Permanent Tattoo Eyeliner: Everything You Need to Know

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How many times have you woken up in the morning and wished your AM to-do list was way shorter? Well, your wish is the industry’s command. “Low maintenance” beauty trends – like tattoo eyeliner, lash extensions, and microblading – are becoming way more accessible. As a result, more people than ever are waking up looking hella fresh without having to put in nearly as much work. We’re living in truly blessed times, tbh.

Today we’re dishing specifically about permanent eyeliner, and there’s no one more equipped to answer all your questions than celebrity permanent makeup artist Dominique Bossavy. She’s absolutely slaying the game and has become a Hollywood go-to for celebs like Megan Fox, Jenna Dewan Tatum, and Michelle Williams. Whether you’re kinda-sorta thinking about getting permanent eyeliner or are hundo p committed, you’ll be happy you read through all these FAQs.

What is Permanent Eyeliner? Is it Really Permanent?

permanent eyelinerSource: Ivan Anta/ Shutterstock

All forms of permanent makeup are technically classified as a tattoo. In other words, they involve implanting color into your skin with a tiny needle. As for whether it’s really permanent, the short answer is no. Permanent eyeliner isn’t going to wash off with the rest of your makeup at night, but it will gradually fade away within a year or two. If we’re getting nit-picky, we’d say that semi-permanent is probably a better description.

If you’re wondering why permanent eyeliner eventually fades out but regularly tattoos last for years, the reason is that the color embedding doesn’t go nearly as deep into your skin. Only the top surface layers are colored. This is the same process you see with microbladed brows, as well, which also fade.

As for the actual process of applying tattooed eyeliner, your artist will clean the area with an eye-approved antibacterial and then apply a numbing cream to help reduce discomfort. Then micro-droplets of colored pigments are inserted between your lashes and under the skin with a special tool. Sometimes this process is done over several passes, or it can be done over several appointments to monitor the color absorption.

Does All Permanent Eyeliner Look the Same?

Definitely not. This is a completely customized process. Bossavy says, “There are many different techniques, tools, and digital tips depending on the desired look or the expert technician. You can go for ‘high definition,’ a powdery or shadow-like finish, a thicker liner, or a tight line.”

tattoo eyelinerSource:

The tattoo eyeliner color is customized to your preference, and your artist will also work with you to determine what shape and look you’re going for.

“For example, I aim to give the eyes a boost, lift a droopy corner, and/or strategically make the lashes look fuller and the eye brighter and more defined,” says Bossavy. “The shape should be as conservative as possible so that it naturally enhances your eyes without makeup, keeping in mind that your traditional makeup can be added for a more dramatic or evening look.”

tattoo eyeliner


While you can technically get different colors applied, Bossavy is super adamant about keeping permanent eyeliner as simple and natural as possible. Also, if your complexion is lighter, you’ll want to stick to a brown versus jet black.

“Brunettes can afford darker colors, but especially for blonds with super light lashes, stay away from super dark colors like black since it will make the liner look like it’s floating above a pink line,” she explains.

permanent eyelinerSource:

The expertise and color knowledge of the technician also play a key role here. They know which colors do and don’t blend on different skin tones, and understand which molecules take longer to fade.

Does Tattooed Eyeliner Cause Pain?

We know what you’re thinking. A tattoo? On my eye? Thank you, next. Surprisingly though, tattooed eyeliner doesn’t cause as much pain as you might expect, especially if you’ve hired a solid artist.

“Once I start the tattoo process, all the client will feel is a vibration. There is no bleeding and no swelling. Most of my clients are surprised, as they expect the discomfort to be much higher,” says Bossavy. “Also, more numbing agent is added throughout the procedure to keep the entire process comfortable.”

Afterward, a thin coat of eye ointment is applied to the area and then you can get on with your day. Though there’s little downtime, aftercare is still pretty important. Bossavy says that you shouldn’t expose the area to water for about a week, and that eye makeup should be avoided or kept to a minimum. For example, you’ll want to use non-waterproof mascara only on the tips of your lashes.

How Long Does Permanent Eyeliner Last?  

tattoo eyelinerSource: Maxim Gutsal/ Shutterstock

Permanent makeup, including tattooed eyeliner, looks best for about one year. Depending on how well your eye holds the color, it can last for up to two to three years before you have to start worrying about touch-ups. (All the more reason to hire a really amazing artist. More on that soon).

“Over time, the color will naturally fade down and evenly until the molecules all dissipate and you can do it again,” says Bossavy. “Once faded, it [might] look like a soft grayish color.” 

Like everything in the beauty world, permanent eyeliner requires some upkeep if you want to maintain the look. You’ll likely need to go for touch-ups at a rate of about once every year or so. Note that things like after-care (such as not getting your skin wet), general lifestyle factors, diet, skincare products, meds, and sun exposure all play a role in fading. Your tech can walk you through how to properly tend to your permanent eyeliner to help make it last.

What Are the Benefits of Permanent Eyeliner?

“The majority of women complain that it takes so much time to get it right and to apply evenly day in and day out just to see their work smudge or melt away minutes into their day. Permanent eyeliner helps address that. Also, active people who want to look their best when swimming, hiking, biking, playing tennis, or working out have a great benefit of not sweating it off or having to reapply,” says Bossavy. “In general, saving time, energy, and money over time is a great benefit of tattooed eyeliner. Clients go from ‘wake up to make up’ and start their day with natural-looking, fresh faces much more effortlessly.”

Some other benefits include not having to deal with “running” makeup if you live somewhere hot or humid. Also, permanent eyeliner can be a mega game-changer for people who can’t wear regular makeup due to sensitivities and allergies, and for those who have vision issues or dexterity conditions such as arthritis and Parkinson’s.

Permanent Eyeliner Cost

The cost of permanent eyeliner really depends on who you go to, but prices can range from $200 to $600 for both eyes.

How Can You Make Sure Your Permanent Makeup Artist is Legit?

As we mentioned a few times, finding a highly skilled permanent makeup artist should be your top priority when getting tattoo eyeliner. A good deal is always nice, sure, but these are your eyes and it’s a procedure with semi-permanent consequences!

On that note, when shopping for a permanent makeup artist there are a few things you should be on the lookout for.

“First, always check references and images of their work. Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have adequate training, experience, and licensing in the area of treatment you are seeking,” says Bossavy. “Also, always have a preliminary consultation. While there, you should never feel pressured into the procedure. A consultation is not an obligation. If you feel the technician is not the right match for any reason, don’t feel you have to stay.”

Where the procedure takes place is also a good indicator of how professional and legit the makeup artist is. Peace out of the studio if it isn’t clean. It should be positively immaculate and smell like a dream. Anything else and you’re risking things like a botched job – or worse, an infection. It’s just not worth the risk. And if they don’t even have a studio and are operating out of a garage or basement or living room? Girl, please just run as far away as possible because this is def not the right tech for the job.

Another good rule of thumb is to seek out someone who actually specializes in permanent eyeliner versus a “Jill of all trades.” Bossavy says that while most technicians need basic training in order to legally operate their business, some have additional certifications and have taken the initiative to further their education in areas of special interest to them. These additional trainings give them an advanced level of expertise in these niche areas.

Finally, it’s super important to find someone who has the same aesthetic values as you before you even book a permanent eyeliner consultation. If you scroll through the artist’s work on Insta and are horrified, run far away. It might be a look that some people go for and that’s perfectly fine, but you want to find someone who meshes with your vibe.

If you’ve got any more questions about permanent eyeliner, drop it in the comment section below!