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I’ve always been experimental when it comes to innovative beauty products and services, even when there’s a little bit of risk involved (we’ll see if this comes back to bite me in the butt down the line). I’ve tried Latisse (and LiLash) to chemically grow my eyelashes longer, Brazilian Blowouts to smooth out my crazy hair, prescription skincare products to get rid of acne… Well, you get the idea. But it’s been a while since I’ve tried anything worth telling you guys about.

Well that changed about two months ago, when I did something a little crazy. I got permanent eyeliner tattooed on my upper eyelids.

(The photo above is not of me getting my permanent eyeliner done. It’s from another blog post, but I thought I’d post it because it’s a little more glamourous than the photos below, of me swollen from the tattoo.)

Two months post procedure, I feel like I’ve been asked every question under the sun about my experience with this. I always planned on blogging about it, but instead of pretending to be an expert on the topic, I figured I’d just answer the questions I’ve been asked because I anticipate they’re similar to the ones you would ask. And of course, share some After photos (below)! If I neglected to touch on something you were wondering about, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll follow up with you!

You can also find some more great information on Eric Berntsen’s FAQ page about permanent makeup.

Why did I want to get permanent eyeliner in the first place?

A couple of reasons:

  1. First of all, pencil eyeliner ALWAYS RUNS on me. Trust me, I’ve tried them all – they all make me look like a hot mess. (I have better luck with waterproof liquid liner – but that’s less appropriate for day/ the workweek.) At any rate, I knew permanent eyeliner wouldn’t run – so it seemed like a good option for me.
  2. Since my eyelashes are blonde, my eyes kind of disappear if I don’t wear eye makeup, so I thought this would help them pop a bit. And it does.
  3. Also, I’m too lazy to put eyeliner on in the mornings during the work week. So now I don’t have to!
  4. Lastly, like I sort of implied earlier, this is the type of procedure that I get really curious about and like to try.

Can I still achieve a natural, fresh-faced look when I have permanent eyeliner? Does it look weird when I’m not wearing other makeup?

This was a bit of a concern for me before getting it done, because I tend to wear more natural-looking makeup in the first place. The last thing I wanted was to look fake, or worse, not even look like myself!

So upfront, I decided less is more. I wanted my eyes to pop, but I didn’t want it to be obvious I was wearing eyeliner. I told my technician this, and he listened. We looked at photos of what other people had done and talked about it in relation to what I wanted. And luckily, he gave me exactly that.

As a result, the eyeliner is so subtle that it looks natural enough that I believe I still look fresh faced. But just like a better version of myself. And no, I don’t look weird now when I’m not wearing other makeup. My boyfriend would tell me if I did. 😉

Do I ever have to wear eyeliner now that I’ve gotten this done?

If I’m going out at night and I want a more dramatic look, I’ll do a cat eye with liquid eyeliner. Otherwise, I don’t wear any eyeliner over the tattoo.

How long does it last?

The concept of “permanent” makeup is misleading. This lasts five to seven years.

Regular tattoos use ink, which is quite permanent. Permanent makeup tattoos are made from pigment, which fades over time.

Did it hurt?

Yes. It’s a tattoo on your eyelid, so yes, you definitely feel it. But your eyelids are numb before the actual tattooing starts, so that really helps minimize the pain. Honestly, it’s more uncomfortable than painful. If you’ve ever had any other tattoos done, it’s certainly no worse than that.

Was I swollen afterwards?

Yes – the day I got it done and the day after I was quite swollen. Then the swelling went down. (Icing my eyelids helped reduce the swelling and discomfort.) Check out the photos below to see what I looked like after the procedure.

Where did I go to get it done?

I went to Eric Berntsen at Studio One on Macadam Ave. in Portland, Oregon.

What was the procedure like?

If you’ve ever gotten a tattoo before, I can tell you that it was pretty much just like that. I had a consultation first, then I went in for my appointment. At the appointment, we talked about exactly what I wanted. Then I laid down on one of those medical chairs that leans way back. Eric used some gel to numb my eyelids. We chatted about random stuff for about 15 minutes while the gel kicked in. Then he brought out the tattoo needle and got to work. The tattoo took about an hour and then I was done. I put on my glasses (couldn’t wear my contacts) and drove home.

A month later, I came back for my second, followup appointment. Eric does this over two appointments. I went in to get it touched up and he pretty much went over the entire tattoo a second time to address any concerns I had. (The photos below are from after the touch up – so I went through this same healing process twice.)

How long did it take?

The first procedure was probably at least an hour and a half (including our discussion before). The second was about an hour.

Am I glad I got it done?


What was the healing process like?

Not terrible, but as I mentioned before, I was really swollen in the beginning. But then the swelling went down. I did a lot of icing my face. I also couldn’t wear my contacts for a week (hence my Instagram photos of my “four eyes”). Couldn’t wear any eye makeup for a week either.

Ignore my cross-eyed-ness in the photos above! It’s just hard to take photos of your own eyes up close without crossing them. I clearly haven’t mastered that skill.

In the end I’m really happy with the way the eyeliner turn!

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