Tattly coral butterflies temporary tattoos

Trend Report: Temporary Tattoos

Which trend has had major staying power for well over a year, appeals to both kids and adults, makes a fun and affordable gift, and shows no signs of slowing? If “temporary tattoos” was the last response on your list, you’re probably recalling the free toy surprise from the Cracker Jack box of your youth. But today’s tattoos—from chokers to armbands, wristlets and anklets, shoulder and chest decorations, and knuckle tats—are much more sophisticated and light years cooler than the cartoonish, peel-prone transfers of the past.

Tattify Quotes tattoos

Tattify Quotes tattoos

 

While temporary tattoos have occasionally surfaced as a trend, most recently in the mid-1990s, they came roaring back as a boho fashion statement in the spring of 2014 on the music-festival circuit. They hit most teen and young adult chains, like American Eagle, Urban Outfitters, and Abercrombie & Fitch, by last summer, and exploded onto both the adult and teen fashion and gift scene after supermodel Cara Delevigne walked the red carpet of the 2015 Met Gala covered in faux ink. Since then, dozens of celebrities have been photographed donning the tattoos, and some, like Beyoncé and Rihanna, have collaborated with design and accessory makers on their own lines of body art.

Beyonce X Flash from Flash Tattoos

Beyonce X Flash from Flash Tattoos

Katherine Roberts, customer and administrative support manager for Brooklyn-based Tattly, which offers a wide variety of tattoo designs created by more than 100 hip, professional artists, says that self-expression—and perennial topic among younger generations—is a key reasons this trend has had such staying power. “Rather than wearing an accessory such as a bracelet or a necklace, wearing a Tattly becomes part of the person wearing it,” she explains.

Tattly Brilliant Bracelets Metallic tattoos

Tattly Brilliant Bracelets Metallic tattoos

 

At $5 to $30, even for flashier celebrity collaborations or the ubiquitous metallic designs of Lulu DK, temporary tattoos are an easy, compelling way to make a statement—without the commitment. In addition to Tattly, Lulu DK, and Flash Tattoos, hot manufacturers include Tattify, Tattyoo, and Smashtat. 

Lulu DK Pop Tats

Lulu DK Pop Tats

Tattly farm animal temporary tattoos

Tattly Farm Animal tattoos

For Tattly, trend-watching and reviewing up-and-coming artist portfolios are integral parts of the design process, and the company frequently asks for customer feedback via social media. Once a design is chosen, it’s manufactured in the United States (with the exception of Tattly’s metallic line, which is made in China) from vegetable-based inks. All are FDA-compliant and last two to four days, and possibly longer if they’re placed on a part of the skin that doesn’t stretch much and isn’t prone to sweating or oil buildup. Application, with just a sponge and some water, couldn’t be simpler, and removal (with a bit of Scotch tape or baby oil followed by soap and water) takes seconds.

 

Tattyo Cat tattoo

Tattyo Cat tattoo

Tattly tattoos are available at more than 1,000 retail stores nationwide, from design-oriented shops at the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum to mass-market retailers like Forever 21 and Nordstrom. Most are sold in pairs or sets—“perfect for sharing with friends,” says Roberts—and are usually merchandised with accessories or in a designated display by the registers, where they’re often picked up as impulse-purchase add-ons. And with the holidays on the way, temporary tattoos are a great stocking stuffer for all ages and genders.

Robin Catalano

 

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