How to make temporary tattoos for kids

Written by mark vallet
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How to make temporary tattoos for kids
A temporary tattoo is fun for both kids and adults. (bare back and tattoo image by Jeff Holt from

Temporary tattoos are always a hit with kids. While it is possible to buy them, it's more personal and fun to make them yourself. Temporary tattoos are a great giveaway at a birthday party or simply as a way to entertain the kids for a couple of hours. You can use two ways to make a temporary tattoo. If you are skilled at drawing, using face or body paint is an easy way to do it. Using an image editing program on your computer and printing out tattoos on decal or water slide paper is the other way to create tattoos for kids.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Computer
  • Ink jet or laser printer
  • Decal or water slide paper
  • JPEG images or image editing software
  • Skin-safe paint
  • Brushes
  • Stencils

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  1. 1

    Purchase face or body paint from a craft or hobby store. Verify that it is marked safe for face and skin--it must be non-toxic. Purchase as many colours as needed for your design.

  2. 2

    Paint your design on the child's face or body. This can be done freehand with brushes or by using a stencil. Craft and hobby shops usually carry a variety of stencils and brushes. It is best to let each colour dry before applying the next.

  3. 3

    Let the tattoo dry. Once dry it should last for several hours or until it is washed off. This type of temporary tattoo will wash off easily in the bath or with soap and water.

  1. 1

    You can purchase water slide paper, at a craft store or at an office supply store. You will need several sheets, depending on how many tattoos you plan to create.

  2. 2

    Create a design using an image editing program such as Photoshop. You can also use Microsoft Word or Photoshop Essentials. You can create your own design in these programs or incorporate clip art into the tattoo. Numerous websites offer free clip art. You can also use a scanner to scan in images that you would like to use. When you are satisfied with your design, save the file.

  3. 3

    Follow the directions that came with your decal paper for printing your tattoos. The directions will vary depending on the paper type. The majority of papers require that you print your design on the glossy side of the decal or water slide paper. Set your printer to best resolution and choose photo glossy as the paper type when using tattoo or decal paper.

  4. 4

    Apply 2 to 3 thin coats of Gloss Clear Lacquer, which you can buy at most craft and hobby stores, on the printed side of the paper if you are using water slide paper. If the paper you are using includes an adhesive sheet, apply this to the printed side of the tattoo paper.

  5. 5

    Cut out the tattoo you intend to use if you printed more than one tattoo on the sheet. Soak the tattoo in water for 45 to 60 seconds. When the printed side starts to slip off the backing, gently slide it onto the surface of the skin and press down on the tattoo to keep it in place.

Tips and warnings

  • Once a temporary printed tattoo has dried, it should last for several days if you are careful while bathing.
  • It is possible that some people will have a reaction to the chemicals in the ink. Monitor the tattoo spot for a few minutes after application to make sure a reaction does not occur.

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