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!

More from The Stir: Couple Gets Tattoos With a Secret Meaning (VIDEO)

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

general health, tattoos


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Julie Winkler

Real, plant only based henna, is perfectly safe. Many cultures have used it throughout history. It's only the so called 'black henna' that is causing problems in that form of temporary tatoo because of the cautic chemicals it contains. Henna should only dye your skin a deep orangey/brown color and anyone who tries to sell you some other color henna should be your red flag that they are not using safe, natural henna.

pagan... paganmommy4

Key West offers Henna Tattoos. And I still temp tattoo my kids...

Lee Ann Day

man anything else they want to take from us. we can't smoke were we want, we cant get temp tattoos, we have to watch what we eat then are told that it is safe. wish people would just keep their options to themselves

Joe Colehour

Government----------Stop telling people what to do!!!!!!!!!--------Ron Paul.

Ricki Horn

I have never cared for them cuz that is something that is very dangerous in the long run as you have said. Men and especially woman are having them put on their body and I keep thinking when they are a senior citizen like I am and I am just thinking that they wished that they didn't do that when everyone is going crazy getting them cuz they think its cool. My daughter has one actually 3 and I don't think she is happy with at least one that she has. I hope and pray that my love you signgrand kids never get them. I wish more people would really think about it before they did it. My dad was in the service and he has 2 and he wishes that he never had them but don"t have the money to remove them.. People please don't deface your body. Jesus tells us not to ruin our temple or body I forget how he puts it.

YoliM... YoliMarkschick

Ricki Horn -- Look up the word "temporary" in the nearest dictionary!!  They are not talking about real tattoos, you nitwit!!

Mandi Stuart

@Lee Ann Day - I believe you mean you wish people would keep their OPINIONS to themselves, not OPTIONS. Look it up, big difference. Plus, it's not really an opinion when it is backed up by science - that makes it a fact.

@Ricki Horn - TEMPORARY. That means it doesn't last forever.

Outsp... OutspokenMum

Isn't it the FDA that allows genetic altering of food and OK's dozens of additives and chemicals to be used as well? I'm more concerned that I can't pronounce or identify ingredient lists on food packaging more so than the occasional temporary tattoos.

Beccah Kahn

Oook so I do body art and face painting as a hobby and I recently bought some temporary tattoo paint. I'm worried these paints/inks might be harmful to my customer's skin, particularly the little ones'. They don't list the ingredients on them, so is there any way to find out if they could potentially be harmful or cause reactions in some people?

Ranti... RantingSyko

I love the commenters who only came in to look for someone to pick on, Mandi Stuart, you didn't even comment on the actual article!  lol do you have so little to do? 

Whatever, it's just a temp tattoo, so some people have reactions, no one freaks out and called peanuts poisonous cause some people have reactions!   Before you know you have an allergy, isn't any reaction a freak reaction?  ridiculous. just more scare tactics.

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