I've been sporting temporary tattoos that look real since grade school. (OK, back then they weren't as convincing — glittery boy band members' faces and and cartoonish phrases like "Flower Power" on my 8-year-old bicep weren't fooling anyone). Now, there's an overwhelmingly awesome selection of realistic fake tattoos out there that will have your friends doing double takes.
My minor fascination with the upgraded temporary tattoos for adults really took hold back in college. I've always been fascinated by clothes, particularly by how outfits can be extensions of your personality. When my sister introduced me to Tattly (a temporary tat brand that features different artists' designs), I was hooked — and enthusiastically added one more platform to my style arsenal. It became commonplace to see me with a trail of flowers blossoming across my collarbone, or a loopy script with my mood-of-the-week (like "Stop and smell the roses") stamped across my wrist.
For me, there's something so cool about applying a beautifully intricate design to your skin, one that feels so inherently you in the moment — but still having the ability to wipe it away, days later, and start anew. So go ahead, allow the best temporary tattoos to let you wear your heart on your sleeve.
Embrace Your Inner Sailor
My gateway temporary tattoo set came from Tattly, and now you can dive into them, too. This blue tinted nautical set features eight tattoos designed by artist Fiona Richards (two anchors, two ships, two blooms, and two birds), and they're all made with FDA-compliant vegetable-based ink. From personal experience, I can say these tats lasted me a little over a week, and they seriously look awesome in person.
Level Up Your Garden Party Style
This Los Angeles-based temporary tattoo brand prides itself on curating the quirkiest sets of tattoos — this particular one comes with 16 tats, and they'll last for about five days of wear. Reviewers say the colors look incredibly rich and that application is really easy. One fan, who got a few for herself and her friends, said, "They were easy to apply, looked very impressively real, and stayed on well, even though we were doing a sweaty yoga class."
Look Back At It (It, Being Pink Peonies)
This pretty pink temporary tat is a gorgeous way to show some skin at your next outdoor event. The ink should last about five days, and when you're ready to take it off, all it requires is a little baby oil and some cotton balls to do the heavy lifting.
Aliens, Pizzas, And Convo Hearts Get A Little Weird
Embrace your sassier side with a few temporary tats that showcase your love for the bizarre. Not only does this set of 10 have some tells-it-like-it-is conversation heart tattoos, but the alien head duo is definitely the missing piece for your next night out's look.
"Always & Forever" In Bloom
You'll wish this tat lasted "always and forever." Alas, it does not — but you will get about a week's worth of wear, speaking from personal experience again. This set, designed by Rifle Paper Co.'s Anna Bond, comes with four designs (two of each), that are super fun to layer and mix around, depending on your mood. Custom-create your own sleeve, or just stick with one, and make the look your own.
Coming Up Roses
This set of two roses from Tattify features a black rose outline with light shading for definition, and it will look awesome peeking out from your sleeve or shorts once the weather warms up. Fans of the tattoo say it looks real in person, and that this particular one fades after a few days.
Reading The Signs
Whether you're an aquarius yourself or just appreciate coastal vibes, this minimalistic wave duo is the perfect way to change up your look without making it permanent. (Plus, if you're not an aquarius, you can still pick out your own sign from their offerings.) They'll last up to five days and are easy to remove with a little oil.
The Grown-Up Version Of "Flower Power"
These red blooms will last up to a week of wear, and reviewers say the tat is a great way to experiment before deciding on the real thing. One said, "It was nice because they lasted days until I really scrubbed at them. It allowed me to see if I really liked having something in that location." Some people report a bit of a shimmery finish though, so these might not catch the more suspicious friends of yours off guard.
After All This Time...
... And all the Harry Potter fans said, "Always." For those who still hear Professor Snape's words reverberating in their ears, this one's for you. The tattoo comes in a set of two, and the waterproof design will stay on for about five days.
Embrace Your Dark Side
Then again, for the Harry Potter fans whose interests are a bit more sinister, you can sport the Dark Mark. While touching it won't make Lord Voldemort appear (because Harry took care of that years ago, obviously), fans say it made the perfect accessory to their Bellatrix Lestrange costumes.
Get Back In Bloom
Sporting an open-back top and looking for one cool way to edge it up? This extra large peony flower blossoms across the entirety of your back, and it promises to last up to seven days of wear. Reviewers give the tat top ratings for its vibrant color and realistic look, and one said it's the perfect choice for those who want to wear a big tattoo without the commitment.
Splash In With Koi And Lotus Flowers
Loving the sleeve look, but not so much the commitment? This ornate design features koi and lotus flowers, so you can have a taste of the tatted life but get your regular look back days later. One fan said they really couldn't believe how realistic the design looked.
Transform Your Look With Feathers And Birds
If you want a streamlined silhouette that's more simple than it is intricate, this one will look awesome wherever you place it. The design lasts from five to seven days, and fans say it was easy to apply and looked like a real tattoo once applied to the skin.
Butterflies And Blossoms Cover All The Bases
This set of eight tattoo strips gives you roses, feathers, butterflies, and pretty much any other sign of spring you feel like showcasing on your body. They look super realistic (check out that shadow effect on the butterflies!), and you can customize them further by cutting out the specific shapes you want and fitting them together for a custom sleeve.
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