What's the failure mode of permanent eyeliner?
May 30, 2016 10:57 AM   Subscribe

I have the kind of eyes that really benefit from a dark line on the upper outer lid. I've gotten sick of even the best eyeliner smudging by the end of the day, though, and I've started considering permanent eyeliner. I'm aware that it only lasts for 5-7 years, but the question is: what happens then?

Does it fade and blur like other tattoos, requiring constant reapplication over time and an increasingly thick line? Does it look terrible? I have read instructions that suggest not going for an aggressive winged style, since the skin will sag and give you "sad eyes" as you age, but that's all I've been able to find. Thanks!
posted by you're a kitty! to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've seen some really terrible permanent eyeliner on a couple people. Not close to the lash line, crooked, asymmetrical. When done well it can look good, if you go to a specialist (not just a regular tattoo artist). It will blur and fade, and turn bluish after a while. You'll need to go in an have it touched up every few years, depending on the color. The line won't necessarily have to be done thicker, as your not trying to sharply outline a picture or text like with a regular tattoo. However, as your eyes age it can even shift so it's not where it used to be. I saw a late-60s woman whose eyeliner had stretched upwards as her lids sagged -- it looked pretty weird.

That said, iron oxide is relatively safe and rarely causes allergic reactions. However, if you ever have to get an MRI, be aware that this is not going to be fun. You'll need to let them know so they don't misread, and the area will burn or swell because you basically have magnetic reactive metal under your skin.

If you do decide to go this route, do your homework, make sure they follow sterilization procedures to the letter, and ask to meet previous clients. Don't just go by the website photos and testimonials.

In the meantime, allow me to recommend L'Oreal telescoping waterproof liquid eyeliner. It doesn't smudge, at all ever. It will start to flake off if you sleep in it (ask me how I know!). It's not hard to remove, though, just use soap and water to gently massage it and it will come right off.
posted by ananci at 12:22 PM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've considered it too but with no artists nearby that I trust I decided to keep with the eyeliner. The one eyeliner that will not smudge on me for a full 24 hrs is MAC's liquidlast in pointblack. No other eyeliner has the same wear power, I can guarantee you that. I can sleep in it and wake up looking fresh, its so ironwear you'll need a good oil makeup remover to take it off along with elbow grease.
posted by driedmango at 1:27 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

My best friend and her mom used 'permanent' makeup extensively for a while there (eyeliner as well as eyebrow definition). I would say that I don't think it lasts 5-7 years in all cases; they were constantly having to decide whether to get re-tattooed or not. It definitely blurs and fades and it can, as ananci notes, get off-center from where you want it to be. I'm not sure that I would recommend it, at least based on their experiences.
posted by librarylis at 3:30 PM on May 30, 2016

I had a friend that was considering the semi-permanent tattooed makeup, until I introduced her to Make Up For Ever's "Aqua Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner", based on my own experience with it.

Both she and I have extremely sparse to non-existent lower lashes and very thin and short upper eyelashes. I also have the unfortunate "hooded eyelid" feature that causes almost all eyeliners to smudge into a double line within minutes.

This has been the only eyeliner I've ever used that has not only stayed on for 12+ hours, even through crying, but I've also partied and then slept with it on, and it still looked miraculously mostly intact the next morning. It also does *not* transfer to my upper eyelid.

My friend decided to give it a try for a few weeks and was hooked. She's changed her mind about semi-permanent eyelid tattooing and is happy that this also gives her the option of various colours.

You can check it out at Sephora stores, where they will let you try it out. If you do buy one and are not happy with it, they have a very decent 30 day money-back refund. Here's a link:

posted by Jade Dragon at 2:44 PM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

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