The science behind our made-to-fade ink.

ephemeral tattoo application needle palm
Ephemeral’s made-to-fade ink is applied just like a traditional tattoo
An artist uses a needle to transfer ink under your top layer of skin
Unlike traditional tattoo ink, Ephemeral ink contains medical-grade, bio-absorbable ingredients that shrink over time…
until they are small enough for your body to remove
As time passes, the particles shrink as your body breaks down the ink
76% of Ephemerals fade in under 2 years...
Everyone’s fade journey is slightly different because everyone’s body is different
But don’t worry: your Ephemeral will disappear
Bioabsorbable, Biodegradable & Plant-Based Tattoo Ink

Bioabsorbable, Biodegradable & Plant-Based

Unlike traditional tattoo ink, Ephemeral ink is designed to be removed by our bodies.

We selected plant-based ingredients where possible and avoided heavy metals and animal-based components.

5 Factors That Affect Your Fade

Our bodies are unique, so no two fades are exactly alike-but rest assured, all Ephemerals are Made-to-Fade.

Tattoos may fade at different rates on different parts of the body because of variations in the skin. For example, the skin might respond differently in areas of bony prominence and in joint areas where there is lots of motion. Based on our research, we’ve found that inner biceps fade faster than outer biceps, and upper torso placements (sternum, ribs, breasts) tend to fade faster than wrists and forearms.

Note: Ephemeral does not endorse using Ephemeral ink to get tattoos on the Face, the Head, Around the Eyes, Lips, and Genital areas

Paired with where you place your tattoo, another decision that affects fade is how much ink is transferred, which will lengthen your potential fade timeline. Tattoos with thick lines and/or dense shading typically take longer to fade than subtle tattoos with thin lines and no shading. You may notice finer details and elements that stand apart from the main design fading faster than denser areas in your tattoo.

With tattoos, skin physiology and the immune system are known factors in how our bodies respond to tattoo inks – how our body takes up the ink, how it heals after the tattoo is applied, and how it heals in the long term. No two people are exactly alike. We are still collecting more information about average body responses, and clear information is not available on tattoo longevity with respect to age and race.

Ephemerals applied to skin with more melanin may fade faster than on skin with less melanin. No matter your skin tone, your tattoo will look great and completely fade!

How well you take care of your Ephemeral will affect how it fades.

We use hydrocolloid patches while healing because they are known to result in 40% faster healing than other techniques. At the end of your appointment, you’ll be given instructions on best practices for healing. You can see them all right here!

Check out this video on our healing process.

Show me the same tattoo over time

Average Fade Timelines

After applying the tattoo, enjoy your new art at its full vibrancy. After a few months, you will see it starting to fade. Our ink breaks down and is naturally removed from the body at a non-linear rate, which means the fade may be faster initially and appear slower later.

8% of clients can expect their tattoos to fade within one year, 76% within two years, and 98% within three years.

ephemeral tattoo vibrancy over time chart


Ephemerals are designed to last up to three years.

There are five primary factors at play when talking about tattoo longevity.

Tattoo Design - thick vs. thin lines, shading, size
Placement - where the Ephemeral is on your body
Aftercare - how you take care of the tattoo
Skin physiology - unique to each individual
Immune system - unique to each individual

8% of clients can expect their tattoos to fade within one year, 76% within two years, and 98% within three years.

The materials used in Ephemeral ink are commonly used in food, cosmetics, and medical devices, are 100% vegan, and utilize plant-based ingredients wherever possible. We spent the first three years of our research before opening studios testing and selecting the safest materials to use in our ink. We do not use heavy metal components or components known to be carcinogenic and teratogenic. As with all cosmetics, allergies or other adverse responses may arise. We recommend color and patch tests before use. “Although a number of color additives are approved for use in cosmetics, none is approved for injection into the skin” by the FDA. Please see our guidelines for use and placements. Ephemeral tattoo ink is supplied in sterile form and for single use only.

If you have an adverse response please contact your tattoo artist, your doctor/healthcare provider and reach out to us at

Our ink consists of two primary components: 1) ink particles that are made from medical-grade bioabsorbable polymers (the same materials used in medical sutures) and color additives used in food & cosmetics. 2) water-based carrier solution to disperse ink particles.

In addition, we use plant-based ingredients wherever possible and avoid heavy metal or animal-based components.

Yes, our ink is vegan—we do not use any animal-derived ingredients or byproducts.

All Ephemeral tattoos are currently done in black ink. Not only is it the most popular color, but it’s also preferred by most tattoo artists and looks fantastic with fine line work.

We are developing Ephemeral color ink (hint: 🔴). It’s a delicate process and takes time, but it’s on the horizon. Sign up for our newsletter in the footer to be the first to hear when new Ephemeral colors become available!

Yes, Ephemeral ink works on all skin tones. Ephemeral tattoos applied to skin with more melanin may fade faster than on skin with less melanin.

No matter your skin tone, your Ephemeral will completely fade!

Our partners at Henry Ford are currently conducting studies on the efficacy and safety of Ephemeral tattoos for use as a medical marker in cancer treatment. These studies are ongoing and results will be made available as soon as they are completed. Please see ”Feasibility of Semi-Permanent Tattoo for Treatment Alignment in Radiation Therapy” for further information.

Or, email us at to learn more.

Fade FAQ

Our ink is biodegradable. Ink particles (both permanent and Ephemeral) are hydrophobic, which causes them to aggregate into particles too large to be immediately removed — traditional permanent ink stays in this aggregate form while Ephemeral ink gradually breaks down into smaller particles, water and carbon dioxide over three years.

Made-to-fade ink that looks just like a conventional tattoo — the perfect balance between a temporary tattoo and a permanent tattoo.

YES, all Ephemeral tattoos will ultimately fade away.

Given the physical and chemical nature and degradation rates of components in our ink, an Ephemeral tattoo can't be permanent. Ephemeral ink gradually breaks into smaller particles, water, and carbon dioxide over three years. Our medical-grade polymers are the same as those used in sutures, which naturally break down and are removed by our bodies.

Ephemeral tattoos will break down and be naturally removed by any living human being with water in their body ← you qualify!

Everyone’s fade will look a little different.

The first thing you’ll notice when your Ephemeral starts to fade is a change in ink saturation, which typically means a shift from dark black to light gray.

Our ink breaks down and is removed from the body naturally—no two bodies are the same—but if you want your tattoo to fade quicker, make these considerations when designing/placing your Ephemeral:

Placements along the upper torso, ribs, sternum, inner arms, and inner biceps tend to fade more quickly. Designs using fine lines and little to no shading fade more quickly.

Our ink breaks down and is removed from the body naturally—no two bodies are the same—but if you want your tattoo to fade slower, make these considerations when designing/placing your Ephemeral.

Placements further removed from the core of the body tend to fade more slowly — areas like wrists, thighs, and ankles often take longer to fade than a tattoo on the rib cage or the neck

Designs using thicker lines, deeper details, and lots of rich shading fade more slowly

How your design affects your fade is simple; as you add more ink to the tattoo, you generally add time to the fade. If you want a design with a short fade, consider something simple with fine linework and less detail. If you want a design with a longer fade, opt for heavy detail, shading, and heavy linework!

Tattooing requires enormous skill, where the artist has about 1 to 2 mm of skin depth to work with. Transferring the ink as evenly as possible across this thin layer of skin is crucial to ensuring that your tattoo design fades with the same integrity across the entire design. There are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that your fade is as desirable as your initial tattoo design.

  • Step 1: Design the tattoo with the fade in mind – remember bolder lines fade slower than thinner lines, too dense stippling can overlap, transferring more ink to the skin than is needed to achieve the same effect.
  • Step 2: Follow aftercare steps carefully – difficulty and inconsistent healing can cause gaps in the design, which would later show up even more pronounced as the tattoo starts to fade.
  • Step 3: Avoid aftercare products or activities that can irritate your delicate skin, even– itching and scratching can compromise your tattoo design. Avoid pools and the ocean for at least one month or as long as your tattoo takes to repair – whichever is longer. Moisturize and use protective measures such as sunscreen or clothing that blocks the sun or reduces friction.
  • Step 4: Body parts such as the ribs are known to be difficult areas to transfer ink. Tattoos that traverse different body parts might result in inconsistent fading across the tattoo. A few examples are a tattoo that wraps around the arm, a tattoo that stretches from forearm to wrist, and one that stretches from ribs to back.
  • Step 5: Work with your artist; be as still as possible when getting your tattoo.

Laser removal methods were specifically developed and designed for the removal of permanent tattoo inks. Ephemeral was designed to be broken down and removed by the body over time. Ephemeral does not currently have any approved, safe or effective method of accelerating your fade, including Laser that we are comfortable recommending.

Show me an Ephemeral Tattoo at

Your body's natural response to the ink may mean that you can remove the ink faster or slower. This, paired with the placement and chosen design, will affect your fade timeline.

How do you measure where you are in your fade?

This tool determines where someone sits in their current fade timeline. Because of the non-linear reduction rate of the ink, your time in each phase won't be the same as the others in your journey.

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*images are rendered to illustrate tattoo fade stages