|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2014)|
Types of Temporary Tattoos
Decal-style Temporary Tattoos
Decal (press-on) temporary tattoos are the tattoos that most people think of when it comes to temporary tattoos. To apply these temporary tattoos, remove the the protective top sheet, press tattoo firmly on clean, dry skin with design facing down, hold a wet cloth to the back of the tattoo, wait 30 second and peel off paper backing. These tattoos generally come off easily with rubbing alcohol or baby oil and are available in vivid designs that are popular with diverse audiences.
Air Brush Temporary Tattoos
Although they have become more popular and usually require a greater investment, airbrush temporary tattoos are less likely to achieve the look of a real tattoo, and may not last as long as press-on temporary tattoos. An artist sprays on airbrush tattoos using a stencil with alcohol-based, FDA-approved cosmetic inks. Like decal tattoos, airbrush temporary tattoos also are easily removed with rubbing alcohol or baby oil.
Henna Temporary Tattoos
Another tattoo alternative is henna-based tattoos, which generally contain no additives. Henna is a plant-derived substance which is painted on the skin, staining it a reddish-orange-to-brown color. Because of the semi-permanent nature of henna, they lack the realistic colors typical of decal temporary tattoos. Due to the time-consuming application process, it is a relatively poor option for children. If you do choose henna temporary tattoos, ensure that they are pure henna. Dermatological publications report that allergic reactions to natural henna are very rare and the product is generally considered safe for skin application. Serious problems can occur, however, from the use of henna with certain additives. The FDA and medical journals report that painted black henna temporary tattoos are especially dangerous. Black Henna or Pre-Mixed Henna Temporary Tattoos May Be Harmful - see below for safety information.
Temporary Tattoo Safety
Decal-style Temporary Tattoo Safety
Decal temporary tattoos, when legally sold in the United States, have had their color additives approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as cosmetics --- the FDA has determined these colorants are safe for “direct dermal contact.” While the FDA has received some accounts of minor skin irritation, including redness and swelling, from this type of temporary tattoo, the agency has found these symptoms to be “child specific” and not significant enough to support warnings to the public. Unapproved pigments, however, which are sometimes used by non-US manufacturers, can provoke allergic reactions in anyone. Understanding the types of temporary tattoos available to consumers, knowing where they are manufactured, and ensuring they come from a reliable source are keys to determining whether temporary tattoos are safe.
Air Brush Tattoo Safety
The types of airbrush paints manufactured for crafting, creating art or decorating clothing should never be used for tattooing. These paints are not approved for direct contact with skin, and can be allergenic or toxic. Always ask the airbrush tattoo artist what kind of ink he or she is using and whether it meets FDA approval.
Henna Tattoo Safety
The FDA regularly issues warnings to consumers about avoiding any temporary tattoos labeled as black henna or pre-mixed henna as these may contain potentially harmful ingredients including silver nitrate, carmine, pyrogallol, disperse orange dye and chromium. Black henna gets its color from paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a textile dye approved by the FDA for human use only in hair coloring. In Canada, the use of PPD on the skin, including hair dye, is banned. Research has linked these and other ingredients to a range of health problems including allergic reactions, chronic inflammatory reactions, and late-onset allergic reactions to related clothing and hairdressing dyes. They can cause these reactions long after application. Neither black henna nor pre-mixed henna are approved for cosmetic use by the FDA.