In the vast, expansive sea that is the latest make-up trends lies one constant: its cyclical nature. No fad is too extreme nor audacious, with every style and movement harbouring the potential to make a reappearance—this time sporting a new name or a revamped reputation that precedes its former image (see: French tips). It comes as no surprise, then, that 2023 has seen the first of such instances. Enter: aegyo-sal make-up.
A technique first espoused by the Hallyu industry, its primary function lies in creating the illusion of small, fatty deposits located underneath the lids. This supposedly creates the impression of a younger-looking appearance; a doe-eyed gaze which has earned it other monikers such as ‘eye smiles’ and ‘love bands.’ Most commonly sported by K-Drama ingénues, aegyo-sal make-up has since been modified in recent times to further emphasise brighter, wider-looking peepers.
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“It can be a tricky trend to ace because of the placement along the lower eye line,” elaborates Rick Yang, professional make-up artist. “It is commonly mistaken as eye bags when not done right. In Korea, individuals often emulate this effect through cosmetic surgical procedures instead, where fillers and fat grafts are injected along the area to create the illusion of puffiness and volume.”
And while that could be a consideration for individuals looking for a permanent solution, the look is easy enough to recreate with make-up—provided you are armed with the right knowledge and know-how. According to another professional hair and make-up artist, Marc Teng, the most common mistake to make is to use products that cake easily. “Or to use products that don’t match your skin tone,” he states. “Anything that gives a grey cast will give the opposite effect, making you look tired and haggard.”
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This begs the question: what should you be looking out for instead, in your venture to master aegyo-sal make-up? Below, a comprehensive rundown of the best tools and tricks of the trade to know about.
Less is always more
Teng is an advocate of starting light. “You can always gradually build up the intensity of the colours if you’re new at this,” he remarks. “Think of it as drawing on a double eyelid, just for your under eye instead. It has to appear natural and fade out gradually.”
Always opt for colours that are complementary to your skin tone
“I’d recommend a neutral taupe hue for shading—that’s a good start,” instructs Teng. “Begin with a good eye make-up base first, before you reach for the eyeshadow or pencil.” His personal favourites include Bobbi Brown’s Vitamin Enriched Eye Base paired with the M.A.C Cosmetics Eye Shadow in Omega.
Smile when you’re doing your aegyo-sal make-up to accurately locate the best placement
Take note of where your natural crease appears, and simply highlight that with your chosen eyeshadow or pencil. “The soft, blurred line you’re creating should be almost as wide as your eye’s pupil, with the ends smudged out to create a subtle shadow,” Rick states. For heavy-handed users, he recommends Pixi’s Endless Shade Stick Eyeshadow in the shade MatteCognac. “It’s a very light shade of brown that is easy to blend,” he points out. “If you’re a little more confident in your skills, you can try this with the M.A.C Cosmetics Colour Excess Gel Pencil in the colour Sick Tat Bro.”
Be quick to smudge out your aegyo-sal make-up
Letting your make-up dry down could potentially create harsh lines that are impossible to blend out after. Alternatively, Yang recommends using an eyebrow pencil or liner instead as they tend to come with a more natural finish. “The applicator is usually more precise, too,” he adds. “I swear by the Tarte Quick Stick Waterproof Shadow & Liner in Taupe Luster & Black.”
Add a touch of pearlescent highlighter
“Nowadays, the look is further accentuated by adding highlighter above the crease you have created,” Yang says. “This gives the aegyo-sal make-up an extra dimension as it allows for eyes to appear even more lively than before. You can even dash it on the centre of the eyelids for more definition.”