How to Make Temporary Tattoos Last Longer

Temporary tattoos are a great way to express yourself or test a proposed tattoo design before making a permanent commitment. They are also ideal for people who would rather not experience the pain of a permanent tattoo, have an ink allergy, or simply don’t want to pay for permanent artwork. Temporary tattoos are considerably cheaper than their permanent counterparts, typically costing between $10 and $30 per design. Because temporary tattoos last a few days at most, many people wonder how they can make this body art last longer. Here’s what you need to know to extend the life of your temporary tattoos.

How to Make Temporary Tattoos Last Longer

Temporary tattoos typically have a life of 3-5 days, while semi-permanent tattoos can last anywhere from 1-2 weeks. Unlike traditional forms of tattooing, temporary tattoos are relatively risk-free because they deposit ink on the skin’s surface rather than below it. However, you can still experience an allergic or other skin reaction to your temporary tattoo. Don’t apply a temporary tattoo to irritated or broken skin.

Other factors like how large your tattoo is, where it’s applied to your body, and how you care for it dictate how long it’ll last.

How to Apply Your Temporary Tattoo So It Lasts Longer:

Care for your skin: Before applying your tattoo, make sure your skin is clean and dry. Things like makeup, body lotion, and even your skin’s natural oils can negatively affect the life of your tattoo and can act as a barrier to the ink being properly adhered to the skin. Exfoliating your skin before tattoo application can also help it last longer; just make sure to avoid exfoliation products that contain oils or moisturizers.

Your skin type also affects how long a temporary tattoo can last. If your skin is more acidic, you might find that your temporary tattoo doesn’t last as long as someone else’s.

Additionally, the oiliness of your skin can affect how long your temporary tattoo lasts. If your skin is very oily, the tattoo is less likely to last. This is because, like the above example with moisturizers, your skin’s oil can dissolve the tattoo’s ink.

Shave, if necessary: If the place where you’re applying your tattoo is hairy, you’ll want to shave before application. Like the tips above, this will help your tattoo better adhere to your skin. If you need to shave over where you place the tattoo after it’s applied, use a sharp razor as a dull one can cause the tattoo to chip.

Choose carefully: Where you choose to place your temporary tattoo is just as important as how you prep and care for it. Your hands and feet are particularly susceptible to temporary tattoo wear because they’re in motion, and hands are usually washed multiple times daily. The exception is Henna tattoos because they are best for areas where the skin is thicker.

Don’t place a temporary tattoo on a location that flexes a lot as this will likely cause the tattoo to flake. Also, remember that anywhere your body receives friction from clothing may not be a good spot for your temporary tattoo. The frequent rubbing against the design can limit how long it lasts. You may also want to avoid areas on your body that sweat a lot.

Choose a reputable brand: There are a lot of temporary tattoo options. Make sure the brand of temporary tattoo you choose uses quality ingredients and is reputable. Depending on the type of temporary tattoo you’re looking for, you might also want to look for a brand that allows you to create your own tattoo designs.  

How to Make Temporary Tattoos Last Longer: After Application 

Avoid contact with clothing: After applying your temporary tattoo, avoid contact with any clothing until dry. To get rid of any extra ink after application, gently press a towel onto the tattoo.

Try hairspray: Hairspray can extend the lifespan of a temporary tattoo to a month. If you apply it, wait until the tattoo is dry, then spray the hairspray from a distance of 12 to 16 inches. 

Use powder: Baby powder applied to the tattoo can help remove excess moisture from your skin, which can help extend the life of your tattoo. If you don’t have baby powder, you can also try sprinkling flour, cornstarch, or baking soda on your design.

Try liquid bandage: Liquid bandage can help seal your temporary tattoo and can be applied to temporary tattoos that transfer onto the skin as well as those drawn on with temporary tattoo pens.  

Don’t scrub: Avoid putting soap or body wash directly on your tattoo. This can break down the ink and shorten the life of your body art. Avoid scrubbing it or using exfoliants. Also, wait until the tattoo is completely dry before touching it.

Try face primer: Normally, face primer is used to create a barrier between your skin and foundation, but when used for temporary tattoo application, it can create a layer above the skin, locking the tattoo in place and helping it last longer. Instead of applying it before your tattoo, put some on once the tattoo has set. Another option is non-oily makeup fixative. It can partially lock in your temporary tattoo, but make sure the makeup fixative you choose is also alcohol-free.

Use translucent powder: Translucent powder applied over your temporary tattoo creates a layer of extra protection that adds longevity to your temporary body art.

Try petroleum jelly: Though it is usually considered a moisturizer, petroleum jelly can act as a barrier to seal in skin’s existing moisture and help repel water.  

Avoid harmful ingredients: The FDA recommends avoiding temporary or henna tattoos that contain black henna or any of the following: paraphenylenediamine (PPD), silver nitrate, pyrogallol, carmine, disperse orange dye, or chromium.

Use a permanent marker: If you have a design that isn’t complicated, you could consider going over your temporary tattoo’s design with a permanent marker when it begins to fade. Simply trace over the tattoo design with a fine-tipped permanent marker.

Protect your skin from the sun: Excessive sun exposure can cause your temporary tattoo to crack prematurely and can increase the amount of sweat on your tattoo. Both of these issues can shorten the life of your tattoo.  

A Note about Temporary Tattoo Paper

If you’re not ready to apply your temporary tattoo just yet, keep it dry and store it where it won’t receive any friction. Both these things can negatively affect the temporary tattoo’s paper.

Temporary tattoos are a great option for many people. With proper care, you can enjoy your skin art for several days.