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Awhile ago I got a reader from reader Katherine asking for some serious makeup help. As a self-professed makeup "noob", Katherine was having problems finding easy daytime looks and makeup colors that matched her Asian skin. Her biggest question was how to define her eyes, which are the typical mono-lid, meaning no crease, making traditional Caucasian based makeup advice obsolete.

I was very happy to try to help out Katherine and any other of my fellow Asian sisters who were wondering the same things, so I hope my advice proves useful!

The Grocery List

These are the items one needs to purchase to get a full makeup arsenal:

  • Foundation, concealer, and/or powder to provide flawless skin
  • A full set of good quality makeup brushes. You can buy sets of brushes that come with your basic starter kit, at stores like here
  • Lip balm and lipsticks
  • Blush
  • Mascara and eyelash curler
  • Eyeliner and eye shadows

However, you don't need a ton of each item to get an array of basic looks; sometimes it's as simple as adding eyeliner, or applying heavier shadow to get a different night time look.


It is very important to work with colors that match your skin, particularly for your foundation/concealer/powder. Asian skin tones come in a variety of shades, but the common theme between them all is that our skins are more yellow-based than pink-based. As such, it's a good idea to avoid colors that have blueish undertones. The inside of your wrist is a fairly good spot to test out makeup colours. For a foundation, you want a shade that melts into your skin so that you can barely see it. Try visiting a fancier makeup counter and asking one of their consultants to help you, but if you're too shy I myself use the Mary Kay Full Coverage Foundation in Beige 404. Usually, any product that says Beige, or Natural is a good fit for me, so hopefully it will be for you too!

As for eyeshadow colours, purples look amazing with Asians as they make brown eyes pop. Smoky greys and blacks look great too, but avoid too light of a grey as it can make you look ashy. Metallic shades of gold, coppers, bronze, and champagne are also great choices. Browns are always a safe bet and are perfect for creating subtle definition and daytime smoky looks.

Blush and lipstick colors should be close to your natural color, but maybe a couple shades darker for the most natural look. Nars Orgasm blush is an awesome shade that flatters universally and has a slight shimmer. As for lip colors, you could try MAC's SlimShine lipstick in Lovey-dovey for an easy lipstick-gloss combo!


To create defined eyes, you will have to apply shadows in a different way than Caucasians do. In a traditional shadow palette you're given usually at least 3 colors to play with. Take the lightest shade and apply just under the arch of your brow, and the inside corner of your eye. Then, take the medium shade and sweep it back and forth across the rest of your lid. Finally, with the last, darkest shade, smudge it from your lash line and up to the middle of your lid, creating a shadow gradient. Then line the top of your lid with eyeliner for definition. Do not line under your eye as this will only make your eye smaller. Always curl your lashes before applying mascara. Since Asians typically have short, super-straight lashes, this might be difficult, but I have heard that investing in a heated eyelash curler is a good idea to make short lashes stand out.

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