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! 😀

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 and sophisticated 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 and Contour Area to make my eyes look more defined and dimensional. The Outer V and 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 the Contour 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

I also asked my friend, Min, who has heavily hooded eyelids to be my model for a demonstration of the Vertical Gradient Method. Check out our Eye Makeup Tutorial for Asian Hooded Lids!

In the next episode of this series, we will look into Defining the Outer V. Yippeee!!!

Get the Urban Decay Naked Palette


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Get Maybelline EyeStudio Color Explosion Eyeshadow- Caffeine Rush

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


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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

  • samuraistripper

    I love this tutorial! Super easy, fast and simple. There are days where I feel too lazy to put on makeup, but now I have no excuse. lol. Btw, your brows look amazing! Love it.

    • Bun Bun

      Thank you for loving it! Yup, this method is my go-to makeup technique too when I have like 1 minute to do my eyes. Lol.

      Ah, maybe I should do a brow tutorial too. Haha

      • samuraistripper

        Omg, you should! I’m such a brow person and I have to agree, your eyebrows are the most important, because it helps frame your face and gives you such a defined look.

  • Kathy L.

    Bun Bun! Thank you so much for this tutorial! I appreciate how much time and detail you put into your blog posts and I’ve been following your blog for a while now! This is just my first comment cus I just had to thank you for this post! I never really understood how to wear colors on my lids (hooded eyes) but I will give this method a try! =D

    • Bun Bun

      Awww I’m glad I’ve helped! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment too, Kathy! Let me know how’s progress with the Horizontal Gradient Method ya?

  • Bun Bun

    Thanks for appreciating my hard work, Ana! Means so much to me! =D

    Yes, I’d say it works for most types of eyes, only that it might not bring out the contours of the eyes if a person has deep set eyes, or deep crease. It’s like… making a really sexy woman wear a maternity dress. Haha, you know what I mean yea? Each type of eye has its own best way of bringing out the beauty of the eyes!

  • MereMakeupManiac

    this is a great tutorial post – thanks for sharing!

    am actually an aspiring MUA (someday, long long way from now lol) but i suppose i should know things like this because i can’t always apply makeup application i do for myself on all of my future clients. really helpful entry!

    • Bun Bun

      Ooooh wow! Aspiring MUA! Way to go! Are you learning makeup from any academy now? =)

      • MereMakeupManiac

        for now, it’s just a dream hehe. not yet, because everything i know about makeup as of now is from watching videos and practicing on myself. i will be attending my very first makeup workshop though, from RMK. i’d like to attend MakeUpForEver’s PRO workshops though. how about you? you’ve so much potential!!!

        • MereMakeupManiac

          ok, what’s up with me forgetting to subscribe lol!

        • Bun Bun

          Why, thank you very much for saying that! =) I’ve never attended a real makeup workshop. Like you, I learn from watching videos and self-experimentation. Maybe I should attend one!

  • a!kO

    Oh love this :) it’s so simple yet so elegant 😀 I will just have to do this for my friend’s wedding soon. Thanks 😀 I get what you mean the horizontal method is for Asian eyes I notice the Caucasians uses the vertical gradient more…if that makes sense? 😛 I love how simple and easy your tutorials are 😀 I would love to see more tutorials like this. Definitely helpful :)


    • Bun Bun

      Smart girl! Yep, in one of the later series, I think Part 5, I will talk about the Vertical Gradient Method of eyeshadow application.

      Thank you very much for appreciating my tutorials, a!ko! =D

  • Shellz

    Very interesting! I also see that those models in Taiwan, Japan magazines don’t wear makeup like those Caucasian models. Their makeup is like what you mentioned here. Now I understand! Thanks for the tut. I want more! 😀

    • Bun Bun

      Haha!! And more you shall receive! Hope you’ve read the 3rd part of this series?

  • kai

    i like this application method. easy for lazy ppl like me!

  • Jacqueline

    This is a very useful tutorial, I love the colourful eye looks especially. Thanks!

    • Bun Bun

      I love colorful ones too! Do you go out of the house with colorful eye makeup as well? =)

  • Jess

    I think I use this method the most, since I have hoody eyes with a tiny hidden fold, thus it looks like I have monolids. Yes, this is probably the best application method for my eye shape I guess… :)

    This is a great post, and I’m totally amazed how well and detailed you explain everything. Keep up the great work, Bun Bun!

    • Bun Bun

      Omg! How could I have missed your comment! It’s really weird to reply now, after FIVE months HAHAHA! But thanks Jess! 😀

  • Angel

    loll this will totally change my way of doing my eye makeup now. I always did the vertical way before and found it so hard, cause i have monolids+hidden crease (tiny crease at the end but area towards inner eye is mono, and skin overlaps which makes applying eyshadow so hard since i have to apply it very high on my eyes for it to show). This article is definately helpful! Thanks :). Wondering if you can post up more eye makeup tutorail useing horizontal gradient method~!

    • Bun Bun

      Yup! The vertical gradient method is slightly harder for some types of eyes, and it requires more blending and thus more time. Sure, already have plans to have more tutorials on the Horizontal Gradient Method. You’re not the first to ask, so I guess the demand’s there! =)

  • Ana

    This is an awesome tutorial 😀 I’m glad google brought me to you!!! I can’t wait to test it out. I have to try this and the tightlining :)

    • Bun Bun

      Welcome to my blog, Ana!

      I’m glad you had a nice stay and found my tutorials interesting! Hope you try them out soon. 😀

  • Lisa

    Love this tutorial! And so glad you’re not telling me I have to create or define a crease on my monolid.

    • Bun Bun

      Thanks Lisa! Glad you found my tutorial useful! I never tell people to define their ‘crease’ because that word means different things to different eyes. It’s just plain confusing. So now you know you don’t have to blindly follow those video or blog instructions that tell you to ‘define your crease’ anymore! 😀

  • evelyn

    I just found your blog today. And love your posts. What type of brush do you use to apply the e/s on the inner corner of the eye? and what e/s color? is it the same e/s color as putting under the brow bone?

    I’ve always been curious about the eyeshadow on the inner corner of the eye and glad i saw this tutorial.

    • Bun Bun

      Hi evelyn, welcome to my blog! Hope to see you around in other posts too! :)

      For the inner corner, I either use MAC 219 which has a fine tip, or an inexpensive, ridiculously small brush from coastal scents. Basically, any brush with a precise tip will do.

  • Kate T

    Hi Juli and Bun Bun!  I’m a fan of your blog and have been following your posts for a while but never sent you any comments. Today, I just decided to say hi ^__^ I want you to you know that I love your reviews and tips and that reading your posts are purely entertaining (even it it doesn’t have anything to do with makeup). I’m a 34 year old Thai and have been doing makeup for myself and for (amateur) stage performance for more than 10 years. I used to consider myself as being quite good at doing make up (especially for Asian eyes). But not until I stumbled upon your blog! I always knew that we had to do the eyes in a different way from Caucasians. But you make it so clear and easy to understand, I wonder why I didn’t think think of it before. You should write a book on makeup for Asians. Seriously. Last comment before I go: you truly have gorgeous eyes!

    • BunBunMakeupTips

       @Kate T Thank you so much for this heartwarming message, Kate! Brought a BIG BIG smile to my face! =D *hugs
      I’m glad you have so much exposure and experience on doing makeup for others. Stage makeup is so flamboyant and so much fun!
      Sometimes I imagine myself to be one of the makeup artists for The Walking Dead series. That’d be awesome! But I will have nightmares too. LOL.
      About a book… hahaha…. Maybe, maybe, one day~ heehee thank you so much for the faith and encouragement!

  • makeupmistress

    Loved this, so helpful. Thanks very much!

  • __novia__

    very useful. i got a question though. do you blend after step 3 after putting smog on or after step 4? =D and did  you add smog on your lower lids as well? thanks

    • BunBunMakeupTips

      @__novia__ I believed I did add Smog on the lower lash line. =) I always blend whenever I add a new shade so that there is no clear distinction between one and the other. Thanks for the question!

  • melonfreshness

    I stumbled upon your site by googling asian eye shapes :) Your blog is very helpful! I too had the crease/contour problem. Love the last purpleblueishpinkfuchsiamagenta look 😀 Will be spreading the world and continue reading more posts on your blog!
    If no guests were coming by this afternoon I would have experimented like mad 😛

  • liliz0812

    Your tutorial was very useful! I think highlighting the inner corner looks really nice on a lot of people, but for some reason, I think my epicanthal fold gets into the way when I try to do it. Would you have any tips for this? Thanks!

  • alliliu

    I am so glad I find you. My eyes are typical Asian eyes. Every time I search Asian eye makeup the results are not suitable for me. Thank you for all the tips.

  • __novia__

    Please do more tutorial like this with the naked palette. lol i only know how to use sin and smog together now? any other color that would go together for the medium and light part? thanks

  • Sample Hime

    I can’t even begin to thank you or tell you how helpful your tutorials have been for me. I have struggled so much with eyeshadow because I honestly couldn’t find any other girls out there with eyelids like mine. I have moderately deep set double eyelids like yours and I also have epicanthic folds–the result of being half Asian half white. Your tutorials actually helped me adjust how to do a cut crease on my own eyes and I finally feel like I have a better understanding of my own eye shape. For the longest time I kept looking tutorials wondering how I was supposed to apply eyeshadow to my crease if it literally just disappeared into my eye folds. It’s been really challenging and discouraging until I found your blog, and so I really want to say THANK YOU for all the help your tutorials provided. I recently got the courage to post my own tutorial on my blog and I’m at least proud of my effort. Thank you so much again, you have no idea how helpful you are. <3

  • HeatherAllisonSmith

    I am thrilled to have found this site. I am half caucasian and half native american and I always tried to do my makeup by putting the darkest shade IN the crease. My eyes are downturned and asymmetrical with one eyelid noticeably bigger than the other so when I tried tutorials like this my left eye always looked even MORE asymmetrical. I feel like I will finally be able to blend away the problem since I know now the proper place to contour. Thanks for these tutorials!