It’s a breezy Friday evening and you’re leaning into the vanity mirror, just far enough that you can see all the hairs on your eyelashes without pressing your dress into the edge of the table. Makeup brush in hand, a jar of gold pigment is balancing precariously on your other palm. In pressing “Resume Play” on your laptop, you have to lean slightly to the left and clutch the backrest of your chair for balance. The cheery, red-haired YouTuber from inside the screen clears her throat and continues the Gatsby Party Makeup Tutorial with a resounding “then you blend the crease…”
No, not the crease that just appeared in your forehead, silly. She means the crease in your eyelids, which you clearly don’t have. This means that this whole tutorial just became useless to you. Like the past three tutorials about how to make your eyes become the windows to Daisy Buchanan’s soul.
For floundering fledglings like myself, monolid makeup has been a lot of unintentional all-or-nothings. I could outline my eyes in black, only to have it disappear without a trace into the back of my head as soon as I opened my eyes. Conversely, I could mitigate that sort of damage with eyeshadow stretching up way into my eyebrows, cue the black eye and birthday clown jokes. Having an eye shape that is relatively rare and underrepresented in the (beauty) world can be anything from a frustrating to an alienating experience. It’s important to have spaces, both virtual and physical, dedicated to appreciating how beautiful monolids are, both by themselves and with the right makeup techniques.
Given my aforementioned lack of expertise, it might be inspiring to have some other teenagers and young adults talk about their go-to monolid makeup hacks.
Grace (20), Chinese, from Philadelphia, PA, United States
I use the Too Faced Sweet Peach Eyeshadow Palette and a lot of natural false lashes (which are a lifesaver) for my eye makeup looks.
I use dark brown or black eyeshadow to elongate the outer corners of my eyes, and then blend it out. I also put shimmery eyeshadow on the center and in the inner corners of my eyelids. I then apply my false lashes, and make sure that my brows match my elongated eyes.
When I was first starting out with makeup, it was really hard to find tutorials that worked for my eyes. I had to do a lot of experimenting on my own. I didn’t like my eye shape at first, but then I learned to work with it and now I think it’s great (for example, even if you mess up a little when putting on false lashes people can’t really tell)!
Christine (20), South Korean, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Some products I use and would recommend are:
- Tony Moly Back Gel Eyeliner in Brown, to make long, straight, upward-sloping wings. It won’t smudge, and will give you a lot of control while drawing thick lines.
- Etude House Curl Fix Mascara for my lower lashes, and the Etude House Dr. Mascara Fixer beforehand. I don’t usually put mascara on my upper lashes. My monolids will push my lashes back down after I curl them, so I personally feel that there is no purpose to it.
- Gold/Champagne-colored glitter from Stila or Urban Decay to put on the inner half of my lower lash line. This creates something called the “aegyo-sal,” which is supposed to make your eyes look bigger, brighter, and “cuter.”
- Any kind of pressed powder to apply in the outer part of my eyes where I put eyeliner, stone prevent smudging.
- Face highlighter from Jouer Cosmetics for the inner corners of my eyes.
- Brow pencil to define the areas around my eyes.
- A shimmery shade (usually gold) of eyeshadow, which I will put in the middle of my eyelids, and a matte shade of eyeshadow (usually warm brown), which I will use on the outer corners.
- Fake lashes (sometimes) to enhance and make my eyes look bigger.
My go-to makeup look is the aforementioned winged eyeliner, which I like to draw in long, straight lines that curve more upwards than downwards. If the eyeliner look is too cat-eye like, I personally feel it is too bold for me. I like to accentuate my eye shape by elongating my eyes with eyeliner. Also, if my eyeliner is drawn to slope too downwards, it will smudge very easily and make my eyes appear droopy and sleepy-looking. I’m also big on the “aegyo-sal” look I described before, and use highlighter on my face for the inner corners of my eyes to make them look brighter and more awake.
It was hard starting to use makeup as a monolidded person, since it took me a lot of time to find products that worked for my eyes, especially eyeliner that doesn’t smudge. Going out in public with smudged eyeliner at the end of the day made me feel self-conscious and want to go home and fix it. I also hated trying out new products because it was costly.
I’ve felt self-conscious about my eye shape. I never really cared about it until I went into university and made only Korean friends. Korean beauty standards are very high, and talked about daily. Korea is famous for double-eyelid surgery, which is done by many people to the point that everyone sees it as something normal. For example, people get them done as a gift from their parents for graduating high school. When I was exposed to Korean beauty standards in university, I became very insecure and developed a phase where I would use double-eyelid glue. Nowadays, as a student, I started to prioritize my studies more instead of caring too much about my appearance. I am very comfortable with my eye shape, especially after getting used to manipulating it with eyeliner.
Shimi (19), Half-Korean and Half-Japanese, from Vienna, Austria
Some products that I use include the Shu Uemura Lash Curler or a lash curler from Shiseido, which I find to be the best for my eyes. Most eyeliners tend to smudge on me, so I like to use ones from Korea, for example the eyeliner from Clio. For mascara, I like the Curl Fix Mascara from Etude House, which doesn’t smudge.
I usually just use my fingers to blend some reddish eyeshadow into my eyelids, and if I feel fancy, I’ll add eyeliner. With eyeliner, I only draw the wings and not all along the eye, because that takes more time and doesn’t look good with my eyes. I’ll use mascara occasionally but not often, since you can’t see much of a difference.
When I was younger, it was really hard trying out eye makeup because there were almost no good YouTube videos for monolids. I never really knew how to apply eyeshadow, and if I followed a “normal” tutorial for it, I would always end up looking like someone hit me! So I pretty much had to teach myself and learn by trial and error. Nowadays, there are many more tutorials that are made for monolids, which makes me happy.
I never liked my monolids as a child, since they made my eyes look smaller and they were the reason people called me names. I also considered doing the double-eyelid surgery that is so popular in Korea, but since a few years ago, I began to like my monolids. They’re something that differentiates me from others! Since a lot of Asians are getting surgery, I feel like a rarer person. So now I don’t really think of my monolids in a bad way.
Erica (23), Korean, from Stockton, CA, United States
One of the products I use for my eye makeup looks is Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. My eyeshadow and eyeliner always smudge under my eyes because the skin there touches together when I smile, but the primer minimizes the transfer of color and prevents dark eye makeup circles from forming under my eyes.
I also use Japonesque Go Curl Eyelash Curler. I personally don’t like false lashes because I don’t like how they hover within my eyesight, so I try to make do with curling my straight lashes as much as I can.
I usually try to keep my eye makeup simple, and accent it with bolder lip colors. However, when I do want to build on my eye makeup, the biggest thing I do is add eyeshadow colors evenly, one on top of the other, onto my eyes rather than in a gradient the way people with double eyelids do. Adding in colors this way makes my eyes look bigger.
I also draw on my eyeliner twice: once with my eyes closed, and one more time with my eyes slightly opened so I can see if it will be visible when I have my eyes fully open.
I always fill in the outer corners of my eyes with color to give them an accent. I also try to use eyeshadow colors that have more shine in them rather than matte ones to give dimension to my face.
Starting to use eye makeup was hard for me because my eyes are really asymmetrical and monolidded. I had a hard time making both eyes look even and natural. I never watched tutorials, and only started wearing makeup in college. It was a lot of trial and error. I always wished my eyes were bigger even if they weren’t double-lidded, especially because double eyelid surgery is such a common practice in Korea. I think it’s shoved down our throats that there is a specific baseline for ideal beauty, with big eyes and small faces, that it is discouraging when you’re trying to find your own look. Even when my “look” worked well for me, I was self-conscious because I felt that since it wasn’t the “ideal look,” it wasn’t worth anything.