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How to Make Temporary Tattoos That Look Beautiful — And Are Gentle on Your Skin

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If you're considering a tattoo but you're not ready to sign on the dotted line, a temporary tattoo could be a good place to start. Making your own temporary tattoo is easier than you think — and you probably have all the supplies you need at home. Once the holidays roll around later this year, you also can put your DIY temporary tattoo skills to good use by making body art for your friends and family. But first, you need to know how to make temporary tattoos on your own, and this handy guide is here to help.

How to Make Temporary Tattoos With a Sharpie

Remember when you were a kid and you used to draw on your arms with a pen? Well, this is kind of like the adult version of your middle school body art. Chances are you have a Sharpie somewhere, even if it's hidden in your junk drawer. That makes this method one of the easiest, so it's perfect for someone who wants something quick. Here's how to make temporary tattoos with a Sharpie in four easy steps.

  1. Create a temporary tattoo stencil. This can be as simple as taking a piece of paper and carving out the shape you want with an X-Acto knife. 
  2. Pick out the markers of your choice. Some permanent markers aren't safe to use on skin, so make sure you get non-toxic Sharpies.
  3. Clean the area where you plan on placing your tattoo and make sure to dry it thoroughly.
  4. Apply your tattoo, holding the stencil tight against your skin. 

Over time your permanent-marker tattoo will fade, but you may want to remove it before then. What's the best way to get rid of Sharpie on skin? Wet a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and go over your handiwork gently. Your DIY tattoo should eventually lift.

How to Make Temporary Tattoos With a Printer

If you want to make temporary tattoos that are as close as possible to the real thing, you'll want to do it with printer. This would be the best option if you're planning on giving away your tattoos as gifts during the holidays. Ready to get started? Here's how to make temporary tattoos with a printer in five easy steps.

  1. Buy water slide paper. This is the paper that traditional temporary tattoos come printed on. You remember how it goes, right? You stick the tattoo where you want it and then soak it with water. Water slide paper is available at craft stores or online ($19.99, Amazon). 
  2. Design your tattoo. Create something on Photoshop or scan your design into the computer and then print it. Just remember that what you see will be mirrored in the tattoo, so if you want to include words, make sure they're reversed in your design. 
  3. Print your tattoo. 
  4. Cut out the tattoo. You want to get close to the actual design so as to not waste paper, but don't cut too close or you risk snipping off part of your art.
  5. Apply your tattoo. This process is just as you remember it: Wet a paper towel or cotton ball and press it on the temporary tattoo until the paper slides off your skin.

Like a Sharpie tattoo, any temporary tattoos you make with your printer will disappear over time. But if you want to speed up the removal process, you can use rubbing alcohol to wipe it away.

How to Make Temporary Tattoos With Eyeliner

For those who are confident in their abilities to draw freehand, designing temporary tattoos with eyeliner should be a breeze. As the name implies, you will need an eyeliner pencil, so be sure to grab one you don't use on your face, or buy a new one from the store just for your temporary tattoos. Here's how to make temporary tattoos with eyeliner in two easy steps.

  1. Draw your design directly on your skin. If you need to practice beforehand, use a pen and paper. Don't hold yourself to just black eyeliner; even though it will surely stand out, you can make a statement with colored eyeliner pencils if that's more your style. Just make sure you're not using liquid eyeliner, as this is more difficult to control.
  2. Splash your design with hairspray. You don't need to go overboard with the spray; just enough for a light coating should be good. This step seals in your tattoo for a couple of hours. If you're wondering how to make temporary tattoos not shiny, you can replace the hairspray with a matte nail polish top coat. 

To remove a temporary tattoo made with eyeliner, simply scrub it with soap and warm water. You'll need nail polish remover as well if you used a top coat instead of hairspray. 

How to Make Temporary Tattoos With Household Items

This method is essentially "How to Make a Temporary Tattoos With a Sharpie 2.0." It's a bit easier than the above method, which makes it great for younger individuals or those who don't want to bother with creating a stencil. Here's how to make temporary tattoos with household items in five easy steps.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a Sharpie, baby powder, and hairspray. 
  2. Use your Sharpie to draw your design directly on the skin.
  3. Rub baby powder on the tattoo.
  4. Coat everything with hairspray. 
  5. Marvel at your new temporary tattoo. Your tattoo will be visible for about a month unless you decide to go in with rubbing alcohol and remove it by hand.

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