2021 brought a tattoo trend that’s a great blast from the past. If the regular ink doesn’t meet your needs, or you don’t want your tattoo to be visible at all times, then you should check glow in the dark tattoos out. They are also known as Blacklight tattoos and they’re taking over the internet just as much as the offline world and giving tattoo artists hands full of work.
Blacklight tattoos were first introduced in the 1990s when the world was covered in Neon lights. Today, for one reason or another, they are popular again, with many tattoo artists and studios deploying this exciting and creative technique in their business plans.
In this article, we’ll detail all the safety-related and technical information about glow-in-the-dark tattoos that you need to be aware of before your endeavor. Additionally, we’ll present a list of the best glow-in-the-dark tattoos we researched across Instagram and other outlets to discover the best-designed black light tattoos.
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know before your first glow in the dark tattoo appointment and check out the best designs we found.
What Are Black Light Tattoos: Everything You Need To Know About Glow In The Dark Tattoos
Glow in the dark tattoos is made of a special ink with vibrant and vivid colors that are challenging to grasp in daylight, being almost invisible. Not even turning off the light in your room will make them visible. However, they are greatly visible and gorgeous-looking under the black light. Hence the name Blacklight tattoos.
They are made of special ink, as mentioned above, that is reactive to black light thanks to the UVA lights emitted. This type of tattoo is ideal for people who are either not too big fans of tattoos being visible all the time and they want to obscure while also getting to brag about them, as well as people who like to go out to parties with dimmed lights like raves and show off their great looks.
Tattoos are pretty much ancients and were practiced for centuries. Today, they are at the peak of contemporary popularity, with more people becoming accepting of them, as well as companies that previously didn’t hire inked employees for a number of stereotypes revolving around tattooed people.
As opposed to the tattooing that has been here for a while and is popular only now, black lights tattoos that now glow in the dark are a relatively new trend that just recently adopted a new form of creation. It was popularized in the 1990s because neon lights were super-trendy. We think that just looking at Vegas says enough.
However, now, the materials changed. Tattoo artists no longer use phosphorus that would glow in complete darkness due to health and safety reasons. More about that is below. Now, only ink reactive to UV light or black light is used to avoid dangerous chemicals and potentially life-threatening conditions.
The safety of the blacklight tattoos is the first thing we want to address. As mentioned above, in the 1990s, when the trend started, phosphorus along with other natural pigments and traditional materials was used. What’s worth noting is that phosphorus is a toxic chemical, and more importantly, it is cancerous. Studies show that it is associated to obesity, diabetes and cancer. The trend was quick to die seeing all potential risks of playing with phosphorus.
When this type of tattoos also started causing various life-threatening skin conditions it was completely stopped. Now, most tattoo artists use reactive ink, which we previously detailed. With that in mind, always communicate with your tattoo artist on things that you may not be sure enough, especially when it comes to glow-in-the-dark tattoos, that still need to get out of their skeptical space.
The difference between phosphorus and blacklight tattoos is that, unlike the latter that is invisible in complete darkness, the former may not show up on UV lights, but will glow and shine in complete darkness.
While black ink tattoos are generally considered safe to apply, it’s not regulated or approved by FDA. There is no evidence that black ink tattoos are connected to certain skin conditions or issues, but tattoo enthusiasts are still encouraged to think deeply about the tattoo they want to get and decide for themselves.
The comforting bit is that FDA doesn’t regulate the regular tattoo ink, so blacklight ink not being listed should not be a major cause of concern.
Editor’s note: Keep in mind that you need to conduct your research when searching for the tattoo studio that applies black ink tattoos. Always make sure that the studios are regulated and that they use reactive ink. Although rare, it was seen that some artists mix their own ink, with a small but noticeable presence with phosphorus. Always be careful!
How Are Black Light Tattoos Applied?
While the glow-in-the-dark tattoos are applied to your body in the same way as your regular day-to-day tattoo, it’s worth noting that there are a few differences. For example, your tattoo artist should be skilled and have experience with this type of tattoo, but the process also generally lasts longer.
There are several reasons as to why tattoos with reactive ink take longer to apply. One of the reasons is that tattoo artist constantly has to check whether he or she did a good job by looking at the tattoo with black light, which can be quite time-consuming and may extend the process of getting tattooed.
Another thing that extends the time of applying tattoos is that the ink that is reflective of black light is thinner than ink you’d use for regular tattoos. Not only is it more challenging and time-consuming to work with, blending and applying colors also gets more difficult.
How Long Do Glow In The Dark Tattoos Last?
Although it may come as a surprise, tattoos that can glow in the dark can last as long as any other type of tattoo. When getting tattooed, your tattoo artist will use a needle to inject ink into the outer layer of the skin to form a shape for your tattoo.
With that being said, the same happens with the reactive ink tattoos too. It’s worth telling you now that even though tattoos are permanent, they will begin to fade as time passes. You will probably get to enjoy your tattoo for a long time before that happens. Still, if you want your tattoo to last longer, you will maybe have to consider doing a touch-up of your tattoo to restore its glow and shine.
The more your tattoo is exposed to optical light and the sun, the more the ink is starting to fade. After years the glowing may be weaker, but your shape will still be there.
Editor’s note: One of the pro tips when it comes to maintenance and care of blacklight tattoo is applying a really high sunscreen over your tattoo if you’re exposing yourself to the sun. That way, it’ll be protected by the sun’s rays and it won’t decay in quality.
Can You Remove A Black Light Tattoo?
Just like with any other tattoo, you will be able to remove your tattoo with a laser or some other methodology that is used to remove the regular tattoos. The laser does a great job at breaking up the UV ink on tattoos. However, just like with other tattoos, removing tattoos with laser does carry some success risks along the way you should educate yourself on.
Editor’s note: One way to get rid of the glowing properties of your tattoo is to cover them with regular colorful tattoo ink and make the glow appear duller than it’d normally look.
Glow in the dark tattoos heals in the same way as regular tattoos. All the same, rules apply, covering your tattoo wound in a special sterile bandage, avoiding baths, wearing baggy clothes, and cleaning your tattoo regularly with antibacterial soap and different ointments that will soothe the pain and sweep away the bacteria that forms on the affected skin.
Also, blacklight tattoos don’t take any significantly longer time to heal compared to the traditional tattoos. You’ll see visible results of healing after 7 to 10 days, while the tattoo can take up to 6 weeks to heal in entirety.
When it comes to price, opinions are conflicted. Some tattoo artists will charge more for a glowing tattoo than they’d for a regular tattoo, especially if the necessary material needs to be provided by the customer. You may notice at least a little shift in the price, especially if this is about a larger tattoo.
Also, it’s important to highlight that some tattoo artists charge for their work at an hourly rate. As we mentioned above, bringing a glowing tattoo into reality can take more time than applying a regular tattoo, which is why the price will also be higher.
Editor’s notes: If you’re working with an artist who charges per hour, do your research and check the reviews to make sure they neither slack and slope around too much nor finish it all quickly without considering the end result.
According to various tattoo artists and experts, there are mostly no risks when it comes to allergies coming from the tattoo ink. The tattoo ink that is reactive to UV light is mostly the same ink used for traditional tattoos. Still, consult with your tattoo artist about the allergens in the ink they use, and do some digging on your own about allergy and tolerance history on your side.
Best Glow In The Dark Tattoo Design Ideas
Below, we detailed the best glow-in-the-dark tattoos made using black lights. When choosing a tattoo that will glow and showcase a special hue and shine, it’s always good to focus on colorful symbols. That’s exactly what we did, so check our designs below.
Whether you’re going with a smaller snake tattoo or a larger tattoo of a snake, you won’t make a mistake. That’s because glow goes good with them, whether it’s a one-color snake or a rare venomous predator from the depths of the jungle.
Venomous snakes have been easily recognized thanks to their pattern and special texture that consists of multiple colors. Snakes are also a powerful symbol throughout both history and traditions. Snakes are believed to be the symbol of wisdom, power, strength, courage, fertility, and protection. As you may see, its meaning is completely the contrary to what it appears as in reality.
One thing is for sure, they were valued throughout history and different cultures, as well as worshipped. Snakes can be both big and small, so they’re an amazing tattoo idea for your blacklight tattoo.
Blacklight tattoo artists usually encourage their visitors to get a large tattoo. If you want to show off the light and glow, it better be seen. That’s exactly what you can do with a large glow-in-the-dark tattoo. Large tattoos usually go on the arm, thigh, or back. However, as you can see many people can get creative and come up with designs that look good on the body part you want.
Large tattoos usually see some wild animals like lions, snakes, dragons, and others. However, the good thing is that you can ink multiple symbols on some parts and then add reactive ink for more detail and glow up.
A small tattoo seems like the most feasible option for those people who don’t want their tattoo to be seen all the time. Even though many people and companies became more accepting of body art, many companies still look down on inked people. In fear of that, but also their parents, many people opt for a smaller tattoo.
A small glowing tattoo is exactly what you need if you want to hide it at all times other than when you’re exposed to blacklight or some other part of UV light. It’s also great for concerts and parties, where the prevailing lighting is exactly the black light.
A small tattoo can be anything you want, from simple and easy symbols to texts, geometrical patterns, and others.
Best For Women
If you want to embrace your feminine side and look at some gorgeous tattoos that glow in the dark, look no further. We picked both petite and larger symbols that you could ink on your body and add some glow to it.
The symbols include animals like a whale surrounded by the glowing light. In this case, the whale is inked in normal ink, while the stars and other glowing dust have reactive ink. That being said, if you don’t want a large tattoo, you can play around with symbols and only add a portion of glowing ink for a mixed design that looks just as good.
Another good option for females is butterflies and moths, which are colorful and sweet-looking and add up a level of elegance and sophistication.
Best For Men
All these tattoos on the list can be used by both men and women. Still, we wanted to include bolder and stronger designs, that may appear more resonating with the men. Some men prefer stronger and darker symbols, similarly to the ones displayed above. Some will also feel like getting a larger tattoo will feel better than getting a smaller one.
Usually, men are fans of Diablo-like traditional designs. However, some also strive for both realistic and abstract symbols. Similarly, you could see a popular Rick & Morty tattoo glowing beautifully. However, we also became quite impressed and amazed with the depiction of Grim Reaper using black lights and reactive ink that added more power and danger to the symbol.
We’re sure that you can come up with a nice guy-like design, but we hope that these symbols helped narrow down the choice.
Textual tattoos such as dates, names, years, or quotes are extremely popular, regardless of the ink used. Even the simplest tattoos have symbols and quotes. That’s exactly what makes them so beautiful and enchanting – their simplicity and minimalism.
Although quotes that glow in the dark may not appear minimalistic, it’s an inspirational and creative way of putting someone’s name, or date of birth on your skin. More importantly, some quotes that were written using reactive ink will appear more powerful and may convey their message better than some other tattoos.
Are you a fan of little home kitty cats? Or do you prefer big and wild cats? To make sure we’re on the same page, we included both! Lions are cool, just as well as the jaguars. However, your home kitty is just as amazing too, even though it may occasionally scratch you, or jump on your keyboard.
Whatever may be the case, we decided to feature the most beautiful UV tattoos of cats, both big and small ones. Look at all this detail! It’s mesmerizing and breathtaking. If you wanted to get a UV tattoo of your pet, hopefully, these tattoos will inspire you to get it.
Butterflies are the symbols of freedom, rejuvenation, and rebirth. Their development into a butterfly is long and challenging. But, in the end, all that process is worth it. Butterflies are some of the most popular tattoos because of their vivid colors and designs. With reactive ink, they’ll surely look even better.
You can get easily be flexible when it comes to choosing the style for your butterfly tattoo. You can go with a single butterfly, multiple butterflies, smaller or a larger tattoo, or a mixed one like the first image that promotes mental health and fighting depression.
They look great on all body parts, but if you want to make your glowing ink more visible, choose a more prominent position.
Many people grew up to Pokemon, little monsters that Pokemon trainers collect around the world and use to compete in various tournaments. It’s a super-popular anime show, accompanied by many successful video games. The most successful Pokemon game is the 2016 mobile game.
Given their vibrant colors and looks, glowing ink is a great opportunity to make your favorite Pokemon stand up. Above, you can see some images to pluck inspiration. Hopefully, the images help you choose your tattoo to make.
Back tattoos are super-popular for various reasons. Many people turn it into a large tattoo canvas that tells a story using multiple symbols, precise and intuitive inking, and powerful details made using advanced shading techniques. With glowing ink, you can either turn your tattoo into a glowing canvas, which will stand out at parties, or add more tints to it with ink here and there, like in the images above.
The flower symbol is one of the most elegant and feminine symbols for a tattoo. However, it’s not only used in female tattoos. It’s a sophisticated and soft symbol that can gentle up even the harshest and boldest tattoos.
It’s the symbol of innocence. To get more insights into the meaning of flowers, you need to look into particular flower species to learn more about their meanings.
As you may know, they appear on larger tattoos as an additional symbol, but you can also make it as a small tattoo that represents something important in your life. Adding glowing ink will just enhance their look, adding a modern and contemporary touch.
The heart is also a popular and powerful symbol. It’s the symbol of everlasting love. Like the second picture, a burning heart symbolizes an endless desire, longing, passion, and other powerful traits. Hearts are associated with bravery, courage, chivalry, and not only romantic interests.
You can make as simple a symbol as the first two images, or a pendant with a heart like in the last image. We agree that it has a fantasy accent, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t combine heart with other symbols. The only thing we mind is that this tattoo is so small. That still doesn’t stop you from getting a larger glowing tattoo of a heart.
Glow In The Dark Tattoos: More FAQ
Although glow in the dark tattoos has been around for some time now, they’re a relatively new concept and it’s not as widely accepted as regular tattoos. There’s also a certain level of fear that you may feel.
We compiled a list of frequently asked questions to sweep those fears away and make you see that getting a black light tattoo is nothing to be scared of, as long as you work with a trusted and talented tattoo artist.
Q: Are There Any Side Effects to Glow in The Dark Ink?
A: At the moment, there are no side effects associated with tattoos made using reactive black ink that responds to black light or other forms of UV light. Although allergies occur rarely, you can easily consult your tattoo artist and do an allergy test if you’re prone to getting strong allergic reactions to ink.
Q: Will My Tattoo Be Visible Under UV Light?
A: Yes. Black light is in fact a form of UV light. Over time, the glow will fade, so you may need to do touch-ups to make your tattoo last longer.
Q: Is UV Ink Invisible?
A: It’s not entirely invisible. In the first 12 months to 3 years, it will be visible, although not as much when exposed to the sunlight. As the skin pales, the ink pales too, so as mentioned, you will need to do a touch-up.