American vs. East Asian Makeup – What’s the Difference?

Both East Asia and America are makeup-centric regions in their own right but often times share little overlap in makeup styles. There’s no denying that the culture we grow up in heavily shapes our perceptions of beauty. And the differences in makeup trends around the world are evidence that there isn’t one strict definition of beauty.

We’ve taken a look at specific regions in both the East Asia (Korea and Japan are the main regions mentioned) and America and delved into the details of what makes each country’s makeup trends unique – from brows to cheeks to lips. Everyone’s always a little curious about how the other side does things, right?

East Asian Makeup Today

Image via Stylenanda

When talking about East Asian makeup, Korea is no doubt one of the major hotbeds of makeup trends. Korean makeup trends often lean more towards a simplistic, skin-first look.

Even though standard Korean beauty is known to lean toward the side of innocent and fresh with “popsicle-stained” lips and straight eyebrows for a more youthful look, there are trends coming in 2018 with some slight amp ups to what’s been known.


In Korea, foundation is kept bright and vibrant for a fresh look. You may have even heard that a dewy face is all the rage in Korea, and you’re right! To an extent…

There’s a newer skin trend in Korea called “glass skin.” It’s where your skin is so pore-less and smooth that it almost looks transparent.

This look isn’t something that can be accomplished with a foundation’s finish. Its true nature comes from the type of skin care you do way before you apply any makeup. The finish should be a perfectly smooth surface with a super hydrated sheen that imitates glass.

I mean, it can be attempted… but to get inner brightness and the best youthful look you can with “glass skin”, you need to take diligent care of your skin along with adding illuminators to your foundation to add on the glow. And you can also look up “honey skin” for a similar alternative if you’re looking for some makeup inspo on this shiny look.

Brightening and hydrating skin care is key if you want that glow!


To continue with the youthful look, Korean eyebrow trends tend to gear toward a straight and fuller look. But in 2017, K-pop idols were being seen with a tiiiiny arch at the end of their eyebrows for an edgier twist.

Image via Stylenanda


A single peachy or champagne color, if any, is usually what’s used for a simplistic and clean look in trending Korean makeup looks. For the illusion of a bigger eye or to change one’s eye color, circle lenses can be used. For eyeliner, a simple line on the upper lid to define lashes as well as a swipe or two of mascara. That’s it!


Glossy corals, pinks, and cherry red tints keep the lips in Korean makeup looks more natural and hydrated. A popular Korean lip look is called the gradient lip, where a popsicle-pout is created by covering the lips with concealer, only placing tint in the inner portion of the mouth, and then dispersing the tint a little outwards to create a gradient look.

Image via Stylenanda


Similar to lips, a simple peach or pink blush on the cheeks helps keep the look of glowing youth alive! Another trend I’ve seen (and loved!) is “hangover makeup” in Japan. It’s when you apply blush underneath the eye and/or the outer bottom corner of the eye. I’ve also seen it applied across the bridge of the nose for a flushed look.

Image Source Unknown

American Makeup Today

American makeup trends are known to be more dramatic and structured with many layers, making its wearer look more mature.

Image via Her World


Foundations come in hundreds of shades for all the different skin tones and undertones in America. With this, people usually prefer a matte foundation and use products such as powders and blotting papers to make sure to keep the matte look uniform.

Practices such as contouring, concealing, and highlighting are all steps that could naturally be a part of a American’s beauty routine. Highlighter is used to enhance the areas of the face where light naturally bounces off of it (like cheekbones, tips of noses, cupid’s bow, etc.).

Concealer is used to brighten dark under eyes as well as conceal dark spots, which may first be covered by a color corrector before being covered with a concealer to ensure optimal coverage.

And contouring creates shadows and hollowing in the face to help the face look slimmer and more mature.


People in America take eyebrows uber seriously. From the chiseled arch to their dark definition and appropriate fade, pomade to help it stay put, and concealer to give it that fresh, “just plucked” look… brows make the face in North America, and a lot of time and/or product and time can be invested in their upkeep. (That’s why some people get their eyebrows microbladed–which is a semi-permanent tattooing–so they don’t have to spend 10-20 minutes on their brows alone.)

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Image via Instagram


A smokey eye concept is a common trend in American beauty and can even be done as a daily look. No matter what color is worn, the darkest goes on the outer corner to create depth, a light shade goes into the middle to emulate shine and roundness, and a subtle shade goes toward the inner corners to keep eyes looking open. Eyeshadow palettes can be compared to a paint palette because of all the colors and finishes that are worn day and night. Whatever fits the mood!

Image Source Unknown


Glossy finishes aren’t too popular past middle school in America. Along with the foundation, matte or semi-matte finishes in lipsticks are what’s desired. And the color ranges worn? Same as eyeshadows: anything goes! Wear whatever your mood for the day takes you!


Cheeks are pretty simple in American beauty trends. A subtle peach or pink color to add color and life to the face is all that’s usually used. Highlight is of course added to the apples of cheeks as mentioned earlier to enhance the light that bounces from them. At one point, holographic highlighter was a huge trend, and it gave people an almost alienesque glow!

Image via Instagram

Who Wears it Better?

Just like art, beauty is subjective. And because of that people are influenced by all sorts of looks and take what they like best. Not everyone in any region of the world wears their makeup just like everyone else, and that’s great! That’s the beauty and artistry of makeup for you!

Featured Image via Stylenanda


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