Sanpaku Eyes: Meaning, Rarity, Makeup Tips + FAQ

Updated on December 27, 2023
Boshika Gupta By Boshika Gupta
Boshika Gupta

Writer, Beauty & Wellness Enthusiast

Table Of Contents

    Sanpaku eyesPIN

    Sanpaku Eyes: Meaning, Rarity, Makeup Tips + FAQ

    Your eyes can be a great tool when searching for the most flattering makeup styles that help you stand out from the crowd and create a unique aesthetic of your own.

    However, a few eye shapes and types aren’t well understood. Case in point – Sanpaku eyes, a Japanese concept that has been the subject of numerous superstitions and TikTok videos.

    We’re here to clear the air and answer some of the most common questions associated with Sanpaku eyes. Not to spoil the surprise here, but let’s just say you have nothing to worry about, even if you suspect you have Sanpaku eyes.

    What Are Sanpaku Eyes?

    Sanpaku eyes have one defining characteristic that separates them from other eye types. If you have Sanpaku eyes, you’ll notice that the white area around your eyes (known as the sclera) is far more noticeable than others. Also, the Japanese term can be translated as “three whites,” meaning three prominent white areas surround the iris.

    This is especially true if you examine the area above and below your iris. If you see a lot of white above or below your iris, you probably have Sanpaku eyes, otherwise known as “scleral show.”

    Sanpaku eyes may be the result of certain medical conditions or have other causes, such as:

    • Aging
    • An endocrine disorder
    • Other illnesses
    • A blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) gone wrong
    • Trauma

    Sanpaku Eyes Vs. Normal Eyes

    Compared to Sanpaku eyes, normal eyes are likely to have less visible whites above and below the iris when they’re open.

    Don’t get us wrong, this does not mean there won’t be any white areas if you have normal eyes. However, they will be negligible and hard to spot above or below the iris.

    Sanpaku eyes, on the other hand, will have such prominent white areas that your eyes will look like they’re bulging out when they’re open.

    Need more insights? Let’s look at the table below to understand the difference between Sanpaku eyes and normal eyes.

    Sanpaku Eyes Normal Eyes
    • Prominent white areas above or below the iris
    • It may seem like they’re bulging out
    • Has three visible whites around the iris
    • Little to no prominent white areas above or below the iris
    • They’re likely not to look as prominent as Sanpaku eyes
    • Have two visible whites around the iris

    Sanpaku eyes are usually perceived to be an eye condition that’s not serious. They may not require medical intervention unless caused by an illness, plastic surgery, or physical trauma.

    How to Tell if You Have Them

    If you’re wondering whether you have Sanpaku eyes, there’s an easy way to find out. Get close to a mirror and examine your eyes.

    If you see prominent whites above or below your iris that are hard to ignore, you probably have Sanpaku eyes. Also, Sanpaku eyes are usually classified into two distinct groups (based on placement) known as Yin and Yang.

    Check out the graphic below for a helpful breakdown.

    Yin (Below)

    If you have Yin Sanpaku eyes, you have more white visible below your iris than above.

    Also, note that this shouldn’t be hard to observe if you’re looking straight ahead at your eyes in the mirror.

    Yang (Above)

    On the flip side, if you have Yang Sanpaku eyes, you’ll notice that the whites above your iris are far more exposed than the rest of the area.

    Again, this isn’t tough to spot if you take a closer look at your eyes in the mirror and see a noticeable difference.

    How Rare Are Sanpaku Eyes?

    It’s challenging to come up with an exact number. Still, it’s fair to say that Sanpaku eyes aren’t common but aren’t particularly rare either.

    More research and studies are needed to establish how rare Sanpaku eyes are among the general population. That said, don’t be surprised if you realize you know someone with Sanpaku eyes.

    It’s important to reiterate that Sanpaku eyes aren’t particularly concerning and don’t need medical treatment unless caused by a disease, a cosmetic procedure, or a physical injury.

    Sanpaku Eyes Superstition

    Unfortunately, Sanpaku eyes are often misunderstood or linked to certain superstitions that may cause unnecessary stress and fear. However, note that these are just superstitions, and the claims aren’t scientifically proven.

    Let’s dive into this a little deeper. In Japanese culture, Sanpaku eyes are perceived to be:

    1. A sign of danger
    2. An unlucky trait
    3. Ill-fated

    In fact, some go as far as to say you can expect different outcomes depending on whether you have Yin or Yang Sankpaku eyes.

    Believers say that if you have Yin Sanpaku eyes, you may find yourself confronting challenging situations, and others may hurt you. Meanwhile, others reckon that if you have Yang Sanpaku eyes, you may find it challenging to keep your emotions at bay and may act out in disturbing ways.

    Remember that these are superstitions – these beliefs are not rooted in science, and it’s best to take them with a grain of salt.

    Are Sanpaku Eyes Considered Attractive?

    They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is particularly true for something as divisive and polarizing as Sanpaku eyes.

    It’s fair to say Sanpaku eyes are perceived to be attractive in specific settings and cultures. At the end of the day, it’s somewhat subjective and comes down to personal preferences.

    That said, there’s wrong with having Sanpaku eyes, and you can use different makeup techniques to highlight your eyes. Don’t believe us? Keep reading for major makeup inspo.

    Makeup Tips for Sanpaku Eyes

    Sanpaku eyes may sometimes make you look a little tired. Alternatively, you may want your eyes to look more balanced and symmetrical. Either way, we’ve got your back and are here to help you choose the right makeup techniques to achieve your desired look.

    Check out some of our top tips for Sanpaku eyes below. Also, a timely heads-up: some of these tips are universally flattering and may work for different eye types, like almond eyes, deep set eyes, and round eyes.

    Use Light Eyeshadow Strategically

    Applying light eyeshadow all over your lids can help your eyes look more open. This trick, in turn, can make your Sanpaku eyes look bigger.

    Also, light and neutral colors allow you to effortlessly pull off a no-makeup makeup look when you don’t want to go for a dramatic style but still want a sleek and understated style.

    Zohna Tip

    Choose eyeshadow based on your skin type. For example, powdery formulas work well on oily lids, while creamy eyeshadow is better for dry eyelids.

    Curl Your Lashes

    It may seem like a hassle at first but learning how to curl your lashes with an eyelash curler is more than worth it.

    An eyelash curler can make your lashes look much longer and more attractive. If you feel up to it, explore a variety of eyelash curling styles to make your eyes look bigger and more appealing. This is a good practice in general and worth incorporating into your beauty routine.

    Make Mascara Your New BFF

    Apply volumizing mascara after curling your lashes to make your Sanpaku eyes pop. It’s a good idea to add at least two coats of mascara for the best results.

    Volumizing mascara can also help other eye types, like hooded eyes, and make your lashes appear fuller and longer.

    While applying mascara, make sure to:

    1. Use an eyelash comb to eliminate any clumps of mascara
    2. Allow your mascara to dry for approximately 30 seconds before adding another coat

    Say Yes to White Eyeliner

    This solid trick can help make Sanpaku eyes look brighter, bigger, and less tired. Apply a small amount of white eyeliner to your lower waterline to make your eyes stand out.

    You can also give nude eyeliner a shot if you’d like a more subtle option. Here’s another important tip – avoid using dark liner on your lower waterline. This technique can make your eyes look smaller than they are.

    Eyeliner Can Help Define Your Eyes

    Apply winged eyeliner to your upper eyelid for a dramatic effect. Try another gorgeous style, like the quintessential cat eye, to highlight your Sanpaku eyes.

    When applied correctly, eyeliner can make Sanpaku eyes look more open. Choose eyeliner you’re comfortable using, whether it’s gel, liquid, or pencil liner.

    It’s also essential to practice a new style until you feel confident enough to pull it off.

    Confused and wondering what’s the best way to apply eyeliner to Sanpaku eyes? Look at the table below for helpful tips.

    How to Apply Eyeliner to Sanpaku Eyes Description
    Prime your eyelids Wash your face with a cleanser, moisturize your face and apply eyelid primer.
    Take it slow Instead of rushing the process, take things one at a time and apply eyeliner in small strokes, starting from the inner corners of your eyes and working your way outwards. Apply eyeliner close to the lash line for a thin line.
    Fill in visible gaps Add a liner to any obvious gaps and apply another coating of liner if you need more intense and pigmented results.

    Tweak the process as needed to achieve your desired style, such as winged eyeliner. The key is to figure out what works best for your needs.

    Falsies Are a Great Idea

    False eyelashes can be an excellent tool if you need to make your eyelashes look longer. They’re definitely worth trying if you have Sanpaku eyes and are looking for ways to make them look bigger. All you need to do is find the type of eyelashes that work best.

    Make sure to get all the tools you need for a smooth application process, such as:

    • Tweezers
    • Lash glue
    • Scissors – to trim your falsies if needed
    • Eyeliner – to help hide the eyelash strip

    When In Doubt, Use Highlighter

    Dab a bit of highlighter to the inner corners of your eyes to make them stand out. Use a small eyeshadow brush to achieve your desired effect.

    Highlighter is a small but mighty tool that can elevate your eye makeup game. Choose a light highlighter to nail this look.

    Don’t Underestimate the Power of Dark Eyeshadow

    Try applying dark eyeshadow to your crease to add more depth and definition to your Sanpaku eyes.

    You don’t have to choose the extreme route and can settle for relatively uncomplicated color combinations to pull off this look. Don’t forget to blend everything perfectly for the best results.

    Define Your Eyebrows

    Stay on top of your eyebrow game by getting your eyebrows groomed at a salon. While applying makeup, make your Sanpaku eyes stand out by filling in your brows with an eyebrow pencil.

    This simple and underrated step can go a long way in lifting your eye area and elevating your makeup game.

    Concealer Is Worth It

    Concealer Is Worth ItInstagram@jmaumauPIN

    Adding concealer under your eye area can help hide dark circles and eliminate any shadows.

    This trick works well for Sanpaku eyes as well as other eye types like wide set eyes and close set eyes because it makes your face look brighter. That said, Sanpaku eyes can instantly look more awake with the right amount of concealer.

    Make sure to pick a concealer that is the right match for your skin undertones but be careful not to choose an option that’s too light.

    Zohna Tip

    When in doubt, don't be afraid to speak to a salesperson to pick a product that flatters your skin tone.

    Famous Sanpaku Eyes

    Believe it or not, several celebrities have Sanpaku eyes, and many aren’t afraid to flaunt them. Case in point: Billie Eilish. The singer-songwriter has prominent Yin Sanpaku eyes that are hard to ignore.

    She is known to rock various stunning makeup styles that make her look undeniably gorgeous. Psst…this is your sign to take a leaf out of Eilish’s book and do the same.

    Other celebrities who have Sanpaku eyes include:

    • Marilyn Monroe
    • Princess Diana
    • Former U.S. President John F. Kennedy
    • Michael Jackson
    • Audrey Hepburn
    • Jim Morrison
    • Diana Ross
    • Twiggy

    There aren’t as many famous names as far as Yang Sanpaku eyes are concerned, though. That said, notorious cult leader Charles Manson often makes it onto the list as a well-known example.


    Sanpaku eyes don’t need to be “treated” unless caused by an illness or physical trauma. Sometimes, they may simply show up due to a botched surgery. In many other instances, Sanpaku eyes are normal and don’t have any significant underlying cause.

    However, if you’re self-conscious about having Sanpaku eyes and want to modify their appearance, you may be able to turn to a few options.

    Check out the suggestions below if you’re interested in altering the appearance of Sanpaku eyes:

    1. Your best bet is to talk to an ophthalmologist who can provide more insights and recommend the next course of action.
    2. A plastic surgeon may also be able to suggest a solution based on your specific case. For instance, if your Sanpaku eyes were the result of surgery, they may be able to recommend corrective procedures to fix it.

    It’s important to acknowledge that Sanpaku eyes aren’t a medical condition and not something you should fret over or feel upset about.

    Play to your strengths and use various innovative makeup techniques to make your eyes look bigger and brighter. If you’re feeling lost and don’t know where to begin, talk to an experienced makeup artist who can give customized tips to accentuate your eyes.


    • What Causes Sanpaku Eyes?

      It’s not a simple answer, to be honest. Sanpaku eyes may occur naturally without any underlying cause.

      Other factors, such as a disease, a botched surgery, or physical trauma, can also cause them.

    • What Does Having Sanpaku Eyes Mean?

      If you have Sanpaku eyes, you must remember that it’s a natural phenomenon for many people. Having Yin Sanpaku eyes doesn’t mean your future is doomed or you will experience a tragic event.

      You also don’t automatically pose a threat to society if you have Yang Sanpaku eyes. These are ultimately superstitions that aren’t backed by scientific evidence.

    • Is It a Normal Eye Condition?

      It depends. Having Sanpaku eyes may be perfectly normal for many individuals. They may also develop the condition due to natural causes such as aging.

      Additionally, someone may have Sanpaku eyes due to an underlying condition. For instance, some individuals with facial paralysis have Sanpaku eyes due to their disease.

    Final Thoughts

    Having Sanpaku eyes does not automatically mean that something terrible will happen to you. These beliefs are rooted in superstitions, and it’s crucial not to take them seriously.

    Many people think that Sanpaku eyes are an attractive and distinctive feature. If you have Sanpaku eyes, use that to your advantage to experiment with different eye makeup techniques, such as cat eye makeup and winged eyeliner. Get out there and have some fun.