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

Getting a real tattoo is a really fun and exciting process. Of course, it’s also demanding, expensive and, to be perfectly honest, painful as well. With the two opposing ideas of what it means to get a tattoo, some people struggle to take that last step and book an appointment at a local tattoo studio.

Pain and cost are the two main reasons people avoid tattoos. However, some of us still want to experiment with the idea of ​​having a tattoo on our skin. Some of us want to test before we get the real deal. Thanks to temporary tattoos, all of this is made possible.

So if you are thinking of getting some temporary tattoos to see what they look like, you have come to 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 get on with this guide!

Apply temporary tattoos

Jotapas, small temporary tattoos
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So you’ve purchased a set of super cool temporary tattoos. Now is the time to learn more about their application. In the following paragraphs, we’ll take you through a step-by-step guide to proper temporary tattoo application that will work every time. Let’s start with the first step;

Step 1 – Decide where you will apply the tattoo

Now, this step is quite important. Deciding where you will place the temporary tattoo should be carefully calculated, especially if you plan to get a real tattoo in the same spot. So, consider the size and type of temporary tattoo, choose the appropriate area on your body (visible or not), and you’ve completed step one.

Now, what we recommend is to avoid placing temporary tattoos on the hands, fingers, feet, or any other places that are too exposed to different textures, surfaces, and water. This will shorten the life of an already temporary tattoo. It’s best to place the tattoo somewhere on the forearm, upper arm, shoulder, or other areas that don’t rub against objects during daily activities and movements.

Step 2 – Cleanse the skin

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

We recommend cleaning the area with soap and warm water. After washing off the soap, pat the skin dry with a paper or cotton towel. Also leave it for a few seconds to air dry.

In summer and in humid weather, the skin tends to sweat. In this case, we recommend using rubbing alcohol to clean the designated tattoo area. Use a few drops of rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball to clean the area. Try not to repeat it too much because the alcohol can dry out the skin.

Clean skin for temporary tattoo
Saved tattoo @bunami.ink

Step 3 – Choose your favorite tattoo design

In the majority of cases, temporary tattoos come as a set, usually individually wrapped. This can be useful if you want to use a particular tattoo design. you won’t disturb other tattoos and they will be ready for future use. So browse the design, choose your favorite, and that’s it.

Be careful, however, that the design matches the designated area of ​​skin you plan to put the tattoo on. Consider size and placement for the best final effect. Smaller tattoos work best on small areas, while larger designs will fit perfectly on the upper arm, upper back, or shoulders.

Step 4 – Peel off the transparent protective layer

So, you have chosen your favorite tattoo overall. Now, in order to actually use the tattoo, you must first peel off the clear, protective backing, which is a clear plastic layer. Make sure to be careful when peeling it off so you don’t disturb the actual tattoo. Once you remove the plastic, you will see the full tattoo, or rather its mirror image. Once placed on the skin, the tattoo will appear as it should. The exposed ink side is called the face side of the tattoo.

Peel off the clear, protective layer for a temporary tattoo
Saved tattoo @oh_la_love_boutique

Step 5 – Place the tattoo on the skin

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

Step 6 – Use a Damp Cloth or Sponge

To actually transfer the tattoo to the skin, you will need to use a damp cloth or slightly 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 therefore, will transfer to your dry skin, where it will stick. Now you have to be careful during this part because the humidity can cause the tattoo paper to slip. It is essential to hold the paper in place when using the cloth or sponge. Otherwise, the paper might start to slip and disturb the tattoo design.

Step 7 – Wait 1 minute

Temporary tattoos usually come with a recommended waiting time until the design is transferred to the skin. However, waiting 1 minute (keeping the cloth/sponge damp on the tattoo) will ensure the best transfer results.

During this time, you should not touch the paper, look inside to see if the tattoo is transferring, or move the paper until the minute has passed. Also, try to move as little as possible during this whole process. Keep in mind that the cloth or sponge should just be damp, not soaked!

Wait 1 minute for temporary tattoo
Saved tattoo @bunami.ink

Step 8 – Reveal the tattoo

After the minute is up, it’s time to remove the cloth/sponge and peel off the tattoo paper. Now, when you peel off the paper, be sure to do so carefully. When you start to peel off the paper you will see that the tattoo has transferred successfully or it may still be stuck to the paper. If so, stop peeling and press the paper against the skin again. You need to wait another 30 seconds and then check the tattoo again. If it has transferred, continue peeling, carefully and slowly.

Step 9 – Let Everything Dry

After removing the paper, your tattoo should be fully transferred to the skin. Now, because you used a damp cloth/sponge, the skin/tattoo is still quite damp. If so, you need to let it air dry completely. Try not to touch the tattoo during the process, so as not to disturb it in its most fragile state. Touching or poking the tattoo could also wrinkle or stain it.

Step 10 – Take care of your new tattoo

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

Try not to use heavy, thick lotions and creams, especially petroleum or oil-based ones; these will only wrinkle and coat the tattoo. And finally, you can apply a little baby powder or even a thin layer of hairspray to set the tattoo, keep it in place longer, and make it look 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 have to be careful and make sure you don’t get the tattoo dirty or creased. Upon receiving your set of temporary tattoos, read the instructions and check how long you’re supposed to wear off your tattoo. Unless there are specific instructions (as there are for specific temporary tattoos, like those from Inkbox), feel free to follow our guide and moisten the tattoo for 1 minute. Apart from that, we would gladly advise you to enjoy this process and have fun with your new painless tattoo.

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