Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes Part 1: Where to Apply Eyeshadow


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, the Crease of the Asian eye merely defines the Fold of the eyelid. If you have a Fold, 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 a Fold 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, and Horizontal 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 the Contour 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 on Defining 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 favorite Highlight 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 the Lower 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.

In the next episode of this series, we will look into the Vertical Gradient Method of eyeshadow application.

Alright! Hope you enjoyed and benefited from the first installment of the Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes series!

Let me know what you think! =D



Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes 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


You will also like:

About Bun Bun

Hello! My name is Juli and Bun Bun is my alter-ego. I blog to share my love for makeup, how to apply it, and what works or what doesn’t work, all from an Asian perspective.

My first makeup product was a shimmery light blue lipstick which I proudly wore all over my eyelids and lips. It cost $2.50, felt like $250, and made me feel like a million bucks.

Throughout this blog you will see Bun Bun in different poses.

Instead of using numbers (3/5, 4/5) or alphabets (B+, A+) to rate products, I put Bun Bun in different positions and expressions to represent the rating given to the product after a review.

In Bun-O-Meter, the first on the list would mean a 5/5 rating and the last one a 1/5 rating.

You can always refer to the sidebar any time you don’t understand what Bun Bun’s pose means.

I hope you enjoy reading my makeup and beauty posts as much as I did writing them.

Talk to you soon! =)


Juli & Bun Bun

  • gothchiq

    Best explanation ever! I’m Sicilian, not Asian, but my fold and orbital ridge don’t coincide either. Apply color in crease = color disappears and lid looks tiny. My lids are puffyish, always have been, not thin and clinging to the bone like many Caucasian eyelids do. So… your tutorial does a lot more for me than the instructions meant for people whose eyes actually have hollows above the lid. I’ll be watching this space for any updates!

    • Bun Bun

      Thank you gothchiq! That’s what I really hope to achieve. Yup, stay tuned for more! =D

  • sandy

    OMG. THANK YOU SO MUCH! this is so helpful <3

    • Bun Bun

      You’re welcome sandy! =D Hope you will benefit from the rest of the series too.

  • taliacrayon24

    So, so, so helpful! You’ve obviously put a lot of work into this, and it has really helped me! thank you!

    • Bun Bun

      Oh yes taliacrayon24, you cannot imagine how many times I’ve edited and re-edited the content, to make it simple yet engaging. And the photos! Omg, the photos. Hahaha. Not in this post though, but the number of photos taken for the rest of the series are plentiful! Thank you for reading!

  • May

    Oh what a wonderful post! Really appreciate your eye makeup tips and tutorials. I am looking forward to the rest of the series too! I have very thin double eyelids by the way. So thin I look I hav none. =(

  • Shellz

    I would love to find out what is the ‘horizontal method’. Thank you for creating this series. 😉

    • Bun Bun

      You will soon, Shellz! =D

  • Bun Bun

    Why thank you very much Ana for appreciating! =D

  • Mikka

    This is terrific! Great article for anyone learning to apply makeup, not only on themselves, but on others as well. Can’t wait for part 2 :)

    • Bun Bun

      Thanks Mikka! I can’t wait to share part 2 too! =D

  • Mel

    Hi bunbun,

    I stumbled upon your site when googling tightlining and i must say it is indeed a very interesting and useful site for asians! I am a makeup junkie too and I cannot live without eyelner and mascara. When I first started getting more into eyeshadows, I was also confused about the whole ‘crease’ business and it took me awhile to figure it out, after watching youtube videos featuring asian beauty bloggers. Your article is spot-on. Well done!

    One thing I would like to add though…there is a difference between tightline and waterline. Many people confuse them as being the same thing. They are similar but there is a difference. To tightline the upper lash line, the best way is to place a mirror directly beneath you, gently lift your lashes upwards then use a brush or pencil to fill in a line amongst your lashes. Basically, your focus is to merge with the lashes rather than create a separate line. The line should be on the inner skin between the lashles and above the pinkish waterline.

    Lining the waterline is to line the pinkish inner rims.

    For those with sensitive eyes and cannot tolerate eyeliner on the waterline, tightlining is an effective way of defining the eyes subtly.

    Hope this helps! :)

    • Bun Bun

      Hi Mel! Thanks for dropping by!

      Ah, what a good explanation for the difference between tightlining and lining the waterline. =) I usually just do both because the combined result makes the eyes just so much more alluring! But thanks for pointing that out!

      See you around! =D

  • ximena

    Im Mexican but my crease is very low somewhere half way between my orbital rim and my eyelashes iis where my fold lands… so definitely does not coincide with the orbital rim.. i usually end up just ignoring the fold and following my orbital rim, more so when i wear bright or very dramatic eyeshadow, when i use neutral colors i just follow the crease..
    i think i have like almond eyes but i dont know.. they are a bit slanted and slightly up but is minimal.. i also have this weir inner corner hood that makes it really hard to extend the eyeliner like in arab shadow makeup…
    I learn so much about eyes today that im subscribing to ur blog.. :) thanks for a great article..

    • Bun Bun

      Really happy to know that you picked up some tips here, ximena! Yup, that’s the right way – just ignore the fold and follow the orbital rim. You’re doing it right gal! =D

      And thank you for subscribing!

  • Steph

    This is such a helpful article! I can’t wait for the rest of the series, especially parts 3 and 4. I only recently started getting into using eyeshadow, and am really struggling with finding the right placement for contouring. Hopefully your other articles can help me! > <

  • Elle

    I actually discovered your blog a while ago, but never got around to commenting until now. Love this series of tutorials – your explanations are so clear and concise. You’re also the first one who’s been able to explain where different colors should go on Asian eyes in a way that’s helpful and understandable, so major props for that. I will definitely be sticking around, :).

    • Bun Bun

      Thank you for appreciating my hard work, Elle! You can’t imagine how much support from you guys motivate me to carry on. *hugs*

      I couldn’t find any information myself on the net and had to experiment and learn the hard way myself. So I hope Asians or MUAs with Asian clients will be able to benefit from my ‘dissection’ of the appearance of the Asian eye and make less mistakes than I did. Haha!

  • erin

    What a great tutorial!

    • Bun Bun

      Thank you erin! =)

  • a!kO

    Now I am bookmarking this! 😀 You should be a freelance makeup artist 😉 This is awesome 😀 I need to study this eyes are all weird and stuff 😛 aren’t we just so special? 😉


    • Bun Bun

      We certainly are, a!kO!

      Yes, yes, do take time to look at this chart made specially for the Asian eye, and then tweak it to suit your own. Once you better understand your eye shape and contours, eye makeup application is gonna be even MORE fun! =D

  • Kelly

    Finally a eyeshadow chart for Asians! THANK YOU SO MUCH. The way our eyes look and how makeup should go on are very different and I’m glad you made the effort to put up this chart for all of us. I’m sure many Asian girls – or guys – will find this tremendously useful.

    I love your tutorials!

    • Bun Bun

      You’re very welcome, Kelly. And thanks for liking my tutorials! Appreciate you taking time to read and comment! =D

  • Shellz

    Very informative! I have typical Caucasian eyes, you know the crease and everything, but it’s good to have this chart as I do makeup for some of my friends who are Asian. Thanks for the clear explanation. You’re very good at making makeup tutorials.

    • Bun Bun

      Awww thank you Shellz! I appreciate that! =)

  • Mel

    Will bookmark this!

  • Jill

    Hi Bun Bun,

    Thanks so much! Your posts almost save my life. Before reading these, every time I used eye shadow it looks like somebody just punch my eye… Sooo looking forward for the rest 3 parts!

  • s2rawRberry

    Thank you for such a thorough and informative review on how to apply eyeshadow! It really clarifies a lot. My eyes are shaped like yours and like you I had difficulty understanding the majority of YT videos because they catered towards Caucasian eyes and even Asian gurus tended not to address this topic as thorough as you did. I’ll be sure to recommend this to others, especially friends with similar eye shapes.

    • Bun Bun

      You’re very welcome s2rawRberry! I’m glad another person has benefited from this post. :) I was suffering a long time trying to apply eye makeup the ‘Caucasian way’ and ending up looking really weird.

      Thanks for spreading the word too! *muackz*!

  • Smashinbeauty Makeup Blog

    Excellent post 😀 thanks

  • Jacqueline

    That is one of the most detailed explanation ever. It is so helpful, thanks so much.

    • Bun Bun

      Thanks for commenting Jacqueline! 😀

  • Jenny

    Amazingly detailed! Wonderful thank you :)

    • Bun Bun

      Hi Jenny! Welcome to my blog. Glad that you like this tutorial! 😀

  • shnappy

    thank you for this! i’ve been looking for a detailed diagram on where what goes.

    • Bun Bun

      You’re very welcome shnappy! Hope it helps with your makeup application! 😀

  • Osy

    Very useful info you have here. I am a newbie in makeup, and this is a great help. I pinned this on my Pinterest, so I’ll never forget. Many thanks!

    • Bun Bun

      Thanks for the repin, Osy! And welcome to Bun Bun Makeup Tips! Hope to see you around! 😀

  • whitney2012

    I wanted to say thanks! I’m a half asian, half white with eye creases that also like to multiply when I’m short on sleep. I always wondered why putting the darker shade in the crease never looked quite right. A couple years ago I searched eye make up for asians and came up with a bunch of advice for monolids, sighed, and gave up on eye shadow. I figured I had some kind of ridiculous eye lid shape since I’m a hybrid.
    Now I know better! I’m so excited to try out some of your tips. Keep up the great work and thanks for all the pictures and diagrams!

    • BunBunMakeupTips

      @whitney2012 What a tough time you must have had, trying to find the right kind of tutorials for your eye shape! It means you’re really special *winks. Thank you for reading and leaving this comment. I hope you have a great time reading my posts, Whitney. =)

  • karamiller76

    I need some advice on the upper tightlining.  I’m able to do it but how do you get the little winged out part at the end of the outer corner?  Anytime I’ve tried it looks just like a line :-(

  • HelloKat

    Finally a tutorial for my eyes, most don’t know how to do the makeup or add so many layers for places I just don’t have( according to tradtional eye charts) My eyes are just shaped differet not “small, hooded”= not pretty eyes.

    • BunBunMakeupTips

      @HelloKat I know! Traditional eye charts can be really confusing and frustrating to follow. =/ Actually, what makes someone attractive is the twinkle in the eye and not so much the size of the eyes. IMO. Thanks for dropping by, hope to see you around again!

  • CTO

    Thank you for this post.  This really helps someone with Asian eyes.  I’ve only recently become addicted to eye makeup.  This really helps better than the Caucasian blogs/youtube videos.

    • BunBunMakeupTips

      @CTO Thank you for your support! I’m happy I’ve helped in any way. =)

  • Liawati Uret

    Phew! What a loooong post. But this really helps! Thanks!

  • madknitress

    I am not Asian (as far as I am aware) but I am a mixture of Caucasoid, Latino and Native American. Your tutorials have helped me TREMENDOUSLY. I have double lids, and I never knew how to contour them correctly! Now I have an more solid concept, so thank you! And I also now know I have “Phoenix Eyes” which is also helpful. You are educating so many, and it is very much appreciated. Again, thanks! -Lauren

  • Tibetan

    Thank you for such a detail explanation. However I have really “bad” asian eyes if i dare. No line/lid and kind of puffy/swolen eyes. So far none of the beautician managed to find a proper make up. Yours explaination works i suppose those asian eyes who have nice line/lid. can you help? Tse

  • taniatj

    hello~~ thanks for such thorough explanation! I had to learn it the hard way by making so many makeup mistakes but I agree with what you said! :) Not many people do a makeup tutorial on double lid asian eyes so thanks again!

    I made a video on double lid asian makeup with Gold eyeshadow. Let me know what you think! Thanks! ^^

  • JahanDorzada

    You are extremely talented.  I am ethnically South Asian and Middle Eastern, and have hooded eyelids.  You are extremely articulate and precise in your explanations, whereas most make-up video “gurus” offer very little detail.  Thank for spending so much time on writing these up.  Your brilliant tutorials have cleared up a lot of things I was completely lost on.

  • fraticmetric

    Amazing!! Thank you!!