Well-done tattoos are beautiful works of art. If you wear the right sunscreen for tattoos, use proper tattoo soaps and moisture with lotions made specifically for tattoos, your ink body art will look superb for years, if not decades, to come. For some, this is exactly what they want. For those of us who are terrified of the commitment, however, it’s a different story. Think about it, tattoos are one of the most intense bodily commitments you can make, and the consequences for wanting to get rid of one 2, 3, 4 years in? Painful and expensive. No thanks.
Thankfully, the field of temporary tattoos for adults is growing as the demand for impermanent decorative body ink increases. Many more people have seen one too many bad tattoos on 40 or 50-year old individuals and are opting for designs that’ll fade over time. Make note, these aren’t the cheap borderline-stickers you applied at birthday parties and on game day in college that rub off in the shower hours later. They make real temporary tattoos for adults these days designed to last weeks, if not months or years, that look like the real thing, without the permanence. It’s the best of both worlds.
For all us body-art-commitment-phobes out there, I’ve created a guide on the best temporary tattoos for adults. There aren’t a ton of different brands doing this yet, but there are a few worth mentioning — Inkbox and Ephemeral. I’m going to walk you through both of these options, how their tattoos work, what they’re made of and give a few examples of designs you can get. At the end, I’ve also included a few intricate cheaper temporary tattoo designs for fun.
Temporary Tattoos for Adults
Option 1: Inkbox
Inkbox is a well-known tattoo service in this space that offers people the chance to try out a temporary tattoo for a few weeks before the ink fades completely. All of the art for their temporary tattoos comes from famous tattoo artists or celebrities like BTS and Rupi Kaur.
How Do Their Tattoos Work?
Their tattoos are made using For Now Ink™ that’s semi-permanent, which makes them more intense than average temporary tattoos, but still skin-safe and surface-level enough to be applied at home without the instruction of a tattoo artist or dermatologist.
Do They Look Real?
Their tattoos look light at first, but slowly darken over a period of 24 hours after they’re applied as the ingredients in the ink react with the proteins and collagen in your skin.
How Long Do Inkbox Tattoos Last?
Inkbox’s tattoos last 1-2 weeks, depending on where they are on the body and how much exfoliating you do. The ink sits in your skin, in the epidermis layer right below the surface, rather than on it. This isn’t as deep as real tattoos, but is deeper than your average swipe of body paint or dab of eyeliner.
This solar system tattoo is for all the space nerds out there, it features a full lineup of all the planets we know and love, and goes on easy with a vegan, skin-safe, waterproof formula. The tattoo kit comes with a primer wipe for preparing the skin, and the Tattoo with For Now Ink.
This snake tattoo covers a canvas of 4 x 4 inches and would look great on a bicep, tricep or collar bone. Like all of Inkbox’s tattoos, it’s skin-safe, vegan, cruelty-free and waterproof. It comes with everything you need for application and will last for 1-2 weeks.
This tattoo, named after the French word for “octopus” is designed to be mysterious, strange, and squishy, just like the deep sea dweller it embodies. If this description also applies to you, this might be the right temporary tattoo for you to try out. It also covers a canvas size of 4 x 4 inches and comes with eight legs, two hearts and just enough decorative detail.
Slice of Life
This tattoo is meant to evoke a deeper, more inspirational message about life, according to the artist’s intentions. The broken sword symbolizes life’s trials and tribulations, and reminds us that despite all the hardship, life is beyond worth it. Beautiful, right?
This is one of my personal favorite Inkbox designs. If you’re an outdoorsy person, or simply have respect for the beasts that roam the forests, this tattoo is a great choice. Bears are solitary, strong and symbols of protection, vitality and power. Celebrate the natural world that surrounds us and show your respect for it with this temporary tattoo.
Option 2: Ephemeral
Ephemeral is one of the newer brands on the scene, known for their tattoos that are “made to fade” that last between 9-15 months. That’s right — these tattoos last for a whole year and fade over time. They’re temporary, but they’re applied similarly to real tattoos, and you get to enjoy the design for much longer than with other temporary tattoos.
This is a great service if you’re contemplating a permanent tattoo and want to try a design before committing to it for longer than a few weeks. It’s also perfect for parents of teenagers who want tattoos, who they suspect might not be fully ready for the commitment.
How Do Ephemeral Tattoos Work?
Unlike less permanent temporary tattoos, Ephemeral tattoos are applied by injecting ink into the skin, and therefore must be done by a professional tattoo artist. You can’t apply these at home, but they’ve got locations in Brooklyn and Los Angeles where you can reserve time with one of their artists. The ink in Ephemeral tattoos is biodegradable, medical-grade and biocompatible, and designed to break down over time until the body can remove it entirely.
Do They Look Real?
Out of all the temporary tattoos for adults we’ve come across, Ephemeral tattoos definitely look the realest because their application most closely resembles the one with real tattoos. Their tattoos do sit below the skin, and require a similar process of consulting with an artist, creating a stencil, getting the tattoo and then proper tattoo aftercare.
How Long Do They Last?
That being said, unlike regular tattoos, they don’t last forever. The ink fades within 9-15 months.