Military Tattoos

One of the most well known, and probably the most widely socially acceptable tattoos are on servicemen, and more recently servicewomen. These tattoos, sometimes called travel marks are more than just art. They tell stories about where the wearer has been, what they’ve seen and many times, how they feel about it. The story of freedom, hardship, war and liberty can be traced back for decades or longer on the bodies of generations of those who have served in all branches of the military.

Some got inked as very young boys on their way to war. Excited, scared and away from home for the very first time, their ink made them a man, and at the same time gave them the comfort of belonging to a family, a brotherhood bonded by ink and a common experience.

Others came home with tattoos done in strange and exotic foreign cities, maybe by someone who didn’t even speak the same language. They carry that design through life as a souvenir of the experience. Women are a bigger part of today’s military, and a make up a bigger part of the tattooed community as well. Thy get their tattoos just like the boys do, and for the same reasons.

So pervasive are tattoos in military culture, that tattoo studios almost always situate themselves near bases. Some are satellite locations of bigger shops on the other side of town. Their hours of operation may even revolve around the service people’s pay schedule.

The popularity of “Lady Luck” tattoos escalated right along with World War II. She may be completely clothed or in various stages of undress, but she’s always smiling, beautiful and usually accompanied by other lucky symbols like rabbits’ feet, four leaf clovers, horseshoes, etc. This tat was a stylish choice for men about to ship out because it was thought to bring them luck.

We can’t mention Lady Luck without giving some time to her evil twin, the “Men’s Ruin” tattoo. It also features a woman in various stages of dress, but this time she’s portrayed as the root of all his troubles instead of the object of his affection. She’s surrounded by representations of vices, such as dice, playing cards, booze and drugs, but she’s still pretty, because who wants to wear an ugly woman around for the rest of their life.

There were other variations on the same theme. A lady dress as a hula girl probably means the wearer served in the Pacific Theater. Similar images were often painted on bombs, cannons, guns and other instruments of war.

United States Marines often sport tattoos with slogans like: “Simper Fi,” or Death before Dishonor.” The bulldog mascot is also popular, but perhaps no other branch is known for their body art like the navy. Sailors are famous for their tattoos, which are rich with symbolism. After he’s gone his first 5,000 miles at sea, he has a blue bird inked on to one side of his chest, the next 5,000 earns him one on the other side. A seagull may represent a fellow serviceman lost at sea. A dragon means he’s crossed over an international dateline. The ever popular anchor was though to save him if he fell overboard, and sailors back in the days of actual sails had “hold fast” tattooed on to their knuckles to help them remember to be careful while up in the crow’s nest.

Sailors in the British fleet sometimes had crosses tattooed on their backs to spare them a flogging if they got into trouble, because it would be sacrilegious to strike the image. Other popular designs among the seafaring are Neptune, the god of the sea, nude women and various kinds of ships.

There’s been resurgence in patriotic tattoos in recent years, with the Gulf Wars drawing in a new generation of soldiers, and memorial tattoos honoring the fallen of September 11th. What ever the branch, during peace or times of war, servicemen and women wear their ink like a badge of honor.

Before You Get Your First Tattoo

So, you’ve finally decided to jump off into the tattooed community and get some ink done. A new tattoo is fun and exciting, but it’s a massive commitment. You need to do some serious soul searching and educate yourself. Getting a tattoo is a experience, and obviously one that’s going to follow you everywhere you go for the rest of your life. Make sure you know everything you need to know to make it something you are proud of and not something you regret. Here’s a partial check
list of things for you to think about in no particular order, because they’re all important.

1. The Design – This is a huge deal. You don’t want to pick something you’re going to fell stupid about later. Think along the lines of something class, something that will always be cool to you. For example, if you run out and get a cartoon character tattooed on your ankle the first possible second you’re legally old enough, are you still going to love Tweety Bird as much when your 48 as you need when you were 18? The same goes for the name of a significant other and anything else you might grow out of. Sometimes you can get a temporary tattoo of the design you are considering so you can wear it around a while before you commit. Consider every possible circumstance in which you may be embarrassed about that design and make sure you’re ok with it.

2. The Placement – There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an obvious tattoo if that’s the way you want it, but you have to be aware that there is still a significant amount of stigma associated with them and there will probably be consequences at some point down the road. Depending on your line of work, your employer may require you to cover up your tattoo while you are on the clock. If that’s the case or could ever be a possibility, you should think about putting it someplace that you can easily cover if you need to but could still show off when you want to, like the chest, stomach or back. If your tattoo contains nudity or some other social taboo, be prepared to be asked to leave some public places. When you get mad about it, remember you knew what you were getting into.

3. The Price – Be prepared to shell out some cash. The cost of a tattoo can vary quite a lot, depending on the size, how many sessions it takes, if you choose some flash straight off the wall, or decided to go custom. It’s a good idea to pick out your design when you don’t have the money, that way you have time to think about it while you save up. Don’t settle for something cheap just because you don’t have the money. You will always wish you would have just waited.

4. The Artist – Perhaps the best way to pick an artist is by spotting some work you like and finding out who did it. It’s almost always ok to ask someone about their tattoo. If they didn’t want you to notice it, they wouldn’t be showing it off. Once you know, visit their shop. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself, but it wouldn’t hurt to drop in a few times. Observe how the tattooists interact with their clients, and make sure to watch for telltale signs of sterilization. Is everybody wearing gloves? Do you see the autoclave? If not, then ask about it. If they’re hesitant to answer any of your questions, walk out and keep looking.

This is not even close to all the things to consider before getting inked, but they are a few of the biggest ones. Remember, the tattoo is the end result, but you’ll bear the experience forever too, and much of the outcome depends on you. Do what you can to make it a happy memory.

Cosmetic Tattooing

If the tattoo industry had an alter-ego, it would be the permanent cosmetic industry. Some people call it the more sophisticated and refined side of tattooing. Other people seem to be in a state of deep denial of the fact that it is a tattoo. Ladies who roll their eyes and shriek at the idea of artistic tattoos, the very same ones who perpetuated the sigma attached to them, are the jumping at the chance to finally define their faint eyebrows and pale lip lines. Dermapigmentation technicians used the same ink and the same equipment as artistic tattooist, but in a far more socially acceptable way.

Though there are documented cases of cosmetic tattooing taking place at the turn of last century, it’s only recently become more or less mainstream. Some ladies go
for the full face, eye shadow and all, but eyeliner, cheek color and lip liner are the most popular procedures.

The process starts with a consultation with a makeup artist who will help you decide the color palette that’s going to be permanently applied to your face. Obviously, this is perhaps the most important step. You wouldn’t want to wake up every day for the rest of your life with an unflattering shade of lipstick.

Once your colors are chosen, the technician will apply a topical anesthetic to the area. This will numb the skin, but you will still feel a stinging sensation. Most people feel the end result is worth the discomfort, or there would be women walking around with half finished faces.

After the tattoo is applied, you should treat the site just like a wound. An antibiotic ointment should be applied and the area should be covered as well as possible. Your technician should be able to recommend an ointment or cream that’s best for delicate facial skin. Even if your technician is well trained and runs a reputable and sterile operation, side effects and complications can occur. If you start running a fever, contact your doctor to rule out infection. A patch test should be done ahead of time to make certain you are not allergic to the ink.

Your new cosmetic tattoo is just as permanent as any artistic tattoo, but it will eventually fade to some extent. Eyeliner usually needs to be touched up every four to six years. Lip liner usually doesn’t last quite as long and may need to be reapplied ever two to for years. There are a couple of factors that cause the need for reapplication: pigments and your body’s natural skin cell renewing process.

Different color pigments fade at different rates, which may account for the fact that dark eyeliner lasts longer than lip color which tends to be rosier.

Cosmetic tattooing has a more practical side as well. It can be used to cover up scars after reconstructive surgery and make skin discolorations virtually disappear. Tattooing has successfully covered up facial scars and created facial features for people who lost theirs due to being burned or some other type of accident. It can also be used to create new aureolas and improve the appearance of a nipple after breast reconstruction. It’s a simple procedure that can make all the difference in the world to someone’s self esteem.

The best way to choose a reconstructive tattooist is with the help of your plastic surgeon. You’re doctor may be able to give you a mild anesthetic before your appointment. Unfortunately, the procedure is no covered by most insurance companies and the cost can be quite high, but you can’t put a price on felling like yourself again, especially after an accident or a life altering surgery that requires reconstruction.

Ankle Tattoo – Sprinkling more Sexiness to the Women

Which part of your body do you think is the sexiest? Is it your legs? Is it your hips? Is it your back? How about your nape? Sure enough there is always one part of your entire physical being with which you are most confident with. Anyhow, every part of the body can be graced with tons of sexiness.

However, did you know that you can make your ankle more appealing? Yes, you read it right. It is very much possible with the ankle tattoos! They have been around for the longest time and are very popular among the women. They are not only sexy to look at but they can also be easily concealed when it is deemed inappropriate. Hence, find out how you can enhance your toes even more.

It may be a rare chance for someone to think about the ankles when it comes to the sexiest portion of the body. However, most women employ tattoos to further add beauty to this body part. This is also a good way of diverting the men’s attention out of their hips and legs.

Why having the Ankle Tattooed is Ideal

The tattoos placed herein are basically perfect especially for the women since they can be carried on irresistibly and discreetly. There are special places that ban tattoos such as in the office or in school. Likewise, it is very scandalous for a woman to display that mark on her chest or arms! A mark on the ankle somehow spells the words “Noticing me is all worth it!”. This subtle execution surely makes a head-turner.

Another good reason to have it on the ankle is because women generally prefer a smaller tattoo. Aside from being discreet, the smaller sized ones save the person from too much pain as well as from the expenses. The lesser time that one will be exposed to the tattoo gun means a lesser amount of pain.

Having it on the ankle doesn’t mean that you have limited choices when it comes to the design. Its size may be relatively small yet the distinctiveness of such is never sacrificed. It is but an understatement to say that it is beautiful. It is way, way beyond that!

The Cost that it Takes

You don’t have to worry much about the cost since having it in this part of the body is just rationally affordable. The typical range of which is between $50 up to $200. You can surf the Internet for the possible fees charged by the different tattoo parlors. For sure, there is also a nearby shop in your locale so better check it out. Just take note that it is necessary to take time to conduct a survey regarding the price to pay for.

The Pain to Endure

Before you can actually enjoy your tattoo, you must first submit yourself to a torturing pain. Its intensity is far worse than a simple cut. There is no exact word that may define it, so to speak. Since the ankle area is filled with more tissues and bones, you can imagine that it will be terribly painful.

Nevertheless, it goes to show that with beauty comes the pain. You should bravely endure it before you can actually boast of what you have there. So having already read everything, are you brave enough to have an ankle tattoo?

The Process of Tattooing

So, you’re finally going to do it? You’re going to get that tattoo you’ve been talking about for years. You have the perfect design all picked out and know exactly where you want it. You’ve visited the shop a few times and are confident you’re chosen the right one. It’s clean and well lit, the artists are all wearing gloves and the autoclave is in plain sight so you see that it’s being used. The guy who’s going to do your ink seems nice and you feel like he’s really listening to you and understands what you want. You’re just a little hesitant because you don’t know precisely what to expect. Well, here’s a little enlightenment on the process.

Just like most other major life decisions, getting a new tattoo begins with some paperwork. You’ll be asked for the usual stuff, then a photo ID to prove your age. Rules vary from state to state, but you have to be at least 18 everywhere. Tattooing a minor with a parent present and/or written parental consent used to be ok in some places. The rules were stretched and abused, and it’s really not the norm now, but some shops will still do it.

After all your forms are filled out, you’ll have a seat in the artist’s chair. Some used chairs kind of like a dentist would have, other’s used tables or benches like a massage therapist does. If the shop is small, it may just be a plain kitchen chair. You may be seated in an open work area or a closed room, depending on the placement of your tattoo. Either way, your artist will try to make you comfortable.

Next is the preparation phase. The skin that’s about to be inked will be cleaned, usually with rubbing alcohol, then shaved, then cleaned again. Nothing but a brand new disposable razor should be used, and even then, it should only be used once. You can ask to check the razor out first if you want to. The artist won’t think you’re rude. He’ll probably thing you’re dumb if you don’t.

Now you need a stencil. These use to be traces or drawn by hand. It was a time consuming and tedious process. Thanks to the invention of the thermal-fax, it now takes just a few minutes. You can bring in a design you like, and your artist can scan it into the thermal-fax which prints it on a piece of transfer paper (assuming there’s not copyright infringement involved). He will then moisten your skin with water, soap, or sometimes a stick deodorant. This will help the transfer stick better and come off darker on your skin.

At this point, you artist will take a few minutes to prepare his workstation. He can’t do this ahead of time or everything wouldn’t be sterile. He will gather the ink into little bowls called “ink caps.” Then he will take the tubes and needles out of their sterile wrappers and put them in his machine. There should be a cup of distilled water on the table to rinse the needles between colors.

Now it’s time to get down to business. Before the needle touches your skin, the tattooist will dab a bit of ointment over the transfer. This is to make the transfer stay on longer, and to help the needle slide more smoothly over your skin so you’ll be more comfortable. First comes the outline. It’s basically getting what’s on the stencil permanently inked onto you skin. It’s going to hurt, but it shouldn’t be unbearable, otherwise there would be people walking around everywhere with half-finished tattoos. If you’re not getting color, you’d be finished at this point. If you are, the tattooist will switch to magnums, needles specifically made for coloring and shading.

You’re now the proud owner of a new tattoo. The artist will clean it and usually take a picture for his portfolio so prospective clients can see what he’s done. Next, he will put a protective ointment over the area, and cover it will gauze. On your way out, you’ll be given a sheet of instructions on how to care for your tattoo while it’s healing.

Henna Tattooing

Are you thinking of getting inked, but not sure you’re ready for the commitment? Consider a henna tattoo. It’s the best way to avoid permanent ink with out looking like you whimped out.

The tall shrub like henna plant grows in dry, arid climates. Much of the world’s henna supply comes from Egypt, Sudan and India, but it’s cultivated in some
African and Middle Eastern countries as well. In Pakistan, the plant tends to be known as “Mendhi.” The plant is ground into powder and made into a paste that will temporarily stain the skin.

Leaves are harvested from the plant just as the pink and cream-colored buds start to bloom. The flowers are can be used for perfume, and the leaves are hung to dry. It’s important to keep them out of direct light. Allowing them to air dry in semidarkness will preserve their skin-staining qualities.

The paste consists of the powder and a substance usually referred to as a “developer.” Hot water is by far the most common developer. Some henna artists swear by additives such as lemon juice, various kinds of tea and certain essential oils. Henna will start staining the skin upon the initial contact, as well as any soft surface it comes in contact with, so it’s important to protect the work area and make sure the paste goes exactly where you mean for it to.

The paste should set on the skin for about two hours after design is fully applied. Carefully brush the dried paste off of the skin without rubbing. The design should be an orange color. Don’t panic. The color is not finished developing. It should keep evolving for the next 12 to 48 hours depending on skin type.

It’s of utmost importance that the new tattoo doesn’t get wet in the first 12 hours. The water will automatically stop the color development. Aftercare of the fresh henna tattoo is very similar to that of a regular under skin ink tattoo. Avoid soaking in the bath, and use only mild soap. Be careful to keep it clean and make sure to pat the area dry rather than rubbing.

The art of henna application is typically practiced by females, or at least there is very little documentation that proves otherwise. Henna tattoos are traditionally applied to the hands, including the fingernails, and the feet for ceremonies and celebrations such as weddings and festivals, especially religious ceremonies.

The earliest documented use of henna as body art dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Mummies uncovered in archeological digs have revealed signs of henna use, not only on the hands and feet, but as a hair dye and possibly even a conditioner. There is evidence that pharaohs were often hennaed and that specifically hennaed hands may have been perceived as a status symbol among the ancients, signifying prosperity. In other parts of the world where henna application is popular, it’s used without respect to social or economic boundaries. Peasants are just as likely to be tattooed as royals.

Henna crosses many diverse cultural boundaries, but application techniques have stayed pretty much the same. The artwork may vary depending on the formality of the event. Tattoos worn for every-day decoration won’t be as ordinate as those for special occasions. The popularity of various designs changes from one geographical region to the next.

For example, the dominant style in Arabia is large, flowery design covering the palm, in addition to the back of the hand. This design tends to leave more unadorned skin showing than some alternative styles. Fine-lined, intricate paisley patterns are popular in northern India. These designs usually only cover the palm and leave very little skin uncovered.

Henna is a permanent dye. It only fades because of the natural regeneration of the skin. The typically tattoo lasts about 10 to 15 days. The fading process is affected by the tattoos placement on the skin and the lifestyle of its wearer.

Nazi Imposed Forearm Tattoos

Numbered forearm tattoos are closely associated with Holocaust survivors. This practice originated at Auschwitz, the largest and most notorious of the Nazi concentration camps.

Incoming prisoners went through the infamous selection process where a Nazi security officer, or Schutzstaffel (SS), would determine who would be killed in the gas chambers and who would work in the forced labor camps. The prisoners who would live and work were registered with a tattoo. Each prisoner was assigned a specific five digit Hollerith number, which was part of a custom punch card system designed to track prisoners with in the Nazi concentration camps, similar to our social security system in the United States in that each person was reduced to a number for purposes of identification. The punch card number would follow each prisoner from labor assignment to labor assignment as Hollerith systems tracked the prisoner’s availability for work and reported it to a central inmate file.

These tattoos were only one of the ways the Nazis dehumanized their prisoners, and Jews were not the only prisoners who bore SS tattoos. Homosexuals, the mentally ill, Soviet prisoners of war, Poles, Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, blacks and the Roma were also tattooed in forced labor concentration camps. Only ethnic Germans and police prisoners escaped the degrading registration tattoos.

Tattoos evolved quickly at Auschwitz. When the Nazis initiated the tattooing program in mid-1941, the tattoos were placed on the left breast of the prisoner. Later that year, the tattoo location was moved to the inner forearm. Before long, the number system bore no further relation to the Hollerith number. The Hollerith number was designed to trace a working inmate, so when the number of exterminated inmates surpassed the number of living inmates, the Hollerith numbering system was unnecessary.

Instead, the Nazis introduced ad hoc numbering systems tailored to each division of the extermination camp. For example, Dr. Josef Mengele, who performed inhumane scientific experiments on prisoners, tattooed his own distinct number series on those assigned to his division.

Nevertheless, Nazi officials in Berlin continued to use the numbers to track prisoners. In late 1943, the extermination of more than six thousand working prisoners was delayed for two days. The SS was under orders to spare the lives of any Jews with traces of Aryan parentage, and the prisoners’ execution was postponed until each of their tattoos could be checked against the records in Berlin.

However, tattoos took on an even more gruesome significance in the concentration camps than just simple identification. The inmate who entered a Nazi concentration camp with tattoos was targeted from the moment he or she arrived. Tattooed inmates were immediately catalogued, and their skin was marked for the collection after death. The skin of dead prisoners was used to make lamp shades, saddles, riding britches, gloves, house slippers and ladies’ hand bags. Elaborately tattooed specimens were kept in a Nazi museum in Berlin. SS officers also frequently seized tattooed skin from these macabre stockpiles and prized them as morbid souvenirs of their time at the camps.

The significance of tattoos in Nazi Germany continues more than sixty years after the concentration camps were closed. Nazi Germany glorified an idealized Aryan heritage, and in recent years extremists have appropriated many Aryan symbols from pre-Christian Europe for their own uses. They give such symbols a racist significance, even though the symbols did not originally have such meaning. In addition, these symbols are often used by nonracists as well, in particular practitioners of modern pagan religions, though they still have their place in confinement. Today’s prisons are pack with people prominently displaying such ink, because it identifies them with a group. Like Nazi Germany, they are bound together by hate.


You should have listened to your friends when they said you’d regret getting your significant other’s name tattooed on your arm, and you really should have known how your mother would react upon seeing “Momma” scrawled across your back. Tattoos are created by injecting colored pigment under the skin with a needle, and are relatively permanent.

Lucky for you, and your poor mother, there are several methods for tattoo removal. The success of the removal depends on several factors including; the location, size, the individual’s ability to heal, how the tattoo was applied, and how old the tattoo is. A physician will review these factors while choosing the best method for you.

Dermabrasion is the method in which a small area of the tattoo is sprayed with a solution that freezes the skin. The physician then uses an instrument to “sand” the skin, peeling layers away. Some bleeding is likely to occur, and a dressing is immediately applied to the area.

The Salabrasion method has been performed for centuries, and is still occasionally used today. The tattoo and surrounding area are numbed by a local anesthetic and then rubbed vigorously with salt or a salt block until the layers of skin trapping the ink are literally rubbed off and the ink able to escape the skin.

Excision is a method used to remove small areas of the tattoo. The patient is given local anesthesia to the affected area and the tattoo is surgically cut from the skin. The edges of the remaining skin are sutured together. It is a simple procedure with a mild recovery time as long as there are no complications, such as infection. If that tattoo is too large it may be necessary to excise the areas in stages, removing the center of the tattoo first, then the perimeter at a later date. A skin graft may be taken from another part of the body to replace the portion of skin that was removed..

In recent years physicians have considered laser surgery one of the best methods of tattoo removal. Anesthesia is not required for laser removal, but depending on the patient’s pain threshold a physician may decide to use a numbing cream or local painkillers. The patient is given protective eyewear and pulses of light are directed onto the tattoo, breaking up the pigments. Over the next few weeks the pigments are absorbed into the body. Black and blue pigments respond well to laser treatments, whereas greens can be resistant, and red pigments do not respond at all to Ruby laser light. Thanks to new laser technology scarring is not a significant risk for laser tattoo removal.

Your skin is the largest organ on your body and your first line of defense against infection. Anything you do to damage or break the skin weakens your natural immune responses. Just as your tattooist did when you got your new tattoo, you doctor should give you precise instructions on how to care for your skin as it heals. Keeping the area clean is of the utmost importance. There is no complete method of tattoo removal. While the procedures and patient responses vary, you’re essentially trading a tattoo for residual pigmentation and some degree of scarring. Before choosing to get a tattoo, make sure your motives are lasting and you
tattooist is reputable. Stay away from fads and choose a design that is deeply meaningful to you.

Removal of your little mistake isn’t going to be cheap. Depending on the size, type, and amount of treatments needed; the average cost can be from $150 for the excision of a small tattoo, up to $5,000 for larger pieces that may take several treatments.

Japanese Tattooing

Though there’s not a lot of information about it on the books, there is some evidence that ancient Japanese regularly anticipated in tattoo. Artifacts resembling statuettes of people bearing tattoo like marks have been found in tombs. It is believed that the figures replicas of real, living (at that time) people and are there to represent them following a loved one to the grave or beyond.

The earliest mention of Japanese tattooing is actually in Chinese accounts around 297 A.D. The Chinese spoke of it in derogatory terms because they thought the practice was for the uncultured savages. Eventually Chinese culture started infiltrating Japanese society to a significant extent so that the art of tattooing was
degraded into a form of punishment. In one area, the symbol for the word “dog” was commonly tattooed on the offender’s forehead. Other symbols used were double lines, crosses and circles. The designs were usually places on the face, or noticeably on the arms so that the person was obviously and irreversibly branded a criminal for the rest of his life.

The tattooed often lived as lepers on the outskirts of society. No one would hire them do business with them. They were rejected by their friends and even their partners in crime. Their families tried to pretend as though they never existed. In a culture where family devotion and social status are everything, getting tattooed was more devastating than getting executed.

Eventually there was a shift in Japanese society’s perception of tattooing and there became two distinct styles of tattoos. One was still definitely used to disgrace criminal, and the other was to signify a man of the highest status. The practice became a ritual of the samurai warriors. Soldiers were sometimes tattooed so that their bodies could be easily identified if they were killed and stripped of their armor in battle.

In modern times, Japanese tattoos have gone from punishment to prize. The unique style is studies by tattooist of all nationalities. The word for it is “irezumi,” which literally translates “insertion of ink.” Though some Japanese tattooists have adopted the faster, American style of tattooing with and electric machine, it’s traditionally done by hand. The design is drawn or painted on by the artist, and then the ink is meticulously tapped into the skin by striking a small, sharp instrument into the flesh with a hammer.

Though Japanese tattooing is now a highly celebrated art form all over the world, it still has strong ties with the criminal element in their culture. One of the most widely recognized characteristics of the “Yakuza,” the Japanese mafia, is their tattoos. The more elaborate the designs, the more powerful the mobster.

Full fledged members are encourages to have full body suits. Much like American street gangs, the Yakuza view extensive tattooing as a test of a man’s strength, loyalty and masculinity. Being of common ink lends a sense of solidarity and unity to the group. However, the practice is fading, as the newest generation of Yakuza have come to realize that getting away with organized crime is much more lucrative that looking cool while you do it. The distinctive tattoos tend to draw attention in a business where it’s better to blend in. They also make it easier for victims to identify someone as a mobster, and maybe even as an individual. Today, most Yakuza have shed the idea of traditional pictorial tattoos in favor of more simple line drawings or phrases, but tattooing is still going strong in organized crime groups of all nationalities and cultures. It runs as deep as ink into skin.

Temporary Tattoos

So you’re just not sure, huh? Well there’s no shame in that. Getting a tattoo is a huge decision. You only get one chance to pick just the right design and just the right place to put it before you’re stuck with it for the rest of your life. You’d be stupid to rush into something like that. It would almost be like marrying someone on your first blind date; only divorcing a tattoo usually requires surgery and leaves scar. Fortunately, you have the option to test drive a tattoo before you commit to it for life. Think of it as speed dating for your skin.

Temporary tattoos have been around for decades. You baby boomers probably have fond, childhood memories about Cockamamies, those fun little tattoos that used to come in Cracker Jacks and boxes of breakfast cereal. You just wet (usually by licking, right?) the back of the transfer paper to loosen the design and stick it to your skin and you’d have a tattoo for the day. You probably felt it made you look tough, like your dad and his service tattoo.

You say you’d be embarrassed to wear a fake tattoo? You’re friends will give you a hard time about not going for the real thing? Well consider that word, “real” for a minute. If your tattoo exists, then it’s real, right? It’s certainly not a figment of your imagination. Just think of it as a similar, but separate option.

Just like permanent body art, temporary tattoos have continued to evolve over the years, into a much more sophisticated product with many more options to choose from. The film industry helped push along the development of the product, because shooting movies that involved heavily tattooed characters, such as bikers, gangsters, or Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man, took so long to shoot. The makeup crew would invest a lot of time and effort into meticulously painting each and every detailed tattoo on the actor by hand, only to have their work quickly melt off under the intense heat of the stage lights.

Chemist, Dr. Samuel Zuckerman has an impressive list of accomplishments to his credit. He’s responsible for the Estee Lauder’s Origins line, the stripe in Aquafresh toothpaste and he’s the father of temporary body art. He invented the first skin friendly, authentic looking tattoo for the 1981 film by the same name. The film drew overnight attention to his invention and the amazement of the tattoo and makeup industries.

A few years later, Zuckerman and his son set about mass marketing the product. Today the Temptu company caters to the rich and famous as well as the average individual. They’ve added products like body glitter and stick on jewels, stencil-only stick-ons that let you fill in the color yourself, and even airbrush tattoos, which are applied by applying a stencil to the skin and painting over it with a special spray paint. Tempu products have been used on some of the most famous fashion runways, as well as on the big screen in films like Xmen 2, Rent and The Mummy Returns. It’s also decorated the stars of HBO’s mega hit The Sopranos.

Prices are fairly reasonable, even for the most elaborate designs. There are varying levels of application graces required, depending on your choice of products. Surely just about anyone can easily apply the stick on tattoos, but if you choose the paint on kind, you may want to enlist the help of one of your more artistic friends.

You don’t have to feel like a fake for opting to go temporary with your body art. Just think of it as an extension of the rest of your cosmetic lineup. On your average night on the town, no one will know if your hair is colored, if your bra is padded, or if your tattoo is permanent unless you tell them.