Here's What To Know Before Getting Permanent Eyeliner

First of all, it's not really permanent.

A woman with a winged eyeliner makeup look
Photo: Mathilde Langevin/Unsplash

Nailing the perfect eyeliner application can be a tedious and time-consuming task. And if you've stood in the mirror trying to apply a pencil or liquid liner, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Between your eyes watering, the line becoming wonky, and the liquid smudging, a lot of frustration can amount.

So it's no wonder that permanent eyeliner, a form of permanent makeup (PMU), has become increasingly popular.

The procedure is considered permanent because the pigment used to create the line can remain in your skin forever, however, the longevity of the color and its visibility will fade over time. That said, it's actually more of a semi-permanent procedure that replaces the need to apply eyeliner every day.

Get into the nitty-gritty of the procedure below.

VIDEO: Beauty School: How to Fix Crooked Eyeliner

What are the benefits of getting permanent eyeliner?

Permanent eyeliner enhances the eyes without the use of liquid liners and pencils — simply put, it will make your eyes pop! The procedure also helps to improve the appearance of light-colored or missing lashes.

"There are many reasons why someone might choose to get permanent eyeliner," says Daly Beneche, owner and master artist at Arch Angels NYC. "Not only does it save you time each morning, but you'll also save a ton of money on eyeliner products."

How does the procedure work?

At Arch Angels NYC, their popular Angel Wing Liner involves depositing hypoallergenic mineral pigments into the dermal layer of the skin using an ultra-thin needle. The procedure typically takes 2.5 hours. "We begin by numbing the skin and drawing the shape of the liner," says Beneche. "Then, we use a digital machine to pixelate the pigment into the skin. We repeat this method a few times to ensure the pigment stays." Unlike traditional eyeliner and brow tattoos, pigments used for permanent makeup do not penetrate as deeply into the skin layer.

How long does permanent eyeliner last?

I hate to break the news to you, but permanent eyeliner is not as permanent as the name suggests. On average, you can expect the line to last one to three years.

"Constantly using eye creams, oils and other products can cause the ink to fade over time," says certified dermatologist, Dr. Mariana Vergara. "Not only does the color change, but as the ink is placed at the surface of the skin, the precision of the line also decreases."

How much does permanent eyeliner cost?

The price of getting permanent eyeliner can vary, but on average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $1000, depending on the style, color, and thickness of the eyeliner.

Do you have to do a skin test prior to the procedure?

Although skin tests are not typically required, some salons do offer them. "We determine if a test is needed by reviewing skin allergies, medical history, and other personal details that may impact eligibility," says Beneche. "We automatically do a test if a client indicates any concerns, allergies, or other medical conditions during the intake process."

Is permanent eyeliner safe?

According to Dr. Glen K. Goodman, a board-certified ophthalmologist at Refocus Eye Health, permanent eyeliner is generally considered a safe procedure if performed by an experienced practitioner, in a medical-grade clean environment, employing completely sterile techniques. However, as the procedure is invasive, Dr. Goodman adds that there are no guarantees against complications — so make sure you do your research and find a reputable establishment.

"The most serious risk is an infection," says Dr. Goodman. "Pathogens can be placed inadvertently into the eyelid, and from there they can infect the surrounding soft tissues." Other risks include allergic reactions, migration of the applied pigments, excessive or irregular scarring, and keloid formation.

Dr. Vergara advises that patients with autoimmune disorders like lupus and pregnant woman should avoid having permanent eyeliner treatment, to prevent complications.

Are there any side effects?

Immediate side effects can include swelling, bleeding, and bruising. "You may also experience burning, itching, or discomfort around the injection site," says Beneche. "However, these side effects should only last a few days. The artist also explains that the eyeliner color will typically appear much darker for up to 10 days after the procedure.

Make sure you are aware of all the anticipated aftercare before undergoing your procedure.

"You should receive written instructions upon discharge, 24/7 access to the practitioner, a formal post-operative appointment schedule, and a written description of the specific product(s) applied," says Dr. Goodman. "Generally, mascara, harsh skin cleaners, UV tanning, and skin exfoliants are to be avoided while the eyelids heal."

Are there different eyeliners to choose from?

Yes, most clinics offer various lines that you can choose from, so you'll have options. "We offer a few different line styles," says Beneche. "Our signature is the Angel Wing Eyeliner, but we do offer other lines based on the needs and desires of the client. We have a lash line, a wing line, and a stardust eyeliner, for example."

Are there any precautions that need to be taken before treatment?

If you are thinking about getting permanent eyeliner, there are a few precautions you should be aware of to ensure a smooth procedure, says Beneche.

"Please do not work out the day of the procedure as the body heat will expand the pores," says the artist. "Avoid heavy sunlight three days before your treatment as your skin should not be in the process of healing." If you have a sunburn, Beneche recommends waiting four to five days before performing the procedure.

Other precautions include avoiding coffee before your treatment — sorry!

"Caffeine will act as a blood thinner and can cause you to bleed more than average," says Beneche. It's also important to avoid drinking alcohol the night before treatment as this can lower your pain threshold.

If you hate the permanent eyeliner, can it be removed?

Fortunately, permanent eyeliner is not a life sentence — if you have the treatment and hate it, it can be removed.

"At our studios, we use PhiRemoval, a painless and very safe procedure that leaves no scarring," says Beneche. "PhiRemoval is ideal because, unlike laser or saline, it does not scar, the tissue heals quickly, and it's less traumatic and invasive on the skin."

Related Articles