For some, it was a grand gesture of love, for others, it was a decision spurred by one too many drinks after a crazy night out. But once the ink has settled—and that great love becomes an ex, or you wake up with a massive hangover and a Tweety Bird* prominently emblazoned on your forearm—in comes the regret. Tattoos are permanent, after all, and you’ll have to live with that decision forever.
Or maybe not.
Now, a Harlem-based startup is trying to offer individuals an alternative with Ephemeral—a product that’s meant to give you a lasting expression of style/art/love…whatever, but not a permanent impression. They are designing ink that is meant to disappear after a year.
Emphemeral basically involves the use of ink that is designed to break down after one year, after which you apply a separate removal solution.
“Tattoo inks today are permanent because of the fact that the dye molecules are too big for your body’s immune system to take away,” explains co-founder Anthony Lam. “By using smaller molecules, we’ve encapsulated them inside this spherical structure that’s big enough that your immune system doesn’t take it away. But when you remove it, it essentially eats away one of the components and the dye molecules are flushed out.”
The system has already been tested on cells and, more recently, on pigs. Should the tests prove to be successful, the product will hopefully be available by late next year. No word yet on pricing , but the team is estimating anywhere from $50 to $100 for average sized tattoos.
*Note: Tweety Bird tattoos are totally epic, for the record.