Permanent Eyeliner: The Ultimate Guide

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on April 12, 2024

Find out everything you need to know about the permanent eyeliner tattoo – technique, results, cost, risks + more.

permanent eyeliner

Work by Harmony PMU, Vaughan, ON

Drawing on your eyeliner can be quite a daunting daily task, so it’s natural for permanent eyeliner tattoos to become an extremely popular beauty procedure. They give you the option to rock your beloved cat-eye look without the risk of smudging.

Now, you must be wondering, what exactly is permanent eyeliner? Don’t worry, we’re breaking down all the details, from how it’s done to side effects, costs, and much more.

PROCEDURE QUICK FACTS

  • HOW IT’S DONE: Permanent eyeliner is done with a handheld device with a needle that inserts cosmetic tattoo pigments into your eyelid skin.
  • THE PAIN: It can be slightly uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t hurt.
  • THE DOWNTIME: This is a noninvasive procedure so you should go back to your day immediately after. Some redness and swelling are normal after the treatment, so be strict with your aftercare.
  • THE EFFECTS: Your eyes and lashes are naturally enhanced and there isn’t any need for applying eyeliner anymore. If you want a more dramatic effect, your artist can build up the intensity after the first touch-up session.
  • THE LONGEVITY: Permanent eyeliner can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years, but the effect depends on various factors.
  • THE COST: The cost varies from $500 to over $1000, but the average is around $560.
  • MORE FAQ: Click here for answers to more questions about permanent eyeliner!

Click on the topics for more info, or scroll down for the whole guide.

What Is Permanent Eyeliner?

Simply said, an eyeliner tattoo is a permanent makeup procedure that recreates the look of wearing eyeliner.

Using a device specially designed for cosmetic tattooing, the artist inserts cosmetic tattoo pigments into eyelid skin, permanently drawing on eyeliner in the shape you want.

This procedure is non-invasive since it involves no downtime and you can carry on with your life right after it. Be prepared for a few weeks of healing, as your skin still needs to recover from the micro-trauma.

permanent eyelinerWork by Almita Beauty, Belgrade

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Permanent Eyeliner Pros & Cons

Just like any other beauty procedure, this one comes with its own set of pros and cons. Let’s get right into them.

PROSCONS
No need for drawing on eyeliner anymoreCan fade due to lifestyle, sun exposure, etc.
Enhances your eyesYour skin type determines the retention
Makes your lashes look thickerRequires a touch-up after a while
Lasts anywhere between 1-5 yearsCan be costly to maintain a desired look

What Is the Permanent Eyeliner Treatment Like?

The treatment resembles regular tattooing, but it’s adapted for the delicate eyelid area.

“The pigment is placed deeply in the skin in a line or small dots to mimic the appearance of eyelashes”, claims Zoe Diana Draelos, MD. “The tattoo can be of any color, but is usually matched to the eyelash hair color.”

Here is what the process looks like, so you know what to expect:

  • Consultation: You will chat with your artist about the style and color of eyeliner you want. Feel free to show them image examples of what you’d like. You’ll learn all about the aftercare instructions too and fill out a couple of forms.
  • Preparation: The area is thoroughly cleaned so the artist can apply a numbing cream to make the process pain-free. It may still be uncomfortable, though, but it shouldn’t hurt.
  • Tattooing: Once the anesthetic kicks in, the artist starts implementing pigments into your eyelid skin with a PMU machine. The technique implies saturating the skin with tiny dots to create a seamlessly blended line or a shading effect.
  • Pigment Buildup: The artist will probably make 2-3 passes, to make sure enough pigment is deposited.
  • Touch-Ups: Permanent eyeliner tattoo is a 2-visit treatment. Once your skin heals after the first session, you need to go back for a touch-up due to loss of pigment during the healing phase.
    permanent eyeliner before and after touch upImage Source: Instagram @solskinsherah

How Do I Prepare for My Permanent Eyeliner Treatment?

There are a few things you need to avoid before your eyeliner tattoo appointment:

  • Tell your PMU artist if you’ve had any eye surgery or intervention in the area (Botox, filler, laser eye surgery, etc.).
  • If you have eyelash extensions, have them removed at least 3 days before your procedure.
  • Avoid taking the following for at least 3 days before your treatment: aspirin, ibuprofen, niacin, coumadin, fish oil, and vitamin E.
  • Do not dye or lift your eyelashes for at least 2 days before your procedure (some artists advise as long as 2 weeks).
  • Don’t drink alcohol at least 24 hours before the procedure – you’ll bleed more.
  • Don’t drink caffeine 24 hours before the procedure – you’ll bleed more.
  • Wash your hair that morning – you can’t get your eyeliner tattoo wet for the next few days.
  • Bring sunglasses to wear home as your eyes may be sensitive to light after the treatment.
  • Relax! It’s not as scary as you might think.

NOTE

You won’t be able to wear contact lenses during the procedure and for the next 24 hours.

How Long Does Permanent Eyeliner Last?

Your permanent eyeliner tattoo can last anywhere from 1 to 5 years, depending on the pigments used, your skin type, age, skincare products you use, lifestyle, and other factors.

Even though the ink will be injected into the skin, the color will eventually fade, ideally into a barely noticeable shade.

But, everyone’s skin is different and holds the pigment differently, so it’s difficult to say precisely how long it will take for the color to fade.

“Patients who undertake permanent eyeliner must be sure that they will always enjoy the appearance of the permanent cosmetic”, says Dr. Draelos. So if you aren’t sure which eyeliner style suits you best, start subtle.

You can always add more as the months go by. You can refresh the color, or change the shape a bit. For example, you can add a wing or a shade.

permanent eyeliner procedureImage Source: Instagram @browday_salin

Want to Get Permanent Eyeliner?

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Permanent Eyeliner Styles & Colors

The beauty of this procedure is in its versatility: you have the freedom to choose any style and color you like.

To do so, consider your current eyeliner preference – how bold do you like it now? After all, you will wear it every day, so make sure to consult with your PMU artist and choose the best style and color for your eye shape.

Curious to know more about eyeliner tattoo styles? Here’s a more detailed guide to help you choose.

3 basic permanent eyeliner stylesImage Source: Instagram @mp.brows

Next up, you will have the option of choosing the eyeliner color.

Even though you probably apply pitch-black eyeliner most often, it’s always better to choose a deep shade of brown, something with a bit of warmth so the color stays consistent over time.

Many artists also offer more diverse color options, such as green, blue, and violet, but you need to remember that you’ll have to stick to the color you pick for a couple of years. So, choose wisely!

permanent eyeliner shadingImage Source: Instagram @aunlee_permanent_makeup

Permanent Eyeliner Healing & Aftercare

Upon finishing the procedure, you will be instructed to clean the tattoo area frequently in the first 24 hours to remove the lymph drainage.

This is normal after any permanent makeup procedure, but it will turn to scabs if you let it sit on the skin for too long, which can affect pigment retention.

So, always follow your artist’s aftercare instructions to avoid any potential complications.

There is no downtime after the treatment, so you can carry on with your day, but don’t be surprised if you experience some swelling and redness.

For a comprehensive day-by-day overview + extra tips for all skin types head out to Permanent Eyeliner Aftercare Guide.

My Permanent Eyeliner Is Too Dark, What Should I Do?

You might think that the permanent eyeliner is too dark and dramatic right after the treatment, but it will fade a bit in the first month.

So don’t panic. Chances are, it’ll look much better after 7 days, and you’ll get the look you want after the touch-up.

Browse through our permanent eyeliner before and after gallery for more before-and-after results.

Eyeliner Tattoo Side Effects & Risks

Permanent eyeliner is a serious cosmetic procedure and therefore must be performed by a licensed, well-trained professional.

Some of the risks and potential complications that you should be aware of before the treatment are:

  • Infection. Unsterile equipment and needles can easily cause infections after permanent eyeliner tattoos, from mild ones to hepatitis and staph bacteria.
  • Allergic reaction. Even though rare, allergic reactions to PMU pigments can be serious. That’s why you should always insist on a patch test beforehand.
  • Granulomas. These are nodules that may form around the substance the body perceives as foreign, in this case, the pigments.
  • Scarring. If you are prone to developing this type of scar, you may be at risk of keloid formation.
  • Removal problems. Removing PMU is a tiresome, slow process. It can take several sessions, and it can get expensive and cause the same side effects as above.
  • Changing trends. Although it may seem tempting to always have the on-point winged eyeliner, consider that today’s looks might seem dated in a few years.

Contraindications

Most people qualify as good candidates for permanent eyeliner. Yet, certain conditions make it unsafe, and thus impossible:

  • Active viral infections or diseases
  • On-going chemotherapy
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Skin conditions like Psoriasis or Rosacea
  • Tendency to keloid scar formation
  • Blood thinning medications
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Very recent Botox injections or dermal fillers
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

How Do I Choose the Best Artist?

Just like with any other permanent makeup procedure, the choice of the artist can make or break your final look. The best way to choose an artist is to do your research or get a recommendation.

Price can also be a good indicator of the artist’s skill. Some artists have higher prices, but you need to know that higher prices are very often justified – they are more experienced and not fresh out of training.

They may use higher-quality supplies, and do better work overall.

The best place to start your search is PMUHub Find – a large database of salons all over the world where you can find an artist near you!

Looking for a Reputable Salon to Get Your Permanent Eyeliner Done?

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Can Permanent Eyeliner Be Removed?

It is possible to remove a permanent eyeliner tattoo with laser or saline removal.

Both options are generally effective, but they require several sessions, which can get expensive. On top of that, not all saline removal specialists perform the treatment on eyelids, so it may be difficult to find one in your area that does.

Permanent Eyeliner Tattoo Cost

The prices of tattoo eyeliner can vary a lot, from $500 to over $1000, depending on the style, color, and thickness of the eyeliner. The average price is around $560.

The touch-ups can cost anywhere from $150 to the full treatment price.

Check out our Permanent eyeliner cost guide for more info on the price of eyeliner tattoos.

before and after permanent tattooImage Source: Instagram @courtney_stevens_pmu

Extra Q&A

Does Getting an Eyeliner Tattoo Hurt?

Eyeliner tattooing is not supposed to hurt, but you will most likely feel something. It shouldn’t be pain per se, as a topical numbing ointment is applied beforehand. The feeling might be a light scratching on the skin.

If you find the needling too painful, tell your artist. They may add another layer of numbing cream. Luckily, the whole procedure lasts about an hour and a half, but this varies on the style you’re getting and the experience of the artist.

Is Permanent Eyeliner Tattoo Safe?

According to Dr. Draelos, a permanent eyeliner tattoo is safe, but you still need to be aware of potential complications like infection, poor pigment retention, and others. Simply said, when done by a professional, this treatment is completely safe.

“A second problem is a change in the shape and appearance of the eyes with aging that cannot be compensated for by the permanent eyeliner”, claims Dr. Draelos.

So, although safe and aesthetically pleasing, remember that the eyelid skin sags as you age, eventually changing the shape of the eyeliner as well.

How Often Should I Get Eyeliner Tattoo Touch-Ups?

The first eyeliner tattoo touch-up is necessary in most cases and it’s done once the skin heals, 6-8 weeks after the initial treatment.

It adds more pigments where healing has left lighter patches or makes the eyeliner thicker or darker if that’s how you want it.

As far as additional touch-ups are concerned, it’s up to you. Your eyeliner tattoo will fade over time, and if you want to refresh it, feel free to book a touch-up whenever you feel the need to. This way, you’ll prolong the results.

Can Permanent Eyeliner Look Natural?

As mentioned before, the beauty of permanent eyeliner is in its customization and versatility – you get to pick and choose the style and color. You can either go all natural and only subtly enhance your lashes, or you can go all in and get the blackest winged eyeliner.

WHY TRUST THIS GUIDE

This guide is a result of 5+ years of studying and researching the permanent makeup industry, specifically focusing on permanent eyeliner tattoos.

The information comes from a variety of reliable sources including experienced permanent makeup artists specializing in eyeliner tattooing, as well as insights from a medical expert, Dr. Zoe Diana Drealos, who brings expertise in dermatology and cosmetic procedures and provides a professional perspective on the safety and efficacy of permanent eyeliner tattooing.

LEARN MORE ABOUT PERMANENT EYELINER

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