Vanishing tattoos? This is ink with commitment issues.

The Brooklyn-based tattoo shop creates tattoos that look like the real deal but completely disappear after a year

black and white image of multiple people with ephemeral tattoos which fade after a year
(Image credit: TBC)

Ephemeral Tattoo has just changed the relationship status with your ink from a life-long commitment to a year-long fling. The newly opened, Brooklyn-based tattoo shop is revolutionising the industry with tattoos that are applied in the same way and look just like a typical tat, but only last for nine to 15 months. 

The secret is in the brand’s unique fade-able ink, which was developed in-house by two chemical engineers and a team of dermatologists. Typical tattoos stay permanent because the ink particles are too large for the body to break down. Ephemeral tattoos work in a similar way, but the particles are small enough that they are consistently broken down and absorbed by the body. Developed over a six-year period, the ink is made from FDA-approved, biocompatible and biodegradable polymers and dyes to ensure it is safe for use on most skin types.

black and white image of two people with multiple ephemeral tattoos which fade after a year

(Image credit:

Having an impermanent tattoo ink is groundbreaking, but perhaps what’s most impressive about Ephemeral ink is that it actually looks good as it fades. There is no splotchy breakdown or strange discolouration here. Rather, the ink simply gets consistently lighter and lighter over time until it has faded completely. 

Those who want to try an Ephemeral tattoo for themselves can book an appointment and submit inspiration images or drawings of the design they would like, and then fine-tune the final look with their artist before application.

black and white image of woman with hand tattoos by ephemeral tattoos which fade after a year

(Image credit:

The concept behind Ephemeral is so obviously appealing that it's hard to understand why it didn’t exist before. But it is also particularly suited to the mood of the times, when beauty products and body modification are increasingly seen as tools for experimentation and self-expression that can be used to achieve a mutable, ‘anti-perfectionist’ concept of beauty, as the growing prevalence of temporary dermal fillers and the popularity of colourful, multipurpose make-up already attests. 

For the first time ever, tattoos are more about experimentation than commitment. Those who might have been hesitant about getting a tattoo before can now take the plunge without worrying about the life-long consequences. Likewise, those who might have no qualms about getting tattoos can now feel free to experiment with styles or designs they might have otherwise avoided. 

It’s an innovative concept that, unlike a tattoo, is sure to be around for a long time.


Writer and Wallpaper* Contributing Editor

Mary Cleary is a writer based in London and New York. Previously beauty & grooming editor at Wallpaper*, she is now a contributing editor, alongside writing for various publications on all aspects of culture.