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How to Remove a Temporary Tattoo

How to Remove a Temporary Tattoo

Temporary tattoos are an excellent way to change up your style and experiment with different looks. They’re also a great way to experience having a tattoo without any of the pain and life-long commitment.

Everyone, no matter the age, can enjoy a temporary tattoo. They are not typically long-lived, but sometimes you need to remove them before they begin to naturally fade away. You might think that you’ll have to spend a long time scrubbing at your skin, but there are actually many easy ways to rid yourself of a temporary tattoo. Read on to find out some of the best removal methods.

The Basics of Temporary Tattoos

A temporary tattoo is any kind of decorative image that can be transferred onto skin for a short period of time. The most common kind of temporary tattoo (and least expensive) involves an image printed onto backing paper and covered with a transfer film. When moisture is applied, the image slides off and attaches itself to the skin. This kind of tattoo is usually referred to as a “stick-on tattoo” and is very easy to apply.

Other styles of temporary tattoos involve an artist hand-painting the skin. This is done using water-insoluble dyes so the image stays put through several washes. A skilled artist is required to paint the picture onto the skin, and this type of tattoo may be an all-around more complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process.

Some companies offer semi-permanent temporary tattoos. They claim that these tattoos can last between 4 and 6 weeks with proper care. While they may last longer than a regular stick-on tattoo, they probably will not last as long as the company states. They can also sometimes be a bit trickier to remove. Always do your research when purchasing temporary tattoos marketed as “semi-permanent” or “long-lasting” so you know what to expect.

Methods for Removal

There are several ways to remove your temporary tattoo that don’t require you to scrub at and irritate your skin. Each of these methods may be repeated if the tattoo doesn’t come off completely on the first try.

Oil-Based Removers

Anything oil-based, such as makeup remover, baby oil, or coconut oil can help remove your tattoo. Oils help to break through any adhesive bonds left on the skin and can start to flake away the tattoo. Once the tattoo begins to peel, it’s easier to remove.

To use this method, dab a cotton ball in your chosen oil and rub it over your tattoo in a circular motion. You should be firm, but don’t push down too hard. You’re letting the oil do the work, not the scrubbing. Let the oil sit on the skin for a minute or two and then gently rub it off and rinse with warm water and soap.


Using an exfoliating scrub can help to break up the top layer of dead skin cells on your skin and encourage new growth. Exfoliation will also help break down your temporary tattoo and allow it to start peeling off.

When using a scrub, rub it in gentle circular motions over your tattoo. Do this for at least 30 seconds, followed by rinsing the area with warm water and lightly wiping at the tattoo to remove it.


A clear tape, such as scotch tape, can be used to pull off your tattoo. All you have to do is lay the tape across your tattoo, making sure it is flat. Use your finger to push the tape into your skin, rubbing it back and forth so it is firmly applied.

Slowly pull up on the tape and the tattoo should come off with it. You can follow this method up with an ice cube to soothe any skin irritated by the tape pull.

Chemical Remover

Chemical removers such as rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover can cut right through your temporary tattoo and start dissolving it. Simply add your chosen remover to a cotton ball or pad and firmly wipe it over your tattoo. You may have to use several soaked cotton balls depending on how large or stubborn the tattoo is.

Cold Cream

Cold cream is designed to smooth skin and remove makeup. It is oil-based, which will help it remove your tattoo while moisturizing your skin at the same time. Just cover your temporary tattoo with it and let it sit for an hour before wiping it off. You can then rinse with soap and warm water to remove any remaining tattoo. Try a secondary application if it’s not completely removed on the first pass.

Tattoo Removal Wipes

While more expensive than the other options, tattoo removal wipes can be a quick, easy solution to your temporary tattoo problem. They are usually oil-based and contain moisturizing ingredients to help remove your tattoo and soothe your skin in a flash. One or two wipes over your skin and the tattoo should be removed.
girl removing temporary tattoo

Steps to Take After Removal

After removing your temporary tattoo, your skin can be irritated or inflamed. This happens as a result of too much scrubbing at the skin. The irritation should disappear within a day, but there are a few steps you can take for immediate relief.

  • Apply a cold compress: cold compresses are very effective at reducing pain. The temperature helps to numb the affected area and lessens any swelling. You can use ice cubes to achieve the same results.
  • Use aloe vera: aloe vera has long been known for its ability to soothe irritation, redness, and skin rashes. Apply a thin layer to your affected skin for relief.
  • Apply coconut oil: soothing the skin much like aloe vera, coconut oil can help reduce itching and inflammation, and will leave your skin wonderfully moisturized. It’s a win-win situation. You can also use other non-perfumed moisturizers to reduce irritation.

How Long Do Temporary Tattoos Last?

Temporary tattoos can last for just a day or two all the way up to a week depending on how you take care of it. Excessive washing or exposing the tattoo to pool chemicals can make it fade faster. On the other hand, if you moisturize your temporary tattoo daily and try to not to submerge it in water, it will last longer.

Your skin type also determines how long the tattoo will last. If you have skin on the dry side or skin that peels often, it is likely your tattoo will disappear quickly along with the shedding skin cells. After all, temporary tattoos are affixed to the top layer of skin; as these cells regenerate, your tattoo fades or peels away.

The Best Areas to Place Temporary Tattoos

Anyone who gets a temporary tattoo is going to want it to be visible, and ultimately, wherever you feel like rocking your design is the best place for it. However, there are some areas that are better than others for placing a temporary tattoo if longevity is what you have in mind.

Temporary tattoos last longer when placed on areas that won’t be exposed to large amounts of water or are prone to rubbing against fabrics; this means places like your inner arm, ankles, or your neck are perfect. Areas like your wrists, shoulders, and hips are more likely to rub against fabric, or have the skin fold as you move, causing your tattoo to disappear faster.

Successful Temporary Tattoo Removal

Temporary tattoos are one of the best ways to get creative and experiment with a new style. But when you need them to be a little less temporary, the task may seem daunting – especially when no one wants to spend hours scrubbing at their skin! Fortunately, there are many methods to easily remove your temporary tattoo that are less time consuming and pain-free. We hope our guide has provided you with all you need to know for a successful temporary tattoo removal.