The Future of Tattoos (it's all in the ink)

The Future of Tattoos (it's all in the ink)

No matter what your mom thinks, tattoos are not going to go out of style any time soon. As standards improve, tattoos only continue to gain popularity and social acceptance, from the bar to the boardroom. With that, there’s more interest in the workings of tattoos, the machinery, methods and inks used; more research and development than ever before. Here’s a look at 4 types of ink that could eventually become commonplace.


Vegan ink

As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, it’s no wonder there’s a growing demand for animal-friendly tattoos. You may wonder how tats are not already vegan, but the truth is, the ink, equipment and tools could contain some form of animal by-product. As the tattoo trend grows alongside the vegan trend, more advancements are being made to come up with alternatives that don’t bother a single creature. We’re not sure if it’s available in South Africa yet, but vegan ink is becoming a thing in the US and parts of Europe and best of all, it seems to do the job perfectly.  


Disappearing ink

While purists may not see these as true tattoos, disappearing tattoos are an opportunity for people to try it out before becoming permanently inked, or to have a tattoo that lasts for just a few years. At this stage, the technology is new, but there are currently one- and five-year tattoos entering the market. They’re applied in pretty much the same way, but the ink that’s used fades very quickly. The upside - it would help you to have an answer for your cousin when she asks: “What’s it going to look like when you’re in your 70s?”  The downside is that because the ink disappears over a relatively short period of time, it’s going to look faded and bleh for a while before it disappears.

UV ink

One way to stay professional if you’re a suit by day and a party monster by night is to have a UV tattoo that only shows up under a blue light. No tattoos at the office braai, but later that night, a full back dragon. It’s possible! Again, the tech is still in the early stages, but right now it seems that this type of ink might be a bit more likely to be rejected by the body than standard tattoo inks, so it’s not that easy to find an artist that works with it – yet.

Bio-sensitive ink

It may seem quite far-off, but bio-sensitive inks are right now being researched at (at least) Harvard and MIT, and could soon find their way onto bodies. Why would this be a good thing? Imagine what it would mean to diabetics to have a tattoo that changes colour when their glucose levels become too high or low. Or what about a tattoo that can interact with your fitness tracker app or unblock your smartphone?

Out there in the world are scientists – inked or not - who are curious about the scientific, medical and tech potential of tattoos. It’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with and what the possibilities are in a decade or so.