Blacklight tattoo information

Updated April 17, 2017

Blacklight tattoos are a type of body art that use a special ink that reacts to UV. Under normal light, the tattoo appears almost invisible, but under a UV light (blacklight), the ink glows. Blacklight tattoos are growing in popularity with people who frequent clubs and raves because the tattoos glow under UV lights. As a result, more tattoo artists are starting to add blacklight designs to their portfolios.

UV Reactive Ink

UV reactive ink was developed to glow under blacklights and is a popular additive to paints, clothing designs, spray-on hair colour and Halloween costumes and make-up. The majority of UV reactive pigments are fluorescent pigments. Any unnaturally bright colour such as neon, day-glow and florescent colours will glow under a blacklight. UV reactive tattoo pigment was developed to have the same effect as fluorescent or day-glow paints, only permanently inserted under the skin

Safety Information

Safety of UV reactive ink is a concern for anyone thinking of getting a blacklight tattoo. Some manufacturers of blacklight pigments claim that their products have been evaluated and approved by the FDA, but this is not the case. The FDA has not approved any tattoo pigment to be used on humans; the only pigments that have been approved are for use on animals and fish. There is always a risk of reaction to tattoo pigmentation, and it is important to know what ingredients are contained in the ink. One ingredient in fluorescent paints, EverGlow, should not be used in tattoo pigments because it is toxic.

Pigment Colors

There are two types of UV reactive tattoo pigment, one that is invisible in normal lighting and one that is visible. Invisible blacklight ink glows white or violet under a UV light; the only indication of an invisible blacklight tattoo is residual scarring as a result of the application. Coloured UV reactive pigment is viewable without a blacklight and the colour looks vividly bright within the tattoo design.

UV Pigment Application

Blacklight tattoos are applied the same way as regular tattoos. Invisible blacklight pigment needs to be applied with a blacklight so the artist can see what he's doing. Blacklight pigment that is visible in regular light can be applied without the aid of a blacklight. UV pigments are different from regular tattoo inks because the pigments do not always blend well and the thinner ink makes the tattoo process longer.


All tattoos are permanent, including blacklight tattoos. However, all tattoos change with age and, depending on how well they are cared for, can fade. Blacklight tattooing is still a relatively new type of tattooing, so its longevity hasn't been determined. A freshly completed blacklight tattoo will glow brighter than a tattoo that is a few years old. Proper tattoo maintenance will help preserve the quality of the tattoo for a longer time. To keep a tattoo from fading, it is important to keep it away from excessive exposure to sunlight; sunscreen should be applied to the tattoo when going out into the sun. Tattoos have been around for hundreds of years, but blacklight tattoos have only been around for about a decade.

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About the Author

Sabrina Ehlert has been a writer and blogger for more than five years. She has been published in Longmont's Daily Times-Call on a number of occasions.