Cosmetic Procedures Tattoos

Permanent Eyebrow and Eye Liner Tattoos: Pros, Cons, and What to Know

Permanent eye makeup tattoos don’t have to be scary! For the right people, they can provide a welcome change from severe hair loss, and for other people they can save time and effort having their eye makeup done forever. Eyebrow and eye liner tattoos aren’t for everyone, and we explain why not, how the process works, and the risks involved.

permanent eyebrow eye linerWhether you are considering getting permanent makeup simply for a way to save time or to highlight your eyes and make them stand out more, you need to know who is the best fit for permanent eyeliner tattooing and you can prepare yourself for it.

Who should consider permanent eye makeup?

Many active people find that choosing to go with a permanent eyeliner solution works best for them. They no longer need to worry about having to clean up any smudging, particularly those playing water sports, swimming, or doing any activity that might constantly get sweat in their eyes.

Some people are allergic to certain ingredients in the cosmetics on the market and would like the benefit of eyeliner to bring out their eyes without having to fear a trip to the hospital or developing an unsightly rash.

If you have lost your eyebrows due to a health problem such as alopecia, having permanent eyebrow tattoos can help conceal your hair loss. If you suffer from vitiligo (a lack of pigmentation in some areas of the skin), tattooing can also help camouflage the lighter areas.

Choices with eyebrow and eye liner tattoos

Apart from the process itself, your biggest concern when choosing a permanent solution is to remember that fashion is fickle. What looks great now can look dated in a few years.

Eyeliner options

You can choose to go with both upper and lower eyeliner or just one or the other. Just remember that once the tattoo is done, you’ll be wearing it whether you are going to work or out on a date. If you get a more neutral shade of permanent eye liner, you can always go darker and thicker with normal makeup on a night out, but you can’t make heavy permanent liner look any more casual.

Eyebrow options

People’s eyebrows thin as they age, and eyebrow tattoos can be a good way to fill in the gaps with that person’s natural hair color (see our article on natural eyebrow growth if you’re looking at other solutions). Strokes that mimic the shape and length of eyebrow hairs look better than one unbroken line. One of the best things about eyebrow tattoos is that once they are done, they can look much better than they would have ever looked with just your natural hair.

Eyebrow shaping is an art as well as a technical skill. Be ready to discuss the shape, length and width that you want, and be comfortable with your decision, because this is a permanent choice. The technician should have a portfolio of his or her work just like any artist would. Make sure you would be happy having eyebrows that look just like the ones in the pictures.

Do the tattoos look “real”?

One of the major goals of cosmetic procedures is to look great while also not looking like you’re trying too hard. Permanent eyebrow and eye liner techniques have gotten very good, but they’re not perfect substitutes for missing hair or actual, self-applied makeup.


Eyebrow tattoos tend to look most realistic when they follow the exact path the shape of the eyebrow would take if it continued. [CC License via artdenet]

Eyebrow tattoos tend to look most realistic when they follow the exact path the shape of the eyebrow would take if it continued. [CC License via artdenet]

If you find a good tattoo artist, eyebrow tattoos will look very good but will be noticeable seeing someone in person and face-to-face. Under any other circumstances (photos, in a crowd, etc.), most people won’t be able to tell.

If you want to get an idea of what the tattoo might look like on you, find some eye shadow in the shadow your tattoo will be and brush it over your brows to fill in any sparse areas and extend the length to make it have exactly the shape you want. An actual tattoo will look a little more natural than that because the artist should be able to mimic the strokes of actual eyebrow hairs, but this should give you an eye.

The tattoo will going be more noticeable where you don’t have any natural hair at all rather than filling in sparse areas. If your tattoos will mostly be “filling in” small areas of missing hair, the tattoo will probably only be noticed if someone is paying close attention.

Eye liner

Permanent eye liner tends to look very similar to normal liner, though it almost always looks both denser and thicker than regular eye liner. Upper lash line work also tends to look much more like normal makeup than does thick tattoos on the lower lash line.

Meeting with the technician

Depending on the type of technician you go to, for the permanent eyeliner procedure you may be asked to wear your eyeliner into the first consultation the way you would like the tattoo to look after the procedure. Some of them may just want you to bring a picture of what you were looking to have done.

Make sure that the technician who will be performing the procedure is licensed to do so. This means knowing how to use and sanitize the various equipment; such as the coil machine, the digital rotaries, the NEO Tat linear device, the permanent cosmetic pen rotaries and the manual device.

Most technicians will post their certifications in plain sight, and ask any questions until you are comfortable with the procedure. You don’t want to leave any room for regrets for something that is going to be permanently around your eyes.

You may receive a pre-procedure anesthetic . If they are working with a doctor, they will have access to a prescription anesthetic, but you may receive an over-the-counter brand that can be used just as effectively. Once the area has been numbed, the technician will take out a fresh needle from a sterilized package. The needle is then assembled into the device and the procedure begins.

For eye liner, products like eyewash or eye drops are used throughout the process. The tattoos may be painful since they are so close to delicate skin, but it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes for the tattooing to be complete, since the area is so small.

When the procedure has been completed, your technician will inform you of how to take care of the eye area until it has all healed. You will then need to book an appointment for a follow-up within the next four to eight weeks to see how the tattoo has healed and if there needs to be any more work done.

Cons of permanent eye makeup

All tattoos carry certain risks. Problems are unlikely to happen, but it’s important to be informed about the possibilities before you make your decision.

  • Infections can be caused by tattoo equipment that hasn’t been properly sterilized. The needles can transmit infectious diseases like hepatitis or staph. This shouldn’t be a problem at any reputable office you go to.
  • Most people think that they would never want the makeup removed once it is applied, but it does happen. While laser technology is quite advanced, makeup removal is still a painstaking process which includes several trips and a lot of money. It is also possible that complete removal will involve a certain amount of scarring.
  • Certain shades of ink have been reported to the FDA to be known to cause allergic reactions in some people. The pigmentation can also be quite hard to remove.
  • Granulomas, nodules that form around foreign material that the body tries to protect you from, are also a small risk.
  • Keloids, while not dangerous, are unsightly scars that heal over skin more densely and thickly than normal scars. These can form any time your skin is injured or traumatized in some way. These occur most frequently when permanent makeup is removed, but they are possible when receiving the tattoo, as well. People who scar easily are more likely to experience this.
  • There have been reports that some people who have gone in for a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI) have experienced swelling or burning in the areas where they have been tattooed. The tattoo pigmentation can also affect the quality of the image, especially when someone has received permanent eyeliner and undergoes and MRI.

Now that you are better informed about eye makeup tattoos, your best bet is start look for places via word-of-mouth from other people who have had work done that they are very pleased with. Usually this will be an office or salon that does primarily or entirely cosmetic procedures like tattoos, and perhaps procedures like fillers or botox injections as well.

Most places will let you come in for a consultation free or very inexpensively. Ask questions until you feel comfortable with all aspects of the procedure. People who have chosen permanent eye makeup after a lot of research and picking the right artist are usually thrilled with their results!

Top photo: CC License via motoune