Permanent Eye Makeup

Permanent eye makeup uses tattoos for producing pigmentation patterns that resemble temporarily applied makeup such as eyeliner, artificial eyebrows as well as colouring the eyelids. It is a type of micro-pigmentation and involves the use of needles in order to insert coloured inks in the upper layers of the skin. A skilled medical practitioner can perform the procedure safely and effectively resulting in permanently enhanced eyebrows and eyeliner without the need to apply makeup.

When should you consider permanent eye makeup?

  1. Cosmetic enhancement – One can consider getting permanent eye makeup done in order to enhance their facial features, especially the eyebrows and the upper lash line for the eyeliner. In this case, permanent eye makeup can produce a permanently sculpted brow and topliner which never need be applied saving the patient time, effort and money involved in applying makeup on a daily basis. It can also be undergone by athletic individuals who want to look their best while pursuing activities such as swimming, running, playing sports which can lead to the fading and sweating-off of makeup
  2. Loss of facial features due to diseases – People who have lost their eyebrows due to alopecia totalis, chemotherapy or genetic conditions can consider permanent eye makeup to produce artificial eyebrows.
  3. Inability to apply makeup – Permanent eye makeup can also be considered by individuals who are unable to apply makeup due to allergies or sensitivities to traditional cosmetics.

How permanent is permanent eye makeup?

Permanent eye makeup involves the tattooing of coloured pigment in the upper layers of the skin, thereby rendering it unwashable. However, as with other tattooing inks and pigments, there is a likelihood that the pigment in the permanent makeup fades or lightens with passing time. Therefore, periodic enhancement in the form of reapplication of the pigments may be required. The time after which fading of permanent makeup takes place varies from one person to other on the basis of skin tones, environmental exposure and lifestyle. It is best to consult with the cosmetic practitioner when the results are no longer to your satisfaction to determine the further steps in the procedure.

How is the procedure carried out, and is it painful?

Permanent eye makeup is applied using a variety of devices which include conventional tattoo coil machines, tattoo pens or rotary machines or handheld devices for dispensing pigment inks. The procedure may involve a minor amount of pain or discomfort, depending on individual pain thresholds. However, the overseeing practitioner will ensure successful management of the pain by using a specialised topical anaesthetic, especially in delicate areas such as the eyelids and eyebrows.

What are the advantages of the procedure?

  1. Permanent results that do not wash away, require re-application or fade for a long period of time
  2. The patient can specify his/her preferences with respect to shape, colour and intensity of the permanent makeup resulting in customised results
  3. Time, effort and money can be saved by removing the need for daily application of temporary makeup.
  4. If carried out by an experienced practitioner, the procedure is safe, effective, and does not pose any major side effects.


What are the risks associated with permanent eye makeup?


  1. Infection – The use of unsterile equipment to perform the procedure may result in the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and skin infections. Contaminated tattoo inks may also result in infection of the concerned area. However, this can be avoided with the use of fresh needles and tattoo ink, each time the procedure is performed.
  2. Problems with removal – Permanent makeup pigment removal is a prolonged and expensive process. It may require several sittings, and complete removal may not be possible.
  3. Allergic reactions – In rare cases, patients may experience an allergic reaction to the pigment used to carry out the procedure resulting in redness, inflammation and pain in the associated area.
  4. MRI Complications – Reports of burning or swelling in the areas with tattoo inks has been reported by a small number of patients when they underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, these adverse effects are extremely rare and do not last. In case a patient needs to undergo MRI imagining, they should inform the overseeing radiologist or technician about the tattoo pigments so that risks can be reduced or avoided.
  5. Dissatisfaction with results – In a rare set of cases, patients many not be fully satisfied with the results of the cosmetic enhancements. Therefore, it is very important to discuss with the doctor in detail the exact nature of the changes to be made.


Permanent eye makeup can be a valuable way for men and women to enhance their facial features in order to achieve better cosmetic results and increased self-esteem. It also allows patients with distressing medical conditions such as alopecia or chemotherapy-induced hair loss to get artificial eyebrows. These cosmetic enhancements are safe, permanent, involve minimal risks and can be carried out exactly as per the patient’s specifications. With the development of increasingly safe pigments and tattooing techniques, more and more cases of successful permanent makeup have been reported.


All elective cosmetic enhancement procedures require skill, experience and precision. Improperly carried out procedures can result in unwanted side effects and complications. Therefore, they must be carried out only by accredited practitioners with a sharp focus on patient safety.

Dr Debraj Shome is a highly experienced oculoplastic surgeon based in India. He has various accolades and medical distinctions to his name.