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 artists Kira Nasrat and Kenneth Soh to school us on proper eye makeup techniques for single eyelids. "In my opinion, it's a feature that is to be embraced and celebrated," says Soh. Keep scrolling for some game-changing makeup tricks for creaseless eyes.
Meet the Expert
- Kira Nasrat is a professional makeup artist who has worked with celebrities like Jamie Chung and Freida Pinto. She also has her own Youtube channel; she currently resides in Los Angeles.
- Kenneth Soh is a professional makeup artist working in print, editorial, and red carpet makeup. He has worked with celebrities like Cara Delevigne, Naomie Harris, and Lashanna Lynch; he currently resides in London.
Use Eye Primer
"Due to the shape of the eye, sometimes liners and mascaras smudge or transfer below the eye, or onto the actual lid," says Soh. One of the best ways to combat any unwanted smears is with an eyeshadow primer; a thin layer underneath any other products will ensure everything stays right where it's supposed to be. Soh recommends the NARS Tinted Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base for a touch of additional coverage on the lid.
Think about everything you’ve ever been taught about how to execute a perfect smoky eye. Got it? Now forget all of it. “[Eyeshadow for Asian eyes is] 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 light 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.
Just Wing It
We all know the winged liner trend isn't going anywhere any time soon, but it's an especially useful technique for anyone with a monolid. "[This is] a dramatic liner look that really emphasizes the almond shape quality of monolids," says Soh.
If a stark wing seems a little too intimidating for now, Soh recommends smudging the eyeliner to soften the effect without losing the emphasis.
Sweep Shadow Upward
On creaseless eye shapes, the most amount of visible lid is on the outer third of the eye; it stands to reason, then, that emphasis on the eyeshadow should happen there. Think of your lid as a long triangle and blend in that shape, with the inner and outer corner of your lash line making up the long side.
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.
This tip is especially applicable to eyeliner. "Due to the way the eyelid moves on 'monolids,' it makes sense to line with eyes open, looking straight ahead," says Soh. "Don't obsess about getting the liner done in one go. Do the flick first, then gently work inwards." He recommends KVD Vegan Beauty Tattoo Liner ($21) or Super Pomade ($21) for great, budge-proof pigment.
Cut the Crease
If you really like the contrast of a sharp cut crease, the technique can be achieved on monolids. Keep most of the definition on the outer portion of the eye, add product little by little, and blend like there's no tomorrow.
Wear a Halo
"The soft, blended aesthetic of this method I find really beautiful on anyone," says Soh. "It works on any shape or type. He loves to blend a cream shadow stick, like the Sisley Phyto-Eye Twist ($50), out with his finger for this look.
The idea of a darker color on the inside of the eye can seem counterintuitive compared to the thousands of highlighted inner corners on the internet. Nasrat says not to work. “You want to frame your eyes—you don’t want them to look worlds apart. Don’t be afraid of going inward with the darker shadows."
Smudge Your Liner
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 an eyeliner smudger brush, 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.
Curl Those Lashes
As for lashes, it's all about a great eyelash curler. "[It's] especially handy for people with monolids to help open up the eye," recommends Soh. 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 Relevee Lash Curler ($34) was inspired by the Shu Uemura and truly delivers, too.
Head Down Under
If you're looking for definition but the boldness of a sharp liner is too much for you, focusing on "underliner," or the liner on the lower lashes, is a great way to experiment without making the upper lid feel heavy. "It's a lovely way to define eyes, especially when connected to a slight flick on the outer upper lid," says Soh.
Try pairing your underliner with tightlining (pushing the liner deep into the lash line instead of on top) on the upper lid. "This creates a look of denser lashes and really brings out the shape of the eye," reveals Soh.
Flutter Some Falsies
False lashes are great for a glam night out, but for monolids, they're a secret weapon for opening up the eye space. Soh recommends Sweed brand lashes, or Lashify if you're looking for something super-natural.