What is temporary tattoo? A temporary tattoo is an image on the skin resembling a true tattoo, but is non-permanent. Temporary tattoos can be drawn, painted, or airbrushed, as a form of body painting, but most of the time these tattoos are transferred to the skin. Temporary tattoos of any kind are used for numerous purposes including self-expression, identification, and advertising. For example, actors who wish to add to their character's distinctiveness might take temporary tattoos painted on the skin by hand or using stencils as part of their cosmetic ritual.