Date of Award

Spring 6-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor

Thomas A. Kubic

Second Reader

Michelle D. Miranda

Third Advisor

John Lombardi


Adult temporary tattoos have become more popular, yet there is very little research on them, especially regarding their use in forensics. This poses a problem because forensic investigators may not be able to distinguish a temporary tattoo from a real tattoo, possibly hindering their investigation. In this study, various types of adult temporary tattoos were examined and analyzed in attempts to identify and distinguish them, both from each other and from permanent tattoos. Infrared spectroscopy, specifically attenuated total reflection (ATR), proved to be more useful than ultra-violet visible light spectroscopy in terms of analyzing the samples. The natural adult temporary tattoo samples, henna and jagua, were easily distinguished from each other based on their ATR spectra. When analyzing the transferrable picture tattoo samples, it became evident that the adhesives overwhelmed the sample, and that different brands used different adhesives. The transferrable picture tattoos may also be distinguished from permanent tattoos based on the presence of a printing pattern, which can be visualized with microscopy. This study contributes to the field by yielding knowledge of adult temporary tattoos not previously known, so that perhaps in the future the knowledge may be used to aid in casework.



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