What Is Permanent Eye Makeup?

Dee Jones

Permanent eye makeup is created by using fine, sterile needles to apply tattoo-quality ink pigments to the desired area. There are many popular types of permanent eye makeup, including permanent eye shadow, permanent mascara, and permanent eyeliner. Sparse, thinning eyebrows can also be filled in and defined with permanent eye makeup. One of the appeals of this procedure is that it saves time because someone who has permanent eye shadow or eyeliner doesn’t have to take time out of her busy routine to apply those cosmetics. Others who might benefit from having permanent eye makeup include those who are allergic or sensitive to traditional cosmetics, as well as those who have impairments, like poor eyesight or arthritis, that make applying cosmetics properly difficult.

An eyeliner tattoo is a type of permanent eye makeup.
An eyeliner tattoo is a type of permanent eye makeup.

While having permanent makeup applied can be costly, proponents point out that it’s a one-time procedure that can last for several years. These procedures should only be done by trained cosmetic technicians who have the proper credentials, certification, and experience. Typically, it takes about one to three hours to have permanent cosmetics applied. Afterwards, patients should expect to experience some swelling and tenderness.

Fine, sterile needles are used to create permanent eye makeup.
Fine, sterile needles are used to create permanent eye makeup.

Permanent cosmetics aren’t truly permanent, and will fade over time. How fast permanent makeup applications fade will depend on things like an individual’s specific body chemistry, her level of sun exposure, and how well she takes care of the permanent makeup. Typically, permanent eye makeup will last for several years. Those who want to remove the tattoos sooner will find that it isn’t easy or painless, and may involve surgical excision, scraping, and injecting tannic acid into the area. These procedures, which are a type of tattoo removal, can result in eyelid disfigurement or scarring.

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While the risks surrounding getting permanent eye makeup are low, they do exist. During the procedure itself, a patient can have a negative reaction to the pigments in the ink, or the anesthetic used to numb the area where the tattoo will be applied. Infection and scarring are also risks, especially if the procedure is performed by someone who doesn’t have the proper training.

Improper injection of the pigments could also lead to fanning, meaning the ink will slowly spread from the area from which it was originally applied. In rare cases, the ink in the permanent eye makeup will cause dermatitis, an allergic reaction that can cause redness, itching, inflammation, scaling, and rashes. The only way to alleviate the dermatitis is to have the permanent eye makeup removed.

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