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All Gain, No Pain: Simple Fake Tattoos With Standard Make Up

While many cosplayers may already have some perma-ink they may want to cover up to perfect the characters they portray, occasionally you may find yourself in need of a fake tattoo as a finishing touch. Gone are the days of those “Add water and apply to your skin” tattoos as they end up shiny, prone to cracking and peeling, and may not come in the particular design you need. With this mini-tutorial, you can make your own false tattoo either freehand or using a template that will wear better at a convention and look more realistic.


Start off with priming your skin. I personally find an eye primer to have more holding power and take on pigmentation better than primers for your face.


Next, draw our your design using a waterproof liquid eyeliner. If you’re planning to do this freehand, like me with my not-so-great artistry, I highly recommend looking for a felt-tip liner as this will give a more natural feel of using a fine tip marker. If you need to use a template, print out your design, trace it onto a transparent film (Like the kind they use for overhead projectors… Do they still use those in schools?) or parchment paper with a marker or pen, then trace over that design with liquid liner. For this method, I would recommend a brush tip liner as the product is more like a liquid paint and should stay wet enough for you to transfer the template to your body. I used black, but you can also opt for a dark grey or ash brown if you want something more natural, or if you’re going for an aged look for your tattoo.

Collage 1

Finalize the design as you see fit. Feel free to add colour with other face or eye products or cosmetic-grade pigments. You’ll likely want to trace over your lines again freehand to make the lines really pop.


I bet your tattoo is looking pretty mismatched in texture and not at all natural, by this point. No worries! To even out the skin texture, use some translucent powder (not shimmery), baby powder, or another similar skin-safe powder and gently pat it on. Depending on how faded and more aged you want your tattoo to look, use more powder, and buff and blend a little more until you achieve the look you want.


So it looks pretty good, but how to you make it stay? Since we just used standard make up for this tattoo, you can use a finishing spray of your choice to lock it in, or you can also use a spray-on liquid bandage. The liquid bandage may leave a bit of shiny residue after it dried, so you may want to powder it one more time.

Collage 2

Super easy right? And a lot more customize-able than those rub-on tattoos you remember as a kid.

Share your DIY tattoo designs with me!

J. Tanooki is a Contributor for She has been a lover of cosplay for over 10 years and regularly works on new and exciting cosplay projects. She actively posts about her cosplay plans, progress, and random shenanigans on her Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. Her opinion is her own. 

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