How to Remove A Temporary Tattoo

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 9, 2018
    Last Updated: November 26, 2020

Getting a tattoo is a major commitment. It’s one that many aren’t completely sure about. Lucky for the people who have a fear of needles—temporary tattoos are an excellent option. These tattoos will typically last for a week, depending on where they are. If you’re not happy with them though, removing a temporary tattoo is relatively easy, let’s find out how.

How Long Does a Temporary Tattoo Last?

The longevity of a temporary tattoo depends heavily on skin type, location, and exposure. Some can last for up to two weeks, depending on the brand and quality.The annoying thing about temporary tattoos is that they tend to peel off in different places. One day you see the corner come off, the next day a small area in the center has disappeared.

This spontaneous peeling can leave us with a not-so-pretty caterpillar shape instead of the butterfly we started out with. Sometimes it’s better to say your farewells and remove the tattoo before it goes downhill.

If your skin is dry and tends to peel often, the tattoo won’t last more than a few days before it starts to peel. Cleaning the surface, as well as shaving, prior to applying the tattoo will make it look better and help prevent the unsightly peeling.

Where the temporary tattoo is will also determine how long it lasts. If it’s in a place where clothes often rub, don’t count on it to stay around for long. Choosing an area like the upper arm, ankles or neck will help the tattoo to last a little while longer.

Try to avoid locations with skin folds or where there is movement, like the wrist. These curves make it harder for the temporary tattoo to stick and could distort the design. Parts of the body which are regularly exposed to water, soap or sunshine won’t keep a tattoo intact for long. Tattoos in these areas may not last more than a few days.

How to Remove a Temporary Tattoo

Temporary tattoos have become more than just a Halloween accessory. They are often used in movies or the theater, and many people now choose to go this route. Sometimes though, you need it gone, and waiting for it to peel off on its own can take time. Here are a few ways I recommend removing the tattoo.

Baby Oil

Many of the good quality temporary tattoos are made to withstand both water and soap. Therefore, you may need to look a little further to remove it. Baby oil is good for many purposes and removing temporary tattoos is one of them.

Gently rub some oil on the tattoo, concentrating on the edges. The oil will soften up the tattoo, making it easier to rub off. Don’t have baby oil? Olive oil, coconut oil, or any other type of carrier oil, will do just as well.


If you need to get rid of the tattoo quickly, use regular Scotch tape. Cover the tattoo with the tape and rub your finger over it a couple of times, then peel. The tattoo should come right off. Apply a cold compress for a few minutes afterward, to prevent redness.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover contains acetone, which is very effective in removing colors and pigments on the skin, as well as other surfaces. Dab some of the liquid on a cotton swab and gently scrub the tattoo. Remember to rinse with cold water and soap to get all the acetone off.

Peroxide or mouthwash are also effective ways of removing temporary tattoos. Follow the instructions for using nail polish remover.

Makeup Remover

Makeup removers tend to be less harsh than the liquids suggested above, since they are made for the skin. You might have to repeat the process a few times, however. Removers for waterproof makeup are a better choice, as they are usually stronger than the regular varieties.

Temporary Tattoo Removal Wipes

There are some special temporary tattoo removal wipes on the market. These contain ingredients that quickly dissolve the temporary tattoo. The wipes tend to work faster than other methods. A downside is that they can be more expensive.

Final Thoughts

Temporary tattoos are an excellent option for quick tattoo fun. They are easy to apply and relatively easy to remove. I recommend trying out a temporary version before deciding on a permanent tattoo. By doing this, you get to try out different locations and designs before deciding—and with little risk involved.

The best thing about this option? If you don’t like it, wipe it off. As you can see, there are many effective ways of removing temporary tattoos—my top recommendation is using baby oil. It doesn’t affect the skin negatively, and it removes the tattoo with relative ease.