We’ve all taken basic biology in grade school, or have heard the talk about the birds and the bees, so we know that creating new life requires combining DNA from two organisms. However, this article isn’t about procreation or creating new life; it's about commemorating lives that already exist. A new DNA insertion method has been born, and it’s being used in tattoo ink. The company responsible for allowing this new possibility is called Everence. On their website they claim that this is “a revolutionary technology that allows you to capture the essence of what is truly meaningful to you, and carry it with you on your journey through life.” I’m not sure it’s revolutionary — though maybe I’m more interested in semantics than I should be — but I will concede that it is pretty freaking cool.
Here’s how it works: Everence will send you a DNA kit, you supply the DNA sample (via saliva swab, skin, hair, or blood) and send it back to them. They will then extract, amplify, purify, and encapsulate the DNA in a powder form. If you aren’t familiar with the science terminology, don’t worry; what it means is after they receive the DNA, they generate a lot of copies (potentially on a scale of thousands to millions of copies), and send it back to you without any weird chemical impurities. Once you get the vial of powdered DNA, you can bring it to your tattoo artist to mix it with the ink for your next tattoo. It does take 60 days for the company to get you the vial of powder, so don't procrastinate if this is something you are interested in.
The company got their name by combining the words forever and reverence. It is a touching example of something you can do if you are getting a tattoo to commemorate a loved one. One benefit of this kind of tattoo is that you don’t have to get someone’s name inked on your body to make it personal. There may come a day when you wish you didn’t have your ex-wife’s DNA in your skin, but at least it’s not something as obvious as her name. Conversely, the downside of this is the cost — currently it is $540. So it isn’t cheap, but clearly people think it is worth it, because they have already gained a lot of attention and fulfilled some orders.
Regarding the safety of this procedure, they claim it is as safe as traditional tattoo inks. They use a non-biodegradable polymer in the powder they return in the vials, which is safe because it doesn’t absorb into the skin. The fact that it doesn’t absorb into the skin is important because that means there isn’t any risk of it being recognized by the immune system. If it was recognized by the immune system, it would probably ruin the tattoo, and create an unpleasant mess underneath the skin. In the interest of full disclosure, tattoo ink is not regulated by the FDA because it is considered a cosmetic. Therefore, this product is not approved by the FDA.
One interesting note is that this company is experiencing some backlash from people in the more traditional tattoo community. Specifically, some artists appear resentful of the fact that a biotech company is getting involved in tattooing. The sentiment there isn’t hard to understand; a lot of people in the tattoo world don’t want anything to do with the corporate world. Nevertheless, there is some criticism, but there seems to be just as much support.. We will see how well this idea is adopted over the next year.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the official position of PainfulPleasures.