Tattoos aren’t for everyone and there are some cultures where they aren’t acceptable. There are also many people who would love to get a tattoo but have lingering doubts. What if I change my mind? What if I don’t like it any more? What will it look like when I’m older? What if I want to get a job in a country where it isn’t accepted? Temporary tattoo stickers are a bit of fun and you can even try out virtual tattoos now, but it’s not the same. A company started by New York University students thinks they can provide the perfect compromise: real ink tattoos that eventually fade.
Ephemeral Tattoos claim to have invented a new ink that makes tattoos easy to remove with a simple solution. Without the solution, our own bodies will get rid of the tattoo after a year. Tattoo ink uses large pigments that the body can’t dispose of. Ephemeral’s ink uses smaller pigments contained in a sphere of biomaterials that the body can break down over time.
Any tattoo artist with regular equipment should be able to use Ephemeral like any other ink. Applying the removal solution would be done by a tattoo artist too as it is applied the same way and by tracing over the original Ephemeral tattoo. The solution speeds up the degradation of the biomaterials around the dye molecules, allowing the body’s immune system to take care of the rest.
Does it actually work though? We don’t know and it’s probably fair to say that the creators don’t know either. According to an interview with Allure, the team has been working on the ink since 2014 and has tested the ink successfully on living cells and is now testing on living skin. They know it works as a tattoo but the big question is will it really fade over time? It sounds good in theory but they’re only just testing on living skin now so they won’t know if it fades until next year.
The team wants to launch Ephemeral ink in August next year, but ideally we would like to see it tested on a lot of people before a release and that would likely push back the release date. Injecting biomaterials into people’s bodies is the type of thing you really need to be sure about.
You can sign up to learn more information on the Ephemeral website.
Main image: Ephemeral