Temporary Tattoos: The Good, the Bad and the Permanent?

Remember the days of ole, when you could buy a pack of bubble gum and inside the pack of gum was a piece of paper that contained a magic tattoo! All it really consisted of was an ink transfer that you could lick and stick anywhere but it would wash pretty much instantly off. There were also the temporary tattoos in the cracker jack boxes. Nobody really knows which came first, just that both types really didn’t have the staying power of today’s temporary tattoos and certainly didn’t look as realistic.

 Temporary tattoos as we knew them

1406JTemporary tattoos are made out of five things. There is a front piece of paper, a back piece of paper, glue, ink and a protective outer plastic sheet.  The front sheet has a special coating, which the tattoo image is printed on with special inks.  A layer of glue is then applied on top of the image. A thin, transparent plastic sheet is placed over the front of the sheet to protect the image and the glue layer. On the back of the paper there is a list of ingredients to the tattoos.

These temporary tattoos were the ones you would peel the front piece of paper off, slap the picture face down wherever you want the tattoo at and place a wet washcloth over the back and press and wait patiently for 30 long seconds. Once you were done, you carefully peeled the paper back to reveal your shiny new piece of artwork. Once you were tired of these tattoos, you could take a little baby oil and rub them off, or just wait a week or two.

 Temporary tattoos using tattoo pens

A fun alternative to the peel and stick temporary tattoos are tattoo pens. These can be found online or at tattoo shops. These marker pens can be used to freehand your designs on the skin and maybe a better fit for someone a little more art inclined. The designs usually only last up to 72 hours, but are worth it to be able to draw whatever you want, whenever you want to, and the pens come in different colors, so you can have a lot of fun with these. There are also kid’s versions, so if you want to get lighter, brighter colors that wash off right away, you can have that option too. Unless you aren’t keen on encouraging your child to scribble on him or herself, but if you don’t mind, they are non toxic and inexpensive!

 Henna tattoos

henna tattooAnother type of temporary tattoos is henna tattoos. Henna comes from the henna plant, which is native to northern Africa, western and southern Asia, and northern Australia. When the plant is grown in hot temperatures (between 35 and 45 degrees Celsius), it produces the moist dye used to dye skin, hair, fingernails, silk, leather and wool.

Henna is usually easier with a friend, you have the henna powder and mix it with warm water to make a paste, let it sit an hour then apply it to clean dry skin. After 2 hours you lightly scrape the dried henna off to reveal your tattooed design. These tattoos can last up to a month if done correctly and are quite pretty to look at.

 Black Henna

There is a henna that you may want to stay away from and that’s the black henna. This type of henna may not be as “temporary” as it’s supposed to be. There is now a FDA warning that black henna contains phenylenedianine (PPD), a coal-tar product that is used in hair dye but can cause skin reactions in certain people. People are reporting horrible side effects of the PPD including blisters, redness, loss of pigmentation, red weeping lesions, increased sensitivity to sunlight and permanent scarring. This has been happening to adults and children who thought it was safe to use this henna product. Even though the brown version of henna does not contain the harmful chemical PPD, the FDA does caution that it is only approved as a hair dye in the United States, even though it’s been used as a temporary tattoo for centuries.

 Old fashioned temporary tattoos

So in closing, your best bet would be to stick to the temporary old fashion stick-on tats that we all know and love or get yourself some tattoo markers and have a drawing party. But if you’ve used one of the more modern methods and your ‘temporary’ tattoo is not quite so temporary there are creams that can help restore the skin to its previous condition.

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