While Caucasians search ‘How to stop eyeshadow from creasing’, Asians typically search ‘How to fake a crease with eyeshadow’.
Before I got more serious into makeup, I only knew I had double eyelids. Crease…what? The only crease I knew was the kind of crease found on a crumpled piece of paper.
But before I start explaining, here’s a little disclaimer. The words ‘Westerner’ and ‘Caucasian’ will be used interchangeably in this post with no intention whatsoever to offend anyone. With ‘Asian’ I refer more specifically to East and Southeast Asians. Western Asians (Middle East) and Southern Asians (Pakistan, India, etc) have anatomical traits more similar to those of Westerners.
OKIE! Let's start!
When I got more interested in makeup, I started to read beauty blogs and watch videos that went on and on about ‘applying a darker eyeshadow color to your crease to bring more dimension to the eyes.’ I looked at myself in the mirror and searched for the mysterious crease these makeup bloggers were talking about. Is the word ‘crease’ just another moniker for what we Asians refer to as ‘double eyelids’?
It didn’t occur to me, until much later on, that the blogs I was reading and videos I was watching had Western authors that taught the Western way of makeup application. No matter how hard I tried in emulating the way they placed their eyeshadows, I could never achieve the looks they easily demonstrated.
It didn’t occur to me that our bone structures are completely different and even though I have double eyelids, where my crease and contour area lie is very different from a Caucasian’s. Even though it is a matter of mere millimeters more at which the skin folds above the eyelashes, there is a much greater science that explains our differences in genetics.
The Stereotypical Asian Eye
Eye Type Chart #1
I found this picture online showing the types of eyes. Can you guess which is labeled ‘Asian eyes’?
Did you get it right?
Well, most of my friends didn’t get it right on the first try and some had no clue even after the third guess.
Hello? What does ‘Asian eyes’ mean? I think the Asian eye in this diagram looks very much the same as the rest of the eyes, except for the slight epicanthal fold at the inner corner of the eye and the palpebral slant. Not ALL Asians have epicanthal folds and even Caucasians can have palpebral slants and epicanthal folds too.
By the way, an epicanthal fold is the skin of the upper eyelid that covers the inner corner of the eye. And the palpebral slant is, in layman’s term, the slant of the eye.
The above picture also assumes that all Asians have a crease. Not all Asians have a crease and such eye types are called monolids. Even Asians who have a crease do not have such a thick crease. The one in the picture is considered thicker than the average Asian eyelid.
Hooded eyelid with minimal epicanthal fold
Monolid with prominent epicanthal fold
And here’s another eye type chart that conveniently groups all of us into ONE eye type.
Eye Type Chart #2
Do you see the ‘asian’ eye? It looks so exotic AND offensive at the same time! LOL. Asians don’t look like that, at least not the majority of us. This illustration of the Asian eye is so stereotypical and out-dated I burst out laughing when I first saw it. It looks more like Mulan - a brave Chinese girl who went to war in place of her ailing father. Mulan, from what I see, has 'Phoenix eyes' with double eyelids, prominent epicanthal folds and a super palpebral slant.
Lumping all Asian eyes under one type while displaying many types of the Caucasian eye is tantamount to showing this to a Caucasian.
(Picture taken from http://www.asianeyelid.com/faq.html)
See what I mean? Just one ‘typical Caucasian eyelid crease’. I can totally relate to these eyes and know how to apply makeup on them while a Caucasian upon seeing this chart may be perplexed that an eye can have no crease or that the orbital rim (contour area) is nowhere near the crease.
Just a sidetrack. This image was taken from a website that specialises in Asian double eyelid surgery. I believe the (h) was included to let patients understand that the goal of double eyelid surgery is not to westernize an Asian face, but to create a crease that looks natural on an Asian face. Giving a patient too high a crease will only result in an imbalanced overall look. Double eyelids are generally appreciated across many cultures and Asians who undergo double eyelid surgery do so to make their eyes look bigger with a defined crease and to have more lid space for eye makeup. NOT to look more Western.
So. As I was saying.
Not all Caucasian babies look like…
And not all Asian babies look like…
This baby makes me smile every time... =)
No, seriously, we all know not all Caucasian babies look like that and not all Asian babies look like that too. In fact, ‘Asian’ is too broad a classification. With so many countries making up East and Southeast Asia, the Mulan-esque ‘Asian eye’ does not even represent half of us.
(Pictures taken from Google and modified by me)
See, both Thanh Huyen and Vicky Zhao Wei:
1. have double eyelids,
2. do not have the epicanthal fold that people think distinguishes Asians from Caucasians,
3. do not have eyes that slant upwards,
4. do not look like Mulan
Thanh Huyen has alluring almond-shaped eyes with parallel crease that are slightly triangular.
Vicky has gorgeous big round eyes with parallel crease, with the right eye being more hooded than the left.
(Wow, adjectives, adjectives)
Ah, I sometimes have asymmetrical eyelids like that too. If I sleep too much or too little, my left eyelid becomes more hooded. Because I see things with grid lines in my eyes, I like both eyelids to be of about the same height. So I use eyelid tapes (aka eyelids stickers) to correct the fold.
While there is extensive literature on how to apply eyeshadow for Caucasian eyes, the same cannot be said for Asian eyes (at least not in English!). Not only do Asians have different descents, the type, shape and size of eyes differ between countries and even within a country. These factors must be taken into consideration when applying eyeshadow or eyeliner on an Asian eye.
My point in showing the eye charts and pictures is to demonstrate that the depiction of the 'Asian eye' is incorrect and it is not fair to simply wave Asians off with a one-size-fits-all eye type.
Therefore, how Asians apply eyeshadow will be different from Caucasians, and different types of Asian eye will require different eyeshadow placement.
Are you saying that an Asian eye is similar to a Caucasian eye?
Yes. And NO!
The out-dated eye charts display an array of eye types – wide set, deep set, close set, almond, hooded, down turned, protruding, round small – and then the infamous ‘Asian eye’. You mean they don’t know that Asians have those eye types too? Aren’t eye shapes and sizes just… shapes and sizes? If the shapes and sizes apply to both Caucasian AND Asian eyes, why must there be as isolated ‘Asian eye’ then?
They should’ve just shown,
and we’d be all pissed off because, just like Caucasian Eyes don’t mean anything to a Caucasian, Asian Eyes don’t mean no nothing to an Asian either.
Since the eye shapes and sizes of both Caucasians and Asians are the same,
Since not all Asians have slanted eyes,
Since not all Asians have epicanthal folds,
What makes an Asian eye different from a Caucasian eye then?
The crease and the eyelids, yo!
Now that you know there is more to an ‘Asian eye’ seen in magazines, how many types exactly are there? Just so you know, 50% of the Asian population have a crease while the other half don’t. If anything, I believe the Asian eye has an even more complex structure and poses a greater challenge to a makeup artist than a Caucasian one.
The additional underlying layer of fatty tissue and thicker skin of Asian eyelid not found in Caucasian eyelids prevents the formation of a lid crease on 50% of the Asian population. Lids that are crease-free are called monolids. There are some really interesting facts about the anatomical differences of Asian and Caucasian eyes. So, like I mentioned earlier, people who go for double eyelid surgery do so not to 'westernize' their eyes, but to look more like the other 50% of the Asian population who do have double eyelids.
I created a simple mindmap to show the similarities and differences between an Asian eye and a Caucasian eye.
[Click to see larger image]
You can see that the 'Asian Eye' has an additional eye shape - Phoenix eye, which is a beautiful eye shape named so because it resembles the eye of the mythical phoenix. And there's a whole new category for the types of Eyelids as well, something that Caucasian Eyes do not have.
In my next post, I will write about eye makeup tips for different types of Asian eyes.
Where is the mysterious Asian crease?
For the 50% of Asians who do have a crease, it is commonly referred to as ‘double eyelids’ instead of ‘crease’. The crease is where the double eyelid fold stops. For most Caucasian eyes, the crease and contour of the eye coincide.
Therefore when Caucasian makeup gurus instruct to ‘place the darkest shade on the crease’, they really mean ‘I actually mean to tell you to place the darkest shade on the contour of the eye socket. But I don’t say it just because my crease and contour coincide’. LOL. I took a long, long time to finally understand this by myself.
Where is the Asian contour area then?
Regardless of whether you have a crease or not, your contour area lies above the crease and you CAN apply contour shade even if you have monolids. Some have a more obvious contour area than others as well.
You can try raising your head and looking down to see it. If you still cannot see it, feel it. Use a fluffy eyeshadow brush like the MAC #217 and push the outer corner of the eyelid into the socket. Gently, please. There, my friend, is where you ‘place the darkest shade’ on an Asian eye. =)
Click on the picture below to read 'Where to apply contour eyeshadow color on an Asian eye'.
So you see, there is more to Asian eyes than the outrageously homogenous perception of ‘Asian Eye’. I’m not offended that all Asian eyes are generalized under one eye type; I find it rather funny actually, to see how people perceive how an ‘Asian eye’ should look. I remember vividly the ending picture in Harold and Kumar Go To Whitecastle. It was a picture of the stereotypical Chinese man (yellow skin, thin slit slanted eyes, 2 strokes as mustache, wearing a straw hat) and Indian man (dark skin, big eyes, thick beard, super white teeth). Super hilarious.
While most makeup artists learn from the standard charts such as those above, I think it is high time that more artists realize there is more to a standard ‘Asian eye’ than a slant, epicanthal folds, and monolids (or high crease as in the Eye Chart #1).
My intention of writing this post is to share with all Asian girls that it is okie to not look like the makeup bloggers or vloggers, even if you've used everything they used, because we are, after all, genetically different. Embrace what you have, know where your crease and contour area are, learn how to use the right makeup brushes, work on the technique, and let your true Asian beauty shine.
Lotsa love from a girl who has Asian eyelids with parallel crease and an unstable left double eyelid,
(Psst! My girlfriends have agreed to be my models to show how to apply eye makeup on different types of Asian eyes. Stay tuned! ^_^*)
Asian Eyeshadow Makeup Tutorial full series:
Part 1: Where to Apply Eyeshadow
Part 2: Vertical Gradient Method
Part 3: Defining the Outer V
Part 4: Defining the Contour Area
Part 5: Horizontal Gradient Method