What to Expect After Permanent Eyeliner? Recovery & Long-Term Effects

By Emily M.| Last updated on November 19, 2021
What to Expect After Permanent Eyeliner? Recovery & Long-Term Effects
⏱️ 5 min read

Permanent eyeliner is a great way to get your favorite eyeliner look in its permanent form. It doesn’t run or smudge, it saves you so much time in the morning, and it enhances your eyes in the best possible way.

But since it is a form of tattooing, many clients wonder what to expect after permanent eyeliner.

Is there any downtime? What will it look like after a few months? When will it fade? We answer all your questions.

Here’s What to Expect After Permanent Eyeliner

Getting permanent eyeliner does entail a healing period that is relatively short and not too uncomfortable, but you still need to pay some special attention to the area. After that, you will probably need a touch up, and you’re set for a couple of years, although the fading process might be problematic in some cases.

Let’s go through each phase of your permanent eyeliner and see what you can expect.

Immediate Effects and Recovery

As a form of tattooing, eyeliner treatment is done by breaking the surface of the skin. The skin of the eyelid is pierced over and over again with a needle attached to a PMU machine and pigments are deposited into it.

However, it’s not as aggressive as it sounds. The needle is extremely thin, and it only reaches the upper dermis layer of the skin, so it goes very shallow.

Still, the skin will need to go through a recovery cycle to close up the micro-wounds. Your eyeliner heals just like any other wound, so here’s what to expect after permanent eyeliner in the first 14 days:

  • Some lymph oozing (day 1)
  • Some swelling, redness, irritation, tenderness (days 1-3)
  • Scabs forming (days 3-5)
  • Scabs flaking off (days 5-10)
  • A possible second peeling (days 10-14)
  • Itching (throughout healing)
  • Dryness (throughout healing)

You will be prescribed an aftercare routine you need to follow to make sure your eyeliner heals properly and prevent infection.

You can find more details on the permanent eyeliner healing process here.

Here’s What to Expect After Permanent EyelinerImage source: Instagram @anastasia_spiridonova_pmu

Touch Up

After the healing process ends, your permanent eyeliner might show some imperfections. So what to expect after permanent eyeliner healing is some patchiness, the color may not be totally even in all spots, it could be lighter than you want it, and the shape could shrink a bit.

All this is normal and it doesn’t mean your artist messed up. It’s just the way permanent makeup heals.

That’s why you need to come back in for a touch up 6-8 weeks after the initial session. Your artist will add more pigment where needed, and they could adjust the shape and color if you want.

After that, your skin will go through another cycle of recovery, but it will be less intense.

Long-Term Effects

Permanent eyeliner is meant to last a few years, gradually fading into invisibility. So you can expect your permanent eyeliner to start fading after about 2 years – for some clients, it’s longer than that, for others it’s shorter. It all depends on your body chemistry, skin type, and how thick the line is.

When you notice the results have faded significantly, you will probably want to get a touch up and freshen up the results. Most clients get touch ups annually, but if you decide you don’t want it anymore, you can let it fade.

If it’s not touched up, your eyeliner tattoo will become almost invisible after about 3 years.

Possible Issues

The possible side effects of permanent eyeliner treatment are infections, allergic reactions, and permanent scarring. Don’t worry, these are very rare.

An infection can only develop if the treatment was performed in unsterile conditions or you didn’t follow aftercare. An allergic reaction is easily prevented with a patch test. Scarring can occur due to improper technique, so always go to a trained, experienced artist.

But there are a couple of issues with permanent eyeliner known to emerge over the years:

Pigment Color Change

Once pigments are implemented into the skin, nobody can tell with 100% certainty how they’ll behave. The immune system treats pigments as a foreign body and breaks them down and extracts the particles. This complex chemical process fades the pigments gradually, but it can also affect their color.

As a result, they could turn blue/gray/greenish. This most often happens with pitch-black pigments, but artists know a way to prevent it. The shade is warmed up by adding some reddish-brown into it – this won’t be visible, but it will ensure better fading results.

Color changes are sometimes inevitable, but higher-quality pigments are more stable, so find an artist who doesn’t save on supplies.

Alternatively, the pigments could look bluish if they were implemented too deep into the skin. Again, only book with highly-trained, experienced artists.

It can all be corrected, though.

Permanent Eyeliner Pigment Color ChangeImage source: Instagram @lurestudioaz

Pigment Migration

The properties of the skin of the eyelids make it prone to pigment migrations. The pigments might be implemented into the desired outline, but after a while, they move in the skin and the results could blur outside of the original shape.

This could happen due to several reasons:

  • Oily skin
  • Low-quality pigments
  • Improper technique – certain areas of the eyelid need to be tattooed more shallow, while others, like the outer connection of the upper and lower lid, shouldn’t be tattooed at all.

Permanent Eyeliner Pigment MigrationImage source: Instagram @kiaratt

Pigments Not Fading Entirely

What to expect after permanent eyeliner is for it to fade out and disappear if you don’t refresh it. But in some cases, traces of pigment stay visible even after 5 years, or more. This can happen due to improper technique or pigment formula, but sometimes, it’s just your body chemistry.

The residues can look like a light shade where opaque lines used to be. It’s more common with thicker eyeliner styles.

If this happens, you can get fresh eyeliner PMU over them, or get the residues removed. Or just cover it up with a bit of eyeshadow.

Permanent Eyeliner Pigments Not Fading EntirelyImage source: Instagram @revelation_permanent_make_up

Can I Wear Makeup After Permanent Eyeliner?

Yes, once the micro-wounds close up. Otherwise, you risk developing an infection and damaging the results.

Generally, it should be safe to wear makeup in the area after 2 weeks, or after all peeling stops.

It’s a good idea to get a fresh tube of mascara since your old one might be contaminated with bacteria your freshly treated skin can’t handle.


Ultimately, what to expect after permanent eyeliner is a few years of on-point eye makeup without reapplying. The annoying, but short recovery will definitely be worth it, and as long as you find a trustworthy, experienced artist, you don’t have to worry about the long-term effects.

Cover image source: Pexels



Exclusive insights into the PMU industry right in your inbox.

FREE newsletter. 100% good stuff.