It wasn't that long ago that we predicted microblading would become the go-to beauty treatment to achieve full brows—but there's a new trend that's taking permanent makeup to new heights. It's known as lash enhancement or invisible eyeliner, and it involves tattooing an ultra-thin black line along the lash line to create the illusion of fuller, darker lashes—much like tightlining does—for a natural, eye-opening effect.
We know what you're thinking: Who wants a needle that close to their eyes? While it sounds like an uncomfortable process, the beautiful results speak for themselves, and it can be a great solution for those who have sparse lashes or are dealing with alopecia. The treatment, according to esthetician, master stylist, and Pretty in the City founder Veronica Tran, is very different from microblading and involves a high-tech tool to perfect the look of soft, lush lashes.
Keep reading to learn more about this new lash trend, and if it's a fit for you.
What is a Lash Enhancement Tattoo?
According to Tran, an eyelash enhancement tattoo involves depositing pigment (or tattooing color) along the lash line. Also known as invisible eyeliner, the process creates the illusion of darker, fuller lashes.
The Benefits of a Lash Enhancement Tattoo
- Helps to define the eye: A dark lash line is a subtle way of giving the appearance of thicker lashes, which is nice for fair-haired individuals as it makes the eyes stand out more.
- Easy to maintain: "This service is great for people who don’t want to appear too made up; and/or unable to apply eyeliner," says Tran.
- Works for all skin tones: A lash enhancement tattoo is flattering on all skin pigments and eye colors.
How to Prepare for a Lash Enhancement Tattoo
As you research salons and artists, study their social media pages and ask to see photos of their work to get an idea of what to expect. Tran recommends asking the artist how long they’ve been doing this type of service as well. Remember, cleanliness is very important, so keep this top of mind when choosing a salon.
"Permanent makeup artists are usually subject to regular inspections by their local health department, and their license to perform permanent makeup procedures is usually required to be displayed; although this varies greatly among locations," says Tran.
On the day of your appointment, arrive without any eye makeup, including eyeshadow and mascara. Tran recommends refraining from the use of waterproof mascara for about two days before your appointment to make sure your lashes don’t have residue on them. "You must not be using any eyelash growth serums for at least six weeks before getting the tattoo," she says. "Lash extensions should be off—you can put them back on two weeks after."
If you wear contact lenses, take them out and bring your glasses to the appointment to be put on after.
What to Expect During a Lash Enhancement Tattoo
A lash enhancement tattoo is just that, a tattoo. The process is very similar to traditional tattooing, with most permanent makeup artists using a device much like a tattoo gun, but they are often smaller and have less power. Tran notes that there are very skilled artists that use traditional tattoo guns to tattoo the lash line as well.
"After a discussion with the client to establish their expectations (sometimes what the client wants is really an eyeliner tattoo; not eyelash enhancement tattoo), their lashes and eyelids are cleansed with a wipe specifically made for the ocular area," says Tran.
Once clean, a topical anesthetic is applied to the lash line. After 20 minutes, the anesthetic is wiped off and then wiped again with wet gauze to ensure there is no residue from the anesthetic. The artist will then begin to tattoo the lash line, alternating from eye to eye and re-applying anesthetic as needed.
"The feeling of vibration on thin eyelid skin is more annoying, and perhaps ‘itchy’ than painful, although clients will feel some soreness towards the end of the service," says Tran, noting that she finds that most clients are extremely sensitive to pain if it’s that time of the month. "The client’s eyes are closed throughout the entire procedure—which takes an average of two hours from start to finish—and once the tattooing is complete, the eyes are flushed with eye drops, and the skin is cleansed."
According to Tran, people who have glaucoma should not do this service due to the pressure from the artist when tattooing. If you are pregnant, nursing, or prone to keloid scarring, you are not a good candidate for lash enhancement tattoos.
"Those whose skin around the eyes is compromised due to skin conditions (eczema, psoriasis, ocular rosacea, blepharitis) should not get this service done while they are inflamed. If the condition is controlled and manageable, they should seek their doctor’s approval," says Tran. "People who have recently had eye surgery, such as Lasik, must wait a minimum of six months post-op."
Potential Side Effects
"You may experience temporary swelling or the feeling of something still in the eye (this could be from tiny amounts of pigment in the eye, usually prevented by flushing the eye once tattooing is complete," says Tran. "Most people will appear as though they’ve been crying for a few hours after the service. This may be longer for some individuals."
If irritability, redness, or anything unusual happens near the site of the procedure, contact your doctor.
A lash enhancement tattoo can cost anywhere from $250 to $600, depending on the artist and location.
Follow the directions that the artist gives you and keep the eye area clean by cleansing your eyelids once a day with a mild cleanser. Most artists will recommend an aftercare balm to be used during the healing process, which usually takes about a week.
"Avoid wearing eye makeup of all kinds (eyeshadow, mascara, etc.) until the area is healed," says Tran.
The Final Takeaway
If you're looking for a way to showcase your lashes but don't want to shell out money for extensions or a lash lift so frequently, a lash enhancement tattoo might be for you. Do your research and take care to follow all pre- and post-treatment directions for the best possible experience.