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Glow-In-The-Dark Tattoos

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

So today, I will be writing about glow-in-the-dark tattoos, as I’ve been getting a few questions and requests about them. The whole idea of having indistinguishable tattoos that only show up in the dark is pretty cool, especially if you’re an office worker by day, and raver by night.  It’s become a bit of a trend, and I’ve seen some new brands of glowing inks pop up recently. None of these inks are approved by the FDA, and it has worried me when I see the inks advertised as such, as UV ink has been approved for agriculture and fishery, but not for human use.  But then again, tattoo ink is not regulated by the FDA.

However, there are several kinds of glow-in-the-dark ink.

Phosphorus ink is known to be one of the first of its kind of glowing ink, and is the most dangerous. Phosphor is the derivative element, and it is the most harmful to be used in skin, and known to be poisonous. Phosphorus is a known chemical to cause terrible, severe blisters, burning sensation, and is just all around harmful to your skin.  The ink is known to have side effects, ranging from rashes to full-on Dermatitis, blisters, and also some concern about it being linked to cancer.

The other kind of glowing ink is UV ink, or ultraviolet ink. UV ink is pretty much harmless, or just about the same level as any other tattoo ink, and only shows up under UV light(black light). Ultraviolet ink isn’t some kind of crazy, dangerous chemical, but just ultraviolet-colored. Ultraviolet colors are just outside the range of colors the naked eye can see, but many flowers contain it to signal bees, butterflies and moths.

However, just like any other kind of ink, the color will fade, eventually into a yellowish/brown color, especially if the tattoo isn’t properly taken care of and is exposed to the sun in the first three months of the healing process. The tattoo might not totally show up on your skin, but the skin will still heal over like with a regular tattoo, so it may look like scarring in natural light.

Also keep in mind that some UV ink manufacturers add a little bit of phosphorus for some extra glow, so watch out! One way to tell is that phosphorus glows by itself, and UV only shows up under UV light, so if you’re in a dark room and see the ink bottle glow, say “No, thank you!”!

Most parlors won’t carry these types of ink, as they are much more expensive than regular bottles and the ink tends to be thinner, which means multiple passes under black light as well. If you’re planning on getting any work done with glowing ink, make sure to add it after the regular tattoo ink has fully healed, as the UV ink will get muddled if passed over with regular ink.

I personally don’t think I’ll get a UV tattoo, but it is a pretty neat thought. If I were to go through all the effort of getting tattooed, I’d like to be able to see them anytime I want.

Thanks for reading!


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