Temporary tattoos have become quite popular in recent years. One of the main appeals of temporary tattoos is the fact that they are, well, temporary. You apply them in seconds and enjoy them like a tattoo for a short time. There’s no tattoo hassle and no lifetime commitment to body art.
Temporary tattoos are great for anyone who wants to experience what it’s like to have a tattoo without fully committing to it. Temporary tattoos are also much cheaper, readily available, and easy to remove.
But it’s not all milk and honey with these tattoos. The FDA and health agencies have warned of certain dangerous and risky types of temporary tattoos, especially for children.
So, in the following paragraphs we will see if temporary tattoos are dangerous, and if there is a risk of applying such tattoos on the skin.
Temporary Tattoos and Safety – Everything You Need to Know!
What are temporary tattoos?
- Temporary tattoos are temporary images placed on the skin to mimic real tattoos.
- Temporary designs are usually printed on a sheet of paper. The design is transferred by applying a little moisture and waiting several seconds for it to develop.
- Temporary tattoos usually last between 7 and 14 days.
- These tattoos can be easily removed with rubbing alcohol and oil. However, after 7-14 days they will also start to fade or peel off on their own.
What types of temporary tattoos exist?
- Snap Tattoos – these tattoos are simply pressed onto the skin. The design is transferred from a water permeable paper by adding a little moisture. It may take several seconds for the design to transfer and dry on the skin.
- Henna Tattoos – Henna tattoos are made using henna paste, which is made from dried and crumbled henna plants. These tattoos are popular all over the world, but they are mostly used in South Asia and the Middle East.
- Airbrush Tattoos – these tattoos are sprayed on the skin. This method can be performed by a tattoo artist who will use a special airbrush. These tattoos are by far the most expensive among temporary tattoos, but they don’t last longer than low-end tattoos.
What are temporary tattoos made of?
temporary tattoos (or pressure tattoos) are made from the following ingredients;
- Polymers – temporary tattoos are usually made from synthetic polymers including synthetic rubber, nylon, silicone and others. Polymers can also be natural, in which case they are obtained from wool, silk, amber and cellulose. Polymers are generally very accessible and inexpensive materials that can be easily chemically manipulated.
- Varnish – when we say varnish, we mean varnishes drying with alcohol and generally removable. These contain drying oil, resin and thinners. Acrylic polishes are known to dry out as the water evaporates, which is the case with the majority of temporary tattoos.
- Dyes – a colorant is a substance added to change the color of an article, material or surface. Dyes can be classified as pigments or dyes, and they can be added to paints and inks. In the case of temporary tattoos, they are added to emphasize the color of the tattoo as it develops on the skin.
Although these ingredients may seem intimidating, they are all sold legally in the United States and used as ingredients approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration or the FDA. As such, they can be used in cosmetics and products in direct contact with the skin, such as temporary tattoos.
But what about temporary henna tattoos? What type of ingredients does henna paste really contain?
Organic and 100% natural henna contains dried and crumbled henna plants. That’s it! It is usually reddish or brownish, which is the main telltale sign that henna is made from organic and natural ingredients.
However, there is a type of henna that contains different ingredients; black henna. This type of henna is completely artificial and made from artificial and chemical ingredients.
Black henna contains;
- Paraphenylenediamine or PPD – this is a chemical, the use of which is generally permitted in limited quantities. It is often added to hair dyes. However, some people add it to regular henna to make henna tattoos (or henna hair dye) black. Because pre-mixed henna pastes usually don’t have an ingredient list, it’s not known how much PPD is in black henna, but it’s believed to be more than allowed.
So, are temporary tattoos safe?
According to the FDA, temporary tattoos may be safe for the general population, but in some cases it may cause adverse effects. Such effects often manifest as;
- skin redness,
- Raised and oozing lesions
- Loss of skin pigmentation
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight
- Permanent scars
In such cases, one often has incredibly sensitive skin or skin conditions. In any case, it is essential to consult a doctor.
It is important to mention that adverse effects may not occur immediately after using a temporary tattoo. In the majority of cases, side effects occurred between 2 and 3 weeks later.
However, when it comes to temporary black henna tattoos, the general health-related opinion is much stricter and more serious.
Black henna is now marketed instead of traditional natural henna. Black henna contains, as we mentioned, the chemical PPD, and its amounts in black henna are not regulated. This henna may also contain only hair dye and no henna at all, in some cases.
However, when it comes to black henna and PPD, we cannot stress how dangerous it can be for anyone using this henna for a temporary tattoo!
The main reactions to black henna and PPD include;
- Tingling and burning of the skin
- The feeling of discomfort
- severe redness of the skin
- Severe skin blisters
- Swelling of the area where the black henna was applied
- Permanent skin lesions and scars
- Serious infections
The majority of people who have used black henna for a temporary tattoo have experienced chemical burns and severe allergic reactions, in addition to the aforementioned adverse effects. It is also important to mention that neither black nor pre-mixed henna is FDA approved for cosmetic and skin use. These products should be avoided even if they are sold in reputable stores.
Pre-mixed henna pastes are also known to contain ingredients like silver nitrate, carmine, disperse orange dye, chromium, and pyrogallol.. All of these ingredients can cause serious allergic reactions, health problems, chronic inflammatory reactions, and late-onset allergic reactions.
So NEVER buy pre-mixed or black labeled henna!
Which temporary tattoos are safe?
Unless you have sensitive skin or a skin condition, you can use temporary tattoos obtained from high-end and reputable sellers, like the Inkbox for example. However, even if you don’t have any skin problems, overuse of temporary tattoos can make your skin very sensitive over time, and later lead to skin irritations and allergic reactions.
But which temporary tattoos are safe for everyone?
According to Scientific American, people who want to get a temporary tattoo but want to avoid any adverse effects and health issues should try getting a tattoo. airbrush tattoo. These tattoos are sprayed onto the skin over a stencil. The spray ink is FDA approved and considered a safe cosmetic ink.
Airbrush tattoos are also very easy to remove; all you need is rubbing alcohol or coconut oil.
However, the type of airbrush tattoos used to decorate textiles and clothing should NOT be used on the skin. These types of airbrush inks or paints contain allergenic and toxic ingredients. So when you go to a tattoo artist to get an airbrush tattoo, be sure to check what type of ink they use.
Something else natural, 100% organic henna powders can be safely used for a temporary tattoo. These powders contain NO additives or chemicals and must be mixed with water. Henna powders come from dried and crumbled henna plants and leaves, which are safe to use on skin, hair, and materials like wool or leather.
It is also important to mention that the FDA does not approve any temporary tattoos. The FDA only approves certain ingredients and coloring additives used for cosmetic purposes!
Temporary tattoos are a great way to experiment with body art without the lifetime commitment of a real tattoo. However, just because a tattoo is temporary does not mean it will be safe and risk free. People with sensitive, easily irritated skin or a skin condition may experience serious health issues and side effects when using temporary tattoos.
However, avoid black henna tattoos and tattoos done with pre-mixed henna, even if your skin is perfectly thin and tough.
We also advise against frequent use of temporary pressure tattoos. At first, they might not cause any adverse effects, but by exposing your skin to temporary tattoos, you may cause allergic reactions later on.
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