Jagua, pronounced “YAH-gwa”, is another option for temporary tattoos. Jagua is NOT the same as “black henna,” which is often created with chemical dyes and is not safe for the skin!
Jagua is an all-natural, skin-safe, plant-based jelly made from a tropical fruit (scientific name Genipa Americana) that when applied to the skin, leaves behind a dark bluish-black stain that looks similar to a real tattoo. Jagua lasts about as long as henna, sometimes longer, so it is only for the body and not the face. The same rules apply as for henna – where your skin is more absorbent, you will get a darker stain – such as your hands, feet, forearms, and ankles. Upper arms and back will also stain with jagua.
Jagua tattoos are applied using a squeeze bottle with a special tip. The jelly takes about 20 minutes to dry, during which time it must be left alone or it will smear. It will also stain your clothes, so be extra careful – jagua is quite unforgiving! Once it’s dry, leave it on for 2-4 hours. There is no benefit to leaving it on for longer, and you should definitely wash it with soap and water before bedtime as it will likely stain your sheets.
Once the dried gel flakes off, you may be surprised to see that there is no stain left behind! Don’t panic. This is how the process works. The gel absorbs into the top layers of your skin, then oxidizes over the next 24 hours. You should wake up the next morning with a nice stain where the jelly was, and voila! Your temporary tattoo is complete.
***Jagua is also a great way to test out ideas if you are thinking about getting a real tattoo, since it looks very similar to black tattoo ink on your skin! If you are not booking a party, but would like to book me for a custom “tattoo try-out” using Jagua, send me an e-mail here.
Jagua is even less likely than henna to irritate the skin. It has been used by tribes in the Amazon since ancient times, and is very gentle. I recommend jagua for children and adults over age 7, because of the long dry time and likelihood of it staining clothes if it gets smeared.