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

If you’re thinking how cool it would be to get a tattoo, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we strive to keep up with trends, but also to help our readers make good choices when it comes to tattoos, their skin, and their overall health. So, if you are thinking of getting a tattoo or have doubts about it, we will help you.

In the following paragraphs, we’ll compare temporary and permanent tattoos side by side, and provide you with the pros and cons of each. Hope this helps you make a decision and see which type of tattoo suits you best. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Temporary vs. Permanent – ​​quick overview

So, before you start comparing, it’s important to review what temporary and permanent tattoos are, and what they include.

temporary tattoos

Collection of woodland inspired temporary tattoos with some flora, fauna and fungi
Credit: @naturetats

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

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

Permanent Tattoos

Permanent tattoos for men
Credit: @nikole.huni

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

Compared to temporary tattoos, permanent ink is much more expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive, and not to mention, much more painful. So, when it comes to permanent tattoos, you have to think about this idea and do your research thoroughly.

Read more: Why are tattoos permanent? – Reasons why tattoos last forever

Temporary vs. Permanent – ​​Tattoo Differences


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

pain levels

  • temporary tattoos – because these tattoos are simply applied to the skin and easily transferred, they cause no pain. Some itching and discomfort may occur if one has very sensitive skin for example, but other than that, temporary tattoos are completely painless.
  • Permanent Tattoos – now these tattoos require high pain tolerance. Depending on the location of the tattoos, the pain can vary from severe pain to fainting-like pain. Of course, pain levels vary from person to person, but overall, permanent tattoos are notorious for their pain in general.
Tattoo Pain Chart for Men
Image Source: Registered Tattoo (Tattoo Pain Chart)

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


  • temporary tattoos – if you buy from high-quality brands, you can expect to pay between $10 and $20 for a uniquely designed temporary tattoo. However, you can also find bundles of several temporary tattoo designs for even less money. Overall, temporary tattoos are quite affordable, especially compared to permanent tattoos.
  • Permanent Tattoos – for permanent tattoos, you can expect to shell out between $100 and $10,000. The price largely depends on the size of the tattoo, the design itself, the location 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 are very expensive. But, of course, the cost also includes the quality of the tattoo and its longevity.


  • temporary tattoos – these tattoos are designed to be, well, temporary. This is why the majority of temporary tattoos only last between one and two weeks, at best. The longevity of tattoos depends on exposure to water, as well as friction from clothing. If you take good care of the tattoo and applied it correctly, it will last you two weeks for sure.
  • Permanent Tattoos – these tattoos will last you a lifetime. Unless you decide to go for laser tattoo removal, in which case they will last as long as you want. Permanent tattoos are a lifetime commitment, which surely isn’t for everyone. It is also important to point out that permanent tattoos change with age; they begin to fade, change shape and size, just as the skin also begins to age.
Longevity of the tattoo
Image credit: @bumbleberrybox


  • temporary tattoos – these tattoos are extremely easy to remove. If you don’t want to wait for them to come off on their own, all you need is rubbing alcohol or an oil-based product. Apply any of these products to a cotton ball and simply rub the tattoo. You can get rid of a temporary tattoo in 10-30 seconds.
  • Permanent Tattoos – now, this is where things get a little complicated; the best way to remove a permanent tattoo is laser tattoo removal. Let’s be frank right away; laser removal is very expensive and can be more painful than the tattoo itself. It’s not enough to do one laser removal session and call a day. For an average sized gray 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: Registered Tattoo

Side effects and health risks

  • temporary tattoos – these tattoos contain ingredients like dyes, varnishes, polymers and resins. However, they are generally considered safe to use, even for children. However, people with very sensitive skin or skin conditions are not recommended to use temporary tattoos.
  • Permanent Tattoos – well, because regular tattooing includes actual skin penetration, the health risks are certainly high. There is a risk of bacteria and virus transfer in case of dirty tools or risk of tattoo infection in case of improper aftercare. Tattoo infection is usually the main concern, so every tattoo artist should educate their clients on proper tattoo care. Side effects of a tattoo infection include tattoo swelling, redness, rash, nausea, fever, increased body temperature, etc.

Temporary vs. Permanent Tattoos – Pros and Cons

temporary tattoos


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

The inconvenients

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

Permanent Tattoos


  • look amazing
  • You last a lifetime
  • Offer a unique experience of receiving a tattoo

The inconvenients

  • Dear
  • Sore
  • Extremely difficult to remove
  • Can cause infection and inflammation
  • May cause employment problems, if visible
  • Requires exhausting follow-up

So which one should you get?

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

It’s best to get a temporary tattoo if you have a low pain tolerance, ink allergy, or just don’t want to commit to a real tattoo all your life. Indeed, temporary tattoos can be a fun experience and a taste of what it feels like to have a “tattoo”. They can be a great way to see if you want a real tattoo or not.

On the other hand, if you are not afraid to commit to a full time tattoo, it is always better to go for the real one or the permanent tattoo. Indeed, these tattoos are quite expensive and can cause you pain and skin problems. But many would say this is all worthy of a real tattoo.

The essential

It’s up to you to consider the aforementioned information and see which type of tattoo best suits you and your lifestyle. I hope we have provided you with enough information to make a final decision. However, remember to consult professionals before making a life-changing decision, such as getting a permanent tattoo. For more information on temporary and permanent tattoos, be sure to check out our site.

Also Read: Henna Vs. Tattoo (Creation Process, Duration, Pain Level, Design Possibilities, Skin Impact)

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