Friday, November 26, 2010

Asian Makeup - The Asian (and Pacific Islander) Way

Beauty is universal but makeup application sure isn't. After all, East Asian do have different types of features and aesthetics. It's expected that there is a different set of rules which we use to enhance them.
Kimura Kaela says that there is no more rules ...
There are some, you just don't have to follow them :)
The general direction: The less is more (not necessarily using less product). Basically, subtly tweaking many small parts, to make them look like they are wearing minimal makeup/naturally gorgeous.I am just making a generalization so if I didn't cover what you think is an essential part of "Asian makeup", just bear with me.There are so many variations within just "Asian" way,  I can't make Gothic Lolita, mori girls, gyaru all happy in a tiny blog post like this.

Eyes- When it comes to adding depth and dimension to the eyes. The Western way is to putting darker color on the crease/boundary of eye socket. For most East Asian, our feature is relatively flat that there isn't much depth to enhance unless we are poking our eyeballs. Even by doing , (I think) enhancing the crease/the part that we don't have emphasis our deficit at the end ...So instead, we like to create a subtle depth using gradation of the color, the darker the color, the more depth there is.

Kishimoto Cecile wearing a subtle depth-enhancing eye makeup.
Eye charts from Lunasol & Shiseido Maquillage and the vertical gradation is shown (lightest shades under brow and tear ducts, second lightest allover lid, medium color applied from center lid towards lash line and darkest shade as eyeliner. 

Of course you could use the two palettes in the Western way (save the darkest for your eye socket) but keep in mind that most Japanese eyeshadow are subtle, sheer and  shimmery so it wouldn't give you same kind of impact as eyeshadow from Western brands.
Another type of eye shadow gradation(you can kind of see it from the BR-2), which I like to call it an inward gradation, as the deepest shade from outer corners is fading as it goes inward.This give some depth but mainly it's for that elongated, sultry smokey look.

I might make the eye makeup look extremely simple by only listing two variations (they are all I can think of, really) but things gets quite intricate when you play around with color combination as well as exactly where/how much does each eyeshadow shade covers.(I also thing that Korean girls like to brighten their inner-lower corners of their eyes with light eyeshadow or shimmery/glittery eyeliner).

Eyeliner - Generally Asian don't line too differently than how Western people do it. From what I have seen on TV and magazines, the standard eye line is a thin one that follows your eye shape. While young Korean girls like slightly thicker black line that's more winged, many Japanese girls like to pull it down for that kind of droopy, innocent-looking puppy eyes. Chinese girls either keeps it neutral or just follow Japanese/Korean (Which both have a more developed beauty industry and a more influential show business).

Another thing I have noticed is that they don't line their waterline that often, be it deep sultry eyes or brightening white waterline. I am guessing it's has something to do with subtly as well...

Lips - Basically, you would rarely(never say never?) see a over-zealous duo-sausage with pigmented lipstick smearing miles away from the natural lip boundary (I am exaggerating a bit). For Asian lips: Shape and texture is more emphasized than sized and color/ In order to achieve that look, most Asian lipstick/lip glosses trade in bold pigmentation for moisture/shine, the overall sheerer formula allows your natural color peek out so your lip makeup becomes part of you.
Puffy for Kanebo Lavshuca - It seems that Kanebo and all of their sub-brands are well-known for their creamy, moisturizing and wearable lip colors

Face/Cheeks- Also known as the base makeup. I actually can't tell that much of a difference between foundations from each part of the world and that used-to-be-so-popular BB cream (For things like foundation, I haven't found anything I like and I have already stopped trying already because of the comparatively high cost). All I know is that a clear (from blemishes and pores)and  see-through (texture wise) complexion is what many woman strive for and to full fill that demand, many Japanese brands (I just left Chinese and Korean behind, didn't I?)  are known for their second skin texture and the subtle light diffusing property.

Another thing worth mentioning is that many Asian foundation/powder (or Western brands with Asia-Exclusive releases) come with some sort of whitening agent (so they said) or sun protection. If you can't find a SPF-equipped foundation from a certain brand, look around, I bet there is a UV base/primer hanging around. After all, Asian women are quite partial to sun protection/paleness.
Rinka and her subtle flush

As for blushers,they are usually applied lightly or the blush itself is rather sheer by nature (as they are supposed to be part of the canvas) on the apples. There are also some techniques involving layering products but I think I will leave it for another post.

The face chart for Shiseido Maquillage Face Palette (a blush, highlighter and contour in one)
Eye Brow/Eye Lashes - Pretty much the same as the Western Way.I haven't used much to be able to tell the difference anyway.

Overall, these are the basic rules in Asian makeup I can think of.If you want some hand-on experience, you can stop by blogs of Fuzkitte and Yuki, who both do makeup in a very "Asian" way.


  1. The techniques you mentioned for Asian style eye make-up are actually the same I often use on myself. Even though I'm a 100% Caucasian white, my eyes are quite almond shaped and sometimes dark colors in the crease just don't look right on me. I'm also very partial to the whole subtle trend! xxx

  2. Very interesting post, really enjoyed it. Hope you'll do similar ones in the future. I have the same problem Rocaille does, dark colors in my crease make me look like a corpse. I'll definitely try some of the eyeshadow techniques.

    The only thing I've observed in "Asian" (hate generalizing like that) makeup/beauty I completely don't get is circle lenses. As someone with poor vision I don't get why people would be fiddling with their eyes unnecessarily.

  3. Rocaille:
    I have seen white girls, like the spoke model for Paul & Joe and Jill Stuart (and many Japanese magazine model are Eurasian anyway), with that type of makeup as well and I actually prefer that kind of looks, it's classy, pretty and very approachable.

    Oh, I sure will!

    I personally don't like how circle lenses look (I am near sighted so I just stick with normal glasses) either and it irks me when I see beautiful girls then I looked at their stoned eyes...

    Anyway, I understand the effect they created and why people like them though. For many Asian, we kind of get that kind of "dead fish eyes" (I am so getting bashed for saying this but that's how it's called in Chinese) where the white parts are too big) and circle lenses really made a great difference. I think circle lenses are really suitable for those kind of girls, like Tomoko (

    I mean, for the girls who already wear contact, I don't see that much harm & hassles on their part. (Even if they have perfect vision, I am in no place to condemn them. It's their eyes and their choice.)

  4. thanks for this great information. i like the diagram showing a good way to do e/s for flat asian eyes. it works much better than trying to fake a crease

    <3 angie

  5. i have another thing you could add for Asian eyebrow makeup/shaping, I've noticed that most Asians have straight brown (with slight or no arch to them) I think this makes them overall look less harsh, more natural looking and youthful, you know what I mean? :P

  6. Thanks for this great entry! Not many makeup blogs address how to apply makeup for Asian faces. It's nice to know that Asians are not forgotten. I especially liked the eyeshadow/eyeliner section. I always have a hard time wiht my eyeliner.

  7. This is a very interesting post., however I notice that eyebrows shape also plays an important role. While Westerners perceive thin and arched eyebrows to be sexy and sophisticated, Asian (in particular Korean) prefer the thick, bushy and straight eyebrows. Being an Asian myself I also prefer thick and straight eyebrows, it photographs much better and I tend to emphasize on eyeliners and eyebrows for a nude make up look as well.


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