Glow in the dark tattoos (or UV tattoos) have been around since the 1990s, back when neon colors and raves really had a time in the spotlight.
They could be the body art choice for you if you are looking for tattoo styles not of the traditional variety and want something that’s not especially visible.
These tattoos can be easier to hide because they can’t actually be seen in the day or night. That’s right, glow in the dark tattoos don’t just glow all the time. You can only see the glow under a blacklight.
“Glow-in-the-dark tattoos are tattoos made with vivid, fluorescent colors that are quite difficult to see in daylight. These types of tattoos don’t quite live up to their names, though: They won’t simply glow when you turn off the lights. Instead, glow-in-the-dark tattoos generally require a blacklight to trigger the glow-like reaction due to the UVA light it omits,”Byrdie
So, what in the tattoo ink makes the design glow?
When glow in the dark tattoos first began to be tattooed, artists would use an ink solution containing phosphorus along with the normal ink pigments. The danger of this became apparent, though, as phosphorus is a carcinogen that can cause skin conditions.
If you decide to get a glow in the dark tattoo today, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. Tattoo artists generally don’t use phosphorus. Instead, glow in the dark tattoos are created using ink that is reactive to UV light.
That being said, tattoo ink isn’t something that is regulated. When you choose your tattooist, ask them about the ink that they plan to use and what its ingredients are. Take as much time as you need to fully understand the process you’re going to be undergoing.
Here are a few more things you should know before getting inked:
How Long Do Glow In The Dark Tattoos Last?
When it comes to how long tattoos last, usually the more colorful, especially lighter colors, and the finer the lines, the easier and quicker it takes the body to break down the ink. For example, super popular white ink tattoos can fade really quickly.
However, glow in the dark tattoos can last as long as regular ink tattoos. Of course, everyone’s skin is different and tattoos do experience wear and tear, so UV tattoos will need touch ups after a while.
The longevity of any tattoo, including glow in the dark tats, depends largely on the level of experience of the artist doing the tattoo, how the tattooee looks after their ink after their appointment, and whether it’s protected from the sun.
Is There Any Specific Glow In The Dark Tattoo Aftercare?
Even though the ink used for glow in the dark tattoos is different to regular tattoo ink, the aftercare process is the same.
Make sure to wash your fresh tattoo with fragrance free soap and keep it moisturized. Skip swimming in pools, the ocean, and rivers to avoid bacterial infections. Plus, while healing and every day after, put SPF on your ink when you go outside.
Take care of your ink so you can see the glow for years to come.
Are Glow In The Dark Tattoos More Expensive?
Yes, they are. This is partly because the ink used for UV tattoos is more expensive.
Also, most tattoo artists base their prices partly on how long a tattoo takes to do. So, a lot depends on the size of your tattoo and the details involved.
Can You Remove Or Cover Up A Glow In The Dark Tattoo?
If you no longer want to see your UV tattoo under black light anymore, you’ve got to go through the tattoo removal process or cover it up with new ink.
However, the tattoo removal process for glow in the dark tattoos isn’t the same as with traditional ink tattoos – it’s kind of worse.
UV tattoos don’t respond to laser tattoo removal, so the ink has to be cut out.
Yes, you can surgically remove tattoos, but, for obvious reasons, this method of tattoo removal is not super popular.
If you don’t want your glow in the dark tattoo anymore, you’re going to have to settle for trading it in for a few scars.
There is an alternative to tattoo removal: Getting another tattoo over your unwanted ink.
“As with any tattoo, these ones will fade slowly over time but never fully disappear. It’s important to consider that if you ever find yourself in a position of wanting to cover up your glow-in-the-dark tattoo, colored ink applied on top may appear duller than expected, and the glow-in-the-dark properties of the original tattoo will no longer work,”Byrdie
Glow In The Dark Tattoo Ideas
You can highlight your tattoo design with glow in the dark ink. Or, you could hide a tattoo within a tattoo that can only be seen under a blacklight.
For example, say you have a miniature landscape tattooed on your arm. Under normal circumstances, there’s a crescent moon in this design. Then, when the backlight turns on, the moon turns into a sun.
In this scorpion tattoo, the faint stars in the background glow to take this design to another level. This is a design that relies on just a few hints of glow in the dark ink to highlight the design.
This cute dinosaur is done completely in UV ink.
If you’re looking for something even more subtle, a few glow in the dark dots on or behind the ear or on the fingers could be the perfect body art choice for you.
This Aum symbol looks like a normal red ink mini tattoo, but the blacklight brings out a whole different tattoo look.
Butterfly tattoos have long been a popular choice because of the insect’s representation of metamorphosis. If you’re thinking about getting a butterfly tattoo, but are looking for a unique spin to this popular design, adding UV ink could set your tat apart.
Like any other tattoo style, glow in the dark tattoos have their pros and cons, and they’re permanent. Do your research so that you can go into your tattoo appointment fully prepared and walk out with a design you love.