Temporary Tattoos May Be Toxic -- & Not So Temporary

temporary tattoo on woman's backIf you've ever thought getting a temporary tattoo was just guilt-free fun, think again, because the FDA has issued a warning against the seemingly harmless practice. Dr. Linda Katz, director of the FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors, says, "Just because a tattoo is temporary it doesn’t mean that it is risk free," and notes that users can end up suffering severe reactions that outlast the tattoos themselves.

Specifically, the agency has received reports of problems associated with temporary tattoos such as redness, blisters, raised red weeping lesions, loss of pigmentation, increased sensitivity to sunlight, and, in rare cases, permanent scarring. Eeesh


And just because a temporary tattoo is marketed as more "natural" or using plant-based dyes doesn't necessarily make it safer. Some inks marketed as black henna use a mix of red, plant-based henna along with other ingredients, meant to create a tat that's darker and longer-lasting (so much for temporary?!). Black henna is potentially harmful, the FDA warns, because it often contains p-phenylenediamine (PPD), an ingredient that can cause dangerous skin reactions in some people. Hence the issues people have reported, it seems!

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PPD has been banned in cosmetics, actually, but it still lurks around in temporary tattoos applied at local beaches and foreign resorts. So, it obviously pays to find out what your temporary tattoo is made with. Research is probably the last thing anyone wants to do when they're on vacation and itching to enjoy something spontaneous and quirky, like getting some impermanent body art. But there's no doubt it could save your skin in the long run!

If you have a reaction to or concern about a temporary tattoo or any other cosmetic, the FDA recommends filling out a complaint form online on its MedWatch website. You can also call 1-800-FDA-1088 to file the report.

Does this news turn you off the idea of getting a temporary tattoo or using henna?


Image via Lenore Edman/Flickr

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