Ephemeral spent six years researching and developing the ink it uses for its made-to-fade tattoos. The ink is inserted into the skin like a regular tattoo. But unlike permanent ink, Ephemeral’s will break down over time, until the ink eventually disappears altogether.


  Ephemeral, a Brooklyn tattoo business, specializes in fade-to-fade tattoos.

With the invention of tattoos that stays between nine and 15 months, Ephemeral, Brooklyn's newest tattoo shop, profits on the fear of commitment—but the need for self-expression. Everything, including the tattoo artist, needles, and pain, is real. The only difference is the type of ink used.

Although it may appear to be science fiction, it is not. Vandan Shah and Brennal Pierre, both of whom have Ph.D.'s in Chemical Engineering from New York University, invented the ink. "A really good issue that got us thinking was whether tattoos could be made to fade," Shah explains. "We worked with protein stability and development because of our background in biomolecular engineering," Pierre continues. "We were interested in this subject since tattoos are just interactions between the skin (the protein in this example) and the ink," he says.

The ink formula has been in the works for six and a half years. "Since 2014, we've tried and evaluated over 50 formulas," Shah explains. Ephemeral ink polymers and dyes are the two main components. While the specific composition (like with other traditional tattoo ink formulae) is private, the polymers used in it have been used in medical equipment and medications for years and have been thoroughly tested for safety. "They're medical-grade biocompatible and biodegradable," Shah continues, "so they're designed to break down over time." The dyes are all D&C (drugs and cosmetics) regulated for use in other items.

"We wanted to go for the safest options available, so if industry standards change, we'll be ready," Pierre adds. With the support of dermatologist Dhaval Bhanushali, the team has also started an IRB (Institutional Review Board) clinical investigation to evaluate the product's safety.

The final objective for Pierre and Shah wasn't to design a tattoo ink that would never fade but one that would last a long time and look as nice as a traditional tattoo. "After a week, some of our first formulas vanished," Pierre recalls. Through surveys, the couple discovered that nine to 15 months would be an excellent time to enjoy the tattoos while still making the experience valuable. To guarantee that the Ephemeral ink behaved similarly to traditional tattoo inks, they enlisted the expertise of a team of tattoo artists who tested the ink's performance using techniques such as dots and shading.

Shah and Pierre believe that they've sat for around 100 tattoos, most of which have vanished altogether. "During the developing process, I tried over 60 tattoos," Shah recalls. "Right now, I suppose I have five or six on my body."

Click here to know more about the tattoos that are made-to-fade within a year backed by research of more than 6 years.