Are Temporary Tattoos Safe?

If you have read recent reports warning of the dangers of black henna tattoos, then you may be wondering if decal temporary tattoos are safe? The answer is almost always yes. To help you navigate temporary tattoo safety we’ll walk through the main varieties of temporary tattoos including decal tattoos and henna tattoos and discuss the safety implications of each.

Are Decal (Water Transfer) Temporary Tattoos Safe?

The most popular type of temporary tattoos are press-on decal, or water transfer tattoos. The tattoo is an image printed on water-permeable paper. The paper is placed ink-side down and when moisture is applied the image transfers to the skin. They requires that decal-type tattoos use only pigments that have been approved for use in cosmetics; this means they are non-toxic and non-allergenic. They are easily removed with rubbing alcohol or baby oil.

When choosing temporary tattoos, you should look for the ingredients used on the packaging or label. Do not buy decal-type temporary tattoos that give no indication of the ingredients used to manufacture them.

Are Henna Temporary Tattoos Safe?

Another 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. The semi-permanent nature of henna, the lack of the realistic colors (which decal temporary tattoos offer), and the time-consuming application process makes henna 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 from the use of henna with certain additives. The FDA and medical journals report that “black henna” temporary tattoos are especially dangerous.

Black Henna can be Dangerous for Skin

Are Temporary Tattoo Kits Safe?

There are a variety of “temporary tattoo kits” in the marketplace for producing custom temporary tattoos in quantities as low as one. These kits generally include temporary tattoo paper, temporary tattoo adhesive and application sponges. The paper is used with an inkjet printer or laser printer.

Websites that produce color custom temporary tattoos in very small quantities use inkjet printers. The company producing these may not be using safe, dye based ink in the inkjet printer, which is the only way to produce very small quantities of custom temporary tattoos. Carefully check the reverse side, packaging, or any correspondence from the tattoo retailer for a list of ingredients that have been used to produce the temporary tattoos. It is critical that you ensure the inks used in producing these low quantity custom temporary tattoos are not potentially toxic.