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In the future will we all be tattooed for only a few hours?

How temporary tattooing will return mainstream for Gen Z

In the future will we all be tattooed for only a few hours? How temporary tattooing will return mainstream for Gen Z
Gucci SS17
Givenchy SS97
Dior Couture Spring 2018
Chanel SS10
John Galliano FW04
Jean Paul Gaultier SS94

Before a tattoo shop opened in the corners of every street or town, and before tattoos themselves were emancipated from the infamous imagery with which our parents' generation associated them, young Millennials who wanted to decorate their skin had temporary tattoos. Hidden in potato chip packs or in the far corners of old newsstands, swapped at birthdays and often printed on their forearms with great water spillage on the floor and clothes, temporary tattoos were one of the best entertainments of an era then quickly swamped by teledependence and the advent of smartphones. Yet their story does not seem to be over: a few days ago L'Oreal, i.e., the world's largest dedicated beauty company, acquired a minority stake in a Korean company named Prinker Korea, which is responsible for inventing a device capable of printing a temporary tattoo directly onto the skin from an archive of 12,000 tattoos that can be selected and customized through a dedicated app. 

What makes the company's products, named Prinker S and Prinker M, desirable is the fact that they are designed to fit perfectly within the safety regulations of the U.S. and European markets, as well as the Asian market, and are therefore practically already sellable everywhere. The collaboration between Prinker and L'Oreal has already borne its first fruits: last January 3, the brand unveiled in Las Vegas Hapta and Brow Magic, a digital make-up applicator and a device for printing eyebrows with millimeter precision that, in addition to the obvious applications, will be a step forward for beauty consumers with limited mobility. L'Oreal vice-CEO Barbara Lavernos called these and other projects «the future of beauty». Putting aside for a moment the more specific issues of creating painted eyebrows and make-up in the strict sense, it is interesting to focus on the success that the portable mini-tattoo printer seems to be having even now. At last year's Cosmoprof in Bologna, Prinker's booth had been a major success, as well as winning several international awards. And just as fake piercings have been a huge success this year, thanks in part to technical improvements in the product, digitally printed temporary tattoos could have their moment in 2023 and beyond. 

In the future will we all be tattooed for only a few hours? How temporary tattooing will return mainstream for Gen Z | Image 435934
Jean Paul Gaultier SS94
In the future will we all be tattooed for only a few hours? How temporary tattooing will return mainstream for Gen Z | Image 435930
Givenchy SS97
In the future will we all be tattooed for only a few hours? How temporary tattooing will return mainstream for Gen Z | Image 435933
John Galliano FW04
In the future will we all be tattooed for only a few hours? How temporary tattooing will return mainstream for Gen Z | Image 435932
Chanel SS10
In the future will we all be tattooed for only a few hours? How temporary tattooing will return mainstream for Gen Z | Image 435929
Gucci SS17
In the future will we all be tattooed for only a few hours? How temporary tattooing will return mainstream for Gen Z | Image 435931
Dior Couture Spring 2018

For years, in fact, the public has felt a certain fascination with this type of decoration, without ever really embracing it. Temporary tattoos were a regular presence in certain 90s shows by Gaultier and Galliano, while it was for its SS10 that Chanel first employed temporary tattoos in one of its shows, and then announced their sale; another famous case was Gucci's in 2016 and again in 2018, when Dior introduced temporary tattoos in its spring Haute Couture collection, and then used variations of them in a J'Adore perfume campaign in 2021-the same year that Bella Hadid had her photo taken with tattoos printed on her skin produced by Inked by DANI, a sustainable and cruelty-free American brand that has been very successful in the ecosystem of American models and influencers. It was only a few days ago, then, that Heaven by Marc Jacobs produced a fanzine of temporary tattoos designed by, among others, Manon Macasaet, Harmony Korine and Bladee - as if to underscore the potential of the temporary tattoo both from a commercial point of view, as merch; as a lighthearted and original accessory but also as a great vehicle for collaborations and community building.

But the market for temporary tattoos is growing at a frightening rate: New York-based brand Ephemeral raised $20 million in funding in 2021 after going viral on TikTok; Canadian Inkbox raised seventeen along with collaborations with BTS and the Vans Warped Tour. Services and techniques are also progressing. With Ephemeral, one can go directly to a store in New York and get tattooed with artist designs that last nine months or a year. It is clear that the boom in this market (which has also been fueled by the activist wave of recent years making slogans by wearing them on one's skin) has angered traditional tattooists who have accused the temporary tattoo business a commodification of a lifelong discipline often cultivated amidst a thousand difficulties. 

@ezink.co another reason why temp tattooes are for everyone #fyp #tattoo #ezink original sound - EzInk Co.

And although this new front worries real tattoo artists, there is no question that the prospect of being able to get a tattoo that lasts the time of a single night, perhaps experimenting with different positions but in any case without the slightest commitment is a strong temptation for a huge segment of the public. Clearly, temporary tattooing stands to traditional tattooing as buying prints of famous paintings stands to art collecting - it is hard for one to really kill the other since they are two radically different market categories. But in the age of self-expression, if money flows and technology advances further, the world of digitally processed temporary tattoos is like an uncharted continent that the beauty industry intends to conquer. The world's largest beauty company has already invested in the idea, others are sure to follow. Apparently, in the future we will all be tattooed for even a few hours.