Inkbox Temporary Tattoos – Tribal Ink That Acknowledges its Source
Looking for self-expression with no regrets? Semi-permanent tattoos are a bona fide option for those who can’t have permanent tattoos or choose not to have them.
KathTea Monroe tests three different Inkbox semi-permanent tattoo designs using skin-safe vegan ink from fruits harvested by the tribes of the Darién Gap – with a percentage of each sale going to a tribal support initiative.
Why try temporary tattoos?
You may think there’s no point in getting a semi-permanent tattoo, but everyone is different. There are plenty of people out there who have interest in getting tattoos but are legally underage, and I feel for them. Trust me, I was there once upon a time.
As for myself, I have no problem on that front, but I currently cannot afford some of the lavish ideas and designs on my wishlist. I’ve also been binging on shows like Ink Master and Ink Master Angels lately, and all that visual inspiration is putting my itch to get inked into overdrive. Inkbox tattoos may not last forever but at least they won’t put someone like me into debt…
Why I decided to test out Inkbox tattoos
Inkbox make two-week tattoos that give the look and feel of a real tattoo but without the commitment. They are also 100% organic & fruit-based, thus vegan-friendly!
Ethically sourced tribal ink: The ink used in Inbox tattoos is derived from the pulp of a fruit that primarily grows in the Darién Gap, located in Panama. Tribes local to the Darién Gap have been harvesting these fruits, called Genipapo or Huito, to dye their skin for hundreds of years. There’s enough fruit to go round, but the tribes of the Darién Gap welcome support to maintain their culture. That’s why Inkbox donates a percentage of each sale to the Darién Initiative, which provides assistance the indigenous individuals who live there.
Inkbox ink is black, but not ‘black henna’: These tattoos work by sinking a patented formula (not a dye) into the top layer of your skin, which then reacts with organic compounds to change your skin’s colour to dark blue/black. Don’t worry, though – it’s not black henna. Most “black henna” products use PPD (used in hair dye) in order to get black dye to stay on the skin. However, you’ll risk severe allergic reactions including boils and sores. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting black henna from a traditional henna artist in your area or from India. Actual henna pastes are maroon, orange or brown. Inkbox’s fruit-based ink isn’t henna, and it’s safe for your skin.
Tattoos for two to three weeks: The ink reacts with amino acids in the first layer of the skin to actually change the colour of the skin. The first layer of skin naturally exfoliates/renews on average every two weeks, which is why an Inkbox tatto will fade in around a fortnight. In contrast, a permanent tattoo sits in the second layer of the skin, which does not rejuvenate. The ink used by Inkbox is safe for your skin, pain-free and made from all-natural ingredients.
Meet my Yu Yi tattoo
- Size and detail: Small, fine detail
- Location: Underbust
- Fade factor: The first of the three tattoos to fade, but friction from clothing due to the underbust location will have played its part.
The first of the designs I picked was the Yu Yi which shows two and a half 8-bit hearts. I’m a casual gamer and also cosplay Frisk of Undertale, so the hearts felt appropriate.
As it was my first try at an application, I read the box’s instructions and watched the official tutorial video (as well as some YouTube demos) and thought I had it down pat. Of course, with anything you are doing for the first time, there are bound to be a few hiccups here and there. I will warn you that you’ll need a microwave oven to heat up the wet cloth provided.
Eventually, I got the ink down and had petite little hearts under my left breast. I felt like the fine and sharp corners of the Yu Yi tattoo were definitely nowhere as crisp as they were on a stencil. Yu Yi was the tiniest design I tried and you’d think it would be the easiest to apply, but the underbust placement definitely challenged my ability to get the ink down fully pigmented.
The ink didn’t show up much at first but within hours it got darker. The Inkbox site suggests that any tattoo location other than the arms or legs can be quite difficult to apply on your own and yes, it was a little troublesome – my arms were so tired from holding the wet cloth down over the tattoo!
Inkbox website product shot with Yu Yi close-up detail
The other two designs I selected were dinosaur ones – a tyrannosaurus skull called Rex and a tyrannosaurus skeleton called Groak. I’ve loved dinosaurs for as long as I can remember and actually have plans to get a real tattoo of several triceratops skulls further down the line.
Meet my dinosaur tattoos – Rex and Groa
- Size and detail: Medium, fine outlined detail
- Location: Lower belly
- Fade factor: Started getting chipped from clothing and friction in about ten days, which is when I scrubbed what was left of it away.
- Size and detail: Medium, simple filled-in design
- Location: Right upper thigh
- Fade factor: Lasted the longest and faded naturally after three weeks.
Perhaps it’s because Groak was my third tattoo application but I found it easier to apply than the other two. I may also have found it easier because it was located on my thigh, and I could just rest my hands on my thigh during the process.
Some pointers for placement: it’s a general rule among tattoo artists that faces should always turn towards the body, so I made sure the faces for both Groak and Rex did just that. Rules can of course be broken if you feel like you want your tattoo placed a certain way for whatever reason. Personally, I feel the rules are good guidelines for neat placement. Then again, at the end of the day, the ink is temporary and mistakes can be resolved in future tattoos.
I felt like the lines that make the bones of the dinosaurs came out more refined than the tiny and detailed Yu Yi tattoo, especially for Groak.
Comparing the three tattoos for fade factor
The next day
The day after application, I woke up and found out that all three tattoos looked much more pigmented. Now my opinion was a bit swayed on which designs show best. Maybe I didn’t apply Rex firmly enough but its fine lines weren’t as dark as either Yu Yi or Groak. Some ink remnants were also starting to show on my bare skin, but that doesn’t really show on camera.
Bathing with these tattoos wasn’t too difficult. I avoided scrubbing the tattoo, and only scrubbed the areas around it. I felt like Rex might be fading quicker than the other two as it was covered by the waistband of knickers, trousers, shorts and skirts, leading to slight friction.
One week in
Swimming with a one-piece swimsuit seemed to lead to my underbust and hip tattoos fading more quickly from friction. Wearing bikinis seemed like a safer bet.
One week in, I began scraping away the Yu Yi tattoo since I didn’t feel like it looked presentable anymore. Rex was fading on its own and I did not choose to scrape it away just yet. Groak was staying on quite beautifully.
Around 10+ days from application, I think my skin was starting to exfoliate naturally. Since Yu Yi and Rex were chipping from clothing friction, I managed to scrub them away without hurting the skin. Groak was now a bit lighter than it was before, but I didn’t scrub it and planned to leave it alone for as long as it lasted.
Three weeks in
In a little over three weeks, Groak had almost completely faded on its own. Parts of it got rubbed off in the bath (and possibly with the act of putting on and removing clothes, since it was on my thigh).
Inkbox application tips – been there, tried that
Here’s a handy list of tips I picked up through trial and error when testing out my three Inbox tattoos. You might find them helpful to think about in advance before you choose and apply your own!
- Tattoos placed on arms or legs are much easier to apply without help from a friend.
- Heat the wet cloth provided in a microwave oven.
- Consider how much friction you’ll get from clothing etc. in your choice of tattoo location.
- Simpler designs are likely to turn out better than those with finer details
- Turn the design’s face towards the body when applying it (this is standard tattooist procedure)
Overall, I am very happy to have gone on this journey with Inkbox. If pre-made designs is not your thing, they have “freehand bottles” that emulate “black henna” without all the chemical burns and risks of side-effects. The bottles have a gel-like consistency and, similar to regular henna, you need to leave the gel on for an hour for the design to set.
I hope this review will be helpful to any reader out there who may not be able to get actual tattoos for whatever reason, be it due to your age, faith, or funds.
As they say on the Inkbox website, these are tattoos for now, not forever. Self-expression with no regrets.