Asians have different Asian eye shapes too! So a generic "Asian Eye Makeup Tutorial" would be pretty useless for most girls just as in the same way a generic "Caucasian Eye Makeup Tutorial" would be pointless for most Caucasian girls. A generic "Caucasian Eye Makeup Tutorial" does not take into account that there are various Caucasian eye shapes. Some eye shapes are rounder, some are more deep-set, some are hooded, and all these require different application techniques, and a set of eye makeup tips for one eye shape won't really work for another. Thus similarly, eye makeup tutorials that claim to be for "Asian eyes" really rub me the wrong way, because they make the implicit assumption that ALL Asians have the same eye shape (just like how some people like to assume ALL Asians are warm-toned, but I've touched on that in this post HERE). And of course we know that is not true either! Some Asian eyes are small, some are not as small, some are hooded, some are not, some are almond shaped, some are more round, and some have little space between the lid and the eyebrow, and some have lots of space, and some have a lot of lid space, and some don't. So a generic "Asian Eye Makeup Tutorial" is not wrong, because it will help SOME Asian eye shapes, but it probably won't be applicable to ALL Asian eyes.
However, the sad fact is that a billion tutorials abound for a generic "Asian eye shape", but there are virtually none for a generic "Caucasian eye shape"! This just goes to show you that while we are used to thinking of Caucasians as having varying eye shapes, we are still not as accustomed to recognising that Asians have varying eye shapes too. Instead, we assume that tricks and tips that work for one type of Asian eye shape will work for all Asian eyes. (This brings me back to the not-so-far-gone-days when I was in college in Chicago, and the underaged Asian students used to alcohol with the IDs of other Asian students, and they ALWAYS got away with it because some people thought that "all Asians look alike" and couldn't tell us apart. No wonder why they think there's only one type of Asian eye shape! That kind of thinking is actually pretty ignorant, if not racist, but back then, we were just happy getting our booze. LOL.)
If you still don't know what I'm talking about, take a look at this picture below. This is the standard textbook diagram every makeup student sees, and it gives you various tips on how to manipulate eyeshadow placement for different eye shapes:
See? See? What is that?! They painstakingly go through various types of Caucasian eye shapes - average eyes, wide set eyes, close set eyes, hooded eyes, deep set eyes, eyes with prominent lids, and then at the end of it all, one generic diagram for "Asian" Eyes.
Come on, you gotta be kidding me. Are you saying that all Asians should apply eyeshadow all the same way? Are you implying that all Asians have the same eye shape? Now ladies, we all know that's not true. The truth is, if you look at that diagram, it is making implicit assumptions about the "typical" Asian eye shape. It assumes that the "typical" Asian eye might be a little wide set, and it assumes that there is very little lid space and a lot of browbone space. And (very paradoxically for a guide for "Asian eyes") it assumes that the eye has a crease, and the crease is where the contour of the eye socket is. The last one is especially funny to me, because being an Asian girl growing up in Asia myself, I've had Asian girls complain to me all day long about how they have no crease, or double eyelids (as they are sometimes called). The truth is, some Asian girls have a lot of lid space, some don't. Some have a lot of browbone space, some don't. Some have a crease, some have half a crease, and some have no crease. Some are hooded, some are not. And they all require different types of treatment. Instead of assuming all Asian girls should apply eye makeup the same way for the same look, we should instead assess the eye, identify its main features and characteristics, and apply eyeshadow accordingly.
So in these series of posts, I'll be featuring a different Asian eye type each tutorial, and explaining the features of the eye shape, and what eyeshadow placement techniques we can use to enhance that particular type and shape of Asian eye. So although I call it a tutorial, it's not a hard-and-fast, follow-the-rules tutorial. It's really more of a series of tips that are effective for a specific Asian eye shape. Of course my sample size, being limited to my friends who don't mind me spending an hour to perv their eye, forcibly put eyeshadow on them, and take macro shots of it all, is going to be limited. It's not going to cover every single Asian eye shape under the sun (I would like volunteers LOL). But I hope it will show you that different types of Asian eye shapes deserve different types of treatment, and that lumping all Asian eyes under the same "Asian eyes category" is a little ignorant, and definitely not complete.
Well, with that hefty introduction out of the way, let's start on today's featured eye shape. I'd also like to add a disclaimer that the application may not be the best - like I said, this is a rough guide to eyeshadow placement, not a show-off-how-awesome-my-makeup-artistry-is post, and the emphasis is on the placement, not on the actual artistry. And also, the models I'll be using are all my friends, with my own makeup applied on them, and of course what suits me doesn't always suit them, so sometimes we'll get weird results colour-wise, but the basic point will be to show you where you could possibly place your eyeshadow, and I hope this series helps in providing some tips for the various Asian eye shapes. If nothing else, and you find my tips absolutely useless, I hope that at least you will recognise that not all Asian eyes are alike!
Today's beautiful eye belongs to my dear friend, Wendy. She has lovely eyes. Here are the main features of her eye:
1. It has a very defined crease (however, this isn't where we'll be placing the crease colour, because the contour of the eye socket doesn't lie along the line of the crease. This is pretty common for Asians, but not for Caucasians - but more about this later. It's sort of like a hooded eye, but not exactly like it.)
2. It is deep set (by Asian eye standards, anyway)
3. It is almond shaped.
I'll refer to this shape as the Deep Set Hooded Almond Eye (what a mouthful, eh?). However, to apply the makeup well, we should further take note of a few more things, the little nuances that make every girl's eye different and unique. Wendy also has little lid space, and relative to the lid space, her browbone space is a lot more. She also has a little bit of eyelid discolouration, resulting in a darkened colour in the skin area around the eyes.
So how would we treat Wendy's eye?
First, for discoloured eyes, applying a light colour all over, from lashline to the browbone, gives an even coloured base. And then we apply a lid colour. On Wendy, I've chosen to use the base colour as both the lid colour and the highlight colour, thus giving her a simple look that uses just two colours. This look works on Wendy because her eyes are relatively deep-set (by Asian standards anyway), so using a lighter colour on her eyelid helps to bring forward the lid area. But hypothetically, if I had wanted to use a different lid colour, the diagram below shows you where I would have put it:
Notice that I put the lid colour ABOVE the crease - instead of stopping there, as a Caucasian girl might do, it goes OVER and beyond the crease. The reason for doing this is simple. What we are trying to acheive with the lid and crease colour is to contour the eye. In most Caucasian eyes, the crease happens to meet with the contour of the eye, which is where the soft eyeball ends and where the socket bone begins. Thus, when you look at a typical eyeshadow tutorial that assumes a Caucasian eye shape, they often tell you to put a dark colour in your crease, and if you had such an eye shape, that would be correct, because your crease would coincide with your contour. The only exception to this is Caucasians who have hooded eyelids. However, in Asians, often our crease isn't where our contour is. Wendy is a really good example of this. Here you can see that the actual contour of the eye, where the eyeball meets the eye socket, is much further up than the crease, which happens to be somewhere in the middle of the lid. This is like a hooded eye, but not quite the same thing. In Caucasians it often happens due to aging, where the eyelid just tends to droop down with age, and when this happens, there is a lot of skin where the fold is. In Asians, it's just our genetics, so we don't really have as much skin in the fold, but we do get a similar end result which causes our crease line to lie below our eye contour area.
So as a result, we don't want to actually put the "crease colour" in the crease, but rather the contour of the eye. In fact, I personally feel that "crease colour" is a misnomer; it should really be called contour colour, but the term is now a matter of convention. The diagram below shows you what I mean:
As you can see, Wendy's contour of the eye socket isn't actually where here crease lies, and thus that's why we apply the crease colour in the contour of her eye socket, NOT in the actual fold of the lid.
So, with that in mind, when applying Wendy's crease colour, we don't actually put it in her crease, because that would visually close up the eye by putting a dark colour in the middle of her eyelid. Instead, we bring the crease colour above the crease, and into the actual contour area of her eye, to open up the eye visually and make the lid space appear bigger. This technique is particularly effective on Wendy's eye, because she happens to have relatively little lid space compared to her browbone space, so by contouring the eye this way, we balance out the spaces and make the eyelid area look bigger. If we had put a crease where the actual fold of skin was, it would make her eyelid area look smaller instead. This technique of bringing the crease colour above the creaseline and into the contour area also works for hooded eyes of all types, regardless of whether they are Asian or Caucasian.
See the difference in contour a well-placed crease makes? And that's really the gist of it for Wendy's Almond shaped hooded eye - the key to this eye shape is to ensure that you are actually contouring the eye by placing the crease colour correctly. She can add some liner and mascara, but the eyeshadow placement is done. In short, here's a summary diagram for a deep set almond-shaped Asian eye with a hood:
I'd like to stress that while finding the right place to put the crease colour in an important technique that works for all eye shapes, it's an especially helpful tip when it comes to Asian eye makeup. This is because like I mentioned before, one of the differences between Asian and Caucasian eyes is that in Caucasian eyes, the crease line usually coincides nicely with the contour area, but this is not necessarily so in Asians. As a result, while most Caucasians can use their crease line to identify the contour area to place the crease colour, Asians may not always be able to do this, and attempts to do so often end up in confusion. This is especially the case if you are one of those girls with a double-lid on one eye and a monolid on the other eye, or if your crease line appears and disappears at will (like mine).
The key thing is to not get confused by the seeming inconsistency of your double eyelid, because it doesn't actually matter too much in eyeshadow placement. The contour area, not the double eyelid, is what really matters. Instead of using the double eyelid or the creaseline as a guide, feel around instead for the area where your eyeball meets the eyesocket, and place your crease colour following that contour area instead. This is a very helpful makeup tip, because even though the crease may be inconsistent, your eye contour area always remains the same. In fact, you shouldn't be bothered by your creaseline at all when it comes to eyeshadow placement. Typically eyeshadow tutorials will tell you to look for your "crease" because they assume a typical Caucasian eye structure, in which the crease meets nicely with the contour area. However if your crease line doesn't meet the contour area, then it's not really relevant to eyeshadow placement, so instead just look for the contour area of your eye where the eyeball meets the socket bone, and contour that area instead. (I might write a separate post on this and remove this bit to keep the content streamlined, but until then, I'm leaving it here so everyone can read it.)
Now to amp up the look a little for more drama. Here, we use colours that are a bit darker, but we abide by the same principles. So we darken the crease, extend it a bit further, put a darker colour on the lid, and add a little liner. And this is what a night time look would be on Wendy:
And that's it for today, everyone! I can't tell you how excited I am to have FINALLY gotten a move on this series on Asian eyeshadow tutorials for different Asian eye shapes! I still have other friends who have been forced into becoming eye models for me, so watch out for more - probably in a few weeks' time though, since tutorials are really time-consuming to make, and I probably won't want to be doing one anytime soon.