Temporary Vs. Permanent Tattoos: Which One Should You Get?

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If you’re thinking about how cool it would be to get a tattoo, you’re in the right place. Here, we’re all about following the trends, but also helping our readers make good choices in regards to tattoos, their skin, and their overall health. So, if you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, or having doubts about it, we’ll help you out.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll compare temporary and permanent tattoos side by side, and provide you with the pros and cons for each one. Hopefully, this will help you make a decision and see which type of tattoos fit you better. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Temporary Vs. Permanent – Quick Insight

So, before we start comparing, it is important to go over what both temporary and permanent tattoos are, and what they comprise.

Temporary Tattoos

Woodland-inspired temporary tattoo collection with a few flora, fauna, and fungi
Credit: @naturetats

Temporary tattoos are, well, not permanent. They’re designed to be transferred onto the skin, not beneath the skin surface. These tattoos can be bought online, and they come in the form of sheet paper, which is applied to the skin with a little bit of moisture and left to transfer for a few seconds.

These tattoos sit on the top of the skin, while some types of temporary tattoos do sink into the skin a little bit. Either way, they often last between one and two weeks and can be easily removed with a little bit of rubbing alcohol or some oil-based product.

Permanent Tattoos

Permanent Tattoos man
Credit: @nikole.huni

Well, permanent tattoos are the ones that require a visit to a tattoo artist. These tattoos are done by a professional tattoo artist and comprise the penetration of a tattoo needle into the skin, where the ink or the pigment will rest for the rest of your life (unless you go for a laser tattoo removal).

Compared to temporary tattoos, permanent ink is far more expensive, labor- and time-consuming, and not to mention, far more painful. So, when it comes to permanent tattoos, one should give this idea a thought and do some thorough research.

Temporary Vs. Permanent – Tattoo Differences

Application

  • Temporary Tattoos – these tattoos are incredibly easy to apply; all you need is the sheet design and some water. Place the sheet onto the skin, apply some moisture and wait for a few seconds for the design to transfer and develop. And, that’s it.
  • Permanent Tattoos – now, these tattoos require a more difficult application. Of all, a needle will penetrate your skin, so you can expect some blood for sure. The pain is also very high, and you’ll be generally uncomfortable most of the tattooing process. Permanent tattoos can be a bloody mess, especially the first days, where even after the tattoo is done, blood and plasma will ooze from the tattoo as a part of the healing process.
tattoo process
Saved Tattoo

Pain Levels

  • Temporary Tattoos – because these tattoos are simply applied onto the skin and easily transferred as well, they do not cause any pain whatsoever. Some itching and discomfort may occur if one has highly sensitive skin for example, but other than that, temporary tattoos are completely pain-free.
  • Permanent tattoos – now, these tattoos require a high pain tolerance. Depending on the placement of the tattoos, the pain can vary from high to fainting-type of pain. Of course, the pain levels vary from one person to the other, but overall, permanent tattoos are known for how painful they can be in general.
Tattoo pain chart on men
Image Source: Saved Tattoo (Tattoo Pain Chart)

So, if you have a low pain tolerance and you’re generally afraid of needles, then you should maybe start your tattoo journey with temporary tattoos. For permanent tattoos, try to avoid high-pain areas (areas with thin skin and a lot of nerve endings), and remember that the first tattoo might be the most painful. People are known to build their pain tolerance with each new tattoo, but they still experience the pain of course.

Cost

  • Temporary Tattoos – if you’re buying from top-quality brands, you can expect to pay between $10 and $20 for a temporary tattoo with a unique design. However, you can also find bundles of several temporary tattoo designs for even less money. Overall, temporary tattoos are rather affordable, especially compared to permanent tattoos.
  • Permanent Tattoos – for permanent tattoos, you can expect to pay between $100 and $10,000. The price largely depends on the size of the tattoo, the very design, the placement of the tattoo, and, of course, the tattoo artists. Because it is much more labor-intensive, permanent tattoos can cost thousands of dollars, so they’re really expensive. But, of course, the cost also comprises the quality of the tattoo and its life longevity.

Longevity

  • Temporary Tattoos – these tattoos are designed to be, well, temporary. That is why the majority of temporary tattoos last only between one and two weeks, at best. The longevity of the tattoos depends on the water exposure, as well as clothes friction. If you take good care of the tattoo, and you’ve applied it properly, it will last you two weeks for sure.
  • Permanent Tattoos – these tattoos will last you a lifetime. That is unless you decide to go for laser tattoo removal, in which case they’ll last you how long you want them to last. Permanent tattoos are a lifelong commitment, which is surely not for everybody. It is also important to emphasize that permanent tattoos do change with old age; they start to fade, change shape and size, just as the skin starts to age as well.
Longevity of Tattoo
Image Credit: @bumbleberrybox

Removal

  • Temporary Tattoos – these tattoos are extremely easy to get rid of. If you don’t want to wait for them to peel off on their own, you will only need some rubbing alcohol or an oil-based product. Apply one of these products onto a cotton ball and simply rub the tattoo away. You can get rid of a temporary tattoo in 10 to 30 seconds.
  • Permanent Tattoos – now, this is where things get a bit tricky; the best way to remove a permanent tattoo is via laser tattoo removal. Let’s be frank right away; laser removal is highly expensive and can be more painful than the tattoo itself. It is not enough to only go for one laser removal session and call it a day. For a medium-sized, grey tattoo you can expect up to 15 laser removal sessions. These sessions can also cost you more than the tattoo itself.
Laser Tattoo Removal
Image Credit: Saved Tattoo

Sife Effects and Health Risks

  • Temporary Tattoos – these tattoos do contain ingredients like colorants, varnishes, polymers, and resins. However, they’re generally deemed safe for use, even for children. However, it is not recommended for people with highly sensitive skin, or skin conditions, to use temporary tattoos.
  • Permanent Tattoos – well, because regular tattooing comprises actual skin penetration, health risks are surely high. There is a risk of bacteria and virus transferring in case of dirty tools or a risk of tattoo infection in case of improper aftercare. Tattoo infection is generally the main concern, so every tattoo artist needs to inform their clients about proper tattoo aftercare. The side effects of a tattoo infection include tattoo swelling, redness, rashes, nausea, fever, increased body temperature, etc.

Temporary Vs. Permanent Tattoos – Pros and Cons

Temporary Tattoos

Pros 

  • Affordable
  • Easy to purchase
  • Easy to apply
  • Easy to remove
  • Short-term commitment
  • Painless
  • Waterproof (in many cases)
  • Safe for children

Cons

  • Don’t last long
  • Can peel off on their own
  • Can cause skin irritation
  • Aren’t the real deal, of course

Permanent Tattoos

Pros 

  • Look amazing
  • Last you a lifetime
  • Offer a unique experience of receiving a tattoo

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Painful
  • Extremely hard to remove
  • Can cause infection and inflammation
  • Can cause employment trouble, if visible
  • Require exhausting aftercare

So, Which One Should You Get?

Considering all the info, and the pros-cons section, one can conclude that it would be a better idea to get a temporary tattoo. And we would, kind of, agree.

It is better to get a temporary tattoo if you have low pain tolerance, ink allergy, or you simply don’t want to commit to a real tattoo your whole life. Sure enough, temporary tattoos can be a fun experience and an insight into the feeling of having a ‘tattoo’. They can serve as an excellent way to see whether you want a real tattoo or not.

On the other hand, if you’re not afraid to commit to a tattoo full time, it is always better to go for the real deal or the permanent tattoo. Sure enough, these tattoos are rather costly and can cause you some pain and skin issues. But many would say all of that is worthy of a real-deal tattoo.

The Bottom Line

It is completely up to you to weigh in on the aforementioned info and see which type of tattoos fit you and your lifestyle better. Hopefully, we’ve provided you enough info to make a final decision. However, always remember to consult professionals before you make a life-changing decision like getting a permanent tattoo. For more information about temporary and permanent tattoos, make sure to check our site.

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