Mental Floss

Pens and Needles: Disappearing Ink Tattoos!

Mangesh Hattikudur

For all you folks who identify with that old Shakespeare chestnut, "Hell hath no fury like an overprotective mother discovering a tattoo on her kid's arm (or worseth still, lower back)," stop your worrying. There's a new type of semi-permanent tattoo hitting the market that might just be the semi-rebellious rush you've been looking for. Created by the brilliant folks at Mass. General, these "smart tattoos" can be erased with a single, non-scarring laser treatment.

The process is actually pretty ingenious: the ink is encapsulated in tiny polymer beads measuring just 1-3 micrometers in diameter. The tattoos come out looking great, meaning that, unlike say a henna tattoo, it won't induce sneers from the other bikers in your gang. But when you finally decide that you don't really need that dolphin on your ankle, or the Chinese symbol for "trite" on your left shoulder, a laser treatment will slice the microbeads open, releasing the FDA-approved dye into your skin where it quickly (and more importantly, safely!) fades away.