Temporary by name, temporary by nature, the temporary tattoo is meant to only a short time, from a few days to a few weeks. If you want to prolong your tattoo’s life, you can take a few extra steps before and after application to keep your rad design looking bright and fresh.
Preparing Your Skin
Cleanse the spot you plan to tattoo.
Lotions, makeup, and the natural oils of your skin can all shorten the life of your tattoo. They can create a barrier between the ink and your skin, so the tattoo won’t actually stick or be absorbed, and it will come off when the lotion comes off. Oils break down the inks in decal tattoos (baby oil is often used to wipe the tattoo off your skin), so if oil is already present, it will begin dissolving your tattoo right away.
Make sure you dry your skin before applying the tattoo.
Exfoliate the area before the temporary tattoo is applied. Usually the very top layer of your skin is actually dead skin cells that we shed or scrub off. If you apply the tattoo directly onto this layer of skin, it’s more likely to flake off as you shed the dead cells. Exfoliation removes this layer, giving you smooth, live skin to work with.
Exfoliate using a loofah or pumice stone and avoid techniques that will leave your skin oily, like salt or sugar rubs.
Choose an area where the skin won’t constantly be moving or flexing or coming into contact with oils and other substances
The skin on your hands and feet are constantly stretching and moving, which can cause your tattoo to crack or fade quickly. Your hands also come in contact with lots of different substances throughout the day, from oily foods to art supplies to plain old soap and water. This constant contact may cause your tattoo to fade prematurely.
- The exception is with a henna tattoo, which actually works best on your hands and feet, because the skin is thicker. The more layers of skin, the more layers the ink can stain.
- Avoid areas that quickly become sweaty or oily naturally, like your temples, or your feet when you wear socks and shoes.
- Avoid areas that will rub against your clothes.
Shave the area before the temporary tattoo is applied.
Hair might get in the way of the ink, so if there’s a lot of hair in the area where you plan to put your tattoo, shave first.
If you are applying to an area, you shave regularly, like your legs or neck, the act of shaving may remove your tattoo faster. Shaving before application may allow you to go longer without shaving once the tattoo is applied.
Make sure you use a new, sharp razor if you are going to shave over your tattoo. A dull or nicked razor can cause your tattoo to flake.
Prolonging the Life of a Decal or Airbrush Tattoo
Wash the areas around the tattoo, not the tattoo itself.
Many temporary tattoos are advertised as being waterproof, but the addition of soap may affect your tattoo. Plus, if you are scrubbing your skin clean, the friction will start to tear the ink from your skin.
It’s ok to swim or shower with a waterproof temporary tattoo, just try not to soak it in a bath or allow it to come into contact with soap, body wash, or oils.
Cover your tattoo with petroleum jelly, which can act as a sealant.
Though most people consider petroleum jelly a moisturizer, it actually works by sealing the moisture into your skin, almost like a piece of plastic. Clear nail polish will have the same sealing effect as the petroleum jelly, but it won’t be as messy, since it will dry on your skin. There is a downside to clear nail polish as it will start to flake and the tattoo will come with it.
Use baby powder, corn starch, or talcum powder on the tattoo.
These substances are all highly absorbent, and can soak up the natural oils on your skin that would start to break down the ink in your tattoo. Be careful not to inhale these powders, as they can be harmful to your lungs.
Go over your tattoo with a permanent marker when it begins to fade.
If the tattoo is simple and a single color, a thin or sharp-tipped permanent marker can be used to give the tattoo new life. Trace over the tattoo design with a marker of the same color and fill in with ink. It won’t last longer than a day or two at most.
Take a break from working out.
The excessive sweat and movement of your skin can cause the tattoo to fade faster, especially if it is rubbing against your workout clothes.
Can I swim with an airbrushed tattoo?
You could swim in natural waters such as the sea or lakes and ponds, but if you swim in a pool, the chlorine could cause damage to the tattoo.
Will hairspray make the henna last longer?
No, but if you apply heat and oil to your henna when it is still wet and drying, it will make the color and design last longer.
Can I swim with henna?
Wait at least 24 hours before getting the paste wet.