Myths About Temporary Tattoos


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Temporary tattoos are making an unexpected comeback in today’s fashion scene, with transferable images quickly gracing the limbs of many noted models and celebrities. While many thought that these little additions to one’s look died out with our childhoods, it would seem fashion’s circular nature applies even here. However with the arrival of a new(ish) mode of fashion, myths have arisen on the internet. These tales come from either the misinformed or by people unhappy at the reappearance of temporary tattoos as a fashion accessory. As they say, knowledge is power, so here are some common myths about temporary tattoos and why they’re wrong.

They Can Scar
Tattoos traditionally are permanent inks injected just under the surface of the skin, colouring it in a way that often lasts a lifetime without deliberate removal through surgery. Despite the addition of the word “temporary” at the beginning of it, people often think that transfers too will leave permanent marks on the body, typically scars. The thinking goes that as the transfer peels off, it takes skin away with it, or else leaves long-lasting stains.

Another origin comes with the inks used in a temporary tattoo. Most transfers use ink called henna, which can be safely applied to the skin and removed with very little hassle. However, it comes in a very unsatisfying orange-brown colour, which some people find disappointing. In search of a more authentic tattoo look, some enterprising transfer artists have taken to mixing henna inks with other substances, some of which, like PPD, can actually cause scarring.

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In truth, temporary tattoos do not scar at all. They can last for several days, and will usually come off after a quick wash in the shower with warm water, leaving at worst a slight red mark if you’ve rubbed it a little too hard with a flannel.

Some Can Last for Six Months/Years
There are rumours on the net about a semi-permanent tattoo that can be applied like a traditional one just under the skin, and lasts for far longer than usual transfers and with a much better final look. How long it lasts varies. Some say six months, others six years, others give another estimate. Why the idea of a semi-permanent tattoo is so popular is largely because most people do not like to commit to things offhand. The idea of a tattoo that can fade away in time if you find you do not like it is appealing.

However, it is also fake. There’s no such thing as a semi-permanent tattoo. Injecting ink into the skin always leaves a permanent mark. It may fade with time, certainly, but it will always remain. Lightly inking it does not work either, as the needle penetrates too deeply into the skin for it to be brushed away as the skin flakes off. Even if it could somehow be applied to the top-most layer, something that would require miraculous precision, it would not fade all at once. You’d have splotchy remnants and half-formed images for a long time first.

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You Won’t Be Able to Move as Much
Because the transfer is applied directly onto the skin, rather than under it, it is assumed by some that the tattoo does not allow as much freedom of movement. Whether it is just painful tugging at the skin, or even complete holds, some would argue that a temporary tattoo does not offer as much freedom as permanent varieties. While you certainly should watch how much you move with some temporary tattoos, it is not because they physically stop you.

As your skin moves, it can start to stretch out temporary tattoos and give them sketchy, patchy looks, as though someone has been lightly scratching it with a nail. Certainly cheaper tattoos are a lot less sturdy than some may like, and if placed on parts of the skin that regularly move, such as the arms or legs, they probably won’t last very long. Other times, clothes may rub against them and start to break them down. You have as much movement as you usually would, though, and more expensive transfers can endure the action more than cheaper varieties.

Temporary Tattoos are Toxic/Cause Rashes
People with allergies to henna or other chemicals used when making transfers may indeed find themselves breaking out in rashes or spots if they try to use them. Likewise, overusing them can dry the skin out or allow dirt to build up in pores because you are not washing the area as much or as effectively. Neither of these are particularly fun, but they are not a guaranteed reaction everyone can expect.

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As long as you keep clean, use tattoos sparingly, and allow your skin to breathe now and then, temporary tattoos are really no more serious to your skin’s health than ordinary face painting. As with anything, moderation is key.

The writer, Christian Mills, is an experienced fashion blogger who knows his way around the latest trends in the industry, and informs his readers especially on when trends are dangerous, or safe. For the latest in temporary tattoos, Christian highly recommends turning to Bling Tattoos. You can learn more about him on Google+.

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