Is Permanent Eyeliner Worth It? Here's Everything You Need to Know

All your FAQs about permanent eyeliner answered.

<p>Skaman306/Getty Images</p>

Skaman306/Getty Images

Permanent makeup has come a long way even in the last five years. Gone are the days of super obvious placement, weird pigment fading and obvious cosmetic tattooing (as long as you’re using a reputable artist), and in its place you’ll find subtle and flattering results that minimize your get-ready time. So what is permanent eyeliner exactly, when does it make sense to get it done, and is it even safe? Keep reading for everything you need to know.

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What Is Permanent Eyeliner?

Also known as cosmetic tattooing or micro-pigmentation, permanent eyeliner involves implanting color pigment into the skin along the lash line to mimic the look of standard eyeliner. Usually, though, it’s more subtle than what you’d get with a cat eye or smudgy eyeliner look. The goal is to create the illusion of a more symmetrical, defined, and brighter eye appearance, notes Mojgan Azimi, permanent makeup artist and founder of Colorimplant.

What’s the spend? Costs vary depending on location and artist, but expect to pay between $600 and $1000 for permanent eyeliner.

Who’s a Good Candidate for Permanent Eyeliner?

Anyone can get permanent eyeliner, but it may be more beneficial to some compared to others.

“This procedure is perfect for those who want to save time and wake up feeling fresh and beautiful,” Azimi says. “It is perfect for those who have an active lifestyle, such as working out, swimming or surfing. It is also ideal for those with poor eyesight, contact lens wearers, individuals who have allergy or sensitivity to conventional makeup, and those who work in environments where makeup is not permitted.”

She also recommends it for cancer survivors or those who suffer from Alopecia where eyelash loss is an issue, and for those who may have unsteady hands due to multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson's disease.

Is Permanent Eyeliner Actually Permanent?

Permanent eyeliner is not typically permanent because it uses a different type of technology. “The difference between permanent makeup machines and standard tattoo machines is the power of the engine. The needles’ movement and the speed is different,” Azimi explains.

Facial skin, particularly the skin on the eyelids, is exceptionally thin and sensitive compared to the rest of the body. For that reason, it’s super important to choose the proper machine and depth of the color implant with permanent eyeliner procedures. Also, these are your eyes we’re talking about; safety is paramount.

Azimi notes that when practitioners use a tattoo machine versus a permanent machine machine, the “pigments may become trapped in deeper layers, leading to potential color changes over time due to varying rates of absorption,” she says. It can also shift and migrate with some in-office cosmetic procedures. For that reason, she recommends sticking to permanent makeup tattoo machines.

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How Long Does Permanent Eyeliner Last?

With a permanent makeup tattoo machine, you can expect results to last anywhere from one to three years. Factors that affect this include your body’s own metabolism and skin cell turnover rate and environmental/sun exposure.

“This doesn't mean that the eyeliner has completely faded away,” Azimi says. “It may partially stay and lighten over time, which is why people may think they have blue/gray eyeliner. However, this is a sign that it's time to redo the eyeliner permanent makeup.”

Is Permanent Eyeliner Safe?

Permanent eyeliner is a safe procedure so long as you’re working with a reputable, skilled artist who follows protocol, uses the correct machinery, and knows how to use said machinery.

“Unfortunately, there are practitioners who do not have enough knowledge, especially about designing eyeliner and determining which design is suitable for each person's face,” Azimi says. There’s an entire art to the process that involves education on machinery and skill level regarding proper placement and color theory.

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How Do You Find a Good Permanent Makeup Artist?

Since we’re talking about your eyes, this isn’t one of those treatments that you should look for the best deal on. Instead, your goal is to seek the best of the best. Here are some ways you can ensure you’re working with an excellent artist:

  • Check their reviews on Google, Yelp, and Realself

  • Speak with others who’ve worked with them personally so you can get first-hand information

  • Review their portfolio and be on the lookout for edited images versus the real deal

  • Consult with your artist before committing to anything to get a feel for their experience and process

  • Ask lots of questions about their process and experience

  • Be wary of any grand promises or flashy deals 

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