Even the most diehard lovers of tattoos know that the artform comes with inherent risks.

Not least – as those who wake up after a big night to find a stranger’s name imprinted on their thigh can attest – is the issue of permanence. Tens of thousands of tattoo removals are performed at the edge of a laser each year, and the process comes with its own complications, such as the potential for scarring and discolouration of the skin.

Startup company Ephemeral hopes to solve that problem with a new, semi-permanent ink, designed to create tattoos that only last a year.

“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. 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,” co-founder Anthony Lam explained to TechCrunch.

Ephemeral won’t be the first product to be marketed as a solution to unwanted tattoos. In 2009, Freedom-2 released InfinitInk, a medically safe, easier to remove alternative to traditional inks, while more recently, cosmetic companies have been selling tattoo pens that allow users to etch an image that lasts for 24 hours.

The difference with Ephemeral is that it’s designed to be removed without negating an artist’s skill.


It’s a unique option for those who may come to regret their tattoo, or simply want to experience what having a tattoo is like. Of course, for the more experienced, there’s an opportunity to be found in Ephemeral as well. For those who treat their body as a canvas, such semi-permanent ink could provide a means for changing and updating tattoos on an annual basis.

The company is preparing for its initial funding round later this year, with the intention of releasing a product in Q3, 2017.

For more information, and to keep up to date with Ephemeral news, visit the official website.

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