Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Eyelid Glue and Tape for Asian Monolids, Hooded Double Eyelids

Aside from your skin, your eyes are probably the next most captivating or important feature on your face. In most cultures, the larger your eyes are or appear to be, the more they are perceived as attractive. This is no different in Asian cultures.

I've decided to write about this because I feel compelled to correct (or counter) the countless critical articles, videos, blogs, and comments on the Internet about this controversial topic. Let's get our background information straight first, before forming premature conclusions.

Approximately fifty percent of the Asian population is born with double eyelids, so that leaves the other fifty percent born with either monolids or with hooded ("hidden" double eyelids). Blepharoplasty (double eyelid surgery) is commonly practiced in Asia and other countries to create or enhance double eyelids. The goal is not really to "Westernize" the eyes (remember, about half the Asian population already has double eyelids), but to just make them appear larger, more awake, and in some instances, even improve eyesight or prevent eyelashes/eyelid skin from irritating the cornea.

Internally, the Asian eye is built completely differently than the Caucasian eye. Even the anatomy of an Asian with double eyelids will differ from a Caucasian eye. Here's some illustrations to help explain:

(photos courtesy of http://www.drmeronk.com/)

Can you guess which one is the Asian eye, and which one is the Caucasian eye? If you guessed that the Caucasian eye anatomy is on the left, and the Asian one on the right, you are correct. What differences can you see?

There are red arrows in both diagrams pointing to pink strings that look like ligaments or tendons. These are the eyes' "levator" muscle or tendon, which lifts the eyelid every time the eye blinks. For a long time, this muscle as been perceived as the reason behind the eye crease. As you can see, on the Caucasian eye, this muscle is set much higher on the lid, and connects to the lid in several places, so the levator tendon's pull is quite strong. In the Asian eye, the levator tendon connects to the eyelid much closer to the lashline, and in fewer places. This would explain why the Asian eye's crease is much closer to the lashline, and not as prominent.

However, to say that the levator muscle is completely responsible for whether your crease is higher or lower is uninformed. Of course, the way your eye looks will depend also on your facial bone structure, the size of your eyeballs and eyesocket, the height of your nose, etc. etc. Furthermore, it will also depend on whether your eyelid contains any fat. Yes, fat. In both diagrams, the green and yellow areas illustrate the fat disparity in the Caucasian and Asian eye. The yellow section is the eyelid fat, and the green section is the eyebrow fat. Notice how the Asian eye contains a LOT more fat than the Caucasian eye...the fat even rests on the levator muscle. This layer of fat can cause the Asian eye to appear droopy or saggy, pushing the crease of the eyelid down, or in many cases, not allowing a crease to form on the lid at all.

How do I get rid of this fat, you ask? Well, honestly, there is no non-surgical method of removing the fat from your eye. I've read that some girls try to massage their eye to distribute the fat from their lids...please do not do this! Your eye area is very delicate, and rubbing the skin can cause more harm than good.

Though Asian eyes anatomically differ from the Caucasian eye, they still come in all different sorts of shapes and sizes. Again, many Asians already have eyelid folds. Here are a couple examples of the different types of Asian eye. I used pictures of celebrities (and please don't comment about how you think so-and-so had plastic surgery, I don't judge people without absolute proof and you shouldn't either):

Well defined double eyelids: eyes are deeper set, the crease is fairly high up on the eyelid, frequently beginning and ending at the eye socket. This crease is visible whether the eyes are wide open or closed


Namie Amuro

Hooded eyelids: crease is set further down on the eyelid and closer to the lashline, and may not be apparent or visible when eyes are open, but can be easily seen when blinking or looking down. These eyes are usually not deep set. In some cases, hooded eyelids are mistaken for monolids.

Kwon BoA

Lucy Liu

Monolid: this eyelid either completely lacks a crease or has several faint lines, but no actual crease. Monolids can occur in deep set or portruding eyes. Deep set monolids usually have thinner eyelids, while portruding monolids have thicker eyelids, usually because of an underlying layer of fat.

Bi (Rain)

Hyoni Kang

As you can see, Asian eyes come in all different sorts of shapes and sizes, just like in any other ethnicity. Not all Asians have an "almond shaped" eye, and not all "almond shaped" eyes lack a crease!

Most people who turn to blepharoplasty are monolidded Asians, though there are probably those with hooded eyelids who undergo surgery as well to make their creases higher or more prominent. One non-surgical alternative is to use eyelid glue. Eyelid glue is exactly what it sounds like--a liquid adhesive you apply onto your eyelids where you'd like your desired crease to be placed. Once the glue dries, you use a pusher or small plastic pick to "fold" your eyelid into place. The final result should be a double eyelid.

Eyelid glue should be only used as a last resort, for those who have tried using eyelid tape, but to no avail. Eyelid tape is better than eyelid glue because it is placed consistently in the same spot, so your eyelid will always crease in the same place, and over time, if you are lucky, you will develop a permanent crease. On the other hand, eyelid glue is less easy to control. It takes a lot of practice to master, and your fold may not always appear in the same place. Thus, the chances of developing a permanent crease with eyelid glue are considerably fewer.

Because eyes come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes, eyelid glue or tape may not work for everyone. I find that eyelid tape usually works best on monolids who do not have thick, fatty upper eyelids. The thinner the skin, the better. It will probably also be easier if your eyes are somewhat deeper set. One way to tell if eyelid tape will work on you is by seeing if your eyelids create a crease when you wear false eyelashes. The pressure the lash bone puts on your eyelid causes it to indent temporarily, and thus creating a crease. This false "crease" is where you want your eyelid tape to end, so it reinforces where your eyelid would naturally crease, if it were to crease.

(enlarge for close-up)

Sandra Oh is a great example of this. She has monolids that can easily changed into double eyelids. If you look at her eyelids, there is a faint crease several millimeters abover her lashes. However, the creases are extremely faint, and her levator muscles are probably unable to pull in that crease because of her eyelid fat. If she wears false eyelashes that have a harder brim, her monolids will likely turn into double eyelids.

Eyelid glue seems to work better for those who have "hidden" double eyelids (and want to create a larger crease) or fatty monolids. You should first test your eyes to see if eyelid tape works. If not, purchase some eyelid glue (the Japanese brand Koji is a very popular choice). Please do not use any regular glue, as they may contain harmful additives which should not be put anywhere near your eyes at the risk of blindness. Apply the eyelid glue where your crease would naturally fall along the shape of your eye socket. The key is to apply as closely to your lashline as possible, so it looks natural. Apply a couple of coats and let them dry in between to make sure your crease will hold. Then use the plastic prong to create your crease. You should now see a fold. Turning your pick over to the other side (single prong), poke it into the areas where the glue has nicely and completely "folded" your skin; this step is so any gaps where the crease has not completely folded will seal.

I leave you here with a couple links on tape and glue application.

Mulzanza's eyelid glue and makeup tutorial - A nice tutorial on creating a crease on a monolid eye by finding where your natural crease would fall.

Frmheadtotoe's eyelid tape and makeup tutorials - Good explanations on how to make your own eyelid tape, how to apply it, and how to wear makeup with it.

Koji Eyetalk eyelid glue tutorial
- Koji's most circulated eyelid glue tutorial on the web, but the least helpful, in my opinion. The following 2 are better. (The model has monolids in this one.)
another Koji Eyetalk tutorial, but the sound is off - this monolidded lady is using a double sided pusher, I recommend this pusher, not the single sided one in the previous tutorial.
Natural Koji Eyetalk tutorial - this lady already has hidden double eyelids, but is applying glue to heighten the crease.

Beyoutified Episode 3 - Koren and Eve Pearl makeover an Asian lady with asymmetrical double eyelids. The application of eyeshadow is good for any type of Asian crease, as long as you want to make your eyes appear larger without using glue or tape.

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Okay, I might as well address the controversy surrounding this topic, since it's somewhat unavoidable. You might be wondering what my personal take on plastic surgery or eyelid glue and tape is. Honestly, I do not have a problem with Asian blepharoplasty or any of these other non-surgical methods. I see Asians being constantly criticized and disparaged for conforming to a supposed Caucasian idea of beauty. While there is perhaps some truth to these accusations, I believe chalking up blepharoplasty or eyelid glue/tape completely as a result of feelings of racial inferiority is presumptuous and Eurocentric. After all, half of the Asian population already has double eyelids! So why are Asians being accused of trying to look white, when they merely want to look like a better version of themselves? Are the Caucasians who undergo rhinoplasty to reduce the size of their nose suffering from Asian envy? Highly doubtful.
There are some standards of beauty that never change across ethnicity lines. Pale skin has always been treasured in either Europe or Asia (until of course, tanning became the fashion in the past decades). Larger, brighter eyes is no exception.
Of course, I'm not advocating completely changing your face. Flaws can be beautiful as well. But those who are unhappy with monolids/hooded lids, and turn to blepharoplasty should not be regarded with contempt. I think an aversion to double eyelid surgery says more about the critic than the patient who undergoes the knife. For people who are against it because of "ethnic" reasons, I must ask--why? Have you ever felt your opinion is based on stereotypes--for example, the idea that all Asians look a certain way, so whatever changes they make to their faces are automatically perceived as some kind of "Caucasianization?"


fermina ariza said...

i agree with your view of double eyelids.

i think a lot of it is also a result of the perceptions of race and class. for instance, many caucasians enjoy tanning (some even at the risk of getting prolonged UV exposure). but people don't think of it as caucasians wanting to be asian or hispanic or black because it's less conceivable for people to have a desire to imitate a "lower" class (whether determined by average socioeconomic status or purely racist upbringing).

Katie said...

I agree with your view, but on a much larger scale. What a woman does with her body is simply, her own business. Whether that woman has 'corrective' eye surgery, implants, or even just tanning at a salon, it's her business and not my place to judge. I'm not Asian... I'm Caucasian and I do have double eyelids. However, my crease is rather low. When I was younger, I was actually asked by the kids in school if I had an Asian parent. Society may think that big eyes are better, but I love my little eyes (it just makes eye liner a pain sometimes!). Thanks for posting this. I've heard very little about this issue and you definitely did a great job of putting some light on it.

Cathy said...

I know this is really late, but I just wanted to reply to your blog.

I agree that there is more to this eye surgery/tape/glue controversy for monolids than an Euro-centric ideal of beauty, but based on what I've experienced, I'd say that the above claim is pretty valid.

I also have monolids, and as other people with monolids have stated, it's very difficult to find makeup tutorials on how to enhance the natural beauty of our eyes. Many tutorials that I've come across all seem to fake a crease either through eyeshadow/false lashes, or through the methods that you've stated. It's frustrating and discouraging to me because I feel that it doesn't enhance my "natural beauty" but really just reconstructs my face into what is considered more "beautiful." It often leaves me feeling like there is something wrong with my eyes and like I'm a failure because I have monolids.

It makes me think-why do I have to feel bad about having monolids, and why do all these helpful tutorials on how to "enhance your natural beauty" all seem to be ways to FAKE a crease?

A lot of girls turn to glue/tape/surgery because it's something you do to fit in and feel like you're beautiful, similar to how many girls go on diets and have eating disorders because that's how they can feel "beautiful."

So I don't support this beauty trend because I feel that its a sell-out, and I would be giving in to pressure on how to feel about myself. Sorry for the long comment, thanks for posting your blog up-it's nice to read about other people's opinions on this. =]

Robin Maya said...

I'm Caucasian with deepset, hooded lids and I use tape or glue when I wear fancy makeup. Big eyes are most people's idea of pretty. I use the Asian brands, too.

Robin Maya said...

I'm Caucasian with deepset, hooded lids and I use tape or glue when I wear fancy makeup. Big eyes are most people's idea of pretty. I use the Asian brands, too.