How To Design & Create a Barcode Tattoo

man wearing a barcode tattoo

Are you looking to make a bold, unique statement with your body art? A personalized barcode tattoo design might be just what you need! Barcode tattoo designs have been gaining popularity in recent years, allowing people to express their individuality in a truly eye-catching way.

What Is a Barcode Temporary Tattoo?

A barcode temporary tattoo is exactly what it sounds like—a temporary tattoo design featuring those distinctive black and white bars that make up a barcode. These linear codes can be customized with personal details like names, birthdates, or meaningful numbers to create a one-of-a-kind temporary tattoo.

Barcode temporary tattoos are a great way to adorn your body with art that has special meaning for a short period of time. The barcode itself can represent anything from a product code to a personal ID number. Some people use these temporary designs to symbolize their life story or journey, but just for a few days.

Fun Facts About Barcode Tattoos

  • In the 1990s, barcode tattoos became a symbol of anti-consumerism and rebellion against "being labeled" by society. Today, they're more about personal expression.
  • Some daring individuals have gotten functional barcode tattoos that actually scan! QR code tattoos can link to websites or social media profiles.
  • Celebrity barcode tattoos have helped fuel the trend. Singer Pink's barcode incorporates her birthday and is placed on the back of her neck.
  • Barcode tattoo placement is key—the nape of the neck and forearms are popular spots to show off these linear designs.
  • UV ink barcode tattoos are a thing! The luminescent ink is only visible under black light, for a super stealthy body art statement.

The Hype & The Trend

So why are temporary barcode tattoos becoming trendy? For many, the appeal lies in their minimalist graphic design that makes a bold visual impact without the permanent commitment. The precise line work required showcases the temporary tattoo artist's skill and eye for detail.

Additionally, the barcode holds symbolic meaning for lots of people as an iconic image in our modern world. It can represent individuality, freedom from conformity, or taking control of your identity—even if just temporarily.

Related: How to Design a QR Code Temporary Tattoo

Designing Your Barcode Temporary Tattoo

When it comes to designing a personalized barcode temporary tattoo, the possibilities are endless! You can encode special dates, names, ID numbers—anything that holds meaning for you. Some designs incorporate the barcode into larger temporary tattoos featuring other symbols or artwork.

Not sure what to include in your code? Look to your life at that moment for inspiration! Use a loved one's birthday for their party, your street address while living there, or the ISBN number of a book you're currently reading. Get creative and make it personal for this period of time.

Barcode Temporary Tattoo Placement

Another fun part of getting a barcode temporary tattoo is deciding where to place it on your body for maximum impact and visibility. The most popular areas tend to be the arm, wrist, back, and even the neck or behind the ear.

woman wearing a barcode tattoo

The placement you choose can add to the temporary meaning behind your barcode tattoo. For example, getting it on your wrist or forearm makes it highly visible for a set period—a way to proudly display your identity for a while. A back piece allows for larger, more intricate barcode designs to be shown off temporarily.

The Barcode Tattoo Creation Process: Step By Step

When you're ready to bring your custom barcode temporary tattoo to life, you have two great options: our classic custom temporary tattoos that last around 3 days, or our innovative INKFINITY™ semi-permanent tattoos that can last up to 2 weeks. INKFINITY™ uses high-quality, plant-based inks and a specialized printing process to ensure vibrant, long-lasting results. Both options offer an easy and convenient way to express your individuality with a unique barcode design.

First, you'll upload your finalized barcode design or any other custom artwork you want printed as a temporary tattoo. 

Before applying your temporary tattoo, proper skin preparation is key. Gently exfoliate the area to remove any dead skin cells, then clean it thoroughly. This helps the tattoo transfer fully and prevents premature fading.

Related: How To Create And Apply Your Own DIY Temporary Tattoos

Carefully cut the tattoo out from the transfer paper, press it firmly onto your clean, dry skin and hold for 20-30 seconds. Slowly peel away the transfer paper backing to reveal your bold new barcode body art!

To maximize your temporary tattoo's longevity, follow these tips:

  • Avoid submerging the tattoo in water for the first 48 hours
  • Gently moisturize the area daily with a fragrance-free lotion
  • Avoid excessive scrubbing when showering
  • When you're ready to remove your temporary tattoo, simply use baby oil or specialized removal wipes. These gently break down the tattoo ink without irritating your skin.

All the longevity tips above apply to the classic temporary tattoos. For a longer look, try INKFINITY™ semi-permanent tattoos.

Related: Custom Tattoos: How to Order and Customize


Are barcode tattoos just black?

While traditional barcodes feature only black bars and spaces, nothing stops you from unleashing your creativity. You can design your temporary tattoo in vibrant colors, gradients, and even choose a glow-in-the-dark option. The possibilities are endless to make your barcode tattoo pop with personalized hues and styles before it fades away.

What do the different temporary barcodes mean?

There is no universal meaning behind different barcode designs for temporary tattoos—the symbolism is completely personal to each individual based on what information or meaning they choose to temporarily encode. For some, it may represent a specific event, location, or meaningful date. Others may use it to display a special code, ID number, or affirmation. And for many, the barcode itself carries symbolism around individuality, uniqueness, and taking control of one's identity—even if just for a short period through body art.

Can you scan a real temporary barcode tattoo?

In theory, yes, if the barcode follows standard formatting and sizing requirements, it could potentially be scanned while the temporary tattoo is still fresh and crisp. However, most temporary barcode tattoos are designed prioritizing aesthetics over functionality. The bars may be stylized or incorporated into a larger design in a way that prevents accurate scanning. 

Also, when it comes to classic temporary tattoos, placement and skin condition can crack the design making the code unscannable.

Are temporary barcode tattoos culturally appropriative?

No, barcode designs represent modern technology and individuality rather than any specific cultural symbols or meanings, so temporary versions don't carry concerns around cultural appropriation. Barcodes are ubiquitous across cultures in our digital age for identification, tracking, and storing information. 

When used as body art, they are a form of creative self-expression without ties to any ethnic traditions or sacred images. So feel free to rock that temporary barcode tattoo without worry!

Do temporary barcode tattoos have to be horizontal?

No, barcode designs can be oriented vertically, diagonally, swirled, or even wrapped around the body for creative temporary placement. While traditional barcodes are read horizontally, as decorative body art the lines can flow in any direction you'd like. This allows for unique temporary tattoo designs that contour to different areas like the arm, back, shoulders, and more. Get creative and have fun playing with different orientations for your personalized barcode ink!

Why do people get barcode temporary tattoos?

For some, a barcode tattoo represents a symbol of individuality and taking control of their identity, even if just temporarily. For others, it allows them to encode meaningful numbers, words or access codes that only they and their friends or family understand. And everybody has their own personal reasons—maybe it's a fun way to discover new body art styles or imagine different tattoo designs before committing. The choice is yours!

Can I get a barcode temporary tattoo with a picture or image instead of just bars?

Absolutely! While traditional barcodes consist of linear bars, many temporary tattoo companies allow you to incorporate any custom imagery or graphics into your design. So feel free to add personal photos, symbols, patterns or artwork surrounding or integrated with the barcode itself. Get creative and make it a one-of-a-kind temporary tattoo!

Are barcode temporary tattoos only for certain bodies or ages?

Not at all! Temporary tattoos like barcodes are for people of all ages to enjoy. They make a fun novelty gift for kids, a way for teens to experiment with tattooing styles, or even allow adults to wonder "what if?" with daring body art before deciding on something permanent. No matter your age or body type, temporary tattoos offer a safe way to access and discover new forms of self-expression.

Ready to rock your own custom barcode tattoo? Whether you want a classic temporary tattoo that lasts a few days or an ultra-realistic INKFINITY™ semi-permanent design that stays vibrant for up to three weeks, we've got you covered.

Head to now to unleash your creativity and design a one-of-a-kind barcode tattoo that's guaranteed to turn heads. The process is fast, easy, and fun—simply upload your artwork, select your size and quantity, and let us bring your unique vision to life.

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