As an oculoplastic surgeon specializing in eyelid surgeries, I’ve observed a rising trend among my patients: eyelid tattoos or permanent eyeliner. The allure of waking up daily with impeccably drawn eyeliner without the daily application ritual is undeniably tempting. However, despite its increasing popularity, I realized I didn’t know much about this intricate form of body art. This prompted me to delve deeper into the subject.

In this blog post, I’ll share my findings, covering everything from the various techniques used in eyelid tattooing to its potential risks and aftercare recommendations. Join me as we unravel the mysteries of permanent eyeliner!

I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the patient who graciously permitted me to photograph the title image for this blog. She also allowed me to capture an evocative tattoo on her right arm that reads “Pure Saskatchewan Honey.”

Key Takeaways

  • Understand the delicate nature of eyelid tattooing and its various decorative and cosmetic designs.
  • Consider potential risks, aftercare instructions, pain management techniques, recovery timeframes & maintenance for optimal results.
  • Laser removal should be done cautiously as it has associated risks & costs to consider before proceeding.

Understanding Eyelid Tattooing

Eyelid tattoos, or permanent eyeliner tattoos, are a specialized form of body art that requires a skilled touch due to the delicate nature of the skin surrounding the eyes. The thinnest skin on our body, the eyelids, demands a gentle approach to prevent damage or blowouts. Eyelid tattoos can be cosmetic, such as permanent eyeliner, or decorative with various designs. Permanent eyeliner is one of the popular permanent makeup procedures, a form of tattooing that utilizes micropigmentation.

There are different types of eyelid tattoos, such as the classic eyeliner tattoo, eliminating the need to wear eye makeup. Also, some artists prefer using the hand poke method for eyelid tattooing, as it offers a delicate technique and exactness. Given the variety of options, finding a seasoned tattoo artist who can handle the sensitive eyelid area with finesse is of utmost importance.

Types of Eyelid Tattoos

Type of Eyelid TattooDescription
Cosmetic Eyeliner Tattoo– Highly sought after by women of all ages.
– Offers a permanent eyeliner look.
– Not easily removable and aging may alter its appearance.
Lash Enhancement– Implants pigment between the eyelashes.
– Creates a thin liner along the entire length of the eyelash growth.
– Suitable for all ages and skin types.
Shaded Eyeliner Tattoo– Provides a subtle lift to the eyes.
– Creates a brighter and more expressive look without the need for traditional eyeliner or other eye makeup.

Hand Poke Method

The hand poke method of eyelid tattooing involves manually inserting ink into the skin using a needle, without the aid of a tattoo machine. This technique is favored by some artists for eyelid tattoos due to its delicate approach and precision.

Choosing the hand poke method guarantees the use of the most delicate technique for your sensitive eyelid skin.

The Process of Getting an Eyelid Tattoo

DurationThe eyelid tattoo procedure typically takes between 45 minutes to one hour.
Pain ManagementNumbing agents are used to reduce pain and discomfort during the procedure.
Equipment UsedThe tattoo artist will use either a cosmetic pen or tattoo gun to introduce the pigment along the lash line.
Sensation During ProcedureA slight buzzing sensation may be felt along the lashes where the needle applies the ink.
Precautions1. Avoid alcohol and caffeine 48 hours before the procedure.
2. Refrain from consuming fish oil, prenatal vitamins, nutritional shakes, and “Hair, Skin, Nail” supplements 48 hours prior.
Importance of PrecautionsAdhering to the precautions ensures the best possible results and minimizes discomfort during the tattooing process.


Prior to getting an eyelid tattoo, a consultation with a professional tattoo artist to discuss the design, style, and any potential risks or concerns is indispensable. This is also an opportunity to ask questions and address medical concerns. It’s highly recommended to consult with a dermatologist before the procedure to ensure you are a suitable candidate.

During the consultation, your artist will guide you through the process and discuss any factors that should be considered before getting an eyelid tattoo, such as:

  • Avoiding chemical peels, microdermabrasion, facials, or lash serums for 4 weeks prior to the procedure
  • Not drinking alcohol and caffeine
  • Avoiding certain dietary supplements 48 hours before the procedure

They will also advise you on the best way to prepare.


Adequate aftercare is key to healing and achieving the best outcome for your eyelid tattoo. It is advised to abstain from water and sweat for the initial few days, avoid direct exposure to sunlight, and regularly moisturize the area to keep it hydrated.

On Day 2 following the eyelid tattoo procedure, keeping the area clean by blotting with clean wet cotton rounds or gently washing your eyes with warm water, avoiding any rubbing and instead dabbing and patting with a clean tissue or towel. Add a thin layer of oil (or grape seed oil) to allow the skin to breathe and heal.

Following these aftercare instructions will help ensure a smooth healing process and maintain the appearance of your eyelid tattoo.

Pain and Discomfort Associated with Eyelid Tattooing

The pain and discomfort experienced during eyelid tattooing can vary from person to person, ranging from mild discomfort to more intense pain. Generally, it is described as a raw, uncomfortable sensation.

However, numbing agents and relaxation techniques can be employed to help manage the discomfort during the procedure.

Pain Management

Numbing agents and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, can help manage pain during eyelid tattooing. Your tattoo artist will likely apply a numbing cream to the area before the procedure, ensuring the utmost comfort possible.

Remember, pain levels are subjective, and your experience may not mirror others.

Swelling and Recovery

It’s common for the eyelids to experience swelling during the tattooing process. The estimated recovery time for an eyelid tattoo is generally 3-6 weeks.

Proper aftercare, as mentioned earlier, can be beneficial in reducing swelling and facilitating the healing process. Adherence to the prescribed aftercare instructions paves the way for a smooth recovery and an enjoyable experience of your new eyelid tattoo.

Potential Risks and Complications

As with any cosmetic procedure, eyelid tattoos have potential risks and complications, such as infections, blowouts, and vision loss. These risks emphasize the importance of choosing a highly-skilled and experienced tattoo artist and adhering to proper aftercare instructions.


The delicate eye area is susceptible to infections, so proper aftercare and hygiene are crucial. Infections can present risks such as:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Discharge

If not treated promptly, the infection can spread to other parts of the face and body.

For the best results and to mitigate the risk of infection, adherence to the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist and seeking medical attention at any signs of infection is vital.

Blowouts and Smudging

Blowouts can result in ink spreading and permanent smudging, emphasizing the need for a skilled tattoo artist. Indications of a blowout or smudging following an eyelid tattoo may include blurred or fuzzy lines, ink spreading beyond the intended design, and a smudged overall look.

Choosing a skilled tattoo artist who is adept at tattooing eyelids and working with the sensitive eyelid area is key in reducing the risk of blowouts and smudging.

Vision Loss

In rare cases, improper aftercare or severe infections can lead to vision loss. Potential risks may include infections, blowouts, and vision impairment.

Adhering to the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist and seeking immediate medical attention at any signs of infection or other complications is vital in averting vision loss.

Longevity and Maintenance of Eyelid Tattoos

Eyelid tattoos may fade over time and require touch-ups to maintain their appearance. Factors such as sun exposure, the use of certain skincare products, and natural exfoliation may all have an impact on the fading of the tattoo.

Regular touch-ups, typically every 1-2 years, can help maintain the appearance of your eyelid tattoo.

Fading Factors

Factors contributing to fading include sun exposure, which can accelerate the fading of the ink as UV rays break down the pigment in the ink. Skincare products may also accelerate fading, as certain ingredients can degrade the pigment in the ink.

Natural exfoliation can cause the ink to fade more quickly, as the shedding of dead skin cells can take the ink along with it. By being mindful of these factors, you can minimize the fading of your eyelid tattoo.

Touch-ups and Maintenance

Scheduling regular touch-up appointments, typically once a year, is critical in preserving the appearance of your eyelid tattoo. This allows your tattoo artist to refresh the color and fix any faded areas. Furthermore, following proper aftercare instructions is essential, such as avoiding touching or rubbing the tattooed area and keeping it clean and moisturized.

Besides touch-ups, using sunscreen is important to guard your eyelid tattoo against excessive sun exposure. This can help prevent premature fading and ensure that your tattoo remains vibrant and well-defined for a longer period. By following these maintenance tips, you can enjoy the beauty of your eyelid tattoo for years to come.

Eyelid Tattoo Removal

If you ever decide that you no longer want your eyelid tattoo, laser removal is the most common method for removing them. However, it’s important to understand the risks and considerations associated with laser removal, as it can be expensive, require multiple sessions, and carry risks such as scarring and pigment changes.

Laser removal can be costly, and it may require multiple sessions to achieve the desired results

Laser Removal

Q-switched Nd:YAG lasers are effective in removing eyelid tattoos and are the recommended method for tattoo removal. The laser removal process is based on the principles of selective photothermolysis and photoacoustic effect. During the procedure, the skin will lighten with mild pinpoint bleeding.

Although effective, laser removal necessitates protective measures to avert eye damage and potential complications. Furthermore, the procedure can be costly and may require multiple sessions to achieve the desired result. It’s crucial to consult with a professional to determine the best approach for your specific situation.

Risks and Considerations

Laser removal of eyelid tattoos carries its own risks and considerations, such as scarring and pigment changes. Additionally, the procedure can be expensive and may require multiple sessions to remove the tattoo fully.

Before opting for laser removal, weighing the risks and potential complications against the benefits of removing your eyelid tattoo is essential.

It’s always difficult to quantify risk, but in over 25 years of practice in Saskatchewan as an oculoplastic (eyelid) specialist, I have not seen one case of an eyelid complication related to tattooing.


Tattooing in Canada, specifically in the province of Saskatchewan, is subject to health and safety regulations to ensure the well-being of the client and the artist. The Saskatchewan Health Authority emphasizes choosing a reputable tattoo studio that maintains cleanliness and adheres to health standards. In 1997, Health Canada initiated an effort to establish a comprehensive list of health and safety regulations for the tattoo and piercing industries.

Public Health Inspectors in Saskatchewan conduct yearly inspections of tattoo and piercing facilities to ensure compliance with the Health Hazard Regulation. Additionally, the province has guidelines regarding age restrictions for tattoos. Individuals under 16 must obtain explicit consent from their parents before getting a tattoo.

  1. Tattoo and Piercing Safety – Saskatchewan Health Authority
  2. Canadian Tattoo And Piercing Regulations – Trinity Body Jewelry
  3. Environmental Health Personal Services
  4. Personal Service Facilities | Environmental Health
  5. How Old do you Have to be In order to Get a Tattoo in Canada?

In addition, several interest groups in Canada have advocated more regulation of this industry.


We hope this blog post has given you a comprehensive understanding of everything you need about eyelid tattooing. From the types and methods of eyelid tattoos to the risks, aftercare, and maintenance, it’s essential to be well-informed before embarking on this unique form of body art. Choosing a skilled and experienced tattoo artist is crucial to ensure the best possible results and minimize potential complications.

Whether you’re considering getting an eyelid tattoo for cosmetic or decorative purposes, remember to do your research, consult with professionals, and follow proper aftercare instructions. Doing so allows you to enjoy your eyelid tattoo’s beauty and convenience for years while minimizing potential risks. Embrace your new look and confidently step into the world of eyelid tattooing!

Frequently Asked Questions

How painful is a tattoo on your eyelid?

Eyelid tattoos can be rather painful due to the sensitive nature of the area with three major cranial nerves controlling the eyelid and six regulating the eyeball. Pain levels are subjective but generally more unpleasant than hurtful, according to those who’ve had them done.

What are the side effects of eyelid tattoos?

Eyelid tattoos can lead to a range of complications including dermatitis, allergic blepharitis, tear film instability, disruption of the architecture of the lids, chronic inflammation from tattoo pigment granules, swelling, bleeding, bruising, burning, itching or discomfort, loss of eyelashes, eyelid necrosis, hypertrophic scars and keloids, and nodules and scar tissue formation.

How long does tattooed eyeliner last?

Eyeliner tattoos typically last between 3-5 years, though this can vary depending on age, lifestyle and skin type. It is advised to have a colour boost every 18 months to maintain a fresh look.

What is the second session of permanent eyeliner?

At your second session of permanent eyeliner, any adjustments needed will be made to darken the colour and add depth. This session must be completed within 3 months from the initial session unless prior arrangement has been made.

How long do eyelid tattoos typically last?

Depending on exposure and other factors, eyelid tattoos typically last between 1-3 years.

What is the difference between eyelid tattooing and eyeball tattooing?

  • Eyelid Tattooing: This procedure involves tattooing the skin of the eyelids. It’s often done to create a permanent eyeliner effect or enhance the eyelids’ appearance.
  • Eyeball Tattooing: Also known as scleral tattooing, this procedure involves injecting ink into the white part of the eye, called the sclera. Eyeball Tattooing is extremely dangerous and banned in many jurisdictions, including the province of Saskatchewan.


  1. “Eyelid Tattooing: What You Need to Know” –
  2. “The Pros and Cons of Eyelid Tattooing” –
  3. “Eyelid Tattooing: A Comprehensive Guide” –
  4. “Understanding the Risks of Eyelid Tattooing” –
  5. “Eyelid Tattooing: What to Expect and How to Choose a Professional” –
  6. Tattoo and Piercing Safety –


Photo graph of Dr. Conlon operating with loops on.

Dr. M. Ronan Conlon started his career in the field of ophthalmology at the same time as the development of refractive eye surgery in Canada. In 1996, he brought laser technology to Canada from Germany, which allowed him to perform laser eye surgery before it was available in the United States. With the establishment of the Conlon Eye Institute, Dr. Conlon has performed more than 40,000 refractive procedures and has advanced his expertise in LASIK and refractive cataract surgery.


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