Things I don’t understand about Japan: Eyelid Tape (to give Asian eyes a double-eyelid)

Japan has something called eyelid tape. It is sold in packs of 60 – 100; the purpose is to artificially add a double eyelid without surgery. The most common users are Japanese girls in their late teens and early twenties – and office ladies. The eyelid tape is supposed to make you more “beautiful” by giving your eyes a “Western” or more round appearance.

This is a real thing. And I have countless friends who use this tape.

If you want, you can even buy some eyelid tape on Amazon.com. Apparently a crowd favorite is: Double Eyelid Tape (50 pair pack)

double eyelid tape

Why I don’t understand eyelid tape:

A couple months ago, I was at Shibuya 109 with a friend. We are both shopaholics (her more so than me because I’m broke) and love going to Shibuya 109 to look at the latest trends – she needed new makeup for a date, so we were in the makeup corner in the basement. While she was browsing foundation, I spotted the eyelid tape near the register.

Shibuya 109 - Fashion heaven on earth

Shibuya 109 – Fashion heaven on earth

I laughed, pulling my friend over. “Look at this! Eyelid tape. How weird! Can you believe people actually use this.”

She gave me ‘the look’ that could melt stone and reached across, snatching a box. “… I use this.”

“What?” I stared in disbelief.

“Did you think my eyes were naturally double-lidded? I use these so my makeup doesn’t smudge and my eyes look bigger.”

I apologized, but the damage was done. Apparently my friend wore eyelid tape every day. She thought I was rather insensitive for laughing at it – but it was something I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around.

So I bought her a boba tea drink and we chatted about it. She showed me how to put the tape on and take it off. Later on, she showed me what her “un-taped” eyelids looked like. There was a startling difference.

Even more startling – I hadn’t realized it until then.

I thought she had just been born with really large eyes. She explained it wasn’t just about the eyelids. It was about making her eyes larger. She wants to be a fashion blogger – and she told me without the tape, her eyelids were huge and her eyes always looked closed. She wanted the big, bright eyes that most fashion bloggers have (on this note, she also uses those contact lenses that make your pupils bigger).

She also had problems wearing normal eyeliner and eye-shadow without the tape. If she didn’t wear the tape, she told me, it would smudge.

Why I really don’t understand eyelid tape:

I’m white. I have white people eyes with perfect, wrinkly double eyelids. I’ve never had to make the decision whether or not to tape my eyelids. According to Japanese media, double eyelids are sexy. They make your eyes look big. They are chic.

Double eyelid tape japan

It’s gotten to the point that actors and musicians are famous for NOT having double eyelids, rather than for having the double eyelids. I read an interview with a director shooting a period drama; he had a hard time finding an “old fashioned” actress who would play the part of the heroine – all the famous choices had double eyelid surgery. Women with double eyelids couldn’t play an “old fashioned” girl in his period drama. He was a traditionalist. In the end, he went with a virtually unknown actress, since she was one of the only actresses he could find in the age bracket who looked the part (ie, didn’t have the surgery).

(EDIT, as someone pointed out in the comments, a large number of Asian men and women are born with double eyelids – which is interesting. Since posting this, several of my friends have messaged me pointing out they are 100% Asian with double eyelids. So, I guess this eyelid tape isn’t TOO ‘out there,’ since it is possible to naturally have double eyelids)

Ryosuke hasn't had double eyelid surgery (in case anyone was wondering)

Ryosuke hasn’t had double eyelid surgery (in case anyone was wondering)

Why I (sort of) understand eyelid tape:

I’m foreign. I look very foreign. I have natural double eyelids. So of course I would never use the tape… but I respect women who choose to do it just as much as I respect women who don’t.

Whatever floats your boat.

Go for it. If there was a fashion object that make my nose smaller or eyes bigger, I would use it in a heartbeat.

Fashion and media perception of beauty makes women do crazy things. It makes us teeter around on high heels all day, paint our faces over with powders and brushes, and squeeze/starve our body into a specific size, to align ourselves with the standard of beauty. It’s harmful for women’s self-image.

We all just want to be pretty – as if that is something to be proud of. And if eyelid tape makes people feel pretty, well, then go for it.

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About Grace Buchele Mineta

Born and raised in Texas, I am a part-time blogger on the search for the next greatest adventure. In my spare time I enjoy writing, drawing comics, and traveling with my husband, a boxing businessman from Japan. Contact: Website | More Posts

33 Comments on Things I don’t understand about Japan: Eyelid Tape (to give Asian eyes a double-eyelid)

  1. Despite the fact that I’m also asian (Taiwanese) I’m also surprised eyelid tape actually exists, too. I was born with double eyelids in a double-lidded family, so I didn’t know that single eyelids existed. I thought they had gone extinct, right along with the dinosaurs as I had seen them only in very traditional movies.

  2. Um wow, what a fuckin ignorant post. At least you know it though.

      • Grace, I like how you are honest and question why the way certain things are with the Asian culture.

        As for my fellow Asian girls. “Work on yourself and love yourself first before you get upset on someone else.” I truly can’t relate to Asian girls who uses tape and then feels as if ashamed in using them? If that’s what makes you feel beautiful then own it. If you want to go do eyelid surgery then do it. But have you ever given thoughts of your kids? Would you support or enforce double eyelid surgery on your daughters too? Then their daughters? The problem isn’t the tape or the surgery. It’s how our culture now perceives beauty. It’s how we let the western society influenced our way of what our beauty should look like. Yes, there are Asians who have natural double eyelids and that’s only 25% according to anthropology stats. What distinguished predominantly in Asian eyes from other races are our epicanthic folds. The rest 75% left does not have double eyelids naturally. So my point is, it’s going to be a repetition. You can’t fight genetics.

        I’m voicing out because the first time I found out about glue or even tape was because one of my gf was hiding it when she bought it. I did not understand why. There is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed of how you look or what makes you feel beautiful. Just own it. Growing up, I did not have double eyelids. I lost it as my face changes into my teenage years. It gradually came back as I went into my adulthood. Now that its gone, the irony my ldr western bf who loves the epicanthic folds thinks single eyelids are the cutest especially on kids!!

        • Thanks.
          Now that you mention it, I never really thought about eyelid surgery or tape in relating to young girls. Huh.
          My mom never wore make-up when I was growing up. All my other friend’s mom’s did, but mine didn’t. So I grew up thinking it was totally fine not to wear makeup (which was shocking for people in high school).

          Now that my husband and I are planning kids (in like 5 years), I really respect what my mom did – just being herself. It had a really positive influence on my sister and I.

  3. I have “double” eyelids, but one of my eyelids is much more hooded than the other. If I wear eyeliner, the entire line would be visible on one eye and half of it would be covered on the other eye. Therefore, if I want to make complicated makeup look even on my eyes, I need to use double eyelid tape on one side. Sometimes Asians with double eyelids wake up with one eye more “double” than the other, but mine have been like that for a couple of months, even though they were even before!

    Double eyelids are a huge in China and many of my friends and family members have them. Eyelid tape is time-consuming, but applying eyeliner and having it transfer onto the upper part of the lid (while it’s fine on the other side!) is even more frustrating, so I’m just holding out until my eyelids get back to normal. After all, I can’t make my other eye more hooded.

  4. Well just because someone got the tape on their eyes or got the eyelid surgery it doesn’t neccessary mean they are vain and feel disrespectful and ungrateful about the way they are look. Some people may have got bullied or got a eyelid disease. Like me. I was born with blepharoptosis so kids used to bully me with that. So i got the surgery but just because of that we should’nt judge a whole bunch of people, should we? Just saying after reading a few comments. i wish people didn’t get the wrong ideas. It makes me really frustrating and actually depressed :/ we shouldn’t generalize people or the reasons.. behind the certain things.

    • Sorry to hear people are judging you for your surgery.
      I confess, when I was first researching this topic, I didn’t quite understand the tape. Like, at all. But since then, I’ve gotten messages from people who wear the tape because it’s the only way they can use makeup properly.

      It’s one of those things that as a white person with naturally double lid eyelids, I never thought about…

  5. I use this tape even though I technically have double eyelids, you can’t really see them though because they’re halfway inside the fat around my eyes. When I use makeup, it always smudges. I’m Southeast Asian and here where I live, it’s common to have natural double eyelids without prominent epicanthic folds and there are really just a few of us who don’t.

    And it isn’t true that most of us who use it want to look white. I just want to be able to use makeup without looking like someone punched me in the eyes xD you probably don’t understand it because of your eyes, but mascara, eyeliner, etc, just smudges because of the fat.

    These aren’t my eyes but the top picture is how my eyes look like:

    http://teuimps.co.kr/english/images/sub/eye01_06.jpg

    • Thanks for sharing Kana.
      After posting this on Facebook, I had a couple Japanese friends (and one Chinese friend) send me messages saying similar things. I had no idea the tape can prevent makeup from smudging (which, I guess, is pretty cool).

      I’ve always wondered – does it hurt at all to use this tape? Or is it uncomfortable at all? I think because I have the natural fold on my eyes, when I tried to wear the tape, it just slipped right off and was rather annoying…

  6. I didn’t really understand this until I went to Japan myself. It’s a big thing over there. My experience is pretty unique though. I’m American-born Vietnamese with a very small mix of Chinese and French. I have natural double lids. My husband is American-born 3/4 Japanese, 1/4 Chinese. He as natural monolids. Our son, Korrin has my husband’s almond-shape but my double lids. If we ever had a little girl, I would definitely encourage her to embrace her natural beauty and NOT to alter it either temporarily (with stickers) or permanently (with surgery).

    P.s. Here is a photo of our engagement shoot taken in Japan: https://scontent-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/q71/1175516_720486707048_1570268673_n.jpg – Obviously my makeup makes my eyes look even bigger than normal but you can definitely notice the difference between my eyes and his eyes.

    • You both look so lovely! :)

      Your eyes look very different. I’m glad both of you are very open about “beauty” and how the standard of beauty always seems to be changing. That’s always refreshing to see!

  7. You don’t have any epicanthic fold (excess of skin) on your eye, so I doubt you can wear it and make another crease as you already have it. Some of caucasian do blepharoplasty especially when they get older and they eyelid skin become sagging.

    http://www.realself.com/Eyelid-Surgery/reviews

    • Interesting. That makes sense. My friend mailed me a pack last months and I tried wearing the eye tape – but it didn’t work. I guess that makes sense.

  8. So, of course after reading this I go and check to see that I do have double eyelids. I’ve never really noticed this kind of stuff. I’m really curious to see exactly how this works. It also reminds me of what some people project what the human face would look like in 100,000 years. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2337804/Huge-foreheads-flat-faces-saucer-like-eyes-How-human-face-look-100-000-years.html

    • I kind of assume men don’t notice these things. The first thing my fiance did after reading this was ask “Hey honey, do I have double eyelids?” (he doesn’t).
      Is double eyelids a genetic thing?

      I’m not going to lie, the large eyes and awkward jersey shore tan on the “future” people is a bit awkward. I am curious to see the evolution of the species will go.

      • Of course its a genetic thing. Double eyelids get more common the more south of asia you go.
        I think epicanthic folds work both ways, it could make you look more unattractive (most asians will point that out), and.. have you seen Lucy Liu here eyes are sexy!

  9. You do realize that around a third to a half of East Asians have natural double eyelids? I am Asian (Taiwanese & Chinese Filipino) and my entire family on both sides have natural double eyelids. The double eyelid has been considered a standard of beauty in most East Asian countries for hundreds of years, probably even before they knew the existence of white people. Of course, given the cultural influence of the west, it’s obvious that some Japanese women buy the tape and get surgery to look “white,” but I’d wager that most (or at least a significant portion) are probably just adhering to long standing standards of beauty in their culture.

    • It’s funny that you mention this, because I just had this exact conversation with the girl who lives across the hall from me. She is full Chinese and has double eyelids – people always tell her she is pretty / ask if she is “half” when they see her eyelids. She said it was kind of weird.

      I know a couple women who have natural double eyelids – so I thought it must occur every once and a while, I had no idea it was all the way up to a third. That’s incredible. Thanks for the information.

  10. I have seen this tape in the stores, but I didn’t realize how commonly used it was. My daughter (who, unlike her brothers, has very western eyes) and I were shocked to find another new one (to us at least) in the drug store recently – under eye “bag” tape. We were scratching our heads as to why young women would want to create eye bags when in ten years or so they will be trying hard to cover them up! I think it’s part of the western eye craze – I have to admit that our western eyes do tend to get bags more easily. I’d be interested to know how commonly used these new under eye ones are!

    • I think western (especially white) eyes get bags far too easily. It’s so sad. My fiance is five years older than me – with flawless skin, no wrinkles, and no bags under his eyes. I sometimes cringe when I see closeup pictures, since the women in my family are known for the bags under our eyes (I guess we’re just hard workers).

      I’ve never seen eye bag tape, though. Is that just… tape that makes bags under your eyes? Why would someone want that?

      Also, on the western eye craze are the colored contacts. I have several full Japanese female friends that wear green and blue colored contacts. It’s so interesting.

      • the bag tape is probably not for making the bigger bags under your eyes that you’re probably thinking about. It’s for making like a small tiny um…meat/bag that’s directly under your lower lash line.

        An easier way to show an example is just look up any Korean idol group, and look at closer images of their fashes. Notice the tiny little bulge under their eyes, that’s what they want.

        I remember talking to my best friend there in Korea, and she was telling me how I was lucky because I have them and I was so confused because I think they just make me look tired. She said it makes people look younger and cuter. It’s not necessarily a Western thing, it’s just small minute details that they for some reason care about.

        • Oh, ok – I know what you’re talking about. I just looked it up. I always wondered about those. So rather than “white people” bags that droop sadly beneath the eye, they’re more like cute little shelves that hold your eyes.
          It seems like both the eyelid tape and bag tape is meant to emphasize the size (and shape) of the eye – right?

      • I don’t think that colored contacts are necessarily part of the “Western eye craze,” as you call it. Many of the Japanese people/Asians I know use it for cosplaying different fictional characters, or to enlarge their eyes, or simply to try different eye colors. While it could be true that some Asians do it for the reason you stated, many white people also do things to be like Asians. Should we then call it the Asian craze and claim that a lot of things white people do are meant to be Asian? I believe the main focus on colored contacts, and eyelid tape, is not on the eye structure and pigmentation on white people, but adhering to separate standards of Asian beauty. People tend to like to think that many things are about them, which isn’t necessarily a horrible thing, but often times inaccurate. Though who wouldn’t want to see what they look like with different colored eyes?

        • I agree with most of what you’ve said. I’ve used colored contacts (only once or twice, it was too much of a hassle) because I wanted green eyes. I’ve never used contacts for cosplay, but I have several friends who have.

          However, a majority of my Japanese friends who DO wear circle lenses or colored contacts do it specifically to look a certain way. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look a certain way for beauty, but the changes they are making are very specific and intentional.
          Circle lenses are for a more doll-like appearance; colored contacts are for different eye colors. Westerners (or other white people) are the only people I know with naturally colored eyes – so I kind have to assume that going for colored eyes is adhering to “Western standards of beauty” though.

  11. This is actually fairly common throughout all of East Asia. A lot of my friends that are Asian always talk about double eyelids and what not.

    In Korea, all celebrities get surgery to get it done.

    a lot of it is also girls think it’s just better looking and it makes your eyes look bigger and prettier. And they seem to believe that having monolids = no good. (Similar to how Asians always want to be paler in comparison while Americans would rather be tanned)

    • MONOLIDS. That’s what they are called. I forgot. Google wasn’t being helpful whatsoever.

      I mean, I kind of think everyone’s eyes always look pretty (different, but pretty). I was chatting with a Chinese friend today who is doing his research project on Korean plastic surgery and we started talking about double eyelids (hence this post).

      Have you ever used the eyelid tape?

      • I have eyelid glue, but I rarely ever use it (similar to the tape, except, well, glue. They also have this thing called fiber, but I was too scared to try it haha). I have monolids and I really don’t like them. My eyes are EXTREMELY small because of them and I really wish I had double eyelids. It’s not just because they’re “prettier”- I think my eye shape is fine. I just wish they were… bigger. Because in pictures, I look like my eyes are closed. It’s like I permanently always mess up and close my eyes when the picture is taken.

        • I like your eyes…~

          But I do understand the point of eyelid tape (I had no idea they had glue, though). It makes sense. I was just… surprised. It’s not something I would expect. I guess this is how guys feel when they discover female spandex or something.
          How often do you use the glue? Is it just for formal occasions with lots of pictures?

      • I already have double eyelids so I haven’t necessarily used them. Apparently there’s also differences between inwards and outwards double eyelids. (someone told me I have natural looking inward ones, and some other people have awkward outward ones?)

        • Whaaaaat. I’m so confused. I feel like I’ve discovered some sort of subgroup. I’m going to get Ryosuke to buy and send me some – since I’m curious as to whether or not I could actually wear them.
          Also, I tried Google. I couldn’t figure out the visual difference between and inward and outward double eyelids.

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