Glow in the Dark Tattoos

Glow In The Dark Tattoos The Pros and Cons

In Medical, Style, Tattoo Culture, Tattoo Health, Trends by Trip61 Comments

Glow in the Dark Tattoos

Glow in the Dark Tattoos

Have you heard of glow in the dark tattoos? Just like a velvet poster or t-shirt design, glow in the dark tattoos are only visible under black lights or no light at all. And they are sickest thing ever!

There are a lot of reasons to consider a glow in the dark tattoo. If you have a day job that doesn’t look fondly on intricately done tattoo sleeves, QUIT YOUR JOB! No, just kidding. Instead, consider a form of body art that no one will notice unless there’s a power outage at the office. And when you hit the club, you’ll be glowing; literally. Everyone will want to talk to you because you’ll stand out in the crowd.

Lil Wayne, Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan already have these types of tattoos. So how did they get them done? Well, as you may know, regular tattoo ink is a metal, vegetable or plastic-based pigment suspended in a hypoallergenic carrier solution. For glow in the dark tattoos, artists use a solution containing phosphorus that is invisible in normal light, but in the dark watch out! You can even ink existing tattoos for added effect.

Not every tattoo artist is on board with the idea, however. Some are concerned about the safety of phosphorus itself, others are concerned with the high costs. After all, phosphorus in some forms is toxic and side effects can include severe blistering, pain, burning sensations and skin rashes. These side effects are rare, of course, but you should keep them in mind if you’re considering a glow in the dark tattoo. It should be noted that while thousands of people have gotten glow in the dark tattoos without any side effects or issues, the FDA has not officially approved the use of these phosphorous based inks. Just in case you’re wondering, phosphorous is also used in explosives, friction matches, pesticides, detergents, toothpaste and fireworks.

Glow in the Dark Forearm Tattoo

Glow in the Dark Forearm Tattoo

It would be ridiculous to expect to be hired for a job if you walked into the interview with a shirt displaying something offensive. The same holds true for tattoos. If you have a face tattoo like Mike Tyson or barbed wire covering your arms, most of the time you will be shown the door. Unless you work in a tattoo studio. Keep things within reason. You no longer need to worry about the presence of a tattoo, even a clearly visible one, as long as the message it sends, or the image displayed is appropriate.

If you’re still queasy about the glow in the dark method; consider UV tattoos which also contain phosphorous. These are still invisible during the day, but only glow underneath a black light. So showing them off might be a little more difficult but they’ll look crazy tight, so its really up to you. If you’re considering a glow in the dark or UV tattoo make sure you weigh all your options carefully and think about testing your skin’s reaction to phosphorous before you proceed.

Update On Glow In The Dark Tattoos

Word on the street is that there are new UV or black light tattoo inks out there that do not contain phosphorous and are FDA approved. However, many reputable tattoo artists won’t use any inks associated with black light tattoos or even glow in the dark tattoos because of the liability involved. The widespread practice and use of these new inks is only 10 years old so the FDA hasn’t really completed the research needed to determine whether small amounts of phosphorous on your skin will cause you harm. Even with the new FDA approved black light tattoo inks the buyer should proceed with caution.

Glow In The Dark Knuckle Tattoos

Glow In The Dark Knuckle Tattoos

About the Author
Luke Aaron Miller is an amateur tattoo artist and long-time body art enthusiast. He lives in Texas on a peacock farm with his wife and kids where he helps maintain the website for Time Warner Cable El Paso.

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Would you ever consider a glow in the dark tattoo?


    1. Trip

      You can cover up a regular tattoo with glow in the dark ink but to be honest the jury is still out on whether you can cover a black-light tattoo later on with glow in the dark ink. We’re not 100% sure about how those chemicals in the two types of inks may interact. This might be a good question for a chemist… Heisenberg?

      1. Adrian J Garcia

        Has there been any new news on this? I’m hoping to get a pass of UV blue over parts of a black ink tattoo.

    2. Kari

      Yes, as it stated, you can put the UV or GID ink over any existing tattoo to give it the nightlife it deserves

      I don’t have any tattoos, but I like the idea of glow in the dark tattoos… I might get one when they finish research and I know it won’t shorten my lifespan

      1. Author

        Thanks for the info… I love the idea of lighting up a dark room with my ink. I’ve found that some artists get weird when you mention GID.

  1. Trip

    That’s a really good question. I know for a cover up tattoo you can only use colors that are as dark or darker than the original but I don’t know what the story is with glow in the dark inks.

    1. Trip


      That’s a tough question because many tattoo artists won’t openly admit that they use phosphorous based inks. There is a recent alternative to glow in the dark that’s still pretty slick. There are some artists out there creating black light tattoos with inks that don’t contain phosphorous. There are now even a few FDA approved inks that don’t contain phosphorous. Good luck with your search!


    1. Trip

      Like any tattoo the more it’s exposed to the sun the more it will fade. The glow in the dark effect is supposed to last for years though. Glow in the dark inks are typically two to three times more expensive than regular tattoo inks.

  2. Hope

    I’ve always wanted a tattoo but for right now my parents are against the idea of me getting a tattoo when I’m young and I understand. So I’ve been looking to see exactly what tattoo I want when I’m older so I have no doubt in my mind when I get one that this is the tattoo I want. I’m very interested in the glow in the dark tattoo and was wondering what I would expect to have to pay to get one and just how visible it would look say if I was tan and it was light out. I was also wondering if the tattoo works like a glow bracelet where the more it is in the sun the brighter and longer it glows at night. Also if I were to test my self to see if my body can even handle this tattoo would I have to go to a doctor to find out or is there a way for me to try it out at home. Thank you for the information you rote for us and thank you before hand if you read or even consider righting me back.
    – Darkwolf

    1. Trip

      Thanks for your comments. Glow in the dark tattoos require UV light to glow and like any other tattoo ink they will actually fade with too much exposure to the sun. Some people have allergic reactions to the phosphorous in the ink so you need to be careful and get as much information as you can before you make any decisions.

    1. Author

      It will glow in the normal dark because it has phosphorous in it. However, there are some special tattoo inks that require black light.

    1. Author

      They have as much texture as a regular tattoo except the ink contains phosphorous which helps it glow in the dark.

  3. Robyn

    I covered a UV tattoo with a regular tattoo, but by then, it had stopped glowing in black light.

    1. Jay

      Robyn, how long had you had your uv tattoo when it stopped glowing? I’m curious as haven’t seen anyone apart from yourself mention this

  4. Jordy

    I was considering on getting almost my entire body with glow in the dark tattoos… Would that be a major bad idea.?

    1. Author

      Wow, not sure you’re artist will let you go that far with inks that contain phosphorous. Maybe there’s some better alternative inks by now?

  5. laura

    glow in the dark is a passing fad and tattoos are meant to be PERMANENT think about that for awhile before you do anything is my motherly advise. And yes i am covered in tattoos

  6. mia

    I wonder if I can cover up my tattoos with the use of a UV tattoo ink. I think that havin’ a glow in the dark tattoo is amazin’. But I don’t know if we do have it now here in Manila. & I also want to know how much will it cost me to have this kind of tattoo. Please kindly send me the details ’bout this UV tattoos by an email if possible. Thanks.

  7. Michael

    Where did you get, “After all, phosphorus is a known carcinogen” ?

    There is no mention of any carcinogenic link on Wikipedia, if there was even a suspected link to cancer one can almost guarantee that someone on Wiki will list it.

    The EPA website states there are no known links between regular elemental phosphorus and cancer.

    Perhaps you were thinking of phosphorus 32? This form of the element is radioactive but very rare and not used in tattoo ink or other common items.

    1. Author

      Great attention to detail… we’ve updated the blog post based on your feedback. Have a good one!

  8. caleb fairchild

    As an aspiring tattoo artist I think a great or cool thing would be to make normal tattoos and then tattoo GID tattoos on top , kind of reminds me of Fable. But it all depends on the health issues, i’ll have to research this some more.

  9. J

    It’s not glow in the dark it’s UV… only under black light. Glow in the dark ink is charged by light and is visible with no light at all. This does not exist as a tattooing ink as far as I know.

  10. Julian

    If i have a black ink tattoo; if i insert a quote in glow in the dark ink, would the glow in the dark stay like a a scar? I want a message inside of my tattoo that would only show in the night.

    1. Author

      Great question, I think that glow in the dark tattoos are applied with glow in the dark ink just like regular tattoos. If you are covering the black ink I don’t think it will work. If you are adding glow in the dark ink inside your black ink tattoo where there is clean skin then I think it would work.

  11. Shivam

    I just wanna clearly know that do they glow in night because I’m confused and I’m planning to have a uv tattoo that will be visible in dark just like radium.

    1. Author

      It depends on the ink your tattoo artist is using. Some inks contain phosphorous that requires exposure to daylight. Some inks are just black light sensitive. Good luck with your tattoo!

      1. emilio ferral

        But phosphorus isn’t a glow in the dark material, for it to glow in the dark it requires chemiluminescence which is a chemical reaction to produce the light. GID pigments like strontium aluminate do not contain phosphorous but are called phosphors. A bit of search on the topic should clear this up.

        1. Author

          Wow, sounds like you really know what you’re talking about. We’ll have to do some deeper research and get back to you.

    2. Becca Marie

      I don’t think you’d want a radium tattoo. Radium has been known to kill. i.e. the woman working in watch factories. Google that….

  12. Brenda

    I got a tattoo filled with glow in the dark ink (glows under black lights) right now it shows red. I know I just recently got it but will the redness go away?

    1. Author

      Yes, the redness should go away with proper aftercare in about two weeks. Be sure to follow the aftercare instructions your tattoo artist gave you. Congrats on the new ink!

  13. emilio ferral

    But, phisphorus doesnt even glow in the dark. Do a bit of reaserch on the topic and youll find that phosphorus only glows due to chemiluminesence, which requires a chemical reaction. Unlike zink sulfide or strontium aluminate, which both glow in the dark, phosphorus doesnt display this effect. Pigments that glow are generaly called phosphors but none contain phosphorus

    1. Author

      Great points… everyone should ask their tattoo artist exactly what the ingredients in their ink are.

  14. Jim

    Phosphorous is an element and, in the phosphate form, an essential electrolyte for biological life. “Phosphor” is a general chemical name for “things that glow,” usually in response to UV light but also from other stimuli. The two have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, the correct term here is probably “fluorescent pigments,” as phosphorescence specifically refers to things that continue glowing after absorbing energy.

    Do check up on the contents of anything you have injected into your body, but DO NOT believe everything you read on the internet, especially about medicine.

  15. Biswajit

    Jim what is the name of radium ink for tattoo in our body
    And best company color

  16. TCLucas

    Man, if my local shop has GID inks I already have a tat idea. I’m a Seahawks fan and want to get a picture of the Space Needle with a 12 behind the “elevator shaft”. Would love to outline the 12 and color the Space Needle’s windows with the GID ink so when it gets dark out it will look like the restaurant has lit up for the nightly dinner crowd.

  17. Vito

    Hey I was thinking of getting an UFO as my first tattoo, the UFO would be taking a person with a beam of light and I was thinking of making the tattoo black but covering the light beam with glow in the dark ink and making putting some accents on the UFO so that it is also visible in the dark, now i was wondering with glow in the dark ink do you have different colour possibilities or is it just a blue colour?
    Also to notice the tattoo wouldn’t be too big-i would have it on the wrist,forearm or chest.

    1. Author

      That is definitely a question for a tattoo artist. Sounds cool though.

  18. J. Allen Hewitt

    for those mentioning “Radium” as a possible non-phosfate alternative, remember, it not only causes cancer, especially in production of GID products like watches, but it
    painfully destroyed then killed the woman who discovered radium !!! (remember Marie Currie ???)

  19. Bailey Mitton

    Say I were to get a normal tattoo done like my sleeve but I wanted people to see my sleeve during the day so I get a glow in the dark sleeve over top so during the day it’s one tattoo but at night it’s completely different would that work???

  20. janet

    The FDA hasn’t approved anything regarding any tattoo inks. So I seriously doubt they’ve approved a black light ink. Shop your shop, your artist, and their inks before you put something chemical and possibly toxic into your skin.

  21. Michael Nark

    I’ve learned if you wanna go with Uv ink that it’s best to apply it to a fully healed tattoo to prevent the uv ink from being smothered by the traditional ink.

  22. Cole

    Im considering getting the outsider’s mark on my hand from dishonored, and at night it glows green and blue. Im just a little cautious because of the uncertainty.

  23. Brenda

    I mean.. couldnt the client have the artist do a test run? Like go in and talk about the tattoo and do a tiny bit of the tattoo and waite like a week or two and see how it effects that person if they are really worried about bad reactions.

  24. Thomas

    Does a GID tattoo react to UV light just like a UV tattoo? If so, wouldn’t one just rather go with the GID tattoo since it does the same as a UV tattoo?

  25. John

    If I get a gid tattoo on my forehead will it be completely invisible or will people still notice I have something small on my forehead? Idk if it matters that I have dark skin but this is skin art so…

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