How to Make a Pen Tattoo Last Longer? Tips & Things to Avoid

How to make a pen tattoo last longer?

Temporary tattoos are fast becoming a famous brand of wearable art (1). How long can you expect a pen tattoo to last on your body?

Making a pen tattoo last longer than a few days is related to where you have the tattoo.

I’ve had several temporary tattoos to preview permanent ones, and the first pen tattoo lasted three days.

My mistake? I was putting them on my hands or feet and neglecting their proper care. 

Let’s discuss how you make these temporary tattoos last longer than three days.

Key Takeaways

  • Proper aftercare will make a pen tattoo last longer than just a few days.
  • Choose a safe application area not susceptible to constant friction.
  • Applying hair spray or baby/talc powder will also help prolong the lifespan of the tattoo.
  • Activities such as swimming and scrubbing the tattoo with hot water can quickly remove the pen tattoo as well.

How Long Does a Pen Tattoo Last?

A pen tattoo can last between one and two weeks. However, only quality tattoos last two weeks in good condition.

Some pen tattoos start fading as soon as the artist puts away his tattoo pen or gun!

However, with proper care, temporary tattoos can last longer than a month. 

See the imagery at the beginning of this video that shows the fading process of temporary tattoos.

An inferior-quality fake tattoo won’t even go past a week before it wears off. It’ll look like a pale shadow of the beautiful design you had.

Tips to Make Pen Tattoos Last Longer

Temporary tattoos, like ‘permanent eyeliner,’ fade with time. They should only start fading after you get the satisfaction of having them for quite a while.

Here’s what to do to make a temporary tattoo last a while.

1. Minimum Friction Placement

Application location matters when dealing with fake tattoos. As I mentioned, putting them on your hands or feet makes it difficult for them to survive for long.

Your hands and feet are always on the move. Even the most vibrant colors of fake body art will wear off quickly when you put them on these body parts.

Consider henna tattoos if you want a temporary tattoo on your feet or hands. Natural henna is your best option to avoid any allergic reactions.

Black henna can induce contact allergies, especially if you have sensitive skin (2).

That’s why it’s more popular as a hair dye than as temporary tattoo material.

2. Proper Application

Nothing beats a proper application of a tattoo design, whether fake or realistic. The application process matters a lot for the longevity of temporary tattoos.

If you apply them yourself and bungle the job, they will only last a short time. But, if you have an expert do it, the pen tattoo will last longer.

3. Proper Preparation

Preparing your skin will help the pen tattoo last longer. Clean the area you want to apply the tattoo thoroughly to make the skin smooth for the application.

The following video shows proper preparation for an actual tattoo, which also works for temporary tattoo prep.

Dry skin works best for these kinds of tattoos. Shaving, exfoliating and washing the application area will help.

A fake tattoo doesn’t do well when drawn on dead skin cells. As the dead cells fall off, so will the tattoo.

4. Suitable Temporary Tattoo Aftercare

Even traditional tattoos need proper aftercare to stay beautiful. Temporary tattoos need it more, though.

What’s the proper aftercare for a short-term tattoo?

Use a soft brush to apply baby powder or talcum powder on that tattoo for as long as you have it. That helps to absorb any excess oils that would make the tattoo fade faster.

A liquid bandaid or hair spray will also help make the tattoo last longer than three weeks. Remember to apply some baby powder before spraying at a distance of about twelve inches.

Quick Tip: In the aftermath of having a temporary tattoo, avoid any unnecessary contact. If you want to remove the excess ink, use a paper towel and gently dab on it. The tattoo will be delicate, and minimal contact will protect it.

CHECK: How Long Does Permanent Makeup Last?

Things To Avoid To Make Pen Tattoos Last Longer

Even after using the best tattoo pen for beginners, tattoos still need you to be vigilant to make them last longer.

Here are some things to avoid for a pen tattoo to last longer.

1. Avoid Wearing Tight Fitting Clothing Over the Tattoo

Tight clothes rub on the tattoo and make it fade. Avoiding tight clothing reduces the friction on the tattoo and will help it last longer.

2. Avoid Excess Scrubbing In the Shower

Though the temporary tattoo is waterproof, you must avoid scrubbing it too hard. Any consistent amount of friction can rub it off your skin. Showering with hot water will also reduce the tattoo’s lifespan.

3. Creams and Lotions Are a No

Avoid the tattooed area when applying creams and lotions. Alcohol and sanitizers will also reduce the tattoo’s lifespan, so you should avoid rubbing them on the tattoo.

4. No Swimming

If you swim regularly, that will have to pause once you have a temporary tattoo. The water will wash off the pen ink fast, especially if you’re a regular swimmer.


Will hairspray make a pen tattoo last longer?

Yes, hairspray can boost a pen tattoo’s lifespan by more than a few weeks. Apply it daily with baby powder, and the tattoo will last longer.

How long will a pen tattoo last if I don’t take care of it?

If you don’t protect the tattoo, it could fade in as little as three to five days!

Are tattoo pens safe?

Yes, tattoo pens are safe, especially if they have non-toxic seals. However, it’s better to avoid using them on overly sensitive skin.


Now that you know how to make a pen tattoo last longer than a few days or weeks, I encourage you to get one.

Temporary tattoos are an excellent way to test-run a permanent tattoo. I always use them to preview how a real tattoo will look on my skin before going for the real thing.

The tips outlined will help you last some time before going for another. Try them and let us know how long your temporary tattoo lasts.

women getting pen tattoo but how to make a pen tattoo last longer

Did you find the steps helpful? Don’t forget to let us know in the comments how long your temporary tattoo lasts.


  • 1. Robinson C. How This Millennial Entrepreneur Started A Successful Business After Attending A Sorority Party [Internet]. Forbes. 2019 [cited 2022 Nov 8]. Available from:‌
  • 2. de Groot AC. Side-effects of henna and semi-permanent “black henna” tattoos: a full review. Contact Dermatitis. 2013;69:1–25.
About Edith Russo

Edith is a self-made entrepreneur with a keen business sense that others admire and a total “can-do” attitude. She’s always coming up with new ideas to anticipate her readers’ needs and help solve all their toughest beauty and skincare problems. READ HER LATEST ARTICLES. FOLLOW HER on Linkedin and Twitter. Learn more about her HERE.