Post Malone isn’t the only person who loves face tattoos. Celebrities like Lena Dunham, Minka Kelly, and even Mandy Moore have jumped on the face-tat bandwagon with the recent trend of microblading (to make your eyebrows appear fuller). And now there’s a new beauty tat fad called dark circle camouflage—aka tattooing the dark circles under your eyes to make the skin lighter.
Professional tattoo artist Rodolpho Torres has gained over 2 million Instagram followers in part for his “eye camouflage” work of covering up dark circles via tattoo. He also uses this tattooing method to “camouflage” stretch marks on the legs and chest. (Side note: We love our tiger stripes and so does Padma Lakshmi.)
While Torres has more than 10 years of tattooing experience, derms say you shouldn’t trust anyone with such fragile skin if they aren’t a doctor. “No nonmedical personnel should be touching that area of your eyes—especially with a sharp instrument,” says Lance Brown, M.D., a leading dermatologist in New York City and the Hamptons. “Under the eye, you need to be very cautious—you can cause an infection around the eyelid, or a sty or cyst could grow around the hair follicles,” says Dr. Brown.
It is common for tattoo scarring to occur if the artist is inexperienced or presses too deeply with the needle. Apply these potential mishaps to the skin beneath your eyes and it’s a recipe for serious concern. Scarring on the lower eyelids, in particular, can create a contraction in the skin that pulls the lower eyelid down, causing ectropion, a condition where the lid pulls or sags away from the eye. “Ectropion can lead to tear duct issues, cysts, and more,” says Dr. Brown.
For the record, traditional tattoos are largely safe (and can even boost your health according to the American Journal of Human Biology) but it’s probably not worth taking the risk when it comes to the sensitive skin under the eyes—especially considering the new report from the FDA that they’ve seen an alarming rise of infections and adverse reactions to tattoos as a result of moldy ink. (One woman recently experienced a life-threatening infection after her microblading appointment went south.)
If vanity wins out over your health concerns, consider this: While tattooing your circles may save you from having to pack on the concealer (I mean, we can’t deny that the before-and-afters look pretty impressive) since it doesn’t address the underlying cause of dark circles, it’s likely just a temporary band-aid solution. “The common reason for under-eye circles is changes in the fat pads under your eyes,” says Dr. Brown. Too little and too much fat tissue under your eyes can both result in the visibility of dark circles, and the best way to correct this shadow is actually to fill in the crevice either “surgically or with an injectable filler,” he says.
Of course, there’s also the nonsurgical route. If you have dark circles (which, by the way, are largely genetic) you can try these simple (needle-free) tricks. Or, you know, take a cue from Elizabeth Moss and simply learn to love and embrace them.