Temporary tattoos are a lot of fun. A stick-on tattoo from a Cracker Jack box is how I remember my first peel-and-stick experience. They were tiny and if your application technique was too wet, you got a smeary design. The latest in temporary skin art is much improved, and can provide a fun effect for special events and parties, or as part of your Halloween costume.
The main benefit is quick application. However, this doesn't mean rush. Allow about fifteen to twenty minutes to put on one medium to large design if you haven't ever before. Read the specific directions for the product you have in your hands, as individual application methods can vary. You may wish to shave body hair from the area where you want to put the tattoo as most temporary tattoos are a thin layer of plastic that sticks to the skin and hair gets trapped and causes bumps and ripples. Have more than one copy of your temporary tattoo if you can, especially if it is integral to your costume. Take your time to pick and align your placement. You will also want to have whatever is required to remove the stick-on tattoo, usually cold cream or rubbing alcohol. With a spare tattoo and the proper remover, you can err and do it all over again.
Halloween tattoos can include bolts and scars on a Frankenstein, dripping bite marks on a Vampire victim, or a flowery accent or two to go with your hippie threads. Dress like Wesley Snipes’ movie character Blade and you'll need plenty of tribal tattoos. Or go peel-n-stick crazy and go out dressed as the tattooed person from the carnival sideshow. One year I volunteered to paint faces at a company Halloween party, and dressed as a tattoo artist. Temporary art was added all around my own real tattoos to fill up my arms and I wore a T-shirt with a tattoo design on it.
The Tattoo Transfer
A stick-on tattoo is made of a thin plastic, with some form of adhesive to make it stick to your skin. Most are removed with either baby oil or rubbing alcohol. These agents act to dissolve some part of the transfer so it can be scrubbed off the skin. Consequently, you have to avoid applying any and all body oils and sunscreens to fake tattoos or you might prematurely remove the design.
Take care of selecting your placement as it can enhance or detract from the look of the tattoo. Neck tattoos must be placed neither too high or too low for them to be visible. Armbands usually look better when they wrap horizontally around the biceps. A friend can place those better instead of trying to do it yourself so that the tattoo wraps straight around the arm. Areas that are flatter and without a lot of body hair allow for a cleaner application.
Most stick-on tattoos are applied to clean, dry skin with the tattoo pressed down on the prepared area. You will want to stretch the area you want the design to have the skin taut and smooth. If you are “crunched up” when you put the tattoo on the skin, any stretching movement of the skin will crack the design. This cracking and splitting effect looks just like when old rubbery T-shirt iron-on design break down and reveal the stick-on tattoo as an obvious fake. Wetting the backing is the most common method of application, and you will want to press down on the tattoo firmly and evenly without wiggling the paper backing if you can. After applying pressure for about twenty to thirty seconds, slowly peel the backing away and see how you did. If the paper became dry while being pressed and is still adhering to the tattoo, try moistening it ever so slightly so you can peel it away.
The Tattoo "Trick"
A final step after applying your tattoo is to dust it with translucent powder. This is the powder that you usually use to take the shine off your nose when you go to the bathroom in the middle of your date. This is a theatrical trick that takes the plastic shine away and provides the soft matte finish that accompanies real tattooing. Do not use talc or tinted powder as it will make the colors of the stick-on design become pale or pasty in appearance.
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