All Your Permanent Eyeliner Questions, Answered

September 22, 2022
Ariel Wodarcyk
By: Ariel Wodarcyk | by L'Oréal
Close-up of blonde person's brown eyeliner

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 makeup looks and the desire to wake up already made up. 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.

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.

“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 in order to finalize the shape and fill in any gaps. This is 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 can all affect the longevity of your liner. Make sure to apply sunscreen daily to prevent UV rays from fading your permanent makeup. Check out this guide to learn more about applying sunscreen around the eye area.

What Styles of Permanent Eyeliner Can I Get?

“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.

“Removal in this area is not easily done,” Ricciardone warns. 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 your 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 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 directed 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 Q-tip. 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.”

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 salt and saline during the first month.

Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn

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