Tattoos That Last a Year

Made-to-fade tattoos are meant to help people avoid tattoo regret by lasting only about a year as opposed to the more common - and permanent - option. 

As an artist, you may have customers asking about this semi-permanent option as it gains popularity. It’s important to understand how these tattoos work in order to give your clients the best advice and experience possible.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • Who is making one-year tattoo ink…and what it’s made from
  • Why this ink only lasts one year
  • Common questions and concerns about one-year tattoos

What is Ephemeral Tattoo Ink? 

Photos showing the fading process of Ephemeral tattoos over 15 months

Ephemeral, a San Francisco company founded by two chemical engineers - Brennal Pierre and Vandan Shah, has spent the better part of the last decade developing a made-to-fade tattoo ink

The ink is made from plant extracts and uses a biodegradable solution so that the ink particles literally dissolve by breaking down into small enough pieces that can be naturally eliminated from the body. 

The ink particles in traditional tattoos are generally too large to be broken down by the body, which is how the ink permanently stays in the skin.

How Does Ephemeral Ink Work?  

Via ephemeral.tattoo

Ephemeral tattoos are real tattoos applied to the skin by tattoo artists in the exact same way as normal, permanent tattoos. Ephemeral uses medical devices to create ink with ingredients that break down over time until the particles are small enough for the body to remove by itself. 

  • Ephemeral Tattoo Called Out by Customers

Though Ephemeral tattoos are designed to fade within 9 to 15 months, some people, notably Barbara Edmonds in 2021, have reported their tattoos lasting much longer. When taken to court over the issue, Ephemeral reported that 70% of its tattoos are completely removed by the body in less than two years. 

The company says it is re-evaluating its ink and looking for faster-fading options to stand behind their goal of “one-year” ink. However, because everyone’s skin behaves differently, some people may note that their tattoo fades faster or slower than others. 

Though the fading process is different based on people's bodies and skin types, Ephemeral promises that their tattoo ink is not a commitment for life. 

Ephemeral currently only offers black ink, but they are working on expanding their color options.

What Affects the Fading Process?

Barbara Edmonds’ claddagh Ephemeral tattoo

Sun exposure, and aftercare are all factors in how long it takes the made-to-fade tattoo to disappear. 

The inner bicep and places where the skin moves around a lot like joints and the upper torso are likely to fade quicker than places like the forearm. Ephemeral tattoos will look more faded on darker skin tones faster because the ink will stand out less against skin with more melanin. 

Like all tattoos, fading, as well as the healing process, can be influenced by the immune system and the way the skin reacts to taking in inks.

Are Ephemeral Tattoos Safe?

Minimalist Ephemeral tattoo fading over sixth months

It is safe to be tattooed with Ephemeral ink. 

Because it is designed to be naturally removed by the body, Ephemeral uses materials approved by the FDA for medical use. While some permanent tattoo inks are made with metal or animal products, Ephemeral uses plant-based ingredients. 

The healing process with an Ephemeral tattoo is the same as with regular tattoos, and the pain level should not be any different.

Who is Getting Semi-Permanent Tattoos?

A fading ocean wave Ephemeral tattoo

Ephemeral’s slogan is “take the forever out of tattooing,” and these tattoos appeal to people for a variety of reasons. 

One of the main reasons people are looking for a made-to-fade tattoo is that they aren’t ready to commit to a lifelong design. These tattoos are a way to try out a design and placement for longer than other techniques for temporary tattoos like henna, but the design will eventually fade away. 

People looking for their first tattoo may like this option as they consider the commitment of getting their bodies inked.

Pros and Cons of Ephemeral Tattoos

While clients will have their own reasons for wanting a semi-permanent tattoo, tattoo artists have complicated feelings about this trend:

   PROS

Practice

Money

Designs

Industry Growth

Newer tattoo artists can practice their tattooing skills without permanently altering their own skin or someone else’s.

Fading tattoos keep customers coming back for more without running out of space on their skin.

Temporary tattoos allow people to try out trends without worrying about what others will think long term.

Semi-permanent tattoos can bring people into the industry who might not want to get a permanent tattoo. It’s a way of introducing people to tattoos without the major commitment.

   PROS

Practice

Money

Designs

Industry Growth

Newer tattoo artists can practice their tattooing skills without permanently altering their own skin or someone else’s.

Fading tattoos keep customers coming back for more without running out of space on their skin.

Temporary tattoos allow people to try out trends without worrying about what others will think long term.

Semi-permanent tattoos can bring people into the industry who might not want to get a permanent tattoo. It’s a way of introducing people to tattoos without the major commitment.

   CONS

Practice

Money

Designs

Industry Growth

Most tattoo artists consider their first tattoos as a sort of badge of honor - it’s the mark of a tattoo artist to have your first tattoos on yourself.

Clients might not like that they spent a significant amount of money for something that didn’t last, and they may not come back for more if prices don’t get lower.

Clients might get designs without thinking about them and regret it for the next few months. Or, if clients like a design a lot, artists might end up having to do it over and over.

One of the most meaningful parts of tattooing is that this art form is permanent. Introducing temporary tattoos might negatively impact the respect for the art and the commitment it represents.

   CONS

Practice

Money

Designs

Industry Growth

Most tattoo artists consider their first tattoos as a sort of badge of honor - it’s the mark of a tattoo artist to have your first tattoos on yourself.

Clients might not like that they spent a significant amount of money for something that didn’t last, and they may not come back for more if prices don’t get lower.

Clients might get designs without thinking about them and regret it for the next few months. Or, if clients like a design a lot, artists might end up having to do it over and over.

One of the most meaningful parts of tattooing is that this art form is permanent. Introducing temporary tattoos might negatively impact the respect for the art and the commitment it represents.

Prepare for a Tattooing Career with the Artist Accelerator Program

Learning about current tattoo trends is an important step in your journey, but it can also be pretty eye-opening to how difficult tattooing can be. Without the right knowledge, it’s impossible to level up your skills and become a professional tattoo artist. 

However, finding the straight-forward information you need to progress is difficult. And with so much out there online, it’s hard to avoid picking up bad habits from incorrect and outdated resources.

This is one of the biggest struggles new tattooers face, and too many talented artists have given up their goal of getting into tattooing because of the years it would take to unlearn their bad habits. 

That’s why aspiring artists are learning to tattoo with the Artist Accelerator Program’s structured course. As a student, you learn every step of the tattooing process from professional artists with the experience and advice you need to build your skills and create incredible tattoos. 

With the Artist Accelerator, you can stop wasting time searching through incorrect information. You just get the clear, easy-to-understand lessons you need to start improving fast… along with support and personalized feedback from professional artists in our online Mastermind group.

Over 2500 students have already gone through the course, with many of them opening up their own studios. If you want to join them and learn the skills you need to start tattooing full time faster…

Click here to learn more about the Artist Accelerator Program.

Looking for a tattoo apprenticeship?

Tattooing 101's Artist Accelerator 90 day program is the closest thing to a real apprenticeship

  • 500 video modules
  • Professional tattoo artist coaches
  • Private mastermind community
AUTHOR
Nathan Molenaar

Nathan is a licensed professional tattoo artist with over 8 years’ experience working at studios across the globe, including Celebrity Ink, the world's largest tattoo studio chain.

When he's not tattooing, he spends his free time sharing his experience and knowledge with aspiring artists who dream of pursuing a career in the tattooing industry.

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