When I was much younger and wanted to get a tattoo, I was given good advice: wait a year to decide because it will be on your body permanently. I did exactly that and waited 365 days to pull the trigger and never looked back.
What if I still wasn’t sure? Is there another option? In fact, there are. Like so many other things that have innovated over the years, so has tattooing. Instead of going the permanent route, there is now a tattoo designed to fade over time. It’s called Ephemeral and the idea is that you don’t have to commit. Instead, it lets you try out a design without having an everlasting relationship.
How Temporary Tattoos Work
The fleeting ink is applied the same way as any other tattoo – no pain, no gain, right? But that ink is made of the same Food and Drug Administration-approved plastic used in pills, so it biodegrades when the immune system breaks it down — usually around nine to 15 months, but that depends on a variety of factors. The polymers and colorants in the ink come from natural sources and are also used in foods, cosmetics and medical devices. The ink is also vegan and wheat and gluten free.
Our bodies can have different reactions depending on where the tattoo is applied, its design (the more ink used, the longer it takes to fade), our skin tone (the more melanin can mean faster fading) and aftercare (pay attention to this just like you would a permanent tattoo).
A company representative told us that some customers reported heavy fading in two to three months, while others didn’t notice much fading in six to seven months. It may also be related to the factors mentioned above, as well as immune system response and skin physiology.
There are currently studios in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Houston. You can make reservations online.
Why do a faded tattoo?
Temporary ink might be a safer option than a permanent tattoo because it doesn’t use metal-based pigments or para-phenylenediamine, a chemical used primarily as a colorant.
Smaller temporary tattoo designs seem to be best, as do less decorative designs, as some Redditers have commented that the ink is thicker than normal, making more detailed tattoos difficult. Others have posted that their tattoos are not fading even a year later.
Jeff Liu, CEO of Ephemeral Tattoo, responded on Reddit on August 4, 2022 saying, “The amount of ink that can be transferred to the skin plays an important role in blend times and artistic integrity as the tattoo fades. An inconsistent transfer will have an uneven fade. He also suggested that the company has a “next generation” of ink that it is testing and will soon be in color, but none are yet fully optimized for customer use.
So at the end of the day, temporary tattoos are a really good option if you’re still looking forward to getting a tattoo that will last forever. They let you dip your toe in the water, so to speak, and decide if that’s as far as you’re willing to go.