Problems With Kat Von D Tattoo Liner No One Tells You About

problems with Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

problems with Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

I know Kat Von D Tattoo Liner is a holy grail for many people out there.  I’m not about to say it’s not a good liner but there are some issues with it that seem to get brushed under the rug.  I’ve spent a lot of time reading reviews because of the issues I’ve had with the eyeliner.  I love the way it applies so I was hoping to find solutions.  Before you jump in and buy this liner (or maybe you already have), I’m going to tell you about the problems with Kat Von D Tattoo Liner that no one talks about.

Let me begin by saying when I first purchase this product (and I’ve purchased it 5 times), it’s always perfect!  The ink is dark and the consistency of the ink is perfect.  The brush applicator is perfect for drawing a precision wing.  The product definitely fades and I’m going to discuss that in more detail.  I’m always in love with the product when I first buy it and then within a month or so, I begin to have problems.  Some I can offer you tips to get through but others I can’t.  I have sent emails to Kat Von D customer support asking for guidance.  After 6 emails to them with no response, I gave up.  I guess service is not there number one priority.

What do user reviews say?

Makeup Alley Kat Von D Tattoo Liner reviews

In doing my homework on the product, I have noticed other users have experienced the same problems with Kat Von D Tattoo Liner.  However, you have to sort through the reviews to find this information.  Most boards show you the top ratings by default so you never see if there are consistent problems with any product people are talking about.

Currently on the Kat Von D website, 18% of the people reported at least one of the issues I will discuss.  Even some users with 4 star reviews reported at least one of the problems I’ve mentioned.  They still rate the product high so the number who reported an issue with the product is actually greater than 18%.  On Sephora’s website, 11% of users rated the product with 1 or 2 stars and another 6% of users rated the product with 3 stars.  MakeupAlley.com indicates 25% of users would not repurchase the product.  These aren’t bad ratings but with specific statement about fading, ink flow, and smudging – we can be confident there are issues to deal with.  What I noticed is a lot of users make specific statements about the problems with the product as opposed to “it didn’t work for me” or other vague comments.

What are the problems with Kat Von D Tattoo Liner?

problems with Kat Von D Tattoo liner

problems with Kat Von D Tattoo Liner
Winger eyeliner using gel

The liner will smudge

Quite a few users complain the Tattoo liner smudges.  As a matter of fact, “smudgeble” is a top key word in Sephora reviews.  If you have oily skin, use a toning spray or mist, or rub your eye, then the liner is going to smudge.  This is especially bad if you’ve used any on your lower lid and then blended it with another pencil or shadow.  It’s going to be all over underneath your eye.  If you have oily skin, there’s not much you can do.  However, you can avoid this problem by not using any sort of hydrating mist or toner when wearing this liner.

Dries out quickly

This is the biggest complaint from users.  After a month or two of consistent use, the ink no longer flows out of the pen and it appears to have dried up.  This is usually not the case, the link is in there.  The tip of this pen is not a felt tip, it’s a brush.  This brush is amazing and gives you incredible precision but you can’t clean it the way you would a regular make up brush.  After using the product, the dirty brush continues to get worse.  So, think about that for a moment.  You can’t really clean the brush!  That might be an issue for you in and of itself.  The brush eventually gets clogged with eyeshadow or powder.  That causes interruption to the ink flow.  When this happens, it’s the  beginning of the end.

Do not put makeup remover or cleaner on the brush or it will never work again.  To avoid this issue, try wiping the brush before and after every use with a clean tissue from the moment you start using the liner.  This is the recommendation on the Kat Von D website and it worked for me.  Once the ink flow is interrupted, it can’t be restored like new.  Either you need to exchange the pen for a new one or accept that the pen is now dying a slow death.

The liner fades

If I put this liner on in the morning, by late afternoon, I’m wearing a charcoal gray liner.  It fades and it fades a lot!  The only way to avoid the fading is to pack the liner on in multiple layers.  I mean pack it on!  This makes it difficult to wear a thin wing like I show in my photo or draw a good precision wing but it’s the only solution to keeping a deep dark line that lasts through out the day.  The other option is to take the liner with you and touch it up midday.  This one is an easy fix.

Formula thins out over time

This is something I discovered after repurchasing the product several times.  I kept exchanging the pens when the ink flow would stop.  Finally, I got past that with the tissue trick but once I did and I was able to keep the pen around longer, another problem surfaced.  Either the oils from my skin were able to seep into the brush and mix with the product in the tube or something in the formula simply breaks down over time.  The ink thins out and applying the product gets more difficult when this happens.  It takes longer to set and if you blink or use the product in the corner or your eye, it easily bleeds or transfers to somewhere you don’t want it.  In my experience, this is unavoidable and you will wind up doing a major clean up and repair to your shadow.


These are the problems with Kat Von D Tattoo Liner that I’ve experienced.  I still love this liner because it has a brush tip and creates an entirely different look than felt pens.  However, I have come to realize that all gel liners are applied with brushes as well!  If you can find a good eyeliner brush and gel product, then you solve all the problems.  You can also clean your brush and the gel never gets anything in it that transfers from your skin.

I have found the MAC 209 and Sigma E06 are capable of producing a perfect wing.  The gel I like the most is NARS Eye Paint but I also find it can fade a bit as the day progresses.  For a less expensive option, I recommend the Maybelline Eye Studio Gel Liner.  Another gel liner that is highly recommended and exceptionally black is the Inglot AMC Gel Liner in #77.  I haven’t had an opportunity to test that one out yet but it’s certainly with a try!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Tattoo Liner is a bad product.  I have one in my drawer now and I’ve purchased it repeatedly.  It is one of the best liquid liner products out there.  The product simply has quite a few issues and eyeliner pens just don’t work as well as high quality eyeliner gels.  But a pen is approximately 20.00 (or less) and a gel is often going to cost more plus you need a good quality brush to apply it.  I’ve come to realize the gel liners produce a better result and that’s worth it to me.  Plus, they are more hygienic products to use in the sensitive eye area since you are able to sanitize the application brush.

What are your thoughts?   Have you had any of these problems with Kat Von D Tattoo Liner or can you recommend a gel or liquid liner that is really fantastic?

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55 thoughts on “Problems With Kat Von D Tattoo Liner No One Tells You About

  1. Pingback: Tiffany Bauman
  2. I bought thirds for the first time and I’m constantly having to shake it and apply it to my hand first. Is this normal?

    1. It’s typical of this product but in general, no. The ink flow should be smooth and consistent. I’ve had to press mine on my hand to get it going but eventually even that stops getting the ink to flow. I switched to different products after trying the Tattoo Liner several times.

  3. I did something like the tissue trick, but with blotting paper instead and it really helped. I wear sunblock everyday, so it seems like the greasiness gets on it and messes up the way it applies. I did this and it started working well again. Such a relief!

      1. I wear it all day and it day and it doesn’t fade for me at all. Even before I started using a setting spray, the wing, all of it lasts so long. I love that it comes off easily with makeup remover wipes too. Do you know of a mascara that isn’t a pain to remove at the end of the day, have you tried that tarts mascara remover that looks like mascara?

        1. I haven’t tried the Tarte mascara remover. I have tried a ton of mascaras though! Lately, I have been using Maybelline Colossal Big Shot. I have Dior, Givenchy, and tons of luxury mascaras and I have repurchased the Maybelline one. It comes off relatively easy and never flakes, smudges, or clumps. I just use eye makeup remover and it comes off pretty easy. It’s really good mascara!

          You are so lucky the liner works for you! It’s so perfect when it applies well but on me, within a few hours, it’s gray. =(

  4. Love kat von ds makeup so i tried this. I do love it as I found it so easy to use and so precise . But i do winged eyes and the wing is non existing very soon after.it also never seems to be as dark … it looks patchy. So constant topping up is required.
    I used to use benefit push up liner but that used to come out quite clumpy and messy but it lasts a long long time ! If your patient its great. But it does dry up.and get worse if you don’t use regularly . Being in the uk im limited to good makeup. I find europian make up has nothing on american brands.

    1. The Kat Von D Tattoo liner fades really quickly on me too! I have been using Le Metier De Beaute Precision liner which is incredible! I don’t know is that brand is available in the UK or not? The thing about the Kat Von D liner is the amazing brush applicator but it’s so problematic!

      1. Ive not heard of that one ill have to look it up. . Theres so many brands its so hard to find one you get on with. Friends have recomended various brands but choosing is hard especialy when its expensive to switch and change. Yeh very problamatic. Ive now come across the error of the eyeliner acting like its running out. Disapointing when her other makeup is so good. I love the foundation , primer and eye shadows. Maybe shel bring out a new eyeliner.

        1. I think it’s because of the brush and somehow the ink flow gets interrupted. It’s just such an incredible product when it’s working, you know? I wish they would acknowledge it and fix to or offer some tips or something! But it does fade really quickly and that’s a problem for me too.

    1. I take a little kleenex or bathroom toilet tissue and use that to wipe out the bristles. Since this liner has a brush tip and not a pen tip, I think part of what happens is, it gets clogged with eyeshadow, glitter, etc. So, before I put the brush away, I clean it off with a dry, clean tissue to remove any residue. A clean tissue though… I have tried it using a little makeup remover and that totally ruins the product.

  5. Tattoo liner: Also, when you shake it to get it going again, several dabs fly out even when the lid is closed as tightly as you can get it!!! They could at the very least, make the cap secure.

    1. I haven’t had that happen to me but that’s because I will press the brush against my hand to get it going again (which is a huge mess to deal with). This past week, I pulled mine out to use it. First time, worked great and got a perfect wing. Next day, no ink flow. SO ANNOYING! If you have a chance to try Le Metier De Beaute, I really love their pen liner. It’s a great quality product and I’ve turned to that one almost exclusively.

  6. Great review, really.. I haven’t tried this product yet.. And tbh i still can’t redeem my curiousity about KVD Tattoo Liner even after read your review. Ugh..what should i do??

    1. Well… if you live in the US and you buy it and it fails you after a month or two, Sephora will take it back without an issue. I returned mine several times. It’s hard because I love the way it applies but it fades (so you have to touch it up during the day) or it stops working all together. I have tried a lot of liquid liners! I have found that Le Metier De Beaute makes a FANTASTIC liquid liner. It’s super precise, doesn’t fade, and never stops working. It’s a pen not a brush like the Tattoo liner but if you don’t mind spending more, I’d try that one as it really is fabulous. The entire line is. Otherwise, try the Kat Von D and if the brush stops working or you are upset if it fades, just let Sephora know what happened and my experience has been they always take care of their customers.

  7. Physician’s Formula makes a precise brush tipped eyeliner called the 2 in 1 Eye Booster. It’s about half the cost of the KVD and it is smudge resistant. It also lasts for months without drying out.

    1. Sounds good!!! I’ll have to stop in Target or Ulta and pick one up!!!!! Thank you so much for the awesome tip! =)
      I’m so excited to try it! Sometimes I use gels in the pods but the pens are so much easier, cleaner, and quicker!

  8. This is really interesting. I’ve been using it for more than a year and haven’t experienced any of these problems. I usually put it on last, after my eye shadow and what not, and it maintains the dark black look throughout the day, I’ve never had to carry around an extra. My eyelids get irrational oily and it doesn’t affect the liner. I use it daily and it takes like 6 months+ to dry up.The one I’m using currently I bought in the beginning of June and it’s still going strong. To be fair, it’s the most expensive make up I buy besides cover up/ concealer, but so far it’s the best eyeliner I’ve used. I will say that when it does start to dry out, the liner will like roll off if you try to reapply after it’s dried on the eyelid and that sucks, but it does take time to get to that point. I’m just really surprised so many people have had problems with it!

    1. I’m so happy it’s working for you! I totally LOVE the liner because of the way it applies and it’s so precise and everything but I have so may problems with it. I also live in Phoenix and the weather is quite different here which could affect the product too. But a lot of people have had issues. Maybe they have recently changed the formula. I have been using Le Metier de Beaute, which is a newer line I got turned on to through a subscription box from them that I bought last year. They have a liquid liner that is ULTRA precise and black and fabulous. Really really awesome. It’s not cheap though. I want to say it might be around 40.00??? But well worth it. If you are in the states, you can buy it at Nordstrom on line or Neiman Marcus and if you don’t LOVE it, you can return it. But I am so in love with it that it’s the only thing I reach for these days.

      If you having great results with the Kat Von D product though, no need to switch! I’m happy you are not experiencing frustrations with it! =)

  9. I got it as an early Christmas present from a friend and was thrilled. I used it at least 5 times desperately trying to give it a chance but it just disapoints every time. I’ve been using so called “waterproof” liners for a while actually and I can’t seem to find one that actually sticks. My outer eye corners and dresses always get wet/oily throughout the day and I end up with a line of eyliner and just the tip of the wing. I’ve just given up on even trying wings at this point.

    1. I have been using the liquid liner from Le Metier de Beaute and it applies beautifully and with great precious but the problem you are describing with the watery and oily corners of your eyes is different. I don’t know I’ve heard of that happening before. Are you using a really strong primer that helps to control the oil? With the Kat Von D liner, for me, it just wears off and it’s faded and gone. If you have some oiliness I can only imagine it would be worse. =(

  10. hey there ❣❣❣ i agree absulutely with what you said bout the problems of tattoo liner! it really fades and smudges few hours later. and sometines when using it, the ink didnt flow out, makes me think tat did the tattoo liner run out of ink. i thought im the only one that feels this way, thank god you agreed with me too!!

    1. You are not alone! I still use mine when I want a really precision line but there are some liners out that are supposedly great. I heard Guerlain’s is good. Worth a try. I am going to try it.

  11. Great post! I’ve experienced the smudging and fading you mentioned. I thought I had a bad one, but I guess not. My search for the perfect liner continues.

    1. No, it just fades likes crazy unless you do a midday touch up. What I think is really super weird is how the liquid thinned out at a while. Once I got passed the clogging of the flow and had the liner longer, the formula got thinner and then OMG… trying to put it on is torture!

      1. Yeah, I wish the Kat Von D liner wore longer because the brush design allows for such precision! I haven’t tried the MAC one you mentioned. I will definitely pick that one up and give it a try! Thank you! XOX

  12. Great article! ? When products are so raved about all you seem to find is good reviews but it’s wonderful to see a post on a seemingly holy-grail product to prove that it possibly isn’t for everyone when it might seem like it is. I have never tried this liner but from your article I can already tell that I wouldn’t like it whereas I previously would have thought I would.
    I can confirm that Essence is a wonderful brand! Some of their products are hit and miss but considering how affordable they are their quality is amazing and I feel like they have more hits than misses. Their liners are especially great. My favourite eyeliner pen of theirs is their waterproof one. It’s a felt-tip pen but it does not budge or fade and it really is waterproof. I have gone swimming wearing it before. It does dry out quite quickly but they are so affordable and good that it ends up being worth the while. ?
    Their gel liner pencils are also amazing! Their liners tend to be very pigmented.

    1. I have a heard a ton just in the past week about Essence so I really want to try that line. Someone recommended their liner and I’ve seen some posts with their makeup. People are really happy with the brand. I need to try it out! I really love the Kat Von D liner when it’s fresh and new. The other morning I used it and my formula has thinned out so of course.. I line the corner of my eye and next thing you know, the liner is everywhere. OMG. I spent 30 min cleaning up and fixing my eye makeup. I was so pissed and that’s when I thought “OK, I need to write this post” because it’D been a non-stop barrage of issues. Not to mention I had returned the first pens 3 times before I realized I needed to clean the brush with a tissue each time I used it. It was like back and forth to Sephora every 2 weeks. And you know what that means (exchange something and buy 2 more things!)

  13. I’m so glad I came across this post, I wanted to try this product but the problems you mentioned are all my pet peaves for eyeliners.. I’m sure it’s a good eyeliner in general but a bold, long lasting one is important to me, especially for the price you’re paying for it!

    1. It’s a good liner, no doubt. It creates the most perfect, precision wing of any pen I’ve used. BUT.. that brush clogs unless you clean it with a tissue with each use. I can’t figure out why now that I’ve gotten it to last longer the formula has thinned out. It’s weird. I really get the best results from a good quality gel liner.

    1. The Lancome liners are fabulous! Actually, I love those so much, I have every color! =)
      I still use the Kat Von D liner but the formula got so thin that I spent 30 minutes one morning cleaning up my disaster. I thought I was going to pull my hair out. I need to buy a new box to look at the ingredients and see if I can figure out if it’s something in the formula or oils from the skin can get into the tube via the brush. It’s a mystery to me.

    2. It doesn’t stay on, fades and smudges, same with mascara. I’m going back to my Maybelline Waterproof Ultra Liner and Great Lash Mascara.

      1. It’s such a bummer, I know! The brush allows for the finest application – a perfect wing! But it just stops working and fades. So sad. I haven’t tried the mascara. I’m just not a big fan of Kat Von D products, in general. I really do love Maybelline Mascara. The Colossal Big Shot is absolutely incredible! If you haven’t tried that one, definitely try it too. It’s newer (released last year) and It’s GREAT! =)

  14. You make good points! I haven’t tried this yet but I’ve heard similar complaints. Have you tried Japanese pen liners? 2 that I’ve really liked are Kiss Me Heroine Make, and K-Palette – they’re both really long lasting and do NOT dry out quickly. I’m not exaggerating, I used the SAME Kiss Me Heroine Make liner pen for over 2 years!!! (I probably shouldn’t have but ah well). I find gel liners to be so inconvenient… #lazy. 😛

    1. I haven’t tried the Japanese ones BUT BUT BUT…. my next haul is going to be all Asian products so I’ll add these to my list. I have a couple of sites I’m eyeing and in a few weeks, I’m going to make my move! The gel liners are totally not as convenient. Plus, I have bought like 10 brushes to find one I love. I even bought art brushes from an art store NOT EVEN MAKEUP brushes… trying to find the perfect one. Once I finally did, then the hunt for the gel was on.

      1. I was going to suggest the Herione Make eyeliner pen too. I love brush tips. Same with the Shu Uemura’s calligraphy pen. I love it !!! But I dont think they have a waterproof version ( a must for me….for all the reasons you have listed for liners smudging!) I wasn’t too happy with the KPalette I tried. It dried out really quickly and I felt the pigment was really too light. Plus it has a felt tip which I find too hard on my crepey lids. I have heard rave reviews from my HongKong friends about Majolica Majorca especially for the wing.
        Gel liners I am scared of. Ever since my Bobbi Brown dried out in record time I don’t invest in those pots.

        1. I used to buy gels and gave up. I wonder if I can find the Majolica Majorca one? I think (maybe?) that is a Shiseido partner? Not sure. The Chella pen is nice. I’ve been using it lately. I had a shitty day. Looked in the mirror at 5PM, sat in meetings all day with Panda eye syndrome. OMG… my mascara or eyeliner or shadow I don’t know! Everywhere. I looked like a mess!

    1. Yes, it fades for sure. I keep mine in my purse if I use it so I can touch up during the day. It’s pretty black to start which is odd that yours isn’t. Usually a new tube of it is total perfection. It’s downhill from there though. I don’t get the hype either. Either people are jockeying in hopes of getting free products OR they are writing the reviews before the pen craps out. If you write it on day 1, it’s going to be group. But by month 2…. not so great. Maybe some people don’t use it enough for it to completely fail. But I seriously have to question their quality testing. I had a liquid lipstick that just SUCKED and wore off all uneven from them. HORRIFYING. I mean it was really bad.

      1. I got on okay with the liquid lipstick I tried (Lolita) found it really long wearing and easy to apply – other than the super long wand which is a little hard to control, their Foundation is my HG too. This has been the only flop out of the three I bought in New York. You’ll have to let me know which things you’ve found as flops as the range launches here in September!

        1. I have heard amazing things on the Lock It foundation! I haven’t tried it yet and I really want to. I am always in search for long lasting foundations! The liquid lipstick I got is called Exorcism. It’s super pretty and dark but it wore off really weird. I find it’s harder to wear liquid lipsticks that are darker. Lolita is really pretty and it’s a lighter shade so maybe it wears differently. It reminds me of Stone from Dose of Colors. I also have the eye palette Shade and Light and it’s really nice. It has super good ratings on Sephora too. I’d like to try the new Serpentine palette.

  15. Poor (or rather non-existent) customer service is one of my pet peeves…
    I’ve only ever heard great things about Essence’s gel eyeliner. I’ve never used it (I’m an eye pencil girl), but I know quite a few ladies who can’t stop raving about it.

    1. These days companies almost always respond. I was shocked that no one replied to anything. I’ll have to check out Essence. Like right now! I’m on my way to look it up =)

      1. Mine was gone on the second day! I was so pissed, glad I found this. I’ve had it for almost two weeks now and I’m going to exchange it, and start cleaning it everytime. I wish I could just try different eyeliners but I can only purchase from Sephora since I can return the product. I’m allergic to makeup with lots of preservatives, so I need to be able to return a product.

        1. Definitely exchange it. Something probably got into the brush like heavy eyeshadow. Try cleaning it each time and I think it should be OK. Another one to try that is pretty good in the pen form is Stila. It is still matte but not as matte drying as Kat Von D. Their’s is really good though and worth a try. I have been hearing amazing things about Essence but it’s not available at Sephora. I like shopping their and Ulta so if something fails, I can take it back easily.

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