Are Temporary Tattoos Safe?

We’ve all seen temporary tattoos given out at various parties and events and toddler seem to love them!  Who wouldn’t love their favorite character or animal temporarily pasted onto their body?  The question is though, are they safe and what exactly is in them?

Temporary tattoos/decals for children are pressed onto the skin and applied with water.  In order to conform to FDA regulations, the decals have to contain color pigments that are approved for use in cosmetics.  These approved decals are non-toxic and non-allergenic so it’s very important to ensure that the product lists its ingredients and has an “FDA Approved” label. 

Certain non-US made decals contain ingredients not approved by the FDA so be weary of products that don’t have the approved label or that list no ingredients at all on their packaging.  The FDA has issued a Trade Alert for temporary tattoos that contain non-permitted color additives and/or do not list ingredients:

This alert was initiated in response to numerous trade complaints received from manufacturers and distributors concerning the importation and distribution of temporary tattoos (skin decals) from countries including Taiwan, Japan, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong that either contain unsafe color additives, fail to bear ingredient declarations, and/or bear an “FDA Approved” statement.

Of greater concern are the temporary black henna tattoos.  These tattoos contain dyes that are not approved by the FDA and have caused allergic reactions and permanent scarring.  Black henna may contain the chemical p-phenylenediamine, also known as PPD which is not permitted to be applied to the skin.  Per the FDA website:

Henna, a coloring made from a plant, is approved only for use as a hair dye. It is not approved for direct application to the skin, as in the body-decorating process known as mehndi. This unapproved use of a color additive makes these products adulterated and therefore illegal

The FDA has also issued a Trade Alert for henna use on skin.

So, is it safe to put a temporary tattoo/decal on your child?  Yes, if the decal bears the “FDA Approved” label and clearly lists the ingredients.  Better to be safe than sorry!


2-3 Years, Skin Care , ,

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