You can design and print your own temporary tattoos at home. The process works with inkjet or laser printers.
All you need is the best temporary tattoo paper. We’ll review the specific kinds of paper you need below.
Our article includes instructions for transferring the ink from paper to the skin.
We also include tips for how to make temporary tattoos look more realistic and last longer.
How to print your own temporary tattoos
The simplest way is to use temporary tattoo paper made for the type of printer you have, whether inkjet or laser. It contains adhesive so that the tattoo sticks to the skin. If you’ve ever put on a temporary tattoo, it’s the same thing.
You’ll need software (like Paint, Photoshop, or GIMP) or to create an image. Alternatively, you can use a photograph or other design.
Hint: clear images with distinct lines will print better than those with heavy shading and lots of detail.
Be sure to mirror or horizontally flip the picture before printing. Then, when you apply it, it will turn out with the proper orientation (1).
Now, you’ll need to determine which way the printer prints. Mark one side of a regular sheet of paper with a pencil or pen. Send it through the printer by printing a document of any kind. When you remove the sheet, you’ll see if it printed on the side you marked or the opposite. That’s essential for the next step.
If you use Silhouette brand temporary tattoo paper, separate the glossy paper from the green adhesive sheets. Insert the shiny paper into the tray. The ink will print onto that glossy side.
Since you can only run each page to the printer once, fill it with as many designs as you can.
Print your tattoos and let the ink dry. This may take a few minutes. A hairdryer can speed up the process – just don’t hold it too close to the page.
Lay the printed sheets on a flat surface. (The image will be reversed, but this is correct. See the next step below).
Peel the backing off the green adhesive sheet. Line up the pages and press the adhesive onto the ink. A ruler can help you smooth out the bubbles.
Trim the design so that there is a minimal amount of adhesive around the edges. Peel the pages apart and press the sticky side against the skin. Use a wet washcloth to apply pressure for 30 seconds.
Carefully lift the edge to see if the image is transferred. If not, make sure the tattoo is damp enough and press a little longer.
Once you remove the temporary tattoo paper, you’ll be inked!
Can you make a temporary tattoo with regular paper?
Another way to DIY temporary tattoos is to draw them on regular paper. Use a gel pen or non-toxic marker to create the picture (2).
Flip the paper over, then press it against the skin with a wet cloth. This is one way to transfer ink from paper to skin, but you’re likely to end up with the ink bleeding and an indistinct image.
Temporary tattoo paper provides precise and beautiful results compared to this method.
What are the longest-lasting temporary tattoos?
Temporary tattoos don’t usually last more than a couple of days. It depends on how oily your skin is, how often you get it wet, and if it’s in a place that is exposed to friction from clothing, etc.
Henna tattoos are the longest-lasting. They endure up to 2 weeks because they stain the skin instead of only sitting on the surface.
How to make a temporary tattoo look realistic
Tattoos made with temporary tattoo paper look shiny. Once they dry on the skin, you can dust them with a little baby powder to make them look more natural. Don’t rub hard, however.
Some people have success making temporary tattoos look better and last longer by treating them with hairspray or makeup setting spray.
If you’d like to remove a temporary tattoo that’s flaking or fading, oil and a little scrubbing will do the trick.
Best Temporary Tattoo Paper in 2023
Silhouette Temporary Tattoo Paper for Inkjet Printer
The best printable temporary tattoo paper is made by Silhouette. This brand offers more than one version, so be sure to get the right kind for your printer type.
If you have the Silhouette software and electronic paper cutter, you can get impressive results. But none of that’s necessary to print your own temporary tattoos.
Each tattoo paper has 2 sheets. One is white and glossy for printing the tattoo, and the other is green with adhesive. Check out the video tutorial online or see the instructions above in the introduction.
Temporary tattoos made with this paper last a maximum of 2 days.
VViViD Inkjet Printable Temporary Rub-On Tattoo Paper
You might save a little money by going with this brand, but we were disappointed by the negative feedback. Many of the complaints focused on how long it takes ink to dry on the paper.
Similar to Silhouette’s package above, there are 2 sheets in the pack. They’re compatible with any desktop inkjet printer. Plus, you can use a plotter or electronic cutter to trim the tattoos once you’re done printing.
They apply in the same way with a wet washcloth and pressure. Then, each temporary tattoo should last for maximum of 5 days. (Realistically, it’s going to look good for just one or 2 days).
SANGI Temporary Tattoo Paper for Inkjet Printer
There are several highlights here. First, this inexpensive tattoo paper is made with non-toxic materials. It’s formulated to transfer vibrant colors with high resolution.
Second, the temporary tattoos it creates are waterproof and can last up to 5 days. (Oddly, however, the instructions say they can be removed easily with soapy water).
Third, there are 4 sheets in each pack, and they are A4 size, larger than 8.5 x 11 pages.
On the downside, reviewers complained about the ink smearing and not transferring to the skin. Of course, that may have more to do with the brand of ink than the paper itself.
Rolurs Temporary Tattoo Paper Customized for Inkjet Printer
This paper is also A4 size, convenient when you want to squeeze as many temporary tattoos on one page as you can.
The instructions remind the user to mirror the design so that it doesn’t look backward on the skin. Insert the paper so that the ink will print on the shiny side.
Once the tattoos have printed, it’s time to apply the adhesive. Slowly remove one corner and line up the page with the adhesive sheet. Press the adhesive down onto the printed page with something like a credit card or ruler. (It’s like applying a screen protector to a cell phone).
Trim the tattoos, leaving one-eighth inch around the edge to help you peel the pages apart when you want to apply them to the skin.
Wash and dry the skin to remove oil. Place the design face down and use a wet sponge or towel to hold it there for 30 seconds.
Colorful Hydrographics Coating Temporary Tattoo Paper A4 for Inkjet Printer
This brand offers both inkjet and laser temporary tattoo paper. There are 5 sheets in the package. They measure A4, which is 8.3 x 11.7 inches. Be sure to insert the page so that the ink prints on the shiny side.
For best results, allow the design to dry completely on the paper before applying the adhesive sheet. Use a hairdryer or fan to speed up the process.
Temporary tattoos using this paper should last approximately 3 days.
Epoch Paper Temporary Tattoo Paper – for Inkjet or Laser Printer
Here’s temporary tattoo paper that works in both inkjet or laser printers. There’s a difference in quality, however.
If you use an inkjet printer, you’ll get a clearer, brighter image.
Each package contains 5 sheets of A4 size paper for printing tattoos and 5 adhesive pages.
Reviewers say that it’s easy to print temporary tattoos with this setup. Unfortunately, the tattoos only last for a couple of days, or less if they get wet.
Sunnyscopa Printable Temporary Tattoo Paper for LASER Printer
If you want a realistic-looking temporary tattoo, try using a laser printer. The image won’t be as sharp and vibrant as one done on an inkjet, but it will be more matte. That’s because the adhesive film on the laser paper is thinner and less noticeable.
Also, tattoos printed on laser paper are more durable. They don’t melt or fade easily when exposed to water, so they can last up to a week.
This temporary tattoo paper was developed by a company with nearly three decades of experience creating decals. It’s high quality, with a weight of 175gsm and a thickness of 190 µm. The adhesive film is 5 µm thick and meets FDA safety standards for skin contact.
RoryTory Temporary Tattoo Paper A4 Size for Laser Printer
Another benefit of using laser temporary tattoo paper is that there is virtually no dry time. Compare that to inkjet tattoos that may take several minutes.
This laser paper creates tattoos that are resistant to sweat and water. They can last up to 5 days yet are removable with baby oil.
Silhouette Silver Temporary Tattoo Paper (specialized printer)
What about metallic temporary tattoos? It turns out you can print them if you have a plotter or electronic cutting device like the ones (Cameo or Curio) that Silhouette sells. You don’t need an inkjet or laser printer as you won’t be putting ink on the paper.
Choose from silver or gold sheets of temporary tattoo paper. There are two sheets in each pack, each measuring 8.5 by 11 inches.
How does it work? Insert the paper in the electronic cutter and use the appropriate software to create the design.
Put the paper’s metallic side against the skin, then press down on the white side with a wet washcloth. Wait 30 seconds, then check for adhesion.
After application, each metallic temporary tattoo should last a day or two.
CINRA Tattoo Stencil Thermal Transfer Paper
There’s another type of temporary tattoo paper that requires a thermal printer. It’s something that tattoo artists have on hand for stencils.
Thermal transfer paper has 4 sheets that make up one page. The first is the master, the second is protective tissue, the third is covered in carbon or dye, and the last is the backing.
Typically, stencil paper like this offers only purple or blue “ink.” It is possible, however, to find red and green versions.
If you’d like to use this to make a temporary tattoo, you can draw on the carbon sheet’s back with a ballpoint pen. This presses the carbon paper onto the master sheet and makes the stencil.
Then, make sure the skin is clean and dry. It works best if you apply a thin layer of stencil transfer cream, but stick deodorant can work in a pinch. Press the image onto the skin and apply it just like you would a temporary tattoo with a warm, wet cloth. The image should last for a couple of days.
Vanli’s Temporary Tattoo Pens with 50 Pieces of Tattoo Stencil Paper
Encourage your creative side further with this kit. It has a selection of fine tip felt pens and metallic brush pens. Each one has skin-safe ink that meets US cosmetic standards.
Doodle directly on the skin with the stencils’ help or make temporary tattoos by drawing on the included paper.
Jacquard Jagua Temporary with Transfer Paper Tattoo Kit
Similar to henna, jagua ink tattoos can last up to 2 weeks. This kit has powder, oil, transfer cream, transfer paper, and an applicator. With it, you can mix your own ink, create the design, and apply it to the skin.
The bluish-black ink looks more like an authentic tattoo than a printed sticker ever could.
Yazhiji Tiny Fake Tattoos
Go wild and cover yourself with temporary tattoos. You won’t need a printer this time. The package contains 60 sheets with over 300 pre-printed designs.
We hope you have a good time creating your own temporary tattoos. You can fool your family and friends or test drive the tattoo you’ve always wanted.
Check out our reviews of fake tattoo sleeves and temporary tattoo body markers for more entertaining ideas.
1. https://www.instructables.com/Design-and-Print-Your-Own-Temporary-Tattoos/ by halestrom, accessed December 31, 2020
2. https://www.instructables.com/Temporary-Tattoos-/ by jenise2000, accessed December 31, 2020