How to make a temporary tattoo

We all love the idea of a tattoo but not so much the commitment it brings with one; a temporary tattoo is your next best bet! But how do you make a temporary tattoo?

You’ve most likely already had a temporary tattoo when you were a kid, one that lasted no longer than a day before it started to peel off. Whether it was a superhero tattoo or a pretty flower, we’ve all had one.

Temporary tattoos are brilliant for those considering a tattoo, but not sure what design to get or not sure whether it would suit you. A temporary tattoo is the best of both worlds; you can see what you’re getting into without having to commit.

But wait, let me tell you something.

Making your own temporary tattoo is actually much easier than you think; you most likely have everything you need at home already too! Stay tuned for this guide as to how!

tattoo design temp

How To Make A Temporary Tattoo Using Eyeliner:

If you have an artistic flair and confidence in drawing freehand, then designing temporary tattoos with eyeliner may be your new best friend.

All you’ll need are eyeliner pencils (I would recommend a separate one from the one you use on your face), a piece of paper, and some hairspray.

Here’s the step by step:

Pick Your Eyeliner:

Choose your weapon! Go to the drugstore and pick out any eyeliner pencil; it doesn’t have to be expensive as long as it can be sharpened.

I would also recommend going for matte as shiny or oily eyeliner won’t last as long as a matte one, plus matte is less likely to smudge.

Once you’ve chosen the right eyeliner, the next step is picking the color for your new temporary tattoo color. I would recommend a dark, jet black as it shows up more and the color is striking with a good design.

You can use different colors too! Go crazy, it’s only temporary, so it doesn’t matter what you do!

Once you’ve got the eyeliner, then practice on a piece of paper to get the feel of using it and how it comes out in your design.

Design The Eyeliner Tattoo:

If you’re indecisive like me, I would recommend grabbing a pen and paper and drawing out a couple of designs before you apply the eyeliner directly to your skin.

After you’ve sketched out a couple of designs and decided which one you’d like to go with, then you’ll want to have a thin of how large you want your temporary tattoo to be.

You should design your temporary tattoo size by deciding what kind of effect you’re going for; smaller tattoos look more like real design with the right detailing.

Once you’ve decided what size and design you’re going for, I would recommend trying out the design using the eyeliner pencil as it may have a different feel to a regular pen or pencil.

Drawing Your Design On Your Skin:

Once you’re prepped and ready to go, this is when it gets fun! Begin drawing your design on your skin to exactly how you want it to look– make sure you take your time and don’t rush; no one wants smudges!

If it doesn’t go right, you can always wash it off with your makeup remover and start again; using a cotton bud is also a brilliant way to sharpen up your design and create a shaded effect.

Before you draw your design, make sure your skin is clean and dry, I would also recommend drawing your tattoo in an area where there isn’t a lot of hair as it is easier to work with.

Apply Hairspray:

Once you’re happy with how the tattoo has come out on your skin, then spray a little bit of hair spray on top. A light coating is best as it seals in your tattoo without going overtop.

Hair spray will give temporary tattoos a shine, so if you prefer a more matte finish, then a nail polish top coat will do the trick!

Remove When Ready:

Eyeliner temporary tattoos don’t tend to last too long; after a day or two, they will begin to smudge and rub off naturally.

Removing a temporary eyeliner tattoo is super easy though, scrub with warm water and soap, and it’ll come off nicely. If you opt for the nail polish top coat, you’ll need to remove it with a nail polish remover.

Creating a Stencil Tattoo:

As a kid, I love creating drawings on my arms using a sharpie; creating a stencil with a sharpie is the same idea, but instead, you’re an adult!

You’re bound to have a sharpie marker somewhere, and if not, they’re almost in every store; they’re only a couple of bucks– it’s super easy with a stencil too!

Here are some quick and easy steps:

Make the stencil:

It’s super easy to create a professional temporary tattoo with the right items, and in this case, all you need is a stencil and the sharpie of your choice. If you’re not quite the artistic type, then this method will work wonders!

First things first, you need to decide what shape you’d like to create, draw it on a piece of paper or an index card, cut out the shape using a cutting knife or a pair of scissors.

Simple and bold shapes are the easiest to achieve, but if you’re looking for a detailed design, this can still be achieved with the stencil. Cutting out a stencil following the shape of a picture is an easy way of doing this.

Choose Your Permanent Markers/ Sharpie:

Once you’re happy with your stencil design, then choose your weapon; black is classic, but if you’d like to spice up the tattoo, the world is your canvas.

A black sharpie will give the illusion of a real tattoo over the colored ones, but colored markers can still create cool tattoo designs.

A sharpie is not supposed to be used on the skin as they contain chemicals that can be harmful to your skin, so if you’d like to opt for washable markers, then that will work too, but it just won’t last as long.

Stamping ink is also brilliant for temporary tattoos; all you’ll need to do is press a cotton ball on the wet stamping pads and blot it over the stencil until you have the desired coverage you’re looking for.

Apply The Tattoo On Your Skin:

Once you’re happy with the color you’re using, then press the stencil against your skin in the area where you’d like the tattoo to be; use one hand to hold it firmly on the skin and the other to color in.

Before you do this, make sure your skin is clean and dry, and the hair in the area is waxed or shaved to make it easier to apply and offers a more even application.

After you’ve colored in the stencil and you’re happy with the coverage, you can lift the stencil away and leave the ink to dry.

You can use tape on the area if it’s easier than holding it with your fingers. Rubbing perfume on the area also acts as a brilliant adhesive for the paper.

Spray With Hairspray:

Once the sharpies have completely dried, spraying with hairspray will hold them in for longer. Hold the hairspray around 6 inches away from the tattoo and spray lightly until the tattoo is covered.

Make sure you don’t drench temporary tattoos in hairspray as it will just wipe away,

Removing sharpie designs: The best way to remove sharpie is with some warm soap and water and dried with a paper towel. They won’t last more than a week.

Making Paper Temporary Tattoos:

Want a temporary tattoo that is closest to the real thing as possible? Well, printer paper tattoos are a brilliant method for temporary tattoos.

This is also a brilliant idea if you’re planning to give these tattoos as gifts for the holidays or someone’s birthday, and here’s how:

Buy Water Slide Paper:

Remember the paper used to apply tattoos as a child? Well, this is the same paper; temporary tattoos tend to be printed onto waterslide paper, it is especially normal paper, but it is lined with an adhesive on one side.

The ink on the adhesive is then transferred onto your skin, and it creates temporary tattoos. Now, water slide papers are easy to get hold of; you can either get some from Amazon or most craft stores.

Design The Tattoo:

Whether you want to print a design straight off Google or create your own using Photoshop or Serif PhotoPlus X6 or whatever takes your fancy– the sky’s the limit.

Once you’ve decided what design you’d like, the next step is whether or not you’d like it in color or in black and white; if you have a color printer, then you can have the option to have your tattoo in color.

Bear in mind; not all colors will work with your skin, so black is always the safest option; make sure you reverse words in the design as the image will be reversed when applied to your skin.

Print Print Print!

Print temporary tattoos by feeding the water slide paper into the paper part of your printer; make sure the paper is placed the right way, so the image is printed on the adhesive, not the paper.

Once printed, it is as easy as removing the paper printer paper and cutting out the tat design with scissors. Once it’s cut, the tat design is ready to go!

Applying the tattoo design:

Place the tattoo ink-side down onto your skin and cover with a damp cloth or paper towel– just as you remember as a child. Hold down for 30 seconds until the paper becomes translucent.

Then, remove the cloth or paper towel and peel back the tattoo and watch the magic; you should see that the ink has transferred over to your skin due to the dampening process.

Paper slide temporary tattoos should remove themselves within a week or two; if not, then scrub gently with an exfoliator, and it should come off with ease.

Achieving the same effect with printer paper:

If you can’t get hold of some water slide paper then you can achieve the same effect with regular printer paper with a similar process.

Once you’ve printed your design, follow these steps:

Spray h the image with perfume:

The best way to achieve the same effect as the water slide paper methods, just spray your perfume or hairspray from around 6inches away from the image until the image is soaked with perfume.

Make sure you soak every part of the image, if you have an old perfume that a parent in law or friend gifted and you have no use for it, this is the best thing you can do!

Soak in hot water for 3-5 mins:

Once you’ve completely drenched the tattoo design then allow soaking for 3-5 mins in boiling water. This will make the paper feel flimsy and very fragile as a result.

You can soak the paper either in a bowl or cup (depends on the size really). Also soaking closer to 5 minutes will have a better effect on the outcome of the temporary tattoo.

Place the image down in the desired location and firmly hold:

Once it has soaked for 5 minutes soak the tattoo area with perfume and place down the image with a hot towel at the ready. Hold the paper firmly against the skin using the towel and hold for a few minutes.

You should do this for at least 2 minutes so the tattoo can successfully transfer the design properly and effectively. Once a few minutes have passed then remove the

You will need to continue firmly holding the image against your skin for at least 2 minutes. Anything less than this could cause the image to not transfer properly.

After 2 minutes have passed, remove the rag or towel and slowly peel off the paper. The image should have successfully transferred from the paper to your skin.

These temporary tatts should last a few days to weeks, depending on the size and how well it was done.

Do printed tattoos look realistic?

People often think that the ink will smudge and leak excess ink from the paper creating an unclear design unrealistic but a paper tattoo can still produce a realistic design.

Temporary tats using this method are the closest you will get to the real thing, they can help if you’re struggling to choose a design too!

How Long Do These Temporary Tatoos Last?

You can strut around with complete confidence as your temporary tattoo will last you up to a month with no issues. You may notice a few smudges if you take care of the tattoo it will last you a lot longer than you may think.

If you want to remove the tattoo before that, that’s also fine too. All you’ll need is some rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball and rub until the tattoo is removed with ease.

You may need to re-dip the cotton ball in the rubbing alcohol a couple of times until it has completely washed off the skin and there’s no sign of color left.


If you want to spice up your life with a temporary tat or just indecisive about getting a tattoo, using these methods to make a temporary tat is brilliant– they can last too!

Follow the right steps, use the right tools, and giving yourself a tattoo has never been so easy. Plus if you no longer want to be tattooed you can easily remove them because they are TEMPORARY!

Enjoy experimenting my friend!