Black light tattoos are create using ultraviolet-reactive ink, and while UV tattoos are quasi-invisible in plain daylight, they shine under an ultraviolet black-light bulb. This is important to note, as many blacklight tattoo fans think their glow will simply show up in the dark.

There are many trends to make your skin glow, like makeup highlighter, the skin serums that fashion magazines swear by, or, of course, black light tattoos.

Having almost-invisible ink that glows under a blacklight is thought to be a superpower.

Until the “smart tattoo” is officially on the market—which will tell you when you need to reapply sunscreen or when your blood sugar is low—ultraviolet tattoos are the closest thing we have to “special, secret abilities.”

Black light tattoos do not glow-in-the-dark in the same way your star stickers in your childhood bedroom glow.

UV tattoos are a cute “pop” in the tattoo world, and are gaining popularity for their creative twist on the traditional tattoo. Done properly, UV ink can make a tattoo look its best, making it as if the tattoo is make for blacklight ink. Blacklight tattoos can boost the concept of the tattoo, like glowing up the beam of a flying saucer; or add a little flair, like to the spots on a tiny teacup.

UV ink is thinner and harder to work with. This is why it is important to make sure the tattoo artist, and shop you are going to, are reputable and have worked with black light tattoos before.

INKED talks to blacklight tattoo artists about the ins and outs of the UV tattoo trend.

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What types of pieces might work best as a UV tattoo?

Tukoi Oya said, “I feel like when you add some UV here and there it looks best. Don’t go overboard with it. I find it looks best just doing small dots or small sections of color though.”

Oya continue, “Because they’re lighter pigments it’s important to keep it really clean so you don’t stain the skin when it’s healing, like a white tattoo. But it’s the same as normal.”

Newell say, “Anything really bold looks good in neon, especially when it’s done right next to a dark color, so that it pops. That’s why I like doing the 3-D effect in black and pink or blue and red.”

How long do UV tattoos last?

“I’ve seen them last years,” Ceora said. “Though, it’s kind of a gamble. Everyone’s skin is different. The aftercare instructions need to be take seriously and gently. Anyone considering a UV tattoo should seek out an experience artist with the ink.”

“And consider a wide range of unknown side effects,” she said.

Tukoi Oya said, “They last about 5 years and they’ll gradually start to fade, just like a normal tattoo would over time. But that said, I saw a UV tattoo I did about a year-and-a-half ago the other day, and it’s still looking hella fresh.”


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