Body Art

The Hot New Tattoo Trend for Commitmentphobes

Temporary ink makes all kind of body art possible.

By Miranda Proctor July 12, 2016

Shutterstock 140990137 ofgs61

Get ready for 365 days of awesome inked sleeves.

Image: Shutterstock

Picture this: You’re running to Starbucks before work but have to order inside because the drive-thru line is at least a mile long. As you're trying to keep yourself from staring at the coffee cakes and croissants, you watch the barista as they whip up the morning rush coffee orders. Their sleeves are rolled up and you see the beginnings of a different kind of sleeve starting at their wrist. You catch a black and white flower here, a dragon’s tail there—everything coming together in an intricate design to create a work of art.

A tattoo sleeve is a huge commitment, but you're not thinking about that. You're thinking about how badass it looks. Maybe a part of you wishes you could do something like that, or even just get one small tattoo, but something is holding you back—the permanence of it and the uncertainty that you’ll still want it 20 years down the road. Now Ephemeral, a startup run by a team of New York University grads, has created a solution.

Ephemeral is developing a new type of tattoo ink that disappears after one year. Permanent tattoo ink contains dye molecules that are too large for your body’s immune system to dissolve, according to 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,” he explained to TechCrunch. Neat, right?

Although the product is still being tested, Ephemeral CEO Seung Shin believes they should have the ink ready by fall of next year. The best part is that it won’t break the bank, considering the prices will be similar to that of a regular tattoo, or $50 to $100 for an average-size tattoo.

Does this just go to show that Tinder-obsessed millennials are scared of commitment? Not likely. This type of tattoo would be perfect for the person who is aware of the permanence of getting a typical tattoo, and doesn’t feel especially attached to the idea of one for a lifetime. Or maybe you aren’t quite ready to commit—and that’s totally fine too! 

Honestly, the possibilities for this are endless:

  • Many advocate waiting a year to make sure you still like the idea of the tattoo you want before actually going through with it. But with this temporary option, that can be solved by test-driving a tattoo for a year. If you aren’t digging it once that one-year mark hits, then good riddance! If you’re absolutely bonkers about it and need it to be a part of your life, make it permanent. And the best part about this temporary ink is there’s no painful laser removal involved.
  • It was Houston's own baseball ex Shaune Bagwell who made waves a decade ago by selling ad space on her cleavage, so we have to think about what impact temporary ink will have on advertising. People could have contracts involving using their bodies as advertisement for a year until the tattoo fades. Does this mean we’ll start seeing people’s bodies covered in tattoos the same way NASCAR drivers' suits are covered in stickers? Possibly, for the right price.
  • Maybe tattoo parlors can even make a rule where anyone who comes in after 2 a.m. on a Saturday night has to get the temporary ink so no one ends up getting a permanent face tattoo like Stu from The Hangover 2 or a tattoo of their ex’s name on their butt. Yeah, that’s a thing. We tend to make bad decisions at 2 a.m.
  • Now that you know you won’t have to live with this tattoo for the rest of your life, you have a little wiggle room in regards to which tattoo you want to get. You can “splurge” in a sense by getting that one tattoo that you’ve always envied, but know you couldn’t handle for a lifetime. A year of rocking a poo emoji tattoo is plenty.

If you still can’t decide what one-year tattoo you want, here’s a little something to help you out:

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