If you’re looking for a temporary solution for body art, you have plenty of short-term options available, from airbrush tattoos that you can actually get at a tattoo parlor to transfer tattoos that you can buy and use at home.
Find out more about the best types of temporary tattoos and try one before committing to permanent body art, which can be very expensive and painful to remove.
The Myth of Semi-Permanent Tattoos
You may have heard of semi-permanent tattoos that last anywhere from up to a few months to a few years. They’re a hoax and no serious tattoo artist would promise to deliver a tattoo with a limited life, since there’s no middle ground. You either insert tattoo ink under your skin or you don’t and there’s no approved method of delivering body art that’s “semi-permanent”.
Even if the skin has three main layers, permanent tattoos usually go in the middle layer. Inserting ink in the top layer not only require a level of precision that’s not possible when using needles, but trying it also means that the ink will fade unevenly. Instead, you’re better off with one of the best types of temporary tattoos, that last for a limited time, but also don’t involve any needles or complications.
One of the most common types of temporary tattoos, the airbrush variety is produced by spraying ink on your skin through a stencil. Unless you create your own stencil, you won’t get a unique tattoo, but it’s also not permanent, usually lasting up to a week.
See also: White Ink Tattoos: Should You Get One?
You can choose a water-resistant ink if you want to keep it on for a few days, or a water soluble ink if it’s just for a special occasion. Without actually staining your skin, airbrush body art is one of the best types of temporary tattoos. To extend its appearance, you should keep your skin dry and use baby talcum powder.
If you’d like a unique tattoo that isn’t permanent, a better option would be a paint-on tattoo. Using a different ink than airbrush tattoos, with more pigment, they can also be applied to a stencil or be created specifically for you by a tattoo artist.
Paint-on tattoos are definitely one of the best types of temporary tattoos since they allow more freedom with the design, but they aren’t drastically different from airbrush tattoos. You can also use talcum powder to keep them on your skin for up to a week or any type of cosmetic oil to remove them faster.
Used for centuries in India for body art, the paste made from the leaves of the henna plant can last longer. It’s one of the best types of temporary tattoos, since it can last up to 2 weeks, but the color choice can be limited. The natural colors available are red and brown. “Black henna” tattoos are made with a paste that has coloring agents in it, specifically coal-tar hair dye, which have been linked to allergic reactions and they’re not FDA approved.
Henna tattoos can be created using a stencil or you can get a unique design from a specialized artist, but they take longer to dry, up to a few hours. Unlike airbrush and paint-on tattoos, henna paint can’t be removed once it’s been applied using a special brush, so you’re stuck with it until it fades naturally.
If you’re looking for something unique and attention grabbing, glitter tattoos might be one of the best types of temporary tattoos for you. Instead of applying paint to your skin, glitter tattoos involve using a special type of body glue to make glitter stick to your skin for longer. They usually last around the week, but you can’t wash the area with soap and water, unless you want to completely remove it.
When you want the safest and cheapest option for body art, transfer tattoos are still one of the best types of temporary tattoos. Applied at home with a little water, the stencil you choose will be transferred to your skin thanks to its combination of glue and ink. Depending on the brand, don’t expect most transfer tattoos to stay intact for more than a day, but some manage to last up to 5 days. They’re easy to remove with either alcohol or baby oil.