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Published: Tuesday, 9/11/2007

Business is sunny for tanning tattoo inventor

Mr. Brakken holds tattoos that he co-invented. Mr. Brakken holds tattoos that he co-invented.
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What do you get when you combine body stickers and the safe non-toxic ingredient found in tanning agents?

A sunless tanning tattoo called TanArt.

Paul Bakken of Springfield Township is the co-inventor of the adhesive stickers, that when applied, slowly darken the skin without going into the sun.

The tattooing decals, which have become a big hit with kids, contain ingredients that are safe for the skin, Mr. Bakken said.

"One of the myths that we have been battling is that people think they need to be out in the sun. But, they don't," he said.

Temporary tattoos have been available for years, but Mr. Bakken and his partner were the first to use the self-tanning agent Dihydroxyacetone, or DHA, in body decals. DHA is used in some spray-on tanning products.

Tattoo Manufacturing Inc., of Phoenix, makes temporary tattoos that have a vegetable oil base that adheres to the skin. Marco Hernandez, a customer service representative, said TanArt appears to be a neat application, but he believes it fails to match the authentic look of a needle-prick tattoo.

Dr. Harvey Handler, a Sylvania dermatologist, was not familiar with the tanning tattoos, but said the ingredient that activates the self-tanning TanArt has been proven to be safe.

"Unless people are sensitive to [DHA], there is no problem," he said.

The local product was hatched in the mid-1990s when Mr. Bakken and his business partner, Scott Billings, were running a printing company in the Chicago area. They obtained a patent in 2003 and began selling it in May, 2006.

It is intended for children ages 5-years-old and up, but has attracted teenage buyers and young moms, Mr. Bakken said.

It takes a short time for the TanArt tattoos to work, but Mr. Bakken suggests leaving the sticker on the skin for five to seven hours. After it is removed, the tanned marking will appear gradually over the next day, and it will remain for up to one week before fading.

Eight packages, which each sell for $3.99, are available. The decals range from dolphins and butterflies to crosses and crescent moons. A professional tattooist designed the figures.

The TanArt product is sold at The Andersons stores and 17 Barney's Convenience Marts in northwest Ohio, plus online. The owners hope to sell 500,000 packets a year.

Contact Mark Reiter at:


or 419-724-6096.

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