Bun Bun Makeup Tips and Beauty Product Reviews

Eyeshadow Tutorial for Asian Eyes Part 4 – Defining the Contour Area

Series, Featured, Makeup How-To: Tips & Tutorials, Makeup Looks
December 10, 2011
Composed by : Bun Bun

Okie, I have officially run out of excuses to further delay publishing this. Haha. But it’s not like I was lazy; I simply couldn’t bear to do it because doing it means being one post closer to the end of this series! I’m absurdly sentimental, I know.

But Bun Bun’s gotta do what Bun Bun’s gotta do. *snaps fingers with conviction*

In the fourth installment of the Eyeshadow Tutorial for Asian Eyes series, we cover Defining the Contour Area.

This must be the hardest topic to explain, but I think is very important for me to share because I learnt it the hard way and took a long time to understand the Contour Area of the Asian eye.

More so because there is a lack of explanation for this ubiquitous area all humans have, but appears very different on the Asian eye and Caucasian eye. This tutorial is not limited just to the Asian eye or Caucasian eye, this can also apply to people of  Caucasian descent with hooded eyelids.

I use the broad categories of Asian VS Caucasian for simplicity in explanation.

I have explained what are the Crease and Contour Area about a gazillion times in eye makeup tutorials as well as in these posts:


Part 1: Where to Apply Eyeshadow

Part 2: Vertical Gradient Method

Part 3: Defining the Outer V

Part 4: Defining the Contour Area

Part 5: Horizontal Gradient Method

Where to Apply Contour Eyeshadow Color on an Asian Eye


Some of you might be very clear about the differences by now from reading my tutorials, but for those new to my blog or aren’t quite certain about the differences yet, let me explain quickly.

Our Western friends use Crease to describe the Fold, which is where the eyelid folds. Their Crease also coincide with the Orbital Rim. So it is natural for Caucasian makeup gurus to mention in their videos or blogs to ‘place the dark purple color on the Crease’, since these two areas coincide.

Okie, put simply,

Asians, on the other hand, have their Fold way down below the Orbital Rim. If an Asian were to ‘place the dark purple color on the Crease’, blindly following the tutorial meant for Caucasian eye makeup placement, then the dark purple color will end up in the Fold instead. And this is where many people get frustrated with not being able to achieve a certain look desired.

That is why I don’t use Crease to describe anything since it means something to the Caucasian eye but means a totally different thing to the Asian eye.

Now, now, don’t get me wrong. Not all Asian eyes look like that. In fact, there is a greater variety of eyes for what we call the ‘Asian eye’, if I must say so myself. I wrote in a previous post some 14 types of Asian eyes and makeup tips, so I’m definitely not stereotyping the many beautiful eyes of Asians. I used the above picture because it shows more obviously the beautiful, smooth skin on the eyelid of most Asians, and that the Orbital Rim does not coincide with the Fold (Crease, in Caucasian terms).

3 Asian beauties, just because.

Song Hye Ko

Kyoko Fukada

Fan Bing Bing

Where Is My Contour Area?

In another tutorial, I already showed a simple method of how to locate the Contour Area, and that it is clearly apart from the Crease or Fold.

For most Asians, it can be hard to define the Contour Area just by looking straight into the mirror.


Even when I look down into a mirror while keeping my head straight, I can barely locate the Contour Area. I need to raise my brows really high and be in a place with lots of shadows to locate it, and only just.

The best way to find the Contour Area is simply to use a soft brush to GENTLY push the skin into the eye, and wherever the brush sinks into, is the Orbital Rim, which is what I refer to as the Contour Area.

If you have Caucasian eyes, then you will absolutely no idea what I am talking about since your Crease = Contour Area. Haha.

Why Define The Contour Area?

The Contour Area is also known as:

Brow Bone area

Optical Bone area

Above Crease area

Transition area

‘Blend Out’ area

Orbital Rim

Socket Line


I find that Orbital Rim and Socket Line explain it more accurately.

From its many names, you can guess that it is the area where a transit color is generally placed to diffuse strong colors on the Lid, so that it looks naturally faded into the Brow Bone Highlight.

The Contour Area can be further divided into horizontal or vertical thirds. Typically, the more colors you have, the more dimension the look will have, provided blending is executed well.

Why Is It Called The Contour Area?

As with some of the terms I use, like ‘Vertical Gradient Method’ and ‘Horizontal Gradient Method’, the ‘Contour Area’ is not an official term. I sorta came up with it because Orbital Rim and Socket Line sound very… um, anatomical. They don’t quite sound quite as pretty as Contour Area. Lol.

I named it Contour Area instead of Contour Line because, especially on Asian eyes where the Socket Line is above the Fold, any line drawn on the Socket Line is going to look very unnatural, and may even look like an eyeliner smudge. Horror!

That’s why the line should be extended into an area, blended out.

How to Define the Contour Area?

For people whose Orbital Rim is way above the Fold, don’t worry, you still can create depth to your eyes!

You want to define the Contour Area to create more deep set eyes, but you don’t want to leave a harsh line there.

Apply the eyeshadow color of your choice at the Orbital Rim with an eyeshadow brush. The e.l.f Contour Brush and Stage Shadow Smudger worked fine for me, in fact I liked them a little more in the Contour Area than the MAC 219 just because the 219 is so precise it can be a little hard to blend out afterwards. A badly blended line will look even more obvious on an Asian eye because the Fold is way below the Orbital Rim. I reserve the 219 for the Outer V.

Then, use the MAC 217 Blending Brush to blend out the line created. The Essence of Beauty Duo Crease Brush set is a new favorite of mine! And super cheap!



Easy right?

I use 2 eyeshadow brushes for the Contour Area because the 217 is a little too large and too fluffy for me to be used directly to create the Contour Area. If you have really large eyes and wide space between your eyes and brows like Marlena from MUG, then by all means, go ahead and use the 217.


Bun Bun’s Makeup Tip: If you’re not familiar with defining the Contour Area yet, try first with brown, neutral shades. They’re more forgivable. 🙂



I like to apply a warmer color first (like orange or warm pink, warm brown) on the Contour Area, followed by a darker color nearer down, and then define the Outer V. I also go back and forth on blending whenever I add a new color to eliminate any harsh lines.

I know it sounds like a lot of steps and work just to create depth to the eyes, but it really takes no longer than a couple of minutes. In fact, using the right type of brush saves you more time. Just imagine drinking soup with a tea stirrer versus a soup soon. At the end of the day, both allow you to drink the soup, but the soup spoon gets the job done more quickly and you experience less frustration with it.

Eye Makeup Looks without Outer V:

Contour Area – Urban Decay Ammo Palette – Smog

Actually I did an Outer V for this, but it’s so small it’s not visible from this angle. I like that the Contour Area is very obvious here.

Contour Area – MAC Eyeshadow Post Haste

Contour Area – Urban Decay Naked Palette – Darkhorse

Contour Area – Stage Eyeshadow Poison

I did a tutorial for this eye makeup look! And here’s the review of Stage Cosmetics.

Eye Makeup Looks with Outer V:

Contour Area – Urban Decay Naked Palette – Smog; Outer V – Urban Decay Naked Palette – Darkhorse

In review for L’Oreal Color Infallible Eyeshadow Emerald Lame

Contour Area – Urban Decay Naked Palette – Smog; Outer V – Urban Decay Naked Palette – Darkhorse

In review for Pupa Multiplay Triple Purpose Eye Pencil

Contour Area – MAC Eyeshadow Free To Be; Outer V – NYX Eyeshadow Dark Brown

(Click here for eye makeup tutorial)

Contour Area – Urban Decay Naked Palette – Smog; Outer V – Urban Decay Naked Palette – Darkhorse

(Click here for eye makeup tutorial)

The Outer V makes all the difference, doesn’t it? 🙂


Here are some of my favorite colors for the Contour Area:

Kat Von D Palette

MAC Sheertone Blush in Peaches (orange)

MAC Eyeshadow Satin Taupe (brown)

Urban Decay Naked Palette (brown)

NYX Single Eyeshadow in Mermaid Green (Great dupe for MAC Humid!) (green)


Note from Bun Bun: Do note that the Contour Area is quite different from the Outer 1/3 of the Lid. The Outer 1/3 of the Lid can contain any color you like, but keep the Contour Area quite neutral, unless you are sure to blend well.



In the next episode of this series, we will look into the Horizontal Gradient Method of eyeshadow application.


Eyeshadow Tutorials for Asian Eyes series:

Part 1: Where to Apply Eyeshadow

Part 2: Vertical Gradient Method

Part 3: Defining the Outer V

Part 4: Defining the Contour Area

Part 5: Horizontal Gradient Method


How’s your eye makeup getting along? I hope my tutorials have, in some way or another, helped you get better at it! 😀