First of all, let's get something straight—anyone with any eyelid shape can wear any makeup style they so please (and look darn good doing it). It's just that different shapes anatomically create their own unique obstacles (as with anything), which means different beauty looks are easier to DIY than others.
Both are beautiful, and neither is better than the other (duh). But depending on which eyelid type you have, there are certain tips out there for tailoring your makeup routine. Phew, now that we're all clear there, let's talk about the difference between monolids and double eyelids so you can determine which eyelid shape you have.
Ahead, learn the difference between monolids vs. double eyelids and the best makeup tips for each.
Meet the Expert
Sir John is a celebrity makeup artist and brand ambassador of L’Oréal Paris. He is known for his decade-long relationship with icon Beyoncé, as well as other noteworthy clients including Khloe Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, and Karlie Kloss.
What Are Monolids?
Also known as an epicanthic fold, a monolid is a skin fold on the upper eyelid that makes it appear that there’s no visible crease line below your brow area (hence the name—it presents itself as a “single eyelid” rather than a double eyelid). "When working with monolids it's all about carving out and lifting the eyes," says Sir John.
Makeup Tips to Define Monolids
First things first: Invest in a good eye primer to keep everything in place and avoid smears and smudges (this holds true for anyone). Sir John also recommends using products that have a long-wear ability so when your eyeshadow oxidizes, it doesn't budge.
Apply Gradient Eyeshadow Vertically
After applying an eye primer, you can go ahead and experiment with different eye shadows to find what you like best. If you're looking to create dimension and depth, you can contour around your eyes and upper eyelid with a darker shadow. Some people like the look of concentrating shadow on the outer “V” of your eye, but you can also try doing a vertical gradient look. With a vertical gradient shadow look, apply darker eyeshadow at the bottom closest to your lash line, then medium shadow, then the lightest at the top closest to your brow bone. "The key is to go a little above where you think you'd want to stop to create a 'peek-a-boo' effect with the shadow—the goal being that when the eyes are open, you still see a bit of the color and depth," Sir John explains. This technique takes advantage of the crease-free surface of a monolid, showing a brilliant fade from lash line to brow bone.
Try Monochromatic Looks
Just because you don't have a natural crease doesn't mean you have to feel pressured to play with multiple eyeshadow shades. Don’t steer away from choosing an ultra-colorful shadow for a bold, single-colored lid—monolids provide a smooth canvas for a bright, neon, monochromatic makeup look.
Keep It Cool
Want to accentuate your eye shape but keep your eyeshadow look minimal? It's all about creating a fake shadow to mimic the appearance of a crease. Using a soft taupe or brown, Sir John says to start at the lower lash line and work your way up when buffing in the color. "I recommend using a cooler toned shadow like L’Oréal Paris' Colour Riche Monos Eyeshadow ($6) in Matte It Up as that's best at portraying a true shadow." Then, accentuate the brow bone with a highlighting shade and tight line the eye with the top lashline. "You can fill your waterline for a bold and beautiful lash line, really getting the color saturated there," he says.
Cool-toned, matte eyeshadows that are only a few shades darker than your skin tone will be your partner-in-crime when creating a natural-looking illusion of a crease.
What Are Double Eyelids?
Double eyelids are characterized by a crease that monolids don’t typically have. They have a subtle crease that “doubles over” the eyelid, causing a lining on the eyelid.
Makeup Tips to Define Double Eyelids
Again, a great eye primer is a fabulous investment for anyone, but especially those with hooded eyes, since it’s likely your brow bone overlaps the lid and can cause liner or shadow transfer. (P.S., find our favorite eye primers here).
Apply Gradient Eyeshadow Horizontally
While double eyelids can certainly wear vertical gradient eyeshadow, you'll often see this shape stand out with a horizontal gradient. With horizontal gradient eyeshadow, start with the lightest shade in your palette in the inner corner of your eye, going darker as you sweep eyeshadow towards the outer corners. In most cases, three eyeshadow colors can be used to create this look: one light, one medium, one dark. You can take this rule of thumb to any end of the color or light spectrum (i.e., all three shades can be dark as long as there is one lighter, one more medium, and one super dark color for contrast).
Opt for Bold Lashes
It's not true for everyone, but double eyelids tend to look heavier than monolids. To create the appearance of a more lifted, awake-looking eye, use a mascara that curls your lashes up and out.
Play With Undertones
Sir John explains that those with double eyelids can either use warm or cool-toned shadows to define the eye. "You can buff the color into the crease to give it more definition. If anything, you could use a warmer-toned shadow with a deeper set eye, and leave the brow bone free of shimmer," says Sir John.
Those with a very deep crease don't need to work to carve it out, since you already have that sense of depth. Instead, try applying eyeliner along your upper lash line to add definition to your look without adding unneeded depth to your crease.
Shop Our Favorite Eye Makeup Products
Want to add a pop of color to your makeup look? Sir John loves this eyeliner from L’Oréal Paris. "It comes in a few different colors. Everyone knows you can do black or brown, but they have a range of wearable colors like plum, which looks beautiful on all eye colors."
A neutral eyeshadow palette is a must in everyone's makeup collection—monolid or double eyelid. We love this palette from Hourglass for its high pigment shades and various finishes.
Another recommendation from Sir John, he suggests using this all-time favorite mascara to top off any look. It'll give your lashes both volume and length—not to mention it comes in fun shades like blue and burgundy to switch up your fringe.
We mentioned that eye primer is a must earlier, so we couldn't leave one out of our favorite products! This primer is a cult favorite for a reason. It'll help your eyeshadow apply smooth and last all day.