The Pros and Cons of Permanent Eyeliner: Is It Better Than Plain Old Eyeliner?

When it comes to procedures that enhance your lash line, eyelash extensions are at the top when it comes to popularity, followed only by eyelash perms and lifts.

But there is another (semi) permanent procedure you might consider for this purpose: a lash enhancement tattoo.

Also known as permanent eyeliner, this can really give the illusion of fuller, darker lashes and highlight your eyes in a beautiful way. Want to know more about it? Keep reading!

What Is Permanent Eyeliner?

Permanent eyeliner is a permanent or semi-permanent procedure that involves tattooing your lash line. It can be seen as similar to microblading.

Image via Huff Post

Tattooed eyeliner used to be permanent, fading to that blue-green color over time, but nowadays, it’s semi-permanent and fades in 2 to 4 years, as it’s a cosmetic procedure. 

What’s the Procedure Like?

The permanent eyeliner procedure itself doesn’t take long at all, and as expected, it involves a tattoo machine. Alternatively, you can also opt for a cosmetic pen.

The latter is slower, but it’s more discrete, while the tattoo gun is quicker, but does come with the accompanying noise. If you choose to have the eyeliner applied with the tattoo machine, the procedure should take around 15 minutes. Not bad at all!

The technician will work on drawing your eyeliner and will be holding your lid firmly, so there is no need to worry about how much you’re flinching; that is pretty normal.

They will also be wiping away pigment in between applications, making sure everything is clean and smooth. 

Does Permanent Eyeliner Hurt?

Since we’re talking about tattoos, the first question is probably going to be related to pain – how bad is it?

We’re happy to report that it’s not that bad, actually, especially for such a sensitive place on your face.

It helps that they start out by applying numbing cream, so when they do go to town, you’re not feeling everything.

The sensation is not that intense, and has been likened to slight stabbing – sort of like when you accidentally stab yourself with fake eyelashes – especially around the inner corners, which are more sensitive. 

How Much Does Permanent Eyeliner Cost?

While the cost will depend on your area, salon, specialist, style, etc., you’re looking at a range of about $200 to $800, with an average of $400 – $500.

It’s pricy, but it’s a tattoo in an extremely sensitive and difficult area, so this isn’t something you want to do on the cheap.

Also, if you tally up the expenses for eyelash enhancement vs eyeliner, it’s really not terrible, especially if you factor in the time and annoyance of drawing in your eyeliner everyday.

What to Expect After the Lash Enhancement Tattoo

This is where it gets intense. When you come out of the salon, things won’t be super dramatic. There will be some very slight swelling and your lids may be a bit red; your eyes will feel sore, kind of like when you’ve cried your heart out watching The Notebook. 

The real stuff comes after – the next day, you are likely to wake up with majorly swollen eyelids.

Don’t be alarmed, because it’s completely normal. After all, you’ve just had your eyelids tattooed! You might, however, not want to take pictures or anything. It’ll look worse than it really is. 

You can also expect scabbing in the following days, just like with a regular tattoo. That’s a sign that it’s healing, so you shouldn’t pick at it, pull, etc.

Just leave it alone and allow the scabs to fall on their own, when the healing process is complete. 

Permanent Eyeliner Aftercare

Aftercare is extremely important with this procedure, because the area is so tender and there is a risk of infection, if you’re not careful. Here are a few of the things you need to keep in mind for the days after the procedure:

  • Do not apply makeup in that area for at least the next 5 days, so you don’t irritate the skin; it needs to breathe for a while
  • That goes even longer for mascara, which shouldn’t be used for around 7 days, and once you do start using it, you should remove it gently with baby oil
  • You also need to abstain from any harsh or chemical treatments involving your lashes for the next couple of weeks. That includes eyelash extensions, perming your lashes, curling your lashes, or tinting them
  • If you have a skincare routine that includes retinoids or hydroxy acids, you’ll want to stay away from them for at least a month, and even after that, a word of caution – they will cause your eyeliner to fade faster
  • For the first couple of days, you may want to use eye drops, because your eyes will feel a bit dry and sore, until they get back to normal
  • For the next two weeks, avoid chlorinated pools, soap, salty water, saunas, and the sun; you don’t want anything that might irritate or damage the skin
  • Over the same period, make sure to keep the area moisturized with healing cream, that you apply gently, with a cotton bud, three times a day
  • As we mentioned earlier, don’t pick at the scabs and crusting that forms; if you do, you risk interfering with the healing process and the pigment may be uneven

Pros & Cons of Permanent Eyeliner

Still undecided? Let’s look at some pros and cons to getting a lash enhancement tattoo.


  • It lasts around 2 to 4 years, so it doesn’t need to be redone often
  • It saves you the time and effort of applying and removing eyeliner every day
  • Aside from the typical aftercare, lash line enhancement doesn’t really require much maintenance


  • Permanent eye makeup is a costly procedure, like any good tattoo; you can buy a lot of eyeliner for $500
  • While the pain isn’t unbearable, it’s still a tattoo in a sensitive area, so it might hurt, or the idea might be difficult to stomach
  • Since it is semi-permanent, if you don’t like the results, you are stuck with it on your eyes for the next few years

Eyelash Enhancement vs Eyeliner

At this point, you’re probably wondering if permanent eyeliner is worth it.

All in all, there are certainly benefits to getting a lash enhancement tattoo, as well as some deterrents – everything considered, is it worth getting your eyeliner tattooed, rather than just doing a quick swipe every day?

That depends on a lot of factors. If you are super busy or eyeliner takes you a long time, this may be worth doing.

If, however, it’s not a massive bother to draw it on every day and the process is a bit involved for you, then maybe give it a pass and stick to your liquid eyeliner, for now.