I'm the kind of gal who changes her outfit three times before heading out to dinner and can barely commit to a lip gloss color. Needless to say, the mere idea of getting a tattoo is anxiety-inducing — I back out at the last minute every time I make an appointment. But when I heard about Inkbox, a line of long-lasting temporary tats, I was intrigued. I figured I should try it out to see if I could narrow down the design and location for my future tattoo — and find out whether or not I got sick of seeing the ink before doing anything permanent.
While I don’t know the specifics of the tattoo I eventually want to get, I do know I prefer words to images. I also know I want to place it in a location that’s always visible to me. With all that in mind, I decided to test out a design that reads “the sun will rise” in script — a nice reminder that no matter how difficult life gets, things will always get better.
I applied my first Inkbox tattoo the day before I left for my annual family beach vacation. Keep reading to find out how long it lasted during a week in the sun, sand, and surf.
- Price: $9-29
- Best for: Anyone flirting with the idea of a tattoo
- Your rating: 4.5/5
- Clean/Cruelty-Free: All Inkbox tattoos are cruelty-free, and the ink comes from a natural source
- What we like: Wide variety of designs, easy to apply, fades gradually, compostable pouch packaging
- What we don't like: Pricey, somewhat hard to remove
What Is Inkbox?
What separates Inkbox’s tattoos is that they sink into the top layer of your skin — unlike other temporary tattoos, which sit on top of it. As such, they gradually fade as your skin naturally regenerates, rather than flaking off in an unsightly way. It’s also worth noting that the patented ink comes from genipa plant extract, a tropical fruit that indigenous Amazon tribes have been using for thousands of years to tattoo their skin.
Inkbox features over 13,700 different pre-made designs, which range in size from small enough to place on your finger to large enough that it covers your whole bicep. The brand also offers a custom design option, where you can create a temporary version of the tat you've always dreamed of and make sure you truly adore it before committing. After you upload your desired image, you can choose the size and even adjust the shading. Inkbox makes a freehand tattoo marker as well, which allows you to create custom designs on the spot.
Inkbox works on all skin tones, has been tested for safety, and is water-resistant, meaning you can shower and swim freely. The designs last about one to two weeks; after the first week, they start to gradually fade. According to the brand, how long your tat lasts depends on your level of daily activity, your skin’s unique chemistry, and of course, whether you take certain aftercare measures, like moisturizing regularly. The placement matters, too. For example, tats on your ankles will last longer than your hands since you wash your hands more frequently.
How To Apply Inkbox
Applying an Inkbox tat only takes about two minutes, but you’ll need to wait 60 minutes before you can see the results on your skin. Application works a lot like any other temporary tattoo you may have tried in the past. First you rub the primer wipe (included) over the area where you’re looking to apply the tattoo — this gently exfoliates your skin so that the ink lasts longer. You then peel off the back of your tattoo and place it onto your skin with the sticky side down.
Once the design is placed, peel off the border around the tattoo and then press down firmly to ensure it applies evenly without any wrinkles. From here, leave it on for one hour, avoiding sweat, moisture, and excessive movement. Once time’s up, gently peel the applicator off — the design will appear light blue or green at first, but it continues to develop and darken over the next 24-36 hours.
Something to note: While it’s very rare, there’s a slight risk of an allergic reaction. That said, I have super sensitive skin and didn’t have any issues. For long-lasting results, make sure to wait at least eight hours before you shower, swim, or exercise; apply lotion daily; and drink lots of water.
After considering a few different locations, I decided on the underside of my inner forearm. Applying my design couldn’t have been more easy or intuitive. I peeled it off, stuck it on my arm, waited an hour, and voilà — near-instant satisfaction. When I first applied the tattoo, it appeared with a light aqua-blue ink. It was fun to watch the color gradually change over time.
I quickly became enamored with the way the tattoo looked — in fact, I found myself constantly turning my arm over to take a look at it throughout the evening. On a stressful day right after I applied the tat, having an optimistic message in such a visible spot served as a cute little mood boost.
Depending on your skin’s unique chemistry, the final color could range from a deep blue-green to jet black. According to Inkbox, the darker your skin tone, the darker the design typically turns. About 24 hours after I applied my design, it had turned a very dark blue — almost black but not quite. I started getting so many compliments from friends and family when they first spotted the tattoo. To my surprise, every single one of them thought it was real.
Inkbox claims a tattoo on the forearm, specifically, should look fresh for about six days, and then start fading on day seven. My experience followed this exact trajectory: The ink began looking slightly less bold on the seventh day and started fading more significantly after my shower on day eight. While the tattoos are water resistant, water exposure can reduce the lifespan of the tattoo, so Inkbox recommends applying sunscreen and petroleum jelly to the area before showering or swimming. While on vacation, I went surfing in the ocean twice, and I’m sure having the wetsuit rub against my skin impacted the tattoo’s longevity.
When the tat became ultra-faded on the ninth day, I decided to try and scrub it off to make way for another design in the same spot. Removing the remnants proved a little more challenging than I expected. Inkbox makes a Tattoo Remover Spray with alpha-hydroxy acids to exfoliate the skin, but I forgot to buy it, so I tried using a body scrub with my exfoliating glove to get it off. Even after some serious scrubbing, I could still faintly see some of the letters for another day or two.
At $21, my Inkbox design is definitely more expensive than the typical temporary tat, which tends to cost about half the price or less. That said, these tattoos do last longer and fade more naturally than other temporary alternatives. Given the ease of use as well as the realistic-looking and long-lasting results, I’d say Inkbox is worth the price.
Surveys show that a whopping 78% of people regret at least one of their tattoos. The fear of regret is what’s been holding me back, and Inkbox works as an easy solution for test-driving designs before investing hundreds of dollars into permanent ink. Not only did using the temporary tats help me solidify where I want to get my tattoo, but it also allowed me to get accustomed to seeing ink there.
Now, it’s time for the next step in my ink journey: creating a temporary custom design. The best part? Even if I hate it, I know it’ll fade in a week. For tat commitment-phobes like me, that’s a dream come true.