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The Temporary Tattoo: An Option for the Undecided

Updated on June 6, 2013

Have you ever wanted to see what your mom’s reaction would be if you got a tattoo? Is the fear of commitment keeping you from getting a real tattoo? If so, the temporary tattoo may be your solution. With a temporary tattoo (sometimes called fake tattoos), you can get that reaction out of your mother and then wash off the offending marks. As far as commitment goes, you can change your temporary tattoo as often as you like without ever having a permanent one.

Many temporary tattoos can be chosen from the artist's template, or you can freestyle it.  You can find many temp tattoo ideas online.  There are also many temp tattoos for sale.
Many temporary tattoos can be chosen from the artist's template, or you can freestyle it. You can find many temp tattoo ideas online. There are also many temp tattoos for sale.

Types of Temporary Tattoo

When most people think of a temporary tattoo, they think about those machines at the grocery store where you put a quarter in and get a small tattoo encased in a little plastic bubble. While these are one type of temporary tattoo, you hardly get the selection you would like from these vending sites.  To find more options for temporary tattoos, such as individual letters of any style to print a name or even to make custom tattoos, there are many sources online to peruse. There are also several other types of temporary tattoo, as well.


There is such a thing as a long-lasting temporary tattoo. These types of temporary tattoos cannot be washed off with just soap and water. Henna tattoos are probably the most popular form of a long-lasting temporary tattoo and it stems from ancient Indian and Middle Eastern cultures. With a henna tattoo, the artist uses a mixture of henna leaves, paprika, black tea and other ingredients. The appealing part about henna temporary tattoos is that the ingredients are all natural. Once the artist applies the henna mixture in the design that you choose, they typically put a lemon paste-like substance over it. After a few hours, you can remove the paste-like substance. If you care for it, the henna temporary tattoo will last for a couple weeks before it begins to fade away.


Airbrushed tattoos are another form of temporary tattoo. With an airbrushed tattoo, you have the option of being more colorful than with a henna tattoo, which is typically brown or black. Airbrushed tattoo artists use a variety of colors to create your design and they use the same basic idea and equipment that is used when airbrushing t-shirts. Unlike a henna tattoo, though, an airbrushed tattoo will only last for a few days.

The Benefits of a Temporary Tattoo

One of the benefits of going with a temporary tattoo over a permanent tattoo is that you are not stuck with your decision for more than a couple weeks. As such, if you do not like the place where you put the temporary tattoo, you can just wait and put it somewhere else next time. This is a great advantage because your ideas and your lifestyle changes over time. When you were in your 20s, it might have seemed like a great idea to get that tattoo on your neck for everybody to see. However, when you get to your 30s and 40s and try to find a job, it might become more of a nuisance and an embarrassment for some people. Not only that, but as you get older, body parts begin to lose their elasticity and some things begin to sag. What once looked like a unicorn on your right breast may begin to look like a deformed seahorse once gravity starts to take its hold on you.


A temporary tattoo also allows you to see how your tattoo is going to look before it becomes permanent. When you look at a picture and think, “Hey, that would look great permanently etched into my body,” you may be disappointed to see what it actually looks like once it is completed. A temporary tattoo can alleviate this by giving you a better idea about what it’s going to look like once it is on your body for good.

Disadvantages of a Temporary Tattoo

While a temporary tattoo is not permanent and it can help you make your decision about getting a real tattoo, there are a couple disadvantages. For one thing, if you decide that you like your temporary tattoo, it may be difficult getting it replicated again. Henna tattoo artists may be able to duplicate the tattoo they gave you before and airbrush tattoo artists may be able to as well, but going back to the artist every week or so will prove to be costly. Who can afford to spend that much money on decorating their body?


Also, henna can cause allergic reactions in some people. Although it is an all-natural substance, few people have reported allergic reactions after receiving a henna temporary tattoo. It is important to know what the henna tattoo artist is using before getting one of these temporary tattoos so you can avoid getting sick if you allergic to one of the ingredients. Black henna can also be dangerous. This substance contains para-phenylenediamine, a substance which is used in black hair dye. The substance is an allergen so many people may have an adverse reaction to black henna. Natural henna is a reddish brown, so keep this in mind when getting a henna temporary tattoo.


Although permanent tattoos are so popular, many people regret getting them once they get older. One solution is to just not get a tattoo. Others choose the option of a temporary tattoo. Either way, there are things to consider before making your final decision.

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