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How Long Do Temporary Tattoos Last?

It is not always that one regrets the permanent tattoos they have gotten from their past; however, people change over time, and so do their interests, beliefs, and taste. Being able to wear a tattoo and not have to commit to it fully is one of the enticements of temporary tattoos, but how long do they typically last?

Temporary tattoos usually last 2 to 5 days, while others remain for as long as 1 to 2 weeks, with some even lasting 3 weeks. Various factors, such as the skin’s oiliness to the placement, play a role. There are reports of semi-permanent tattoos, which fade over 6 months to a year.

Regardless of how long your temporary tattoo lasts, the neat thing about them is they allow you noncommittal self-expression. They are fun and exciting and nowadays are not only intended for children. There are plenty of brands with various options to choose from to personalize your look. For more info, do read on. 

The Longevity Of Temporary Tattoos

Temporary tattoos have certainly had a facelift in the past years and have evolved from the sort you would typically find at a children’s party. Now some companies sell mature and even custom designs, which are high quality. They seemed like stickers or dry glue on one’s body in the past.

These tattoos would crack and peel with time and make their short-term status rather apparent. However, this has changed as new ingredients and techniques used in producing them have been developed. They tend to appear more authentic and, if cared for properly, can last longer than those from years gone by.

Additionally, depending on the company you purchase the temporary tattoos from, the tattoo’s longevity will be different. Some offer ones that will usually only last between 2 and 5 days, with the possibility of them lasting a few days longer, depending on the placement, quality of the skin, products applied, and so on.

Other brands sell temporary tattoos that have an expected lifespan of between 1 and 2 weeks, with the chance to last up to 3 weeks. These temporary tattoos are different from the ones previously mentioned in that they do not merely sit on the top layer of skin.

Rather, the ink from these sinks into the first layer of the skin, the epidermis, and ‘dyes’ the cells. The skin cells change color, but the effect is still temporary, and within a few weeks, the tattoo will have completely disappeared from your skin. You are then free to choose the next design you would like to try out.

Another option is to get a henna tattoo; this choice is also viable and will last between 2 and 4 weeks. This can be an enjoyable experience and offers one great amusement to see the design drawn out on one’s skin. Doing a skin test before getting the tattoo is wise, as some are known to be allergic.

Are Semi-Permanent Tattoos A Thing?

There is a form of tattooing rising in popularity, but it is surrounded by controversy, and there is sufficient debate regarding the validity of the claims. This is the advent of the semi-permanent tattoo, and there are various companies and parlors that have launched.

They claim to offer tattoos that will last from 3 months until as long as 15 months. The ink which they use is supposedly medical-grade and is biodegradable. This means that the ink breaks down over time, and once the particles are small enough, your body will flush them out.

This would seem like an ideal middle ground between temporary tattoos, which will last, at most, a few weeks, and permanent tattoos, which are considered lifelong (unless you opt to go for laser treatment to have them removed). However, there is a snag. Some state that these are nothing more than a scam.

They highly advise that you make certain that the artist is certified or licensed by the state. There is also the argument that the ink will not fade completely, as the companies in question claim.

Another trend under scrutiny is certain tattoo artists stating that they can create semi-permanent tattoos by injecting the ink into the first layers of skin. The tattoos will supposedly last anywhere between 6 months and several years and then fade away. Some have argued these statements to be entirely false.

This is because once tattoo ink is injected into the dermis, it will remain there for an extensive period (if not permanently). It is brought up that your tattoo may ultimately fade but will, in essence, be a permanently faded tattoo. This goes against the idea that the tattoo will not be a long-term commitment.

There is a technique though that has been patented, where the tattoo is designed to be permanent, but it allows for easy removal. The ink is enclosed in microscopic capsules, covered in a biodegradable coating that is clear. The ink is permanent, but it differs in that it is possible to remove it easily with laser treatment.

Yes, traditional tattoos are also removable with the help of laser treatment. However, it is typically quite painful in their case, and one would have to go to numerous appointments that are spaced weeks apart to allow the skin to heal from the procedure.

With this new type of ink, due to it being stored in individual capsules, it can be removed far more easily. In this case, someone who wishes to have their tattoo removed will commonly only require one laser treatment session, and the pain experienced is reportedly far milder. 

Why Consider Getting A Temporary Tattoo?

There are quite a few reasons one would choose to go with a temporary tattoo over a permanent one. Most people who get them enjoy the lack of commitment required from temporary tattoos. With them disappearing within weeks, one can also be more versatile in what you have displayed on your body.

According to research studies that have been conducted, approximately 78 percent of individuals who have tattoos regret at least one of the pieces. Additionally, it was found that between 15 and 20 percent of people who have a tattoo ultimately go for laser treatment to have it removed.

These types of tattoos also allow one to test their curiosity. You may have a tattoo design in mind but are not quite certain that after it’s been applied, you’re going to want it to stick around. Choosing to go for a temporary option first allows you the chance to judge it properly and then make your final decision.

Also, children and teenagers can enjoy the fun of tattoos and show them off to friends and family, even though they are not yet old enough to get the real deal. They are also generally completely safe, with the odd complaint about a negative skin reaction to the tattoo.

For adults, another reason to choose temporary tattoos is their affordability. They are far cheaper than actual tattoos, especially if you do not regularly purchase excessive amounts. They are also incredibly easy to purchase, and one can even place orders for them online these days.

On top of the cost factor, people may go with temporary tattoos due to fear of needles. There is no pain involved in applying these tattoos, which can be put on with ease, and for most of them (excluding henna), they are time efficient. They also come off without the difficulty or pain you would experience with a tattoo.

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Increasing The Lifespan Of A Temporary Tattoo

As they are called, these tattoos are temporary and are only intended to last for a brief period, extending from a few days to potentially a few weeks. However, there are several things that you can do to extend the lifespan of these tattoos. There are steps to take both prior to and after the tattoo application.

In preparing the area of skin to which you wish to apply the tattoo, removing the hair in that spot is suggested. Use a nice, sharp razor and shave the spot before applying the tattoo. Placing the tattoo over an area with hair is a surefire way to quicken the rate at which the tattoo will likely flake.

If your hair begins to grow back while the tattoo is still on your skin, you may wish to go over the area once more to keep the hair from interfering. However, be sure to use a fresh razor and consider not using creams or soap as they may speed up the removal of the tattoo. If possible, try to avoid areas that require frequent shaving.

Remove any makeup or lotion on that part of your skin, and if you tend to have oily skin, be sure to clean and thoroughly dry the section before applying the tattoo. The reason is that these things cause the tattoo not to stick or be absorbed as effectively and ultimately shortens the period that they will stay on for.

It is also recommended that one does not apply lotions to the area where the temporary tattoo is applied for the period you have the tattoo. If you have a permanent tattoo, this is great for the skin; however, for a temporary tattoo, it can spell disaster.

Apart from this and ensuring there is no dirt on your skin, it is worth considering exfoliating the section of your skin. This promotes the removal of the dead skin cells on the top layer that you are likely to shed. By exfoliating, you provide yourself with a fresh and smooth surface to apply the tattoo.

It is advisable to select a body part that will not flex or move too frequently and pick a spot where there will be little friction against your clothing. Places such as a bare ankle, the inner arm, or the upper part of your arm (especially if you are wearing sleeveless tops) are ideal.

Some areas of your body constantly flex, stretch, and move, which may ultimately lead to the tattoo flaking or fading prematurely. Additionally, places such as your hands come into frequent contact with various substances such as food, soap and water, and materials we work with.

We’ll talk more about henna tattoos just now, but on this point, it is worth noting that henna actually works best on our hands and feet, and this is due to the skin being particularly thick in these areas. Having more layers of skin provides the ink with more layers to stain.

Once the tattoo has been applied and you go back to your daily business, there are some things to keep in mind and to consider doing to extend the tattoo’s lifespan. When you are bathing or showering, the first is not to wash the tattoo itself, but rather to only go over the areas around it.

Yes, most temporary tattoos indeed advertise that they are waterproof, but we have found that they can be negatively affected with the addition of soap and things such as body wash. Additionally, the tattoo is likely to tear and peel off if you scrub the area.

Although not a good idea to apply lotions and most creams to the tattoo, some products are exceptions to this rule. Petroleum jelly is one of these, and although considered by many to be a moisturizer, it actually acts in such a way that it locks in the existing moisture of your skin and creates a seal to repel water.

Other very useful products, which are highly absorbent and are designed to combat moisture, are baby powder and talcum powder. These will help dry up the area of the skin where the tattoo is placed. This is particularly useful if you tend to have naturally oily skin.

An additional measure that you may wish to implement is to reduce the level of exercising you do or stop entirely for the duration that you have the tattoo. This will ensure against excessive sweating and the vigorous movement of your skin (which may be rubbing up against your clothes).  

Now when it comes to henna, much of what we have said about temporary tattoos will not apply; for the most part, it is contradictive. For one, it is ideal to spray the henna with a combination of lemon juice and sugar (or what is provided by the artist) and keep the paste moist well after the initial application.

You do not want to soak the paste, but ideally, spritzing it regularly for up to 12 hours following the application will help it to continue dyeing your skin, and this will ultimately lead to it lasting longer.


In general, there are two standard periods that a temporary tattoo will last, and that is either between 2 and 5 days or 1 to 2 weeks (with the potential of them lasting for 3). Preparing the area of skin beforehand and properly caring for the tattoo after can help extend their longevity.

There are stories of semi-permanent tattoos that reportedly last for between 6 months and a year; however, the validity and trustworthiness of these claims have been brought under scrutiny.


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