Gina Florio
April 27, 2016 3:53 pm

Tattoos have become one of the most popular forms of self-expression in this generation. It seems like everyone’s got ’em these days. But for the people who have never chosen to get tatted, the primary reason undoubtedly centers on the fact that they’re there forever, permanently etched on their body. That’s all about to change, though, with a new startup called Ephemeral Tattoos.

A group of students from New York University have joined forces to create an ink that allows for removal and edits. It’s supposed to much less painful than the current laser removal technology that’s available to us now — and hopefully a lot cheaper (laser removal costs around $200-$500 a session). The prices for Ephemeral Tattoos haven’t been released yet.

The idea was inspired when NYU engineering student Seung Shin came home to his family with some brand new ink. They were infuriated and demanded he have the tattoo removed.  It was a grueling process, but it sparked the idea for removable tattoo ink and that’s when he teamed up with a few other guys, including business student Josh Sakai, who is now the CEO of Ephemeral.

The ink is still permanent, just like a normal tattoo, but it’s the removal process that sets it apart from the laser removal. So the traditional tattoo removal available now works like this: The laser breaks down the pigment of the tattoo ink so your body can eventually flush it out. Ephemeral, on the other hand, uses tiny dye molecules, smaller than the pigments of the tattoo ink, wrapped inside multicomponent spheres made of biomaterials. The sphere as a whole helps the pigment of the ink break down, leaving just the tiny dye molecules, which get naturally flushed out with your lymphatic system.

The process to get the tattoo removed is the same as any other. You go see a professional and they tattoo over the ink you want to change or have erased, and the tattoo artist just swaps out the ink they’re supposed to use. Easy peasy.

They expect to officially launch in August 2017 (after three long years of testing and re-testing), so you’ve got some time to figure out which designs you want to take into your tattoo artist.

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