Anyone who has ever gotten, or even thought about getting a tattoo had heard a snarky warning from others about how they’re forever. Well, maybe they aren’t.
A company called Ephemeral has designed a two-part system for tattoos that last about a year. It’d probably be a smart move for people who have trouble with commitment.
Traditional tattoos are permanent because the ink particles embedded in the skin are too large for the immune system to clear. Existing methods of tattoo removal with lasers essentially break the particles down until they can be easily cleared. Of course, it really, really hurts. Ephemeral has engineered a two-part system consisting of dye molecules encapsulated in a protective structure and a removal solution.
The protective coating of the dye molecules is engineered to last about one year, at which time it starts breaking down. The tattoo will begin fading rapidly at that point, though it’s not clear how long it will take to fully disappear. The removal solution can be added to the skin at any time by a tattoo machine over top of the Ephemeral tattoo to instantly break down the coating and “erase” parts or all of a tattoo.
There will probably be people interested in this sort of option for tattooing. However, I suspect many artists won’t want to do work that’s just going to fade in a year. The idea of going over the same skin multiple times to create and remove tattoos seems questionable too. A properly healed tattoo shouldn’t scar, but not everyone takes good care of their fresh tattoos. Tattooing over the same area could just make things worse.
Ephemeral is currently testing its technology on pigs, which have similar skin and immune responses to humans. It hopes to begin offering its technology for human use in fall of 2017. You should probably wait on more information before you start planning that regrettable tribal sleeve.