Friday, April 20, 2007

Make-up 101: How to Apply Eye Shadow for Asian Eyes

Asian eyes are one of my favourite shapes to apply eye shadows on. Often times, my Asian customers would apologize for having "difficult" eyes to work with. No need to apologize - Asian eyes are a beautiful shape and with the right techniques you can enhance your eyes any way you want to. Lets begin shall we!

1. Tools: You'll need the proper brushes to enhance your beautiful eye shape. I recommend a slanted liner brush like MAC's #266, shading brush to apply colour like MAC's #217, a smudging brush like MAC's #219 and a brush for blending (very important!) like MAC's #224.

2. Prepping: Before applying any type of make-up you must prep your skin with a base. Use an eye cream that de-puffs and minimizes the appearance of dark circles and fine lines. Next prep your eye lid with translucent powder and an eye primer like MAC's Prep + Prime Eye. Priming your lids with a primer will help your shadow blend easily and will prevent fading and creasing.

3. Colours: Some Asian women are golden with yellow undertones and other Asian women are fair-skinned with pink undertones. Either can get away with wearing most colours under the rainbow especially since most have dark hair. For day time choose colours that are neutral like champagnes, taupes, and chocolate browns. If you have a pinker undertone stay away from anything with a pink or reddy base. Opt for more yellow based browns and beige tones. If your skin tone is more golden or yellow, stay away from colours that are too yellow based. For example, yellow golds or greens can make your skin look washed out and sallow. If you do wear these be sure to off-set it with something more cool based like a darker version of the colour or a dark liner.

If you like a little more colour for the day try soft sheer pinks and plum shades - nothing too candy coloured because it can look too garish under office lighting. If you can't part with your green eye shadow this spring/summer (green is a hot colour for this season!), try a khaki-green shade that has a sheer satin or matte finish, nothing too metallic or shimmery. Instead of applying it all over the eye, apply it as a liner instead by dampening your angled brush with a bit of water and mixing with the powder. If you're one of those girls that loves to smoke out her eyes 24/7, opt for a charcoal or slate grey rather than black as it can be too overdone for the office or daytime.

Don't be afraid to bump it up for night time. Have fun mixing different textures together like matte colours with glittery eyeliner or metallic shadows with a liquid liner. I love bright emerald greens, royal purples, turquoise, seafoam, and copper on Asian skin tones. If you're daring, candy hot pinks and tangerine oranges are also beautiful when applied properly.

Daytime: Start off by dusting the lid (from lash line to brow bone) with a champagne or beige tone. To give the eye more dimension, choose a neutral tone 2 or 3 shades darker than your base ( I like MAC's Charcoal Brown, Satin Taupe, or Wedge) for your crease. Using your shading brush you're going to apply the colour starting from the inner crease and working your way to the outer crease similar to the pictures on the left. Because you're creating the illusion of a crease you want to make sure you use your blending brush to blend out any harsh edges. Just run your brush back and forth across your crease until the colour looks soft and almost appears airbrushed. I've seen some Asian women who purposely draw a straight line as a crease which ends up looking unnatural.

Next line your eyes with a deep chocolate brown or soft black in a waterproof pencil or gel liner (MAC's Fluidline in Blacktrack and Dip Down are awesome). Some Asian women's lids extend all the way down to their lashline and the liner on top is usually not visible. If this is the case with you, skip liner on the top and apply liner on the bottom lash line with your angled brush. Soften the liner with your smudging brush. I sometimes find that not lining the bottom lash line can make the eyes disappear and lining them actually gives more definition. If your lid doesn't extend into your lash line, line just the top lash line from inner to outer corner for a polished finish. Match with a neutral brush like MAC's Cubic or Prism and sheer lipstick or gloss in a dusty rose or a pinky beige like Nars' Stolen Kisses lip gloss (caramel pink) or Dolce Vita lipstick (sheer dusty rose).

Smoldering: Go for a sultry eye using chocolate bronzes, charcoal blacks, metallic emeralds, eggplant purples and deep navy. To give the eye an extra smoky effect, I like to line the lash with a khol pencil like MAC's Eye Khol in Teddy, Smolder, Prunella, Tarnish, or Blooz and smudge it up into the crease area. I then apply a shadow in the same colour over top of the liner and blend it into the crease. It may look messy at first but do not fear because your blending brush is here! Work your blending brush back and forth until the edges are blurred or softened. Line the bottom lash line with the khol pencil and smudge. Apply the same colour shadow over top. Accentuate the brow bone with a light shimmery shade. Curl lashes and add lots of mascara - if you're a pro add some falsies to the outer edge of your lash. Brush on some bronzer or soft peach blush onto the hollows of the cheeks (if you have round cheeks like me avoid applying blush right on the apples - it just accentuates the roundness even more). Swipe on a peachy nude or pale pink gloss.

Classic but Modern: I LOVE this look. It's a softer and flirtier version of the classic look: soft eyes, black liner, defined brows, subtle rouge on the cheeks and a red pout. On the eyes, go for shimmery shades in pale golds or silver like MAC's Eye Paint in Base Gold or Nars' Single Eyeshadow in Bombshell. Apply on the top and bottom. For depth, add a soft brown or taupe in the outer crease. Line the eyes with a liquid liner like MAC's LiquidLast Liner in Point Black. If you prefer something softer smudge a black shadow into your lash line. Most Asian women have next to nothing lashes. If you're going to do this look I would go all the way and apply fake lashes. Fill in your brows and make sure they are well defined. To learn how to apply falsies read my older post: Make-up 101: Creating the Perfect Smoky Eye. Apply a soft pink blush on the cheeks like MAC's Pink Swoon for fairer skin or Dame for darker skin. What makes this look more updated is the undefined glossy red lips. Fill in your lips with a red shade like Nars' Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella for fair skin and Forbidden Red for golden undertones. Soften with your fingers and apply a shiny gloss like MAC's Lip Gelee in Dewy Jube over top.

Colourful and Fun: If you like to have fun with your make-up try colours in bright turquoise shades mixed with violets, or emerald greens with bright golds, or red coppers with citrusy oranges (I like MAC's Parfait Amour, Tilt, Steamy, Humid, Juxt, Amber Lights, Bronze, Mulch, Paradisco, Coppering, and Goldmine). If you're going to use a lot of bright shades on the eye, keep the lips muted. Don't be afraid to try glitter either (just don't over do it - you don't want to look like a walking disco ball). If you're new to wearing colour don't think you have to apply every bright colour under the sun all at once (like the picture on the left). The formulations these days are more sheer than the 70's and 80's (thank god). Swipe on a shimmery green shadow, some liner, mascara, and gloss and you're set for the night. If you really aren't comfortable with colour on your lids, line the eyes with a metallic or glitter pencil in turquoise instead. It'll be edgy but still you.

That completes our lesson! This is only a guide line so figure out what really works for you. Whatever you do, remember to have FUN! Don't be discouraged if you don't get it perfect the first time around - practice makes perfect. Work with your eye shape. It can be frustrating and confusing trying to figure out what your skin's undertones are, but don't hesitate to ask a make-up artist for help. If there is a particular look you like in a magazine, practice copying it until you perfect it. Be proud of your unique eye shape and let those eyes shine!

If this was helpful, please let me know. If you still have questions or are confused, feel free to leave a comment and I will answer them right away. Thanks!

*Pictures from


Gina said...

I love you! haha, I know, that sounds stalkerish. I just <33love<33 your website. Like with a million <3's. I've spent hours going through all of your entries and trying to absorb all the useful information ;) Your pictures are amazing, the way you describe what to do is so precise. Thank you so very much for taking the time out to write in this blog. ;) And I <3 the pictures but that's a given! Who doesn't love pictures. Again, I loooooooooove your site!

Make-up Junkie in Canada said...

Aww Gina I love that you love my site! Yay! I really appreciate your comments. I do it because I love writing about beauty and I love my readers! I'm here to help and I'm happy to do it. Thanks again!!

denise said...

Hi Joy,

Yes, it's me. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my question. I will play around with it and let you know how I do!

artist said...

Hi Joy! Love, love all the advice you give! I just have a question. I don't know whether or not I am a yellow or pink undertone. How would I figure this out?

Make-up Junkie in Canada said...

Hey Artist!
Thank you for your comment! To answer your question, one way to figure out what undertone you are is to look at your veins in your underarm (seems strange but it works!). If your veins have a green colour then you have a yellow undertone. If your veins are blue you have a pink undertone. If you're still unsure check out this guide from

Hope that helps!


Shizuko said...

Thanks for the tips for eye shadow. Now can you help me solve a problem I have had forever?! How do I keep mascara from smudging under my eyes? I only apply it on the top lashes and within an hour, it's smudged under my eyes. I don't wear it anymore because of this problem. Help!


~mei~ said...

Hi! This is my 1st time visiting ur blog actually.I stumbled upon it when I was looking for tips on how to apply brown eyeshadow on brown asian eyes :) And I found this post pretty helpful.Thanks :D

I do have a question tho'. I have uneven eyes.My left eye has a crease and creates a very thin space between the eyelid and upper lash line.

While my right, has none. The lid extend all the way down to the lashline and the liner on top is usually not visible.

So this creates a really big problem when lining my eyes since I can just line the top lashline for the left eye but can't do the same for the right.Even if I do, the line would not be visible.

Should I line the bottom lashline for both eyes then?

Thanks :D

Make-up Junkie in Canada said...

Hey Shizuko and Mei!

Ok, first I'll answer Shizuko - sorry I never replied until now but I never got notice of your comment...anyways...mascara on Asian eyes is a tricky one...first I'd apply some loose powder on the lower lash line so that the oils from your skin don't take off your mascara...second water-proof mascara is the closest you'll get to smudge-free mascara...the thing with water-proof mascara is that it's not resistant against oils from the skin just from you still may get a little smudging but it's not as bad as regular mascara. plus water-proof mascara is the only kind that will get asian lashes to curl up! haha

Mei thanks for your question and glad you were able to find this useful. For your eyes, I would actually skip the liner on top and apply brown shadow on both lids from lash line to crease. since your left eye has a little crease you're going to want to make your right eye similar by adding brown shadow to about the same spot as your left. This will balance the eyes out and take away from the uneveness. It'll take some practice but keep doing it until it looks right. After you're done with the shadow line both your lower lashlines to complete the look and to take away focus from the top lash line.

Hope that helps guys!!

~mei~ said...

Hi Joy :)

Thanks for all the advice you gave! :D I have another problem. I've recently purchased a eyeshadow pallete with different brown tones in it. It is called Kanebo KATE's Deep Eyes Eyeshadow in BR-2.To get a clearer pic of the pallete here's a link that you could check out :)

If you scroll down the page, you could get a larger view of the colours :)

The problem is now that I've tried applying it on my eyes, it seems to highlight my undereye dark circles even more eventho' I've used a concealer.The pallete came with instructions.You can view that too at:

1) Should I try a different method in applying it since it doesn't seem to help amplify my eyes but rather highlight my dark undereye circles?

2) Also, would pink blush go with this shades of browns? :)

Oh, I'm a Chinese from Malaysia. I think I have a cool undertone since I look best with silver jewelry and have a pinkish tone on my cheeks which become more apparent under the sun.

Hope I didn't overwhelmed you with my entry here! Thank you so much for your help, Joy! You're the best!

KEep up the great work! ANd hope you'll come up with more make up tutorials for asians!:)

Anonymous said...

I love your site. Where can i find you to book you for an appointment?!

Make-up Junkie said...

Hey Julie!
Thank you! You can email me at for rates and then we go can from there :) Thanks for visiting my site and I look forward to hearing from you!

Anonymous said...

hey joy, i found ur page whilst looking for tips on make up and have found it to be quiet informative but i still have trouble understanding. i have never applied make-up on in my life(honest) and am not a very girly girl but now i found make0up to be very handy. Especially with my ball coming up
i was wondering if you could give me some help with:
-make-up lingo
-colour choices for asian skin
-tips to applying make-up(any would be great)
-how to apply eyeshadow without looking like a clown!
Sorry i'm such a make-up virgin but any help u give would be appreciated.

cat said...

Thanks so much, Make up Junkie! I actually have my gradball coming up, and I have an emerald HK style dress with white detailing. I really liked your Classic but Modern make up application. Do you have any suggestions on colours or lustre? I was thinking silver and green, though not sure what shade. Any suggestions would be much appreciated (it's this Saturday). Thanks!

- cat

yummy411 said...

joy to the rescue AGAIN! i want a diverse portfolio and needed ideas for asian eyes. most looks i see either just have a darker lash/lid and the gradiant goes lighter toward the brow... or i may see a dark outer corner.. however! as i see here, there are ideas to give the eye a different look without taking away from the asian eye or making it look like we want to completely transform the eye!! thanks for the visuals!!!!

Elizabeth said...

Oooh my gosh I love this article! I can never seem to apply make-up just right so that my eyes are accentuated, and it just dawned on me to Google for advice. You explained everything wonderfully and I can't wait to try out a new look!

Anonymous said...

joy, thank you!

i found your blog from looking up pictures on asian eyes and caucasian eyes before that. i found applying eyeshadow really difficult because of the lids (both are differnt; left creases more, right is single). my mascara always smudges on my lower lid. my eyeliner always fades and foundation would just be plain messed up (i don't use it anymore because of multiple reasons).

this article was really helpful and i know a lot more now.

but i don't think i'll try it out, even though i'm really tempted. i'm too young, and i can't get my hands on those products. i have hmmm brown and beige shimmery eyeshadow with a brush hmmm i don't know what kind it is though. i have "water proof" masacara from revlon. 2 eyelash curlers. powder. concelor. but not some of the stuff isn't usable/ican'tuseitright.

haha, i'm sorry i'm just talking on and on and on.
well <33 thanks for taking your time for this blog.

Anonymous said...

About checking your undertones.. what if you have blue AND green veins?

Anonymous said...

hi, just wanna say that i absolutely love your blog...& i do appreciate this article so much....
thanks a lot!
its so helpful....
promise i will keep visting!

Calida said...

This is a fantastic tutorial/guide. I've always found it difficult to try and figure out how to apply eyeshadows correctly/efficiently to my eyes because I have those Asian eyes where my crease is pretty much non-existant on one side and almost non-existant on the other side. I'll definitely try these tips. Thanks so much for sharing this! It's been so helpful!

Venessa said...

Thanks for tips.

Cathy said...

Hi, i was wondering if you could teach me how to line my top lids.
my top lid has a crease but the crease is really thin and when i look up the whole crease and the part i put my eyeliner on disappears and I'm really sick of just lining my bottom lids.
Please help.
thanks! :)

Olivia said...

Hi. I have the single-fold type of Asian eyes, and I followed your advice on just lining the bottom lids. It works really well, by the way. But my question is that even though I try to go for the 'daytime' look, I always end up with the smoldering, 'nighttime look'. Not that I'm complaining, but I'd like to know how I could create the daytime look. Do I need lighter eyeshadows? I have a golden skin color with yellow overtones, so could recommend me good colors? Thanks.

Faith said...

I don't get it. I have blue- green me out?

Make-up Junkie said...

Hi Faith!
Thanks for your question. If you have blue-green veins then you are a mix of cool and warm undertones. It's very common to have both and most people do. I would choose eyeshadows that enhance your natural eye colour. You will know if the shade is wrong for you if it washes your skin out. Hope that helps!

Make-up Junkie said...

Hi Mei!
My apologies for the super late reply! Anyways, if you still read my blog here's the answer!

If your shadow is giving your eyes under eye circles, skip applying concealer under the eyes until after you have finished applying your shadow. That way if there is any fall-off you won't get it on your concealer or foundation.

Pink blush definitely goes with browns. Browns are neutral so you can pretty match any shade of blush with it.

Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I'm caucasian but have asian eyes from an ancestor. I couldnt figure why eye shadow tutorials didnt work on me. I didnt really notice how different mine and my dads and eyes to my mums. Now I know and what to dow with them. Thanks I used to hate them because they were really small but now I know how to make them look nice and (sort of) fit the rest of my face :)