Explained: Eye Makeup Terminology

Lid, crease, transition, outer v, waterline–what?  If that terminology makes your head spin, then you’ve come to the right place!  These are areas of the eye that often signal how and where a particular product has been applied to the eye in a makeup tutorial. Below are the most common areas of the eye used in makeup tutorials. You’ll be a pro in no time!

For more of my favorite makeup brushes, check out my favourite brushes review.  Now, let’s break down the where and what of a typical eye look…


Inner Tearduct/Inner Corner:  This is the area between the bridge of the nose and the inner portion of the lid.  It’s often a space that is used to brighten and open up the eyes, so something metallic is often used here.  This can sometimes be the same shade used to highlight the brow bone to help tie a look together, but it’s just as likely something different.  I often find this is a good place to add a pop of sparkle or glitter.

Recommended Tools:  Smaller brushes, from packing eyeshadow brushes to pencil brushes; like ZOOEVA 238


Inner/Middle/Outer Lid:  Depending on the look one’s going for, the lid can be divided up into as many or as few parts as desired.  You can have color all over the lid, over all but the outer lid/very outer corner (where the lash lines meet).  I tend to apply two to three shades on the lid, so I often break up my lid into three sections–inner, middle, and outer.   Sometimes, you’ll see a reference to the “outer v,” which is the edge of the upper lash line into the deep crease in the shape of a sideways “V.” (The outer lid/crease area in this look and this look are two examples of defining the “outer v.”

Recommended Tools:  Small-to-medium-sized packing brushes like MAC 239, MAC 242


One common placement is as a gradient: where you apply the lightest shade to the inner lid, medium shade to the middle of the lid, and darker shade to the outer lid.  For a halo effect, try applying the lightest shade to the center of the lid and flank the inner and outer portions of the lid with a medium or dark shade.  If you want to get really fancy, you can use dark shades on the innermost and outermost areas of the lid and then a medium shade to diffuse between the dark and light shade in the halo placement.


Another placement type is called a cut crease, which is where one typically applies a layer of concealer or cream eyeshadow all over the lid with a visible, harsh/sharp edge where the crease color meets the lid.  Some place more than one color on the crease, others place one for 2/3 of the crease and just use something darker/deeper on the outer corner.  Makeup washes off, so don’t be afraid to play around with placement and throw all the “rules” out occasionally!


A fourth placement places eyeshadows horizontally rather than vertically, so each shade on the lid would across from the inner to outer lid but may not take up the entire lid space.  It could be done with the darkest shade against the upper lashes (almost like eyeliner) and then gradually fading to lightest at the brow bone, or it can be done with a very light shade all over the lid, a deep shade in the crease, and a mid-tone shade above the crease and diffused to the brow bone.


Crease:  This is the area that is slightly sunken where the lid meets the space above it.  I also like to divide this area into the Crease and Deep Crease, the latter being the deepest, most sunken/hidden part of the crease (like when the eye is open).  I typically apply the darkest shade in a look to the deep crease and use a lighter, complementary shade in the crease to help diffuse the dark shade.  To make life easier, applying a more malleable, mid-tone shade into the crease tends to make applying the darker shade into the deep crease easier and require less effort for blending.

Recommended Tools:  Tapered crease brushes in an assortment of sizes like SIGMA E39, Morphe M511


Above Crease:  Like the lid going from light to dark across, so goes the crease area as it goes from the deepest part of the crease toward the brow bone.  It’s all about creating a gradient, which is why many use a transition shade in or above the crease area to help diffuse and fade color toward the brow bone for a seamlessly, blended look.

Recommended Tools:  Tapered crease brushes like Morphe E18, Morphe M518, Morphe M441


Brow Bone:  The brow bone is the area directly underneath the brow, and this is an area that is typically highlighted with either a matte or shimmer shade.  It can range from flesh-toned to something lighter and brighter than one’s natural skin tone.  I tend to switch my brow bone highlighting shade based on the look I’m doing, as certain looks play well with a simple, light beige and others need something cooler or warmer, less or more shimmery, to come together.

Recommended Tools: Small precise brush like  ZOOEVA 238


Upper Lash Line: This would be the area immediately above the upper lashes (the ones that extend from the mobile lid). This is typically where eyeliner is placed for those who apply it to the lid.

Upper Waterline:  This is the space between and directly below your upper lashes (the ones that extend from the mobile lid), and this is an area that some line with eyeliner (often pencil or kohl), which is called tightlining.  If you have sensitive eyes, you may want to experiment this on days when you can afford to play (e.g. not a special occasion).  This area can sometimes be referred to as the upper rim.

Lower Lash Line: This would be the area immediately below the lower lashes.  Eyeliner can be applied here (just below the lower waterline, see below) as well as eyeshadow.  If you’re applying eyeshadow, you’ll likely want to reach for small, pencil brushes.

Lower Waterline: This would be the area immediately just above and between the lower lashes and can be referenced as the lower rim or bottom rim of your eye.  Some people use eyeliner on the waterline, but due to the watery nature, not everyone finds that product lasts or that they can handle product there so experiment and see if it works for you.


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