Your Guide to Purchasing Temporary Tattoos on eBay

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Your Guide to Purchasing Temporary Tattoos on eBay

Tattoos are a unique form of art, as they exist on the human body itself, and are considered an intensely personal form of self-expression. Many people desire tattoos. However, there are limitations upon a lot of people’s ability to do so. For instance, since tattoos are applied with needles, the experience is very painful, and the resulting image is permanent. These two factors put a considerable number of interested consumers off the idea of a tattoo.

Temporary tattoos offer an excellent solution to those who either cannot or do not want to get a permanent tattoo, but do wish to express themselves with their body. This guide will look closely at the different kinds of temporary tattoos available, along with their advantages and disadvantages. It will also explore why eBay, the auctioning website, is an exceptional place from which to purchase them.

What is a Temporary Tattoo?

A temporary tattoo is the name given to any image or design that can be applied to the human skin. It remains visible for a time, and then either fades or can be removed. Temporary tattoos are favoured by people who do not with to permanently mark or define themselves, but do wish to express themselves by decorating their body.

Since children cannot have tattoos, there is a large market for children’s temporary tattoos, featuring child-friendly designs such as princesses and superheroes. However, temporary tattoos are not just for children. There are many different designs and kinds of temporary tattoo, suited for a range of different requirements.

The next section details the different kinds of temporary tattoos available on eBay, along with details of their traits and characteristics

Types of Temporary Tattoos

There are many types of temporary tattoo. They are as follows:


Transfer tattoos are the most widely available form of temporary tattoo. They first rose to prominence in America, found as bonus treats in packets of bubble gum. They could be applied merely by licking them, and they were very easy to wash off. Today, they are much more complex and longer lasting creations, with a huge array of intricate designs available. There are five main components of a transfer tattoo:

  • Paper (front) – the piece of paper is the basis of the tattoo. It is smothered with a unique coating substance. The tattoo is drawn onto this substance.
  • Paper (back) – the back of the paper usually contains instructions, and is otherwise unaltered
  • Ink – the ink is used to draw the tattoo onto the substance coating the front of the sheet of paper.
  • Glue – the glue is applied to the completed image, so that it will stick.
  • Plastic sheet – a sheet of plastic is placed on the front of the paper, protecting the glue and the ink from damage.

The tattoo is applied as follows:

  • Remove the protective plastic sheet
  • Place the design face down on the skin
  • Moisten the back of the paper thoroughly
  • Once the glue has stuck, peel away the paper

This should result in the undamaged image being affixed clearly and visibly to the skin. The temporary tattoo usually lasts about 3-5 days, after which it simply washes off, leaving no trace it had ever been applied to begin with.


Henna is an ancient tradition of body-painting, dating back from the very earliest days of Hinduism in Asia. Henna is essentially a paste, mixed from the dried and crushed appendages of a certain plant found in India and other Asian countries. The paste is applied to the skin in the required design, where it is left to dry and stain the skin. Henna allows for greater personalisation and self-expression than transfer tattoos (despite only coming in a small range of colours), but also requires more skill, making it an option chosen mostly by older individuals. Henna also lasts much longer, often up to a month, than a transfer tattoo, as it only fades as the skin itself sheds.

There are professional henna artists, who specialise in intricate designs, but amateurs can just as easily perform henna. Purchasing henna on eBay will normally be a matter of acquiring the paste and the “cone” with which it is applied, requiring the buyer to apply the design on their own.


Airbrush tattoos are applied using a device called an ‘airbrush’. This involves spraying ink through a nozzle onto the target’s skin. A stencil is then placed over the skin in order to attain the desired pattern. This method requires a fair amount of equipment, namely:

  • Stencils
  • The airbrush itself
  • Inks

The need for this equipment makes airbrushing the most expensive method of applying a temporary tattoo. It also requires a fair amount of practice to get the tattoo looking right, and usually has to be applied by another person, due to the complexity of the process. However, it is also the most professional looking, and as such is often used by entertainment companies such as film studios to create the impression of a real tattoo.


There are multiple pens available on eBay designed for drawing or writing on the skin. They allow instant application and complete creative control over the design, and can be applied to one’s own skin as well as to others. They last for a considerable amount of time. However, this also means that mistakes last a long time too. The quality of the image is also relatively low compared to the other temporary tattoo methods.

Fake Sleeves

Some subjects of real tattoo applications will elect to get a ‘sleeve’, or a mesh of designs covering the entire arm. Fake sleeves are also available, consisting of a thin, transparent or skin-coloured material, covered with tattoo-type designs, which is worn on the arm. However, it is normally very easy to detect when a sleeve is being worn, so the use of fake sleeves rarely extends beyond fancy-dress parties.


Glitter designs can be applied using glitter pens and stencils. This option is popular with young children and girls, but is by no means restricted to them. Glitter can be used in conjunction with other methods of temporary tattoo application, such as henna, airbrushing or pens, to highlight certain areas of the skin.


The art of tattooing is widely thought to be a powerful form of self-expression, and a progressive fashion statement. However, tattooing is a very painful and ultimately irreversible procedure, which often puts prospective subjects off.

Temporary tattoos allow for all of the aesthetic value of a regular permanent tattoo, without the commitment or the discomfort of having it applied. This guide set out to examine the different kinds of temporary tattoos, along with their advantages and disadvantages. The main types are:

  • Transfer
  • Henna
  • Airbrush
  • Pen
  • Glitter
  • Fake Sleeves

The user-oriented consumer website eBay is an ideal place to shop for temporary tattoos, thanks to its easy-to-use design and impressive array of products. The platform should provide users will all the temporary tattoos discussed in this guide, all at affordable prices.

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