March 19, 2015

Looking Sick, Asia’s Next Big Beauty Trend

looking sick beauty trend

Much to my horror Etude House launched their Proof Ten Shiny Eye Sticks in Korean about two years ago to endorse the puffy eye beauty trend. Seriously? How many times have you heard me moan, whine, and moan some more about my puffy eyes. I have larger eyes and when they are puffy I look old and positively scary. Mothers hide their crying children when I pass by, lakes of water freeze over, and milk spoils when my eyes are presented to the world in such a state.

It isn’t pretty.

Around 2013, the puffy eye look was pretty huge in Korea and on some levels it is still a bit of a trend. To get the look products like Proof Ten Shiny Eye Sticks could be applied under the lower eye area, a little below your natural lash line. The colors used would be softer, iridescent shades and these would create a puffy effect. If you’re younger you might just be able to rock the look! If you already have puffy eyes, guess what? You’re so freaking trendy!

Personally it’s not a look I personally loved.

Fast forward and this week it’s all about looking sick. This isn’t really a new look in all honesty but suddenly has become a topic of interested within the Western world. Girls within Japan and the cosplay world have been embracing what these articles have dubbed the “sick” look for quite a while.

However, it’s become an interest topic of discussion as of late. To create the look a pink or red colored pigment or blush is painted higher on the cheekbones and directly under the eyes. The style is actually very street and likely won’t be something you see outside of Harajuku and conventions. You can see the look by clicking here.

On a certain girl, with a slimmer face, it can be quite kawaii! Especially if you’re embracing a Lolita, doll-like look. I play up my larger eyes and I enjoy the doll-like look of porcelain skin, blushing cheeks, and full lashes however, if I attempted to apply pink or red anywhere near my eyes I would in fact really LOOK sick. Of course, running around the house in red eyeshadow pretending to be Lady Vengeance has happened on more than one occasion around here but don’t tell anyone about that.

Etude House Proof 10 Bling Eye Stick
They way the look is being promoted across blogs currently is unusual to me. People are calling it the “sick” look but I actually think it is quite the opposite and most cosplayers would agree with me. It’s more about looking like a doll or evoking a look of innocence. Of course, if you’re embracing your inner Gothic Lolita the “sick” might not be far off as the paler look with darker circles might appear sickly on some where as others completely rock the look πŸ˜‰

None the less, beauty trends can be interesting to say the least.

Lord knows within the US we’ve had a few interesting ones and the current contouring trend? Well, that one is getting out of control. We’re going to contour ourselves into oblivion by the time Summer comes along.

What do you think of intentionally make yourself look sick?

Or even embracing a puffier eye look?

Can you pull it off?

Personally, I cannot. But I do think the look works well for Asian girls as they have finer more exotic features and the look seems to adapt well.

Me? I look like Bambi caught in the rain when my eyes are puffy! Imagine how I’d look attempting to recreate a look of sickness?

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • kimkats

    I think this is wrong on so many levels….. There are enough genuinely sick people in the world that imitating the look for the sake of doing something different just seems cruel. Plus, it’s *highly* unattractive. I had to go thru some serious medical treatment many years ago, and it made me look like crap. Not a look I choose to embrace – ever. again. I understand that the fashion world does whatever it wants to, regardless of who it hurts (e.g., desperately underfed models who look like third world scarecrows, the heroin addict look of several years ago etc.) but I also think the real world has the right if not the duty to tell them they’ve stepped over the line, and I think they have done so. Again.

    Just my 2Β’ worth.

  • Sissi

    LOL. I cannot either! How sick! Well all those skinny super models are actually sick too and still we admire them. Strange world! I guess there is nothing that there isnΒ΄t lol.

  • Mariana

    I guess it’s not that weird? At least for me. I’m middle eastern, and there are some middle eastern women who have darker coloring around their eyes (not mine so much) that makes them look tired or whatever and I’ve always thought it was beautiful. I can’t explain it lol but I guess that’s sort of the same vibe this is coming from. Maybe.

    • Isabella Muse

      speaking of which did you see that suggestion for red lipstick on darker skin for concealing dark circles? Pretty interesting idea/reading!

    • Mariana

      But if we’re talking about the dead in the eyes drug addict look NOT A FAN. please don’t take my previous comment that way.

  • Christina

    Oh, that doesn’t look “sick” to me at all. What I associate with that word is ashy skin, gaunt cheeks, and dark circles under the eyes. The pink/red eyeshadow around the temples and slightly below the outer corner of the eyes is just another lolita, cosplay, doll-like look. It’s kind of cute if you can pull it off, though not for everyday wear. LOL!

    I can pull off pink/red eyeshadow, but I must make sure my skin is flawless and the rest of my makeup is en-pointe; otherwise, I just look darn crazy!

    • Isabella Muse

      oh me too! I love RED anything but I can make myself look scary if I’m not completely flawless before applying. Like red eyeliner? I can rock that but I need to be careful or it can go wrong!

      • Christina

        I have never tried red eyeliner. I’m too scared, not that it’s terribly different from red shadow! LOL! Do you line with black first or just use the red alone?

        • Isabella Muse

          DO IT! ;-D I typically do black on my waterline, red on my upper lash line! You can double line though! It’ll look hot. Black first and red on top!

  • Sara

    I wouldn’t say it’s a “sick” look, like you said. (It’s almost insulting that is what people are naming that trend.) As you mentioned, it’s more to look cute doll like or innocent. I’m Korean, and personally, the way I see this trend, yes, it is for those reasons…to look cute/innocent. However, I also think it is to give your face a little more dimension and visual stimulation. It’s no secret that Asian people have flatter faces and so I think having that puffy look underneath more eyes just creates more dimension all while achieving that cute/innocent look that is so popular in Asia. I mean…have you seen K-pop boy/girl bands (by far, the most popular genre of music)? Sure, there are sexy ones, but there is a reason there are so many cute looking groups! Even reading the lyrics, there is almost zero vulgarity in main stream K-pop music. We just love anything cute.

    • Isabella Muse

      exactly my thoughts. I mean Gothic lolitia might lean more towards sickly for those who aren’t familiar with it but lolitia? No it’s just a doll-like look. The fact that it’s been dubbed as “sick” is weird to me. Yes I am terribly familiar with Japan and Asia obsession with kawaii in general πŸ™‚ And I crush on too many k-pop boys to get into that conversation hehe!

    • It’s Gamayun

      Good point – to me the “puffy” eye look made (Asian) eyes look more baby-like. Of course on sunken-eyed Westerners it looked like hell on toast but who says Western faces are the default? Same with the red tones around the eyes – on more olive / gold tones it creates a kind of delicate, dewy look that I think looks very pretty on the right sort of face.

      • Isabella Muse

        i agree on Asian eyes it looks amazing! On me? I look crazy! I already have puffy eyes and don’t need to accentuate them πŸ™‚

  • Sarah S.

    I don’t think either look is sick (puffy undereye, red near eyes). They look perfectly healthy… it’s like yellow nail polish usually doesn’t really look like nail fungus. I think it just looks flushed, but fortunately not in a natural way so it is clearly a makeup look and not that the person is trying to appear sick, right? Geisha makeup has often included red like this near the eyes… personally, I love it! I would rock it even without perfected skin because I wear makeup for my own entertainment ^.^

  • Cindy

    I go intentionally for the sick look. With a lot of bright red and pink around the eyes. Then again, I’m a full blown goth.

  • RR

    My fiance saw a woman dressed like a Harajuku Girl at an Olive Garden. Everyone dressed in regular clothes, hair, and makeup and her sitting there. I would have loved to have seen that! I say do whatever you like. I however avoid any trends, whether it be makeup, hair, clothes, and do what I like and what makes me feel like I’m being myself and authentic. Sometimes I feel like I am more individual and unique in that way.

    • Isabella Muse

      It’s not common to say girls dressed like that here! I’d have loved to see it too πŸ˜€ There clothes, makeup, accessories are simply amazing. So much thought and attention goes into their outfits. Truly an great expression of creativity. good for you RR πŸ™‚

      • Christina

        I live in California where there are lots of anime, comic, etc. conventions, so I see it all the time! I totally love it! Plus, we have a Japan town, so I occasionally get to see someone fully dressed up walking the streets.

  • Katie

    I think maybe the interpretation got a little skewed across cultures. It looks to me they mean “feverish.” That would make way more sense.

  • Rosie

    “Of course, if you’re embracing your inner Gothic lolitia the β€œsick” might not be far off.”
    Ooh. No.

    • Isabella Muse

      I’m sorry, I was referencing the paler look with the darker circles that some looks go for. that actually came out wrong!

  • Ari

    I actually really like this trend! I think it plays as an interesting counterpoint to the grunge makeup trend that’s resurfaced – both look intentionally sick or disheveled, but while grunge is more stereotypically rock-chic effortless, the sick look is more theatrical and intentional. I first saw the “sick” makeup look when researching the Japanese fashion tend Cult Party Kei, which is an interesting stylistic mix of Mori Girl and Dolly Kei fashions. I think the makeup really cool looking. I actually tried combining the grunge and “sick” looks a few days back, doing a messy matte neutral smokey eye and then tapping a dark matte plummy-red-brown lipstick around the bottom lid and edges of the top lid with my fingers(I used lipstick instead of shadow because I wanted the texture to stay “skin-like” and since I didn’t apply on the mobile parts of the lid it didn’t crease) and I thought it looked pretty cool! But I also love red and bruise-colored eyeshadows and messy looks in general so maybe I’m not one to talk!

    TL;DR version – I like it but I’m a goth kid at heart. It’s not for everyone, and definitely won’t give you the “wide awake” look that a lot of western makeup trends seem to revolve around, but if you’re brave enough, I say rock it!

    • Isabella Muse

      I think the makeup is gorgeous in all honesty and I’m always somewhat puzzled people reference it as a “sick” look. I can’t do too many messy plummy or red looks because my eyes end up looking very tried unfortunately. But what you did sounds interesting! I bet you rock it! The combination of the smoky eye and plummy red sounds lovely. I prefer for myself a more doll-like complexion (thus my obsession with whitening skincare) as well as “cutesy” blush shades and longer lashes with a soft nude eye!

      Cult Party Kei looks by the way, always confuse me, it’s so much layering. I love the Mori Girl but combining it and trying to create the living doll look with that much layer makes me feel like it’s less cute and more like “I decided I’m going to wear every single cute thing in my wardrobe today because it is cold outside” haha…!

      • Ari

        As I said, smudgey red eyes aren’t for everyone! Most of the time I’m with you on the simpler look – doll-like blush and soft nude eyes with a flick of liner are always a go-to when I don’t want to be a rock star πŸ˜‰

        I agree with you on Cult Party Kei, and really a lot of the over-the-top cutesy Harajuku styles (like Decora – yikes! talk about accessory overload!) – it can be a bit overwhelming! I don’t love CPK, but the dreamy soft colors and sheer layers can look very pretty. I’m just too lazy to bother with it!

        • Isabella Muse

          lol but it is so damn fun being a rock star πŸ™‚ Decora is visually too much for me, I don’t find like but some folks do! Oh god I could never get away with anything remotely Cult Party Kei, I just love looking through the looks. At best I’ve had a coat or two in the Lolita style. Ganguro is also something I’m not keen on, reminds me of tan mom!

          • Ari

            Ganguro can be really scary! I always feel like the fashion is vaguely cougar-ish – tons of cheetah print, cheap looking jewelry and super dark tans – eep! Not for this pale girl!

            Yeah, a lot of Japanese street fashion is fascinating to look at but hard to implement, especially in the western world. I applaud guys and gals who rock it outside of an anime convention – it’s always exciting to see a well dressed lolita – but it’s not for me. I used to be fascinated by Goth Lolita and Visual Kei in high school, but I tend to be a bit too minimalist nowadays with my fashion to bother with all the frills! It’s no fun being an adult haha! But it’s fun to look at for sure πŸ™‚

          • Isabella Muse

            haha nor I! Totally Tan Mom! I completely agree. If you can actually adapt the look to a lifestyle outside of a con that is true class to me. Ah Visual Kei for me translates as Hide all the way. It’s not one of my favorite looks but whenever I think of X Japan I swoon in joy! πŸ˜€ I still, even at my age, love cuter clothes but yeah, it’s not very fun being a “grown up” ;-D Today I might be in a business suit but I’m totally rocking a pair of Tardis sneakers πŸ˜€ screw growing up!

  • Sarah

    I personally love it, I think it’s youthful and doll like. I prefer it over say, the prevailing Trend here that in order to look healthy you must have a tan. And if your not tan, fake it with a ton of bronzer and foundation two shades too dark. I am naturally pale, as true a porcelain as you can get, and I get tired of people telling me that my natural healthy color makes me look sick and that I need a tan (though the alternative of wearing dark foundation and bronzer really does make me look sick).

    • Isabella Muse

      thank god someone said that! I dislike bronzing! I prefer my fair skin thank you very much! No offense to those who enjoy bronzers and tanning but it isn’t my thing!

  • Chi

    Well I was born and raised in Asia so I can say something about this πŸ™‚
    First of all I think girls are trying to create the “smmiling eyes” – some people have this naturally. The “smiling eyes” are when your face is relaxed, but your eyes still squint in a way that creates the illusion that you’re smiling. When you’re smiling the puff under your eyes are brought forward (especially Asian eyes). This is probably why these products are created

    And yes not to mention the dolly eyes look πŸ˜€

    • Chi

      And to add on that: people who have smiling eyes usually have puffier eyes than usual… like my childhood friend!! πŸ™‚

  • Patrice

    This is a great post and comments section! I am fascinated by some cultural trends and would love to see more.

  • Rachel R.

    I don’t think it looks sick. It does give a youthful, babydoll appearance. It mostly looks like emphasizing the undereye to look babyfat puffy, not sick puffy. The cheeks look is just different blush placement with more intense color. It wouldn’t look good on me, but the young girls look adorable and very pretty.

  • Renu

    I’m not a fan of looking puffy-eyed on purpose. As for looking sick, I always look that way without makeup LOL. But I don’t think the makeup in the photos (here and whatever I found on Google) actually makes them look sick.

  • Tzibi

    Actually puffy eyes and “aegyo sal”( I think it’s called like that) are diferent. They do it because asian eyes are flat, and that gives more dimmension and a smiling look.

  • Kate

    what about the “bitten lips” look? i always thought it looks like the lips were bleeding

  • Katherine T.

    Well, for that puffy eye look, I don’t need no stinkin’ pricey makeup….just scarf a big bag of potato chips and a couple of alcoholic beverages of your choice, don’t drink any water, get only 3 hours of sleep, and presto, instant puffy eyes with pasty, ashen complexion! And if I add some red eye shadow, the guys in the hazmat suits would haul me!

  • Katherine T.

    But seriously, some of the girls can really rock the pale face with red eye shadow under the eyes, and they look young and doll-like, not sick. I’m jealous!

  • May

    “But I do think the look works well for Asian girls as they have finer more erotic features and the look seems to adapt well”

    Loved the article! Beauty trends always fascinate me. Also, did you mean to say “exotic”? Just pointing it out in case you didn’t notice! Could’ve caused an uproar! Haha!

    • Isabella Muse

      lol yes May πŸ™‚ thanks! these hands type faster than this mind things πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Angel

    I have fully embraced both trends. In fact, I save more time than ever applying my makeup. I simply wake up looking this way because the beauty Gods have genetically blessed me. Puffy eyes are my thing. I totally rock them. And who needs pricey red eyeshadow? Not this chick. Not only are my eyes puffy, but they are red and bruised looking. Bruised I tell ya. So take that you “sick” poseur girls.

    After gazing upon my natural beauty, it’s just a quick flick of mascara, some powder and gloss and I’m out the door. If they suddenly make messy, stuck-to-your-face tornado hair a thing, well hot damn! Even more time saved in the morning. I won’t even need a brush 😜

    • Katherine T.

      Oh, I would like that! I already spend way too much time styling my hair in the morning. Wouldn’t it be great to just roll out of bed, with your hair stuck in all directions, and getting compliments on your great style!

  • Irkalla

    They’re called “happy” or “smiling” eyes. Michelle Phan even did a tutorial on it. Girls go as far as getting fat transferred under their eyes for the trendy look.

  • Meagaroo

    Actually, I think it somewhat odd that it is called the “sick” look. I mean there was a somewhat similar trend back in the 70s, called the Biba. It sort of reminds me of that instead. Going for the doll face-cutesy look where blush was applied in a more spread-out manner πŸ˜› Also, just wanted to mention that I am a fan of this blog! πŸ™‚

    • Isabella Muse

      completely agreed. Weird way to put it πŸ˜€ aw thanks Meagaroo!

  • Eve

    It’s not “sick”. It’s based on ancient Asian makeup, and can be seen in old Asian artwork. People are just judgemental and ill-informed, and named it something it has nothing to do with.