If you’ve ever tried to follow an eye makeup tutorial only to get to the part where it says “blend into your crease” and stared at your creaseless eye in the mirror confusedly, we feel you. When it comes to applying makeup for Asian eyes, all traditional makeup rules fly out the window—and with it, our interest in attempting anything beyond a simple swipe of black liner (if that). But before you throw down your eye shadow palettes at the injustice of it all, know this—there is a way.
We asked celebrity makeup artist Kira Nasrat (she works with the likes of Jamie Chung and Freida Pinto, and is currently Violet Grey’s VIP makeup artist) to school us on proper eye makeup technique. She proceeded to give us a smoldering, perfectly blended smoky eye as she shared her tips, so we can soundly attest to her expertise. Keep scrolling for her game-changing tricks.
Think about everything you’ve ever been taught about how to execute a perfect smoky eye. Got it? Now forget all of it. “Smoky eyes for Asian eyes are less about adding dimension to the outer crease (since there is none), and more about creating an even, ombré effect from your lash line toward your brow,” Nasrat says.
She lines her mono-lidded clients’ eyes with black gel liner, and then takes a flat, tapered eye shadow brush and applies a dark brown matte shadow in a curved shape right above the lid. Then, she takes a lighter brown matte shadow and applies it right above the darker shade. Finally, she blends everything out for a soft, smoky effect using MAC’s 217 Synthetic Blending Brush ($24). The same technique goes for using colored eye shadows—Nasrat takes a navy blue or light purple and fills up the whole lid halfway, and then blends upward.
“You want to frame your eyes—you don’t want them to look worlds apart,” Nasrat says. “Don’t be afraid of going inward with the darker shadows. Not only are you going to achieve a more dramatic eye, but it will look so much smokier. If you’re going to go for it, go big or go home!”
Open Your Eyes
Ready for a bombshell? Nasrat says that girls with monolids should actually keep their eyes open when applying their eye makeup. “You want to keep your eyes open and tilt your head back a bit when you’re applying eyeliner, shadow, and lashes,” she says. “Especially with a smoky eye, it’ll make it so much easier to see where you should apply the shadows. If you close your eyes, you won’t be able to tell how far up to go.”
Don't Wing, Blend
For a softer, less severe smoky effect, Nasrat suggests skipping the wing when you’re applying eyeliner and creating one instead by blending the ends upward. With Kevyn Aucoin's The Eyeliner/Smudger Brush ($38), you can "use one end to apply your gel or cream liner, and then use the other to smoke it out and blend out the ends into a wing shape,” Nasrat says.
Get Longer, Lusher Eyelashes
As for lashes, it's all about a great eyelash curler. The iconic Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler ($23) is a longtime favorite among Asians—and everyone, really— for its craftsmanship and the soft silicone pad. The Surratt Beauty Relevée Lash Curler ($34) was inspired by the Shu Uemura and truly delivers, too.
Want more game-changing eye makeup tricks? Check out this guide on how to master eye makeup for your eye shape.