3 Ways to Remove Even the Most Stubborn Temporary Tattoos

Temporary tattoos were fun as kids, and they’re still fun as adults. There’s just no fighting it. Going to a music festival? Those metallic press-ons can really complete your free-spirited look. Heading to the beach? Henna always seems to be close by. Need to express your creative side? Temp tats to the rescue. The one major downfall: they can be a royal pain to remove.

“Tattoos with certain coloring dyes may be harder to remove [than others],” says Michele Farber, an MD at Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. Luckily, she also has a few pointers to make it easier. But they do come with a warning.

When applying the tattoos, proceed with caution if you have sensitive skin. No matter how whimsical your temporary ink may look, it can also cause an allergic reaction. “The most common culprit is paraphenylenediamine,” she Farber. It can be found in various types of temporary tattoos (commonly in henna) and even in hair dye.

But if you’re already in a pickle and just need to remove it already, always start simple.

  1. Soak it: “Using a warm wash cloth or soaking [the area] with a warm cotton ball can help lift pigment,” explains Farber. You could also take this as a prime opportunity to light some candles, grab a book, and take a long bubble bath. Could be worse, right?
  2. Break out the baby oil: If you’re still having trouble, she advises to try wiping it away with baby oil. It can act as a makeup remover so it only makes sense that it can also remove temporary tattoos. The only caveat? Be careful not to overuse or over apply because it can clog pores, which could lead to a whole other slew of skin issues.
  3. Rubbing alcohol to the rescue: Farber says rubbing alcohol or acetone can also do the trick. However, if you are having a reaction or have sensitive skin, it could only irritate your skin further. Only escalate to that level if your tat still hasn’t kicked its stubborn ‘tude.

Happy tatting, and here’s to never having to scrub your skin until it’s beet red again.

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