Latest fashion in faux jewelry: metallic tattoos

Temporary silver and gold metallic tattoos are worn by Nomi Channapragada-Bui, owner of One Stop Beauty Supply & Salon in Huntington Beach, Calif., who loves the "active" wearable art which doesn't jingle. It is easy to apply and can be scrubbed off. (Cindy Yamanaka/Orange County Register/TNS)

ORANGE COUNTY, Ca. — From across the room, they appear to be gold and silver bracelets that fit snugly on a wrist or necklaces that rest against the collarbone. But up close, you realize you're looking at optical illusions: The jewelry is actually a stack of temporary metallic tattoos, one of the biggest accessory trends of the year.

The designs include feathers, twisted ropes, Greek keys, geometric shapes, Egyptian and Native American motifs and words in cursive. They come in a small sheet and are fairly easy to apply: Cut the design from the sheet, peel the plastic cover, place carefully on the skin, dab the sheet with a wet cloth, hold sheet in place from 30 seconds to a minute, remove sheet gently and, voila, instant skin jewelry.

Photos of celebrities adorned with faux jewelry tattoos — from Beyoncé to Sarah Jessica Parker to Vanessa Hudgens — and the surge of new brands are pushing the trend into mainstream America.

But the most influential factor that makes women want to try one is seeing the jewelry tattoo on someone.

"One of our customers — blonde, pretty, mid-30s — came in wearing one," said Nomi Channapragada-Bui, owner of One Stop Beauty Supply & Salon in Huntington Beach, Ca. "It caught our eye instantly. Also, Pinterest provided a wealth of images of people using the metallic tattoos. … Social media has played a large role in the sharing of this trend."


Channapragada-Bui has been wearing tattoos on her wrist, arms, neck, back and ankles everywhere she goes, and she began selling the tattoos by the sheet at all three locations of her shop recently. She gets stopped and asked about them a lot.

"Men and women alike are fascinated by the look of metallic tattoos," she said. "They cause a commotion and are great attention-getters," she said. "Be ready to explain what it is because people are very intrigued and confused about how it is worn and stays on the skin and tend to ask questions like, 'Where did you get that?' 'Did you put that on yourself?' 'How long does it stay on?' and 'Can I touch it?'"

The origin of jewelry-inspired faux tattoos is not clear, but in February 2010, Chanel offered limited-edition Les Trompe L'Oeil de Chanel Temporary Skin Art designed by former global creative director Peter Philips. They were based on the fake tattoos of necklaces, chain bracelets and chain garters that models wore on the runway during the Paris spring collections preview in late 2009. The group of 55 designs was priced at $75.

In late 2010, Beyoncé's company, House of Dereon, and Temptu launched their collection of jewelry-inspired black temporary tattoos for $16-$34.

But both collections were predominantly in matte black and definitely looked like body art rather than jewelry.

Maybe it's Dior that truly gave the trend a big boost. In 2012, the French maison launched its Les Ors de Peau, a decadent nine-piece collection designed by Dior's costume jewelry designer, Camille Miceli. The limited-edition tattoos were made of 24-karat gold micro-particles and cost $120.

The current crop of faux jewelry tattoos is far more affordable and usually priced from $5 to $10 per sheet of designs.

Some men are giving the skin jewelry a try, but usually for events and concerts. "Surprisingly enough, we saw a lot of guys wearing them at (the Austin City Limits music festival) this year," Burnet said.


The best thing about the jewelry tattoos, Channapragada-Bui said, is that they last only four to six days and can be removed with baby oil or olive oil and a cotton ball.

"It's not a permanent commitment," she said.

Temporary metallic tattoos make great accessories.(Cindy Yamanaka/Orange County Register/TNS)

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