Make Temporary Tattoos

Reviewed by Terri Forehand RN
 Decal paper temporary tattoo from Robin's Eggcetera
Decal Paper Temporary Tattoo from Robin's Eggcetera

If you don't want to pay the price for a real tattoo or you just need some body art for a special occasion, you might want to try making your own temporary tattoo. Wearing temporary tattoos can be a lot of fun, and they also make interesting conversation pieces. Once you know how to make your own, your friends may ask you to make some for them.

Make Temporary Tattoos Yourself

You can make temporary tattoos at home for very little money using one of several different methods.

Decal Paper Temporary Tattoos

Decal paper is the same material used to produce the temporary tattoos you see in stores. You can purchase blank decal paper from retailers such as Decalpaper.com, which sells paper in five, 10, 20 and 50 sheet bundles, or at Robin's Eggcetera, where you can purchase it by the sheet.

Temporary paper tattoos from DecalPaper.com
Temporary Paper Tattoos from DecalPaper.com

Materials

  • Computer
  • Inkjet printer
  • Decal paper
  • Scissors
  • Water
  • Paper towels

Instructions

  1. Create or download a design on your computer of what you want the temporary tat to look like.
  2. Print the design onto the decal paper using an inkjet printer.
  3. Cut out the design, but leave a thin border around it to make the tattoo a little easier to handle.
  4. Peel off the adhesive plastic from the surface of the paper and place the tattoo face down on clean skin.
  5. Wet the back of the decal paper with a wet paper towel.
  6. Peel the paper away to expose your new temporary tattoo.

You can remove this tattoo with rubbing alcohol.

Nail Polish Temporary Tattoos

It seems a little out of the ordinary, but you can use nail polish to create an impressive temporary tattoo. This kind of tattoo looks similar to a bold tribal tattoo because it's difficult to shade and highlight when you work with nail polish.

Materials

  • Paper
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Nail polish in your chosen colors

Instructions

  1. Draw your tattoo design on a piece of paper
  2. Cut out only the parts that you want to color in order to create a stencil. If you plan to use more than one color, make two identical copies. On the first stencil, just cut out the areas where you want to use your first color. On the second stencil, cut out just the areas where you plan to use the second color. Repeat this process for any additional colors you'd like to use.
  3. Place your stencil on the part of your body where you want to create your tattoo.
  4. Paint the nail polish from the outside in to avoid getting nail polish under the stencil.
  5. Wait for the first color to dry before adding any other colors.

Use regular nail polish remover to remove this type of tattoo, and then rinse the skin. Keep in mind that nail polish is not meant for the skin, so do a small test on the back of your hand before you create your full tattoo. If it itches or burns, don't use this method of making a fake tattoo.

Permanent Marker Temporary Tattoos

Take great care when using permanent markers because, like nail polish, they aren't meant to be applied to the skin. Do a small test first to make sure you won't have a reaction to the ink.

Materials

  • Permanent marker tattoo
    Permanent Marker Temporary Tattoo
    Fine tipped permanent markers
  • A stencil of your design
  • Rubbing alcohol (90% is preferred but 70% will also work)
  • Deodorant (clear stick, not roll-on)
  • Cotton swabs
  • Baby powder

Instructions

  1. Cut out your design stencil.
  2. Arrange your markers and have all your other supplies at hand.
  3. Apply the deodorant in a very thin layer where you want to place your tattoo.
  4. Trace your stencil onto a piece of paper, and make sure you have a fresh marker with enough black ink to draw your entire outline.
  5. Place the stencil ink side down over the area where you applied the deodorant, and then apply firm pressure so it adheres in place.
  6. Remove the paper and examine the area to make sure the transfer took to the skin. if it didn't, remove your first attempt with alcohol and try again
  7. Trace your stencil outline with a fine tip permanent marker to darken it.
  8. To add color, draw a line or two of your desired colors, and dip your cotton swab into the alcohol. Begin blending the colors using short, circular motions.
  9. Add colors as needed in order to get the shading you like.
  10. Use your fine tip marker to go over the outline again.

If you want to remove this tattoo, lightly scrub the skin with an alcohol-soaked cotton ball until it's completely gone.

Eyeliner Temporary Tattoo

Eyeliner tattoos are quick and easy to make. They're a good choice if you need a tattoo for a Halloween party, a play, or just to make your family and friends wonder what you've done to yourself.

Materials

  • Black eyeliner tattoo
    Eyeliner Temporary Tattoo
    Eyeliner pencils in black and other colors of your choice
  • A stencil
  • Cotton swabs
  • Hairspray

Instructions

  1. Place the stencil where you want to create your tattoo.
  2. Trace the design with the black eyeliner. Add your detail lines as needed.
  3. Begin coloring in the design with the other colors and using the swab to blend in the colors.
  4. Coat the finished design with hairspray once you are satisfied. The hairspray acts like a sealant to prevent the finished product from smudging. Make sure you wash it off at night before bed because the liner will rub off onto your sheets and clothing.

Warning About Skin Reactions

Anytime you put chemicals on your skin, there's a chance you could have an unpleasant reaction. This includes using products like permanent marker and nail polish, which are not designed specifically for use on skin. Even tattoo decal paper can produce a reaction if you happen to be allergic to the ink.

Doctors especially warn against using permanent marker the skin of children. These markers contain chemicals like butanol, ethanol and isopropyl alcohol, among others, that can be absorbed through the skin and cause skin irritation, depress the central nervous system, and cause a host of other toxic reactions.

If you want create a temporary tattoo with one of these items, your best bet is to look for products marked hypoallergenic or nontoxic. Keep in mind that you could still have a mild to severe reaction, so consult your doctor immediately if you notice any redness, itching, burning or welts at the site of your temporary tattoo, as well as any other unusual symptoms.

Get Temporarily Inked

Temporary tattoos offer a great way to try out a tattoo design before you commit to the real thing, and they can also provide a fun way to add some color to your life. Try making your own temporary tattoos using any of these methods, and see how it feels to get inked.

Make Temporary Tattoos