Glow in the Dark Tattoos – The Brightest Tattoo Trend

Glow in the dark tattoos are the latest innovation in tattooing technology, with their bright fluorescent colors surprising bedrooms and dance floors across the world. They are a sign that the art is always improving, since the many of the inks revolve around being lit by artificial lights. But new innovations come with both risks and rewards, and if you are considering getting a glow in the dark tattoo, there are some facts you need to know about.

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About Glow in the Dark Safety

First, there are several different kinds of glow in the dark ink. One of them is incredibly bad for your skin, while the others are about as harmless as typical tattoo ink. Let’s start with the bad one, so you know what to look out for when getting a glow in the dark tattoo. Phosphor-based glow in the dark ink contains, well, phosphor. It is the oldest glow in the dark ink, since its derivative element was only the thirteenth to be discovered, and it’s also very dangerous to use on the skin. Why on earth would people ever want to tattoo themselves with a poison? Well, it simply wasn’t known for a time.

It was originally extracted by boiling down urine, in an attempt to alchemize gold, of course. Since Phosphorous was the thirteenth element discovered and it glowed in the dark, many people referred to it as the devil’s element. It wasn’t until phosphorus was used on an industrial scale that its toxicity became known. It was used in early matches, and the proliferation of those matches poisoned many people. When it became known that match workers were getting ill and murderers were using it as a tool, the matches were recalled and it became a regulated substance. It is still contained in many children’s toys and jewelry designs, but it is always encased in a safer material, and never for ages that would stick the toy in their mouth.

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Are Glow in the Dark Tattoos Safe?

It is entirely possible to wear a tattoo with phosphor-based glow in the dark ink, but keep in mind that inks are not regulated by the FDA, and the amount of phosphor used could be incredibly unhealthy. Many people who receive glow in the dark designs report that they have more swelling than usual—sometimes they are even forced to remove them! If you want a glow in the dark tattoo, you should look at the safer, phosphor-free alternatives. If your tattoo artist doesn’t know the ingredients of their inks when you ask, be sure to run out of the store.

UV-light inks usually contain no phosphor. Some chemists will mix a little in to give it an oomph, so watch out for that. You can usually tell what contains phosphor based on one little premise—whether it needs a light present to glow or not. If it can glow on its own in a completely dark room, it is unhealthy and contains phosphor. If it doesn’t, then it’s probably UV-based.

UV-light inks are as safe for your skin as any other kind of ink. Again, the FDA does not officially review any kind of ink. At the same time, the mechanics behind UV-light inks are not phenomenal. They don’t involve some crazy chemical trickery. Instead, they simply harness a color that ours eyes don’t see. As we all learned in our science classes, when light hits something, part of it is absorbed, and another part is reflected back. In example, tree leaves absorb blue light and reflect green light. Solar panels absorb all visible forms of light, so they reflect back nothing to our eyes and appear black.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Designs in Daylight

With UV inks, the inks are ultraviolet colored. This is a color just beyond purple and blue, outside of our range of vision. Many flowers have natural ultraviolet patterns that only bees, butterflies, and moths can see. This serves as a secret message that whispers ‘I’m over here!’ without alerting any grazers. Unless you are blessed with a kind of color sensitivity rarer than color blindness, all of these patterns are invisible to the naked eye. However, when UV-light hits a tattoo with ink designed specifically to reflect UV-light, the light’s energy weakens.  It weakens just enough to make the tattoo reflect a visible color.


It appears brilliant blue to us because it only excites the blue receptors in our eyes—in order to see a real violet color, your receptors would need to see something that reflects blue and red, but not green. These inks have no fancy ingredients, they just use raw science to make something invisible, visible. All you need is a UV light.


UV Ink Safety

That being said, there are many safe UV inks—at least, as safe as ink ever get. There are some special precautions you have to take when getting a UV tattoo, but it’s nothing crazy. First, although the ink is invisible without a blacklight, the scar from the tattoo will still be raised. Sharp eyes will still be able to see it. If you get a glow in the dark tattoo and then cover it with a colored tattoo, the glow in the dark ink will appear muddy or washed out.


For that reason, you would want to get it either by itself or to highlight a pre-existing tattoo. If you don’t take care of your tattoo with frequent sunscreen, it will fade into a yellow or light brown color from too much sunlight. Color fading is true for regular tattoos as well, so you should have no problem exercising good aftercare for it!

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Glow in the Dark Tattoos in the Light

Glow in the dark designs are good for hiding something in plain sight. Many people get a skeleton tattooed on their arms which reveals its true form under UV light. Others choose to get silly tattoos, or tattoos that change dramatically when the lights are shut off. Some use it to add a sparkling accent to a pre-existing tattoo. Whatever the reason, glow in the dark tattoos hand out a spectacular impact. They leave your friends and any onlookers stunned and impressed.

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I hope you enjoyed reading. Check out our other articles like our recent one about Script Tattoo Fonts!


Ink Done Right

6 thoughts on “Glow in the Dark Tattoos – The Brightest Tattoo Trend”

  1. Hello,

    I was wondering if glow in the dark tattoos, look similar to white ink tattoos, in the sense that you only see the ‘scar’ in regular light? Do you have any pictures of glow-in the dark tattoos that are in regular light?


    • Hey there

      yes they actually do. In daylight it’s pretty hard (if not impossible) to tell if it’s a pure white ink or if there are other UV colors in it. Actually white ink tattoos are also UV/Glow in the dark tattoos “just” without any kind of color.

      Unfortunately we don’t have any daylight pictures of glow in the dark tattoos.

      Thanks a lot


  2. I’d love to have a uv tattoo but I have looked and asked everyone and I don’t know where to get one! Does anyone know where I can get one?!?!?

    • Most artist can make one but not all of them want to. The easiest way is to call the artists in your area and ask them on the phone if the are a) willing and b) have some experience with a uv tattoo.


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