Thinking About Getting Permanent Eyeliner? Here’s What You Should Know

February 28, 2023
Ariel Wodarcyk
By: Ariel Wodarcyk | by L'Oréal
Close-up image of someone with brown eyeliner on their upper lash line

Permanent makeup is enjoying a huge resurgence lately, from lip blushing for a permanently rosy look to microblading for full, feathered brows. Permanent eyeliner is also coming back, possibly thanks to the spike in popularity of ’90s-inspired looks and the desire to wake up with your makeup already done. After all, who wouldn’t want one less step to worry about in their beauty routine? To find out more about the trend, we spoke to a permanent makeup artist who shared how long permanent eyeliner lasts, what the procedure itself feels like and what the aftercare involves. Keep reading to get all of your permanent eyeliner questions answered.

What Is Permanent Eyeliner?

Permanent eyeliner is an alternative to drawing on your eyeliner each day before leaving the house, which can be a tedious and time-consuming process — especially if you don’t have the steadiest hand. It’s a cosmetic treatment that involves tattooing pigment along the lash line to mimic the look of regular eyeliner and it can be done in a variety of styles and colors. 

How Is Permanent Eyeliner Performed?

Before the tattooing starts, you and your artist will discuss your eyeliner goals and sketch out an idea of what the final product will look like. This will be based on your anatomy, personal style and lifestyle. During this consultation, you and your artist will discuss and make any necessary adjustments before beginning. 

“Much like any permanent makeup, tattooed eyeliner is performed using a variety of fine needles, depending on the style and skin type,” says Carla Ricciardone, permanent makeup artist and founder of Sculpted Studios, a cosmetic tattoo studio and training academy.

She describes the sensation of getting permanent eyeliner as “more annoying than it is uncomfortable,” but says there are steps that can be taken, such as applying a topical numbing cream, to help minimize the feeling. Depending on the style of eyeliner you and your artist choose, Ricciardone says that active tattooing can take anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours. 

After your first appointment, your artist will provide you with aftercare instructions and ask you to come back for a touch-up within the next few months (10 to 15 weeks) in order to finalize the shape and fill in any gaps. As with other types of tattoos, the touch-up appointment is necessary because the color normally fades after the first session.

How Long Does Permanent Eyeliner Last?

Permanent eyeliner is indeed permanent, but you will likely need another touch-up two to five years after your first application. Your skin type, lifestyle and UV exposure are all factors that can affect the longevity of your liner. Make sure to apply broad-spectrum sunscreen daily to prevent UV rays from fading your permanent makeup (though you should already be wearing SPF every day, anyway). Check out this guide to learn more about applying sunscreen around the eye area.

What Styles of Permanent Eyeliner Can I Get?

There are a few different styles of permanent eyeliner to choose from. Ultimately, though, “your [permanent] eyeliner style is largely dependent on your eye shape and skin,” says Ricciardone. “Even though permanent eyeliner can be done to mimic the look of makeup, it is more limited than makeup when it comes to application.” 

Your artist should be able to determine a shape that will work best for your anatomy and your desired look — as well as help you come up with something that you won’t regret a few years down the road. Some examples of style options include winged eyeliner, lash enhancement and shaded liner. Ricciardone recommends considering trends and what styles will continue to wear well with time. 

“Removal in this area is not easily done,” warns Ricciardone. That means your artist may suggest something more subtle than your initial goals, which will still require you to wear traditional eyeliner on top of your permanent makeup.

What Are the Risks of Permanent Eyeliner?

When done improperly, permanent eyeliner can appear misshapen and the color can migrate. It can also have more severe physical risks, such as damage to the skin’s tissue. If you’re ever concerned with your permanent makeup results, reach out to a board-certified dermatologist or other healthcare provider.

“It is extremely important when considering any permanent makeup treatment to work with an experienced professional, one whose work is something you can clearly assess,” says Ricciardone. “A truly skilled artist will provide you with quality work designed for you.”

Check out your artist’s Yelp reviews, Instagram page and certification before getting started on any cosmetic tattooing procedures. Most permanent makeup artists will have not just an esthetician’s license, but a specific certification in order to perform permanent makeup.

What Is the Aftercare for Permanent Eyeliner?

Ricciardone says that swelling is normal within the first 12 to 24 hours after getting permanent eyeliner. For the first night and the morning following, she recommends wiping down the eye area with antiseptic wipes, which your makeup artist should provide. On the second day, she says to wipe down the directed area twice — morning and night.

Ricciardone also recommends keeping the area moist with a thin layer of a gentle ointment (not a petroleum- or mineral-based ointment), applied throughout the day with a clean cotton swab. Ask your makeup artist or dermatologist for suggestions on what products are safe for this sensitive area.

“Do not let the area dry out and crack, keep it moist at all times,” she adds. “Do not press or rub when applying ointment.” She advises that too much ointment can cause the permanent eyeliner to fade, so you only need a thin layer — a little bit goes a long way in this case.  

In the first five days after the procedure, treat the eye area very delicately. Do not touch, peel, rub or otherwise tamper with the liner, as this can cause the color to fade and slow the healing process. Abstain from any physical activity that causes extreme sweating, and do not let sweat, water, lotion, makeup or bodily fluids near the eye area. This means skipping eye makeup and skincare around the eye area during this time.

Ricciardone says to refrain from using a sauna, hot tub or pool for two weeks. Avoid prolonged sun exposure and petroleum-based products, and do not curl your lashes in the first two weeks post-procedure.

After the first two weeks, Ricciardone says to continue to avoid sun exposure until at least a month has passed since your appointment. You should also avoid forms of exfoliation (including using glycolic or fruit acids around the eye area) as well as alcohol, salt and saline during the first month.

Not ready to take the plunge on permanent eyeliner yet? Keep scrolling for some of our favorite eyeliners right now.

Our Favorite Eyeliners in 2023

NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Matte Liquid Liner

When it comes to vibrant, highly pigmented liquid liner, it doesn’t get much better than the NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Matte Liquid Liner. It’s the perfect eyeliner for experimenting with fun, graphic eye makeup looks. The striking jet black formula delivers major impact with just one swipe — and once it dries, it stays put all day long. 


NYX Professional Makeup Vivid Matte Liquid Liner

Lancôme Idôle Liner

We love the ultra-fine felt tip of the Lancôme Idôle Liner for its unparalleled precision and ease of application. Even if you’re an eyeliner rookie, you can use this user-friendly pen to create flawless wings and dramatic cat-eyes. If black eyeliner isn’t your thing, it also comes in stunning brown, blue, green and gray shades. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easily this liquid liner glides across your eyelids without any tugging or skipping. 


Lancôme Idôle Liner

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Precision Felt Waterproof Eyeliner

The L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Precision Felt Waterproof Eyeliner is our pick for a seriously long-lasting eyeliner at a budget-friendly price. With a waterproof, smudge-resistant and transfer-proof formula, this liquid liner stays looking great for up to 30 hours — no reapplication necessary. Plus, the grip gives you extra control to draw on straight, smooth and sharp lines on your first (okay, maybe second) try.  


L’Oréal Paris Infallible Grip Precision Felt Waterproof Eyeliner

Maybelline New York Tattoo Studio Ink Pen Eyeliner

Named for its staying power, the Maybelline New York Tattoo Studio Ink Pen Eyeliner is waterproof and lasts for up to 24 hours without smudging, flaking or fading. One stroke delivers intense, inky black pigment for a tattoo-like effect.  


Maybelline New York Tattoo Studio Ink Pen Eyeliner

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil

Not into liquid liner? Try the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil instead. This cult-favorite eyeliner comes in dozens of ultra-pigmented shades and a variety of different finishes, including matte, glitter and metallic. It’s waterproof and smudge-proof, so it can handle whatever your day or night throws at you. Mix and match shades to achieve the colorful eye makeup creations of your dreams.    


Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Waterproof Eyeliner Pencil

Charlotte Tilbury Rock ’n’ Kohl Eyeliner

If you prefer an edgier, smudged eyeliner look, we recommend the Charlotte Tilbury Rock ‘n’ Kohl Eyeliner. Use this waterproof pencil to enhance a sultry smoky eye and finish the look with a volumizing mascara. We like the brown shade as a softer, unexpected alternative to a black kohl eyeliner.    


Charlotte Tilbury Rock ’n’ Kohl Eyeliner


Additional Reporting: Jordan Julian, Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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