Eyelid Tattoos: Everything You Need to Know

As a tattoo artist, you will likely be asked to tattoo someone in an obscure spot like the eyelids. Eyelid tattoos are gaining enough popularity in the tattoo world that some artists, like Carlos Macias, are even becoming known for tattooing this body part specifically.

It’s important to know how the skin behaves and the risks involved in order to give your client the best tattoo experience possible.

That’s why, in this article, we’ll cover:

  • How the skin on the eyelids is different than other places
  • The risks involved with tattooing eyelids
  • The types of eyelid tattoos

What’s Different About Eyelid Tattoos?  

Two sets of eyelid tattoos, one with an X on each eyelid and one with a geometric design

Eyelids do a lot of work protecting your eyes from the sun, debris, and dryness. But for such an important body part, eyelids are extremely delicate. 

The skin of the eyelids is the thinnest skin on the whole body, which makes taking a tattoo machine to them particularly complicated. Where some parts of the body allow the artist to inject ink deep into the skin, the eyelids require a much lighter touch in order to create a great tattoo without doing any damage. 

The eyelid is not very easy to stretch, and the thinness of the skin can lead to blowouts. Because of this, some artists choose to tattoo eyelids using the hand poke method rather than using a tattoo machine.


Because the eyelid is a very small space, eyelid tattoo design is best kept simple. The difficult nature of the skin also makes smaller, more simple designs ideal for this location. 

Things like lines, short words, letters, and simple geometric shapes are perfect for the eyelids because anything too complicated or detailed can be hard to read.

Cosmetic Tattooing 

cosmetic tattooing eyeliner application

While some clients will want a tattoo design on their eyelid just like any other tattoo placement, but a lot of people also look to get eyelid tattoos specifically for for cosmetic reasons. 

Eyelid tattoos are becoming popular among people, often women, who want a permanent eyeliner solution. Cosmetic tattoos on the eyelids follow the thickness of your lash line and use ink to fill out your eyelashes and act as a permanent liner. 

People getting their eyelids tattooed as a permanent makeup solution is just one of many tattoo-related fashion trends, and the procedure is becoming more and more common and accessible. 

Some permanent makeup clients go for a very small amount of ink to fill out the eyelashes, but others will go for something more involved like shading or even a permanent cat eye. 

Many cosmetic tattooers will numb the eyelid before applying permanent eyeliner because the pain level in this area can be particularly high.

Cost of Eyeliner Tattoos

As the trend of tattooed makeup grows more and more popular, a lot of people wonder how expensive it would be to save themselves the trouble of applying their own eyeliner every day. Like other tattoos, permanent liner varies in cost but averages about $500 to $1500.

Are Eyeliner Tattoos Really Permanent?

Although cosmetic tattooing of the eyelids is marketed as permanent makeup, it’s more accurate to call it semi-permanent. Because the eyelid tattoo is on such thin skin that repairs itself very quickly, it will generally only last a year or two before needing to be redone.

How Badly Do Eyelid Tattoos Hurt?

Lil' Wayne Eyelid Tattoos

Because the skin on the eyelid is so thin, eyelid tattoos tend to be very painful. There are also three major nerves that control the eyelid and six that control the eyeball, so it’s a very sensitive area, especially because the cornea is right underneath. 

The very sensitive trigeminal nerve is responsible for the feeling in the eyelid, and that combined with the nerve-heavy cornea increases the pain levels for these tattoos. 

In addition to the pain of the tattoo needle, eyelids are likely to swell during the tattoo process, which can make it hurt to blink or hold your eyes open. 

Risks Involved With Eyelid Tattoos

All tattoos come with the risk of complications, but the location of the eyelids adds increased risk. 

Corneal Erosion

One of the biggest risks of eyelid tattooing is corneal erosion. Corneal Erosion occurs when the outer layer is scratched, scraped, wears away from the other layers, which can cause pain, redness, swelling, and blurred vision. 

Studies have shown that this occurs more often in patients with eyelid tattoos than with people who do not have eyelid tattoos, but there hasn’t been enough research to prove that the eyelid tattoo is the cause.


Another one of the risks of eyelid tattoos is infection both of the skin on the eyelid and the eye area itself. The eye is so delicate, that any procedures done near it, including tattoos, need to be done extremely carefully in order to lessen the risk of infection and damage to the eye.


Though the risk of a medical issue is present with an eyelid tattoo, the most common problem artists see is blowouts. If the technique used for the eyelid tattoo isn’t just right, the ink could spread across the eyelid, resulting in a permanent smudge on the eyelid.

Eyelid Tattoo Healing Process

The skin on the eyelid is extra sensitive, which means it’s really important to take good care of healing eyelid tattoos in order to avoid infection that could lead to vision loss. Clients who get an eyelid tattoo should wash their tattoo with fragrance-free soap and warm water before gently patting it dry. They should also avoid using sunscreen and makeup on healing eyelid tattoos, as well as avoid picking at them or touching them.

Do Eyelid Tattoos Fade?

New eyelid tattoo design of a flower and a snowflake

Just like with permanent eyeliner, other eyelid tattoos will fade much more quickly than tattoos in other places because of how thin the eyelid skin is. An eyelid tattoo design should be minimal in order to keep the design from blurring together. 

A Semi-Permanent Tattoo

Eyelid tattoos will generally last a couple of years, but some people have seen them last as long as five. Eyelid tattoos should be considered semi-permanent, and clients should know that they will need to go back for touch-ups if they want to preserve their eyelid tattoos.

Eyelid Tattoo Removal 

One of the big questions with eyelid tattoos is whether they can be removed through the laser removal process. Some specialized tattoo removers do offer laser tattoo removal for an eyelid tattoo. The process will likely be rather unpleasant, as stainless steel or plastic shields have to be inserted underneath the eyelid in order to protect the eye from the laser. Laser removal for eyelid tattoos isn’t guaranteed to remove the tattoo completely, because the power level of the laser has to be turned down significantly to avoid doing damage to the eye.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Understanding tattoo placement is an important step in your journey towards a tattoo career, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need for your tattoo career. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

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Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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