Life would be a lot easier if someone drew on our cat eyes for us. Although that’s not completely feasible, permanent eyeliner is the next best thing. 

Whether you have a shaky hand or you’re tired of spending your evenings fixing smudges, permanent eyeliner is the long-term solution to your eyeliner woes. This service is among many permanent makeup services that keep your face looking camera-ready at all times.

Permanent eyeliner aftercare is the most important part of the process. Eyeliner is the easiest to heal compared to other types of permanent makeup, but this doesn’t mean you can afford to cut corners. 

You can put yourself at risk of possible infections if you don’t follow your makeup artist’s instructions. It sounds scary, but we’ll walk you through the general healing stages, healing methods, and everything else you need to know about permanent eyeliner aftercare before you book that appointment.

How long does it take for permanent eyeliner to heal?

It takes about four to six weeks for permanent eyeliner to fully heal. Most of the aftercare needed normally takes a week and a half or so after it’s applied. You’ll experience scabbing and flaking during this time.

Depending on your makeup artist’s instructions, you’ll also need to actively clean and moisturize the area. Understanding the initial stages of your healing process will help you better understand the aftercare needed at each point.

What are the permanent eyeliner healing stages?

Your healing process may look a little different than someone else’s since everyone’s skin reacts differently to the process. Luckily, most people still go through the same general stages after their procedure. We’ll go over each phase below and explain what you can expect in each.

Days 1-2

After your service, your eyes may look a little swollen. Your permanent eyeliner will appear darker and larger than it will look once it’s fully healed. It’ll feel tight and you can expect to wake up with swollen eyelids during this period. You may also have bloodshot eyes or sensitivity to light.

If your eyes are still swelling, appear bloodshot, or otherwise feel uncomfortable after a couple of days, seek medical attention right away.

Days 3-5

You’ll start to notice flaking around this time while your skin begins to heal. The eyeliner will start to lighten and may appear smaller than before. Don’t worry — this is normal while the new skin starts to grow in.

Days 6-10

The color will start to solidify at this point and will begin to look like the final color. Aftercare after this point depends on your makeup artist’s instructions and how well your skin is healing. 

The number of days it takes to heal differs for everybody. Flaking may continue past your fifth day or it may finish much earlier. Listen to your body, watch out for any red flags, and see a healthcare professional right away if something doesn’t feel right.

permanent eyeliner healing process

Dry healing vs. wet healing vs. combination healing

There are a few different methods to go about your aftercare. Most plans are a mix of different methods since everyone’s skin differs. Your makeup artist will recommend what they believe will work best for you. Read on to learn about these three main methods.

Dry healing

Dry healing was the go-to aftercare method before wet healing gained popularity. This method works well for people with oily skin.

For this method, you’ll start by regularly cleaning the treated area throughout the day during the first couple of days. You’ll take a damp cotton pad or cotton swab to blot off any lymph and dust. Some artists recommend that you only blot away excess fluids to avoid introducing excess moisture.

Whatever the method, you need to regularly clean off fluids to help your eyes heal and to minimize scabbing. After that, your goal is to keep it dry for the rest of your healing period. You will experience some scabbing with this method. You shouldn’t pick at it or try to remove it yourself. Let it flake off on its own. 

This method is great for people who don’t have a lot of time for aftercare since you don’t need to do much. However, you’ll end up with scabbing and the color may look a little uneven in the end.

Wet healing

Many makeup artists recommend the wet healing process nowadays. With wet healing, you’ll need to clean the area throughout the day after you leave your appointment, just like how you would with dry healing. 

After cleaning, you’ll also apply a healing gel. Your makeup artist will either give you one or recommend one to you. You’ll apply a thin layer that completely covers the area. Your makeup artist will advise on how often you should clean the area during your healing period. This can range from every few days to multiple times a day.

You’ll continue cleaning by gently blotting the area with water or a gentle cleanser. After the area is cleaned and gently dried, you’ll also continue applying the gel as prescribed.

You won’t get scabbing with this method and your color will look evenly distributed. However, wet healing requires many more steps than dry healing. You may also need to keep your aftercare supplies on hand throughout the day.

Combination healing

This method combines some aspects of wet and dry healing. With this method, you’ll keep the area dry for the first few days except when you’re cleaning it. Then, you’ll clean the area and apply healing gel as directed by your artist for the next week or so. 

types of healing aftercare methods for permanent eyeliner

What shouldn’t you do after permanent eyeliner application?

During your initial healing stage, you should avoid scratching and touching the treated area, exposure to moisture, and letting any unnecessary products or irritants near your eyes. This can include creams, saline eye drops, lash serums, and eye makeup. Most people need to avoid things like these for the first 10 days during the permanent eyeliner aftercare process, but this differs for everyone.

Here are examples of the things you should avoid while you’re healing:

  • Getting cosmetic treatments like Botox, facials, and any lash treatments like lash perms
  • Engaging in activities and areas that involve steam (like gyms and saunas), water (like swimming and hot tubs), or sweat (like exercising)
  • Going anywhere that’s dusty and can expose the area to bacteria
  • Exposing the treated area to direct sunlight or tanning beds
  • Applying harsh exfoliants like salicylic acid or glycolic acid
  • Using eyelash curlers on your lashes
  • Sleeping on your face
  • Wearing contacts
  • Scratching or rubbing the treated area

Can I shower?

You can take quick showers to avoid exposing the treated area to too much steam. When you’re showering, minimize exposure to hot water and any continuous exposure to water to the area.

Can I wash my face?

You can wash your face as long as you’re gentle and avoid the treated area. You can wash your face normally after the first few days. We recommend using a gentle facial cleanser.

Can I wear contact lenses?

We recommend wearing glasses for at least five days after your treatment. The swelling and itching you’ll experience in the beginning can make contacts uncomfortable.

How do I take care of my eyes after permanent eyeliner?

You can take care of your eyes by regularly cleaning the area, protecting your eyes from sun exposure, and ultimately following your makeup artist’s aftercare instructions. You should also dispose of old products, like eye makeup, and get new ones to avoid bacterial contamination. We’ll go more in-depth below:

  • Follow your prescribed cleaning schedule to prevent infections and to allow the treated area to breathe.
  • Continue using the healing gel as prescribed.
  • Use disposable ice packs and sleep with your head slightly elevated to reduce swelling during the first couple of days.
  • Wear sunglasses or a hat to protect your eyes outdoors.
  • Use new eye makeup when you’re able to wear makeup. This minimizes contamination from your old makeup.
  • Use a new pillowcase to minimize infection.
  • Get new contact lenses if possible to prevent infections.
permanent eyeliner aftercare dos and don'ts

What should I do if my eyelids are stuck together?

Use a wet cotton swab or washcloth to gently dab and separate your eyelids. This can sometimes happen while you’re healing and the lymph coming from your eyes crusts over. However, this shouldn’t happen every day. Contact a health care professional if you have any questions or concerns.

Why do I need a touch-up appointment?

Touch-up appointments are your artist’s opportunity to fix pigment that flaked off and to adjust the shape of your liner, if necessary. This is also your chance to raise any concerns or ask them for adjustments. These appointments happen after you’ve fully healed so they can see the final result.

These are general tips for permanent eyeliner aftercare. It’s best to get aftercare advice from the makeup artist who applied your permanent eyeliner. Their tips are uniquely tailored to you and any information you’ve shared with them.

Cosmetic tattoos like permanent eyeliner or lip blushing take place around sensitive areas, so it’s especially important to go to an experienced artist for a safe procedure. A great artist can also give you tips and will help you navigate the entire healing process. Look through our community of local beauty experts to find someone you can trust.