Are you looking for a safe way to ink your skin? A way to test-drive body art without the pain and lifelong commitment?
Then you’re shopping for the best temporary tattoo markers.
Markers with temporary tattoo ink will let you try out different designs in various places before deciding on a permanent tattoo.
They are also fun for adults and kids who like to doodle on themselves (and others).
Here’s more formation on using choose body markers for temporary tattoos.
How to do temporary tattoos with markers
Temporary tattoos done with tattoo pens last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It all depends on how you prepare the skin, what body marker you’re using, and how you take care of it afterward.
In our opinion, the best temporary tattoo ink is henna, as it can last up to 3 weeks on the skin. But authentic henna ink doesn’t come in body markers, so it’s outside the scope of these reviews.
Let’s get started on how to do the best temporary tattoo that lasts the longest. Here are the steps in a nutshell:
- Prepare the skin by washing, exfoliating, shaving hair, and wiping with alcohol. Allow the skin to completely dry before inking (1).
- Use the marker to create the design. Let the ink dry thoroughly.
- Avoid wetting the skin or applying lotion or oil. A light coating of hairspray may help the ink last longer.
While those are the basics, here is a little background information.
Skin preparation makes the temporary tattoo look better and last longer
When you read reviews of temporary tattoo markers, you’ll see complaints about smudging and bleeding. Some users find that the ink doesn’t last long at all.
Chances are that they didn’t prepare their skin correctly. If you have hair or oil on the surface, no temporary tattoo will adhere well or endure for long. At a minimum, washing and wiping with alcohol, then waiting for the skin to dry will make a big difference.
Aftercare for a temporary tattoo
Just like with a real tattoo, how you take care of the skin will affect how the ink looks and how long it lasts.
If your clothes rub against the temporary tattoo, it will disappear quickly. If you sweat or get wet, it may dissolve the ink faster. (There are some exceptions – see the BIC Body Markers below).
Lotion and oil may remove the ink, too. Even the alcohol in hairspray could damage it, which is why it’s smart to test it first as a setting spray. Take note that some tattoo pens say to not use a setting spray.
If you use Sharpie markers for temporary tattoos, you may get extra mileage by rubbing the dry ink with baby powder (2).
Are tattoo markers safe?
We’re happy to report that tattoo markers are (probably) safe for most people to enjoy. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to do a patch test and wait a day or two.
Body markers sold in America are supposed to meet safety standards for cosmetics. Even some types of Sharpie markers are certified non-toxic. How can you tell?
They carry a round seal with the letters “AP” inside it. This is from the Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI). It means the markers don’t have ingredients that are poisonous to humans over the short or long-term (3).
On the downside, avoid temporary tattoo markers with black henna. It’s actually hair dye with a chemical called PPD. It could cause a rash or worse.
Best Temporary Tattoo Markers in 2023
With that said, let’s start with the best markers for inking temporary tattoos.
BIC BodyMark Temporary Tattoo Markers, 8-Pack
Our top pick is a product born from a collaboration between BIC and the world-famous tattoo artist Miryam Lumpini.
The Witch Doctor (Lumpini) was concerned about tattoo artists using markers on their clients that aren’t skin-safe. The BIC BodyMark markers are the solution. They are perfect for creating non-toxic stencils.
They’re also excellent for freehanding designs to test-drive a tattoo.
Doodle with them, remind yourself of important phone numbers and appointments and keep track of your grocery list. There are 8 colors to choose from, including brown, black, dark blue, light blue, green, purple, red, and pink.
Some reviewers use them to enhance their eyebrows or their permanent tattoos. They’re cosmetic-quality and recommended for people age 13 and up. (But they aren’t recommended for sensitive skin).
Each marker has flexible tips that draw thin or thick lines. The colors blend easily, too. The end result is realistic enough to fool your Instagram followers.
The ink can last for 3 or 4 days if you don’t wet the skin frequently or scrub. Once the ink is dry, it is possible to shower and sweat without removing the temporary tattoo right away.
We’ve seen that some people try to make it last longer by treating it with hairspray or makeup setting spray, but BIC doesn’t recommend that.
If you’re curious, the markers are made in Korea, and the ingredients are listed on the back of the package.
Bic BodyMark Temporary Tattoo Marker, Black
If you’re not ready to commit to the full range of colors, you can get a single BodyMark marker like this one, which happens to be black.
It has a flexible tip that you can use for thick or thin lines.
Otherwise, BIC also offers several other sets, like Old School with red, blue, and green. There is a 3-pack with pastel shades and one with traditional Henna colors – browns and reds.
BIC BodyMark Temporary Tattoo Marker with Fine Tip, Mandala
The Mandala body markers have extra-fine points. They come in pink, purple, and brown.
The package includes sticker stencils as well. These are not reusable more than a couple of times.
These markers are great for lining but challenging to use when shading large areas.
BIC BodyMark Temporary Tattoo Marker, Henna Vibes
Get the earthy brown, red, and black shades that will make you look like you got a henna tattoo. The only downside is that the ink doesn’t last as long as real henna.
BIC BodyMark Temporary Tattoo Markers with Stencil Kit and Inspiration Book
Go big and get the full kit with 9 stencils, 8 markers, and a look book created by Miryam Lumpini.
The stencils include music notes, hearts, palm trees, and floral designs.
Skin Companion Twin Tip Tattoo Pens
These German-made markers have a fine tip on one hand and a medium-sized one on the other. There are 7 colors: yellow, orange, red, blue, pink, black, and green.
Reviewers say they have slender barrels that are easy to hold and the colors blend well.
The ink dries quickly to prevent smearing. Once it’s dry, it should last for at least two days even if you take a shower. If you need to remove it sooner, wipe the ink with alcohol or nail polish remover.
Interestingly, the ink is safe enough for children, plus you can use it on the face.
Vanli’s Temporary Tattoo Pens
This brand of tattoo marker features natural, non-toxic pigment that meets US cosmetic standards and ASTM regulations. The ingredients are listed on the package.
There’s a selection of six fine-tip felt pens and seven metallic brush pens. The felt tip selection includes yellow, orange, red, pink, brown, and black. Meanwhile, the metallic shades consist of silver, gold, blue, pink, bronze, purple, and green.
The kit comes with 50 tattoo stencils. Among the stick-on stencils are images of animals, holiday icons, flowers, and patterns.
Users say the ink dries quickly on the skin, but it washes off easily with soap and water. Happily, the company offers a satisfaction guarantee.
Inkbox Freehand Ink Semi-Permanent Tattoos
This setup allows you to do a type of stick and poke tattoo without actually using needles on your skin.
The marker has a reservoir with plant-based ink. Within the next 24 hours after applying it, it darkens in color, similar to henna tattoos. On some skin tones, it will look black. On others, it will appear bluish.
The steel tip is ideal for precision designs, and the ink flows smoothly from it.
It takes about an hour for the ink to fully dry. Then, the skin will retain the ink for up to two weeks.
Beefly Jagua Temporary Tattoos Kit
This kit comes with two body markers and 63 stencils. The markers are actually bottles of temporary tattoo ink with a metal applicator tip.
The ink is waterproof and should last up to 5 days on the skin. It’s made of Jagua juice without PPD.
Professional GOTH Body Art Pens by Velvet
Professional artists use this type of marker as lip liner, eyeliner, and reinforcement for permanent tattoos.
There is some conflicting information in the description. One part says that the ink is waterproof, but the next says to avoid getting it wet after it dries. In any case, for long-lasting results, make sure the skin is washed and dry with no moisturizer before you ink it.
The velvety tip can be used for thick or thin lines. Shake the pen before you use it to mix the ink.
Viscot Mini XL Surgical Markers
Professional tattoo artists are familiar with these surgical markers as they use them for stencils. The ink stands up to wiping during the tattooing process. Obviously, it also remains visible during medical procedures, even if it’s treated with a prep solution.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many colors available besides blue, purple, or green. Also, the ink may bleed. Each pen is designed for a single use to avoid contamination, so it doesn’t contain loads of ink.
SHARPIE Retractable Permanent Markers, Ultra Fine Point
You may have a cheap temporary tattoo marker in your desk drawer right now. Sharpie fine point permanent markers are often the tool of choice for tattoo artists. They’re handy for stencils as they come in a range of colors.
Before you start drawing all over yourself with markers, you need to check one thing. See if the package carries the AP-certified seal. Then you can relax knowing that the ink is non-toxic.
These ultra-fine point markers are handy for outlining. The ink dries quickly, but it will bleed a bit, especially if you haven’t removed oil from the skin or if the skin is extra-dry.
Even though it’s permanent ink, it will fade within hours to a couple of days with washing and friction.
Sharpie Assorted Fine Point Permanent Markers
If you don’t need a precision point, these slightly fatter felt tip markers are fun for temporary tattoos. Anyone who’s gotten permanent ink on their skin by accident knows that it doesn’t wash off right away.
Moreover, there’s a wide range of colors available. This package includes all the colors of the rainbow plus black and brown. Each one is certified non-toxic (just don’t put it in your mouth).
Sharpie Metallic Permanent Markers
There’s cause to celebrate as the metallic colors are non-toxic, too. Yes, they will bleed a little bit. But how fun would it be to tattoo yourself with sapphire, silver, or bronze?
Other colors include metallic ruby, emerald, and gold. None of them require shaking like some other brands of metallic markers do.
L’Oreal Paris Makeup Brow Stylist Definer Waterproof Eyebrow Pencil
Yes, you can use an eyebrow pencil to give yourself a temporary tattoo. It makes sense as eyeliner is meant to resist sweat and oil throughout the day.
This one has a twist tip, so it doesn’t need a sharpener. The other end is an applicator brush, or spoolie.
For long-lasting temporary tattoos with eyeliner, prepare the skin by washing it and drying it. You can use a cotton swab to blend colors and shade. Once you’re done with the design, set it with hairspray or makeup setting spray.
Toysmith Ink-a-Do Tattoo Pens
Children love to draw on themselves, each other, and almost any surface available. Therefore, it’s crucial to use non-toxic, washable ink.
This set has 6 tattoo markers in bright, shimmery shades. There is also a variety of plastic stencils.
Parents who reviewed them said that the ink washes easily without scrubbing.
Alex Spa Girls Totally Temporary Tattoo Kit
Go the extra mile with tattoo pens, gems, and foil tattoos. This kit has all sorts of sparkly doodads to make everybody pretty. Furthermore, everything washes off easily.
Stop putting off that tattoo. See what it would look like by giving yourself a temporary tattoo.
Body markers are the safe and painless way to preview what your ink would look like.
You know you want to give it a try. Go ahead, have fun. Tattoo the whole family and see what you think. Then drop by again soon and let us know about your experience.
1. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Temporary-Tattoo-Last-Longer updated August 23, 2020, accessed December 21, 2020
2. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Temporary-Tattoo updated December 14, 12020, accessed December 21, 2020
3. https://www.hamilton.edu/documents/Art%20Hazard%20Labeling%20Considerations.pdf accessed December 21, 2020