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Are Temporary Tattoos Safe for Children?

Aug 21, 2018   |   6 min read

At Gumtoo, we are seriously committed to add cheer to the world around us, through our temporary tattoos. We are open to both queries and suggestions. Today, we received an email from a concerned parent on the safety of temporary tattoos.


My son, Ethan (4.5 years old) and I attended a birthday party last week. The hosts had set up a temporary tattoo booth with Dinosaur theme. My son is crazy about dinosaurs and wanted to apply multiple dinosaur tattoos on his arms and face. I am paranoid about my child’s safety and had misgivings about a product which I did not know about. My son absolutely insisted on having the tattoos. Fearing a full-blown tantrum in public, I gave in and allowed him to sport 1 dino tattoo on each arm. Now I am anxious about the potential side-effects. There’s no getting away from temporary tattoos- they are everywhere, and honestly-loads of fun. But I want to be sure of the products that I use on my child. I noticed that the temp tattoos were from Gumtoo and thought of writing to you. Are temporary tattoos safe for children? Are there any side-effects that I should know before-hand?


Shannon Tan

Our response:

Dear Shannon,

Thanks for writing in. We appreciate your concern about the safety of the products that you use for Ethan. And no, we don’t think you are paranoid at all. Just a loving and concerned mom. We at Gumtoo take pride in our products and are serious about the safety of our clients. We are parents too, and would NEVER develop or sell products that remotely compromise the safety of children. Some of our customers have similar queries about temporary tattoo safety: Are temporary tattoos safe for toddlers? Are temporary tattoos safe during pregnancy? So here are all the safety details on temporary tattoos that you always wanted to know. We hope this will clear up all your doubts. In case, you still have further questions on temporary tattoos, please drop in an email at We will be happy to help.

Warm Regards,

Team Gumtoo

Let us look at the types of temporary tattoos available in the market and how safe they are.

1. Henna Temporary Tattoos

intricate henna temporary tattoo on back of woman's hand
Image via Pinterest

Organic henna is a natural plant-based substance, which when applied on skin, stains it with a reddish-brown tint. In many cultures across the world, it is a common practice to apply henna on the hands during festivities. Organic henna lasts up to a few days to a couple of weeks, fading naturally over time.

Allergic reactions to natural henna are very rare and it is considered safe to apply on skin, even on children. Henna tattoos do not resemble real tattoos, and take some time and skill for application and drying. This may test the patience of young children. Also, the designs for henna tattoos are nature motifs and the color is monotone; rendering the tattoos somewhat unappealing to children.

You may have come across henna-based tattoos on beaches or at theme parks. In place of traditional natural henna, many vendors use ‘black-henna’ or ‘pre-mixed henna’. US FDA warns consumers strictly avoid any temporary tattoos labelled as ‘black henna’ or ‘pre-mixed henna’. These have been known to contain potentially harmful adulterants including p-phenylenediamine (PPD), silver nitrate, carmine, pyrogallol, disperse orange dye and chromium. Such ingredients have been linked to a range of health problems including allergic reactions and chronic inflammatory reactions. 

Bottom-line: In the unlikely case that your kid asks for a henna tattoo, strictly ensure only natural henna-based ones. If you are not sure of the kind of henna used by the tattoo vendor, walk away immediately. Gumtoo does not manufacture or sell henna-based temporary tattoos.

2. Airbrush Temporary Tattoos

applying airbrush tattoo on arm with stencil
Image via Youtube

Tattoo artists use a design stencil and spray cosmetic ink on it to create an airbrush temporary tattoo. Application may be a bit cumbersome on children who may not sit still, causing the stencil to move. Airbrush temporary tattoos can be easily removed by rubbing baby oil. This type of temporary tattoo is getting popular; however, it is important to check if the cosmetic inks used are approved by the concerned authority in your country. Airbrush paints that are used for art or clothing should never be used for tattooing. They can be potentially toxic and allergenic. Ask the tattoo artist what kind of ink is used and whether it meets the approval of authorities in your country.

Bottom-line: If you choose an Airbrush Temporary Tattoo for your child, ensure that the cosmetic ink used is non-toxic and approved by authorities (FDA in the US). If you are unsure of the kind of ink used, it is better to skip this tattoo. Gumtoo does not manufacture or sell airbrush temporary tattoos.

3. Temporary Tattoos using Applicators

applying temporary tattoo with microinjection machine on arm

This tattoo is applied with the help microinjection machines that inject ink, usually henna-based, into the surface layers of the skin using a tiny needle. These temporary surface injections fade in a few weeks. The tattoo application process does not hurt, but it punctures the skin. This could lead to spread of infectious diseases including HIV and hepatitis (as per a warning issued by UK’s Health and Service Executive).

Bottom-line: Steer clear of Temporary Tattoos using Applicators. Run far, really far if you spot one. Gumtoo does not manufacture or sell temporary tattoos using applicators.

4. Decal Temporary Tattoos

boy with headband shows off multiple colorful dino temporary tattoos and robot fake tattoos on his arms
Decal-temporary-tattoos-with dino

The tattoos that you see at birthday parties and other children’s events are most likely to be Decal Temporary Tattoos. This is the most common type of temporary tattoo.

The tattoo consists of any colourful or black and white image printed on water-permeable paper. You place the tattoo ink-side down on the skin and dab the back of the paper with a moist towel or cotton ball. Tada! The image is transferred on the skin. These last from 3 days to up to a week or two. You can easily remove that tattoo with baby oil.

Decal Temporary tattoos are the safest temp tattoo option for children and adults. In many countries, the health authority requires that decal-type tattoos use only non-toxic pigments that have been approved for use in cosmetics. Always buy temporary tattoos from reputable manufacturers which use approved pigments. Use decal-type temporary tattoos that offer an indication of the ingredients used to manufacture them in the product packaging. Avoid digitally-printed low-cost temporary tattoos, as computer inks may not be safe to be worn on the skin.

At Gumtoo, we manufacture and sell only decal temporary tattoos. We use FDA compliant inks that are skin safe. Our temporary tattoos are non-toxic, hypoallergenic and go through stringent third-party lab tests to ensure that they are completely safe for both children and adults. Gumtoo temporary tattoos have passed EN71 (European Standard EN71 specifies safety requirements for toys. Compliance is required for all toys sold in the EU) as well as toxicology tests.

However, if you or your child have very sensitive skin, we recommend not to apply temporary tattoos. Bottom-line: Decal Temporary Tattoos that use approved pigments are the safest temp tattoo option out there for kids and adults alike.

We are glad to see that you are breathing a sigh of relief! Let your child (and yourself) have fun with our creative, colorful, customized, super-fun, and absolutely safe temporary tattoos. Write in to us at for more details on how you can customize and order temporary tattoos.



Rekha is content strategist and editor at Gumtoo. Rekha is an art and craft enthusiast, she likes working with mixed mediums such as clay, glass and tiles. Fluent in 5 languages, she plans to learn French someday.

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