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Published on December 21, 2020

Inkbox: Test-driving the Temporary Tattoo

Are these tattoos worth the money, and how do they stand up to rough wear and tear?

Tatooed man

Photo by Norbert Buduczki on Unsplash

I’ve always thought tattoos are cool. I’ve also never been dedicated or brave enough to have something permanently etched into my skin. In a perfect world, I could get a tattoo that would last me through my beach vacation and then fade away once I returned home.

Inkbox is one of the first companies that could help me meet that goal.

Supposedly, Inkbox tattoos will last up to two weeks. You can submit your own designs as well, so it could also be an easy way to test out a tattoo or tattoo location in advance of getting something permanent.

Having several days of physical labor ahead of me, I decided to stress test one of their tattoos and see how well it would hold up to the “real world”. Not a best case scenario like relaxing at the beach or attending classes. Repairing vehicles, construction, and some hobby woodworking.

In the article below, you’ll see how the tattoo progressed over 10 days of abuse.

Application process

Applying the tattoo was relatively simple. The instructions are clear and amount to: clean skin very well, put sticker in location, sit tight for an hour. I decided to go for some planets on my forearm. My four year old loved this and can now name the planets in order (most of the time). Added use case: a fun way to teach something new to the kid!

I started my “stress test” right away by not fully following the extra precautions. I didn’t shave my arm (some arm hairs remained in the area of the tattoo), and I didn’t sit perfectly still while it set … I spent most of the hour typing.

Process of installing the tatoo

As I’d seen from other reviews, the coloring was pretty light initially. I could see a little blurring in a few of the lines and a few hairs that had “enhanced” or interrupted the pattern with extra or missing dye, but overall, it was an ok start.

And can we pretend my freckles are extra moons and asteroids? That’s what I’m going with.

The progression

Let’s get right into the meat of the experiment. Here’s the progression of the tattoo over nine days:

9 days of tattos

Day 0 on the left and day 9 on the right. By day 10, there were very noticeable gaps in the ink and I considered the tattoo finished. By day 14, it had faded almost completely away.

You can clearly see that days 1 through 5 are pretty good, roughly comparable to a real tattoo in appearance. Days 6 and 7 are passable. Days 8 and 9 are borderline and are beginning to look like the temporary tattoo that this is.

My abuse

So how did I mistreat my tattoo during the nine days? I spent several of the days doing multi-hour projects that involved a lot of grunting, sweating, and banging into things. I never tried to protect my tattooed forearm and each day was a two-shower day. It felt like a pretty good stress test.

Tattoo while working on a car

Day 1: Jeep tune-up. I spent about four hours pulling and replacing plugs and wires, and generally doing some “exploratory surgery” of this engine in a friend’s jeep.

Tattoo while working on landscaping

Day 2: Nearly done with these steps in my yard. This was at the end of the day when I’d finished construction and had rock and cleanup work left to do.

Tattoo while landscaping day 2

Day 3: Finishing up my steps. This day was full of shoveling rock, both the pea gravel and the rock next to the steps, and moving around lots of old weed barrier in the dirt.

Tattoo while doing more car work

Day 4: Jeep timing and carb adjustments. We’d figured out what we wanted to clean and replace beyond the tune up, and got deeper into the ignition system. Only stuck my hand in the unprotected radiator fan once. I don’t suggest it.

Tattoo while doing woodworking

Day 5: Making a wooden plaque with a shelf on it for a buddy. Nothing fancy, but plenty of glue, sawdust, and stain to get this built.

Tattoo while working on trees

Day 7: Lawn and tree care. Lawn mowing and edging, tree wrapping and trimming, and lots of weed pulling.

Tattoo while chopping lumber

Day 8: Chopping up spare lumber for firewood. I had half a truckload of four inch and smaller branches to cut up into wood for our backyard fire pit.

The verdict

The majority of Inkbox tattoos I looked at ranged from $15 to $30. Given my experience here, I’d expect them to hold up pretty well for about five or six beach days. Put it on during your travel day and wake up the next day with a decent tattoo. If like me, most of your vacations are only five or six days at the most, then this could be a fun accessory for that time!

I’ll also give Inkbox credit with the correct coloring of the tattoo. I had several friends and some video chat co-workers compliment me on my new tattoo. And with this design in particular, it sparked many interesting discussions about whether there should be eight or nine or twelve planets.

It was fun having the tattoo for a bit and I’ll probably do it again. Maybe next time I’ll try one on my bicep or shoulder. With this forearm position, the design stretches into weird oblongs every time I rotated my arm. Something I learned about tattoo placement by trying it out and more things to experiment with next time!

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