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How to Apply Temporary Tattoos

They're great options to test out a design before getting inked permanently.
January 28, 2022


Getting a tattoo is a big commitment. Aside from the fact that you’ll need to learn how to care for your new ink properly, tattoos are also, you know, permanent. If you aren’t quite ready to commit to a forever design on your body, there’s a simple solution: temporary tattoos. Yup, they're not just for your pre-teen self — they’re the perfect way for beauty aficionados of all ages to flaunt some artwork on their skin. And with newer, adult-friendly versions, they can also just add a fun option for self-expression. If you’re keen on adding a personal touch to your beauty look, keep scrolling to learn how to apply and remove temporary tattoos, below.


How To Apply Temporary Tattoos

Applying a temporary tattoo is easy — in fact, you may even remember how to do it from when you were younger. But there are a few steps that make for a flawless temporary tattoo. Here’s what to do.


1. Clean Your Skin

The best canvas for your temporary tattoo is clean, dry skin. Use a bit of soap and water to clean the area you wish to apply your tattoo gently. Then, pat dry with a washcloth.


2. Pick Your Temporary Tattoo

Now for the fun part! There are so many different designs and colors, so have fun picking one (or multiple) temporary tattoo. After choosing, cut around the design with a pair of scissors. Then, peel off the clear protective layer on the front.


3. Place Your Tattoo

Apply the tattoo to your skin, placing it face down. Hold it firmly in place and avoid moving it.


4. Wet And Press

Use a damp washcloth or sponge to press the tattoo onto your skin. A damp paper towel can work, too — just make sure whatever you use isn’t dripping wet. Hold in place and press for at least a minute. Don’t move the cloth or tattoo until the time has passed (thank goodness for smartphone timers).


5. Remove The Backing

Once time is up, gently remove the damp towel. Then, carefully peel off the tattoo paper starting at one corner.


Editor’s tip: If you notice that your tattoo hasn’t fully transferred as you start to peel, press the paper back into place, and grab your damp cloth. Hold it on the tattoo for another 30 to 60 seconds, then remove it.


6. Moisturize 

Let your tattoo air dry for a few minutes. Once it’s fully dried, apply a water-based moisturizer to your tattooed skin. (Oil-based products tend to cause temporary tattoos to smear.) Now go show off your new tat!


How To Remove Temporary Tattoos

While temporary ink typically only lasts for a couple of days, you may want to part ways before then. If that’s the case, follow the steps below to learn how to get temporary tattoos off.


1. Apply An Oil

When it comes to removing temporary tattoos, reach for an oil-based moisturizer. Apply a generous amount of baby oil or petroleum jelly to the temporary tattoo you wish to remove.


2. Rub Away

Gently rub away at the tattoo using a washcloth, an old cotton shirt or even your fingers. With the help of the oil, the tattoo should flake away little by little. Apply more oil-based moisturizer if needed until your tattoo is fully removed.


3. Clean Your Skin 

Once your temporary tattoo is removed, wash your skin with soap and water to get rid of any oily residue, then pat dry. 


Next: How to Use Temporary Hair Color Spray



Edited by: Sophie Dweck; Photo: iStock

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