Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

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How to cite: Wong M. Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review. Lab Muffin Beauty Science. January 3, 2018. Accessed June 21, 2024.

I recently had semi-permanent eyeliner tattooed onto my eyes. I’d already done botox in my masseters, IPL on my broken capillaries and microblading my brows, so this just seemed like the next step in my painful human guinea pig adventures!

I was a little nervous for a couple of reasons:

  • Tattooing your eyelids is REALLY FREAKING CLOSE to your eyeballs, and would be much harder to ignore than for microblading my brows, where I just lay back and tried to zen out.
  • Doing my brows from scratch takes me a good 15 minutes, and I could never get them as good as Leona’s microbladed brows (which I am still loving). But eyeliner only takes me 20 seconds and I’m quite particular about how it’s done, so the payoff wouldn’t be that great.
  • I’ve seen permanent eyeliner tattoos fade into blue-green tones which look really unflattering. Semi-permanent eyeliner is implanted more shallowly, so this shouldn’t be a problem… but still.

But curiosity got the better of me, so I volunteered for it anyway. What’s the worst that could happen? I could surely hide it with more eyeliner for the next 2-4 years until it faded!

The Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing Process

Rita Porreca, the director of Sydney Permanent Make-Up Centre in Five Dock, was my semi-permanent make-up artist. She’s been doing permanent make-up since the 1980s, so I knew I was in experienced hands.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

After filling in the release and medical history forms, she took some “before” photos of my eyes, then applied some gel eyeliner on me so we could work out what I wanted.

Semi-permanent eyeliner is quite sharply defined while I usually go for a smudged pencil line, but we came up with a thicker line than most people opt for, which I was quite happy with. Since I like my eyes to look bigger, I opted for just the upper lid line, though many people like to tightline their bottom lid as well.

Next, Rita told me about the two instruments that she uses for permanent eyeliner: a cosmetic pen which was a bit slower but also a bit quieter, and a tattoo gun that was about twice as fast but louder and shakier. We opted for the quick option.

She then applied the numbing cream on my eyes and left me to lie back and contemplate my poor life choices while it sank in.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review
Why did I volunteer for this oh god

I was originally a bit worried about whether I’d ruin the eyeliner by twitching and scrunching up my eyes too much, but Rita’s been doing this for decades, so she assured me that she’d be holding my lids down firmly the entire time.

She first did a quick line across my eyelids, then applied more numbing cream so it could get through more effectively through the broken skin.

Then she went in on each eye two more times to finish the lines, with some firm wipe-downs of the dye in between, and it was done in just 15 minutes! I was super impressed by the speed, since my previous microblading experience took ages since they draw on each stroke individually.

How much does semi-permanent eyeliner tattooing hurt?

As per usual, here’s my detailed breakdown of the pain level.

The first line stung a little, like a scratch… but then the rest barely hurt! The worst of it was briefly in the inner corners, which felt like when you stab yourself with the end of a false eyelash. The rest of it felt like drawing on eyeliner with a slightly draggy eyeliner pencil. My eyes felt very raw though, as if I’d been ugly-crying for a day.

I did flinch a lot which made me feel like I was ruining my eyeliner, but halfway through I discovered that focusing on breathing helped a lot with flinching (except for those pesky inner corners). While the tattooing was happening, the raw feeling almost felt like I’d never be able to open my eyes again… but to my surprise it was barely an issue afterwards!

The pain never got worse than the raw ugly-crying feeling at any point during the process, which was a lot better than the microblading pain.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing Swelling/Down-Time

After the tattooing, Rita put some eyedrops in to flush out any bits of dye that got into my eyes, took some “after” shots (with very watery eyes) and then I was done (the labels are switched around in the photo here).

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review
Immediately afterwards


Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review
Outside SPMUC

I was a bit worried about having to drive home for an hour on an incredibly hot and sunny day with the air con on at full blast, but it was fine, apart from the raw dry eye feeling. It was actually way better than if I’d been crying, because my eyes weren’t swollen at all, so my vision was fine except for being slightly more light-sensitive than usual! The eyeliner looked great, so many selfies were taken.

I didn’t have any swelling at all for the first day until right before I went to sleep 10 hours later, when the edges of my eyelids turned into speed bumps.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

But the next day, the Great Swell began.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review
Whoop there it is

I went to work looking like this with a pair of sunglasses. One of my friends sent me a photo of Quasimodo.

It died down enough by the afternoon for one of my students to just tell me I looked tired and ask if it was because he was being a pain in the ass. I was actually tired as hell because it turns out that having dry and swollen eyes all damn day is exhausting. Here it is 28 hours after the initial procedure:

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

My eyes were fine the next day, except for a tiny bit of swelling, and the tightness as the scabs started to form, which made my eyes look very slightly smaller than usual.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

So if you’re getting this done, there’s only about a day of down-time where you definitely do not want photos taken. After that, it’s pretty unnoticeable! The scabbing and crusting was black, so it mostly blended in and just looked like glossy eyeliner unless you were up really close.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review
Day 4 scabbing

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing Aftercare

Here are the instructions I was given:

  • No mascara for 7 days, use baby oil to remove mascara afterwards
  • No eyelash tinting, curling, perming or lash extensions for 2 weeks
  • No make-up in the area for 5 days
  • No sun, soap, sauna, chlorinated pools or salt water for 2 weeks
  • Apply healing cream 3 times a day for 2 weeks with a cotton tip
  • Use eye drops if required for the first few days
  • Don’t pick or peel crusting
  • No hydroxy acids or retinoids on treated area for 1 month (and if used afterwards will speed up fading)

Like for the brow microblading, the colour got darker then softer and lighter over 10 days after the procedure. You’re not meant to judge the final results and get a touch-up until around a month after the procedure.

I applied Vaseline and coconut oil with a cotton bud on the eyeliner for two weeks, but I did do a little bit of crying during that time so there was some salt water exposure. The scabs mostly came off on the cotton bud during application, and because the line was so thin there wasn’t much itching at all, just that tight feeling until it cracked a few days later.

I usually wear Ortho-K contact lenses at night, so I skipped a couple of nights and was slightly blind on Day 2, but after that it went back to normal. Overall, the healing was much less of a bother than for microblading.

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing Results

Here’s how it looked two weeks later:

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review

I’m really happy with the process and the results. The procedure itself was way way less painful and scary than I thought it would be, and the healing process was much less annoying than for microblading, which involved a much larger area.

My eyelids are super oily, so normally eyeliner transfers to my lower lid and smudges during the day – this stays intact all through exercise and crying and Australian summer heat. I still add a bit more eyeliner for special occasions, but for everyday make-up this has been fantastic.

Sydney Permanent Make-Up Centre is located in Five Dock, Sydney and they do lots of procedures apart from semi-permanent eyeliner. You can find more details on their website and see more results on their Instagram account.

This service was gifted for editorial consideration, but this is my honest opinion. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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34 thoughts on “Semi-Permanent Eyeliner Tattooing: My Experience and Review”

  1. You are a brave brave lady!! I am not sure, I would do this, but I loved reading about your experiences. Did you patch test you beforehand? I konw with normal tattoos they just go straight in!

    • They didn’t patch test, but they asked if I had any allergies and if I’d had tattooing done before, so I think they figured it would be fine.

  2. I was so squeamish reading your account — you are brave!!
    PS — could you do a blog post on your Ortho K lenses? I only heard about those types of lenses recently and am curious.

    • I should do one! It’ll involve a bit of research though, I can’t remember much about them… I got them fitted back in 2001!

      • I thank you for your honest account of semi permant eye makeup , I belly laughed at the pure honesty of your emotional journey, you look amazing and I am looking to take up a course in London, thankyou for the insight xxx

      • I also have a question about your Ortho-K lenses. I’ve never heard of them, but after you mentioned them, I did some research, and now I definitely want to get them! Can you tell me whether they fixed your vision completely?

        • Pretty much, although I started on them when I was 14 – back then I was told I was borderline too old to start on them, although that was 20 years ago, not sure what the current consensus on that is!

  3. I have always wondered about this! When you wear eyeliner every day, it seems worth it. But I was too afraid to have a needle that close to my eyeballs. This was a great, informative post on what to expect. The eyeliner looks really nice on you, she did a great job.

    • I’m really happy with the results! I was worried it would be wobbly from my squeamishness but it’s really smooth 😀

  4. Wow, you’re brave to try this. I’m glad you like the results.
    I would be extremely interested in a review of the Ziip Beauty tool (nano current skincare device). Is it possibly worth the whopping price?
    Kind regards from Switzerland!

  5. Oh wow, this looks fantastic! I’m curious as to whether they could also fill in between your upper lashes (aka tightline)? Or is that -too- close to the eyeball for them to work safely? Either way, I would absolutely have this done if I found a practitioner as adept as yours!

  6. Oh my!!! This is perfect! Now I have to go to Australia just to get one of those! Weren’t you desperate when your eyelids got swollen? Were you expecting that?

    By the way, I think the before and after pictures Rita took from you are mixed!

    I’m loving your blog. Never thought of reading the ingredients list on the back of my beauty products until I found you! Now I’m so addicted I even bought some PH strips! Thank you so much, you do a wonderful job!

  7. I am so happy to read this, I have an appointment in March and I was getting a little nervous. This made me feel a lot better, thank you!
    I can’t wear any makeup at work so I’m hoping this will make me feel a little better 🙂

  8. I love it! Because of this article, I want to do permanent eyeliner. I just got my microbladed brows last week. Whoo! It was painful. wish we could chat!

  9. Pingback: Daria's thoughts
  10. Omg. Now I know what pains you’re talking about! Just had my permanent eyeliner done yesterday. It hurt so much, esp inner corner and pen vibrates again your eyeballs! Yours look great!


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