How To Apply a Temporary Tattoo: Step by Step Guide (2022 Updated)

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Getting a real tattoo is a really fun and exciting process. Sure, it is also demanding, expensive, and to be perfectly honest, painful as well. With the two contrasting ideas of what it means to get a tattoo, some people find it rather hard to make that final step and schedule an appointment at a local tattoo studio.

Pain and cost are the two main reasons why people stay away from tattoos. However, some of us still want to experience the idea of having a tattoo on the skin. There are some of us who want to go for a test run before they get the real deal. Thanks to temporary tattoos, all of this are made possible.

So, if you’re thinking of getting a couple of temporary tattoos to see how they look on you, you’re at the right place. We have the best step-by-step guide for temporary tattoo applications. If you’re interested in our recommendations for the best temporary tattoo brands, click here. But first, let’s continue with this guide!

Applying Temporary Tattoos

Jotapas, Small Temporary Tattoos
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So, you’ve bought a set of super-cool temporary tattoos. Now is the time to read more about applying them. In the following paragraphs, we’ll present you with a step-by-step guide for a proper temporary tattoo application, that will work every single time. Let’s start with the first step;

Step 1 – Decide Where You’ll Apply The Tattoo

Now, this step is rather important. Deciding where you’ll place the temporary tattoo needs to be well calculated, especially if you’re thinking of getting a real tattoo in the same spot. So, consider the size and the type of the temporary tattoo, choose the suitable area on your body (visible or not), and you’re done with the first step.

Now, what we would recommend is to avoid placing temporary tattoos on hands, fingers, feet, or anywhere too exposed to different textures, surfaces, and water. This will shorten the lifespan of an already temporary tattoo. It is best to place the tattoo somewhere on the forearm, upper arm, shoulder, or other areas that don’t experience rubbing against things during everyday activities and movement.

Step 2 – Clean The Skin

It is essential to clean and dry the designated tattoo area. This is something people do when they want to get a real tattoo as well. Dry, clean skin will ensure the temporary tattoo sticks better to the skin and stays in place longer. Moreover, the majority of temporary tattoos are made with water-based ink, which means they won’t stick to oily, sweaty skin.

We recommend you clean the area with some soap and lukewarm water. After you wash off the soap, pat dry the skin with a paper or cotton towel. Leave it for a few seconds to air dry as well.

During summer and humid weather, skin tends to get sweatier. In that case, we recommend you use rubbing alcohol to clean the designated tattoo area. Use a few drops of rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball to wipe the area clean. Try not to repeat this too much since the alcohol can dry out the skin.

Clean The Skin For Temporary Tattoo
Saved Tattoo @bunami.ink

Step 3 – Pick Your Favorite Tattoo Design

In the majority of cases, temporary tattoos come in a set, generally individually packaged. This can be helpful if you want to use a particular tattoo design; you won’t disrupt other tattoos and they will be ready for future use. So, go through the design, pick out your favorite one, and that’s it.

Pay attention, however, that the design fits the designated skin area you’re planning to put the tattoo on. Consider the size and the location for the best final effect. Smaller tattoos are best on smaller areas, while larger designs will fit perfectly on the upper arm, upper back, or shoulder area.

Step 4 – Peel the Clear, Protective Layer Off

So, you’ve picked your favorite tattoo out of the set. Now, in order to actually use the tattoo, you first need to peel off the clear, protective backing, which is a layer of clear plastic. Make sure to be careful when peeling it off in order not to disturb the actual tattoo. Once you’ve removed the plastic, you’ll see the full tattoo, or rather its mirror image. Once placed onto the skin, the tattoo will appear proper, as it should. The exposed ink side is referred to as the face side of the tattoo.

Peel the Clear, Protective Layer Off for temporary tattoo
Saved Tattoo @oh_la_love_boutique

Step 5 – Place the Tattoo Onto the Skin

This is the moment of truth; at this point, all you have to do is place the tattoo, face side down, onto the skin. Make sure to be firm while doing this; try not to move the tattoo around or wiggle it. Simply, place it onto the skin firmly and keep it in place with your fingers. You should keep it like this for a few seconds until the whole tattoo is sticking to the skin.

Step 6 – Use a Damp Cloth or a Sponge

To actually transfer the tattoo onto the skin, you will have to use a damp cloth or a lightly damp sponge to wet the tattoo, or rather the paper the ink is placed on. By doing this, the ink will be repelled by the water, and as a result, transfer to your dry skin, where it will stick. Now, you need to be careful during this part, since the dampness can make the tattoo paper slip. It is essential you keep the paper in place while using the cloth or the sponge. Otherwise, the paper might start slipping and disrupting the tattoo design.

Step 7 – Wait for 1 Minute

Temporary tattoos generally come with a recommended time you should wait until the design transfers onto the skin. However, waiting for 1 minute (by keeping the damp cloth/sponge on the tattoo) will ensure the best transferring results.

During this time, you should not touch the paper, peek inside to see whether the tattoo is transferring, or move the paper around until the whole minute has passed. Also, try to move as little as possible during this whole process. Keep in mind that the cloth or sponge needs to simply be damp, not soaking wet!

Wait for 1 Minute for temporary tattoo
Saved Tattoo @bunami.ink

Step 8 – Reveal The Tattoo

After the minute has passed, it is time to remove the cloth/sponge and peel off the tattoo paper. Now, when you’re peeling off the paper, make sure to do it carefully. As you start peeling off the paper, you will see that the tattoo has transferred properly, or maybe it is still stuck to the paper. If the latter is the case, stop with the peeling and press the paper against the skin again. You should wait for 30 more seconds and then check the tattoo again. If it has transferred, continue with the peeling off, carefully and slowly.

Step 9 – Let Everything Dry

After you’ve removed the paper, your tattoo should be fully transferred onto the skin. Now, because you used a damp cloth/sponge, the skin/tattoo is still pretty damp itself. If this is the case, you should let the are air dry completely. Try not to touch the tattoo in the process, so you don’t disrupt it at its most fragile state. Touching or poking of the tattoo could wrinkle or smear it too.

Step 10 – Take Care of Your New Tattoo

Once everything’s nice a dry, all you have to do is take care of your new tattoo. We recommend you apply a dab of water-based lotion to rehydrate the skin. You can also a thin layer of body cream or shea butter.

Try not to use heavy, thick lotions and creams, especially those petroleum- or oil-based ones; these will just wrinkle and smear the tattoo. And finally, you can apply a bit of baby powder or even a thin layer of hairspray to set the tattoo, keep it in place longer, and have it appear more matte and realistic.

Also Read: How To Make Temporary Tattoos Last Longer: Tips and Tricks To Check Out

Final Thoughts

Applying a temporary tattoo is really easy, but during the whole process, you need to be careful and ensure not to smear or wrinkle the tattoo. Upon receiving your temporary tattoo set, read the instructions and check the amount of time you’re supposed to dampen your tattoo. Unless there are some specific instructions (as there are for specific temporary tattoos, like the ones from Inkbox), feel free to follow our guide and dampen the tattoo for 1 minute. Other than this, we gladly advise you to enjoy this process and have fun with your new, pain-free, tattoo.

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