How to Remove Temporary Tattoos

Will it come off on its on?

Most temporary tattoos will last a week or so before cracking and rubbing off bit by bit.

But if you’re in a pinch and need to remove it sooner, skip the soap and water. You’ll have better luck with a homemade scrub or an over-the-counter (OTC) exfoliant.

You can also use an oil- or chemical-based remover to tackle a particularly stubborn piece. These can help dissolve the entire image or clean up any lingering bits and pieces.

Remember: The way you scrub the area is a major factor in how much of the tattoo peels off. Make sure you use gentle, circular motions. Continue gently scrubbing until the tattoo is completely gone.

Keep reading to learn how to make an exfoliating scrub, how to hack the products you already have at home, and, if needed, what to pick up from the drugstore.

1. Use an exfoliating body scrub

Exfoliating scrubs help remove dead skin cells and encourage new growth. During this process, the scrub can help break up and buff of the flecks of your temporary tattoo.

If you don’t have any exfoliating products on hand, try whipping something up using what’s in your kitchen. You can try combining:

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar, ground oatmeal, or coffee grounds to exfoliate
  • 1/2 cup of coconut or olive oil to bind the granules together
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to add a pleasant scent, if desired

If you want a quick fix without the DIY, head to your local drugstore or shop online for ready-made products like Himalayan salt scrub.

Be sure to use gentle, circular motions to rub whatever you use into the skin for at least 30 seconds. You can continue scrubbing if more time is needed.

2. Try an oil-based remover

Oil-based solutions are frequently used to remove makeup and cleanse the skin. The theory behind this is that “like removes like,” allowing the solution to remove buildup without stripping the skin of its natural oils.

In many cases, the oils you have in your kitchen (or bathroom cabinet) could do the trick. This includes:

  • baby oil
  • coconut oil
  • olive oil

If you don’t have any products on hand and aren’t comfortable with a DIY method, head to your local drugstore to pick up an oil-based cleanser. Cold creams are also an option. These cleansers blend oil and water together to soothe the skin.

Once you have your product, apply it to the skin. Rub in gentle, circular motions until the tattoo pigments flake off.

3. For stubborn tattoos, opt for a chemical remover

Certain products contain chemicals that can help remove tattoos quickly by reducing their color and breaking up the particles.

Most people already have one or more of these removers at home:

You could also use cleansers or products that contain chemicals like glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid, which can help increase skin cell turnover and deep clean the area. You may have a few beauty products that contain these ingredients already.

Rub your remover of choice onto the affected area with a cloth in gentle, but firm, circular motions for about 20 seconds at a time. Check on the area, and keep scrubbing as needed. Make sure you wash the product off as soon as you’re done.

How to soothe irritation or inflammation left behind

Persistent scrubbing can cause temporary irritation or inflammation. And if used for extended periods of time, chemical removers can irritate the skin, too.

If your skin is red or inflamed, apply a cool compress to the area for about 15 minutes.

You can also apply a skin-soothing product, like:

  • aloe vera gel
  • cucumber gel
  • coconut oil

In most cases, this irritation will subside within the day.

The bottom line

You might be ready to get rid of that patch of pigment right now, but run-of-the-mill temporary tattoos usually last two weeks tops. You can always save yourself the hassle of scrubbing and scraping and wait it out.

If removal methods aren’t working and you need to clean up for an event, you can use a waterproof concealer or foundation to help hide the tattoo. If the tattoo is large — or if you have multiple — you may opt for specialty foundation designed to cover tattoos.