Glow-in-the-Dark Tattoo Ink

Flames and Tribal blacklight tattoo by Richie Streate, The Dungeon Inc. | Photo courtesy Richie Streate
Creative black light arm tattoos

Stand out from the crowd with glow-in-the-dark tattoo! Whether you're looking for some "invisible ink" or a tattoo that will light up with day-glo colors while you're at the club, glow-in-the-dark tattoos (also referred to as UV tattoos) definitely make a statement.

Two Types

There are two types of glow-in-the-dark tattoos. Although neither one glows on its own, both types light up when exposed to UV light (also known as blacklight). Other than this similarity, however, they look radically different when viewed on their own.

Invisible UV Ink

Most glow-in-the-dark tattoos are technically invisible, though they may appear slightly raised or red on the skin until a black light is shown on them. It is possible to layer invisible tattoo ink over or under regular tattoo inks to get a glowing effect. UV inks are made from fluorescent ink and, if made correctly and safely, they do not contain phosphors or other toxic chemicals.

Colored UV Ink

Colored UV ink looks exactly like a regular tattoo when seen in natural light. Under UV light, however, the ink will glow, turning the colors to a more florescent palette. Colored UV ink is often used in conjunction with invisible ink for a striking effect.

Design Ideas for UV Ink

Depending upon what type of UV ink you're using in your tattoo, you have many different ideas to choose from for your design. These include things like:

  • Skeleton blacklight tattoo by Richie Streate, The Dungeon Inc. | Photo courtesy Richie Streate
    Skeleton black light tattoo
    Completely "invisible" tattoos of a portion of your skeleton, detailing the bones of your arms or hands so they will show up when at nightclubs
  • Memorial tattoos you want to remain invisible to others, but always available to be seen when you want
  • "Normal" tattoos with a glowing outline to emphasize the tattoo under UV light
  • Small "hidden" areas of invisible UV ink within a regular tattoo that will change the tattoo when seen under UV light, such as flames coming out of a skull
  • Details and accents done in colored UV light on a "regular" tattoo, so that the accents will pop when viewed under UV light


Like all tattoos, UV tattoos are subject to fading when exposed to the sun and elements. And of course, when placing a UV tattoo, you'll want to make sure it's easily accessible when the black lights are on. Consider these placement areas for the best results:

  • Arms: Your arms make an ideal choice for "skeleton" invisible tattoos. The upper arm area is a particularly good choice because you can better protect your tats from the sun.
  • Shoulders: Shoulder tattoos are easy to conceal and protect from the elements, but are easy to show off in a dark nightclub where the black lights will bring them out.
  • Calves: Draw attention to your legs with a UV tat in this area. Consider some "musculature" tattoos, or perhaps some grinning faces that will appear there under UV light.
  • Lower back: The lower back is a great place for a tattoo you want to protect from the sun. It's also an area frequently shown off at clubs, so you'll be sure to get the type of exposure you want.
  • Neck beneath long hair: This is a fun place for a hidden tattoo of any kind. It makes a particularly great choice for a UV tattoo which will peek through your hair, making people look twice.

Pros and Cons

Like all tattoos, UV ink has its pros and cons. Make sure you consider these carefully before you go in to get inked.

UV Blacklight Angel Wings Tattoo by Richie Streate, The Dungeon Inc. | Photo courtesy Richie Streate
UV blacklight angel wings tattoo

UV Ink Pros

  • When you use invisible UV inks exclusively to create your tattoo, no one who sees you in regular light will ever suspect that you have one. This can be beneficial for those that work in corporate offices.
  • UV inks can really make a tattoo design "pop", especially for those that frequent clubs that utilize UV lights.
  • UV ink tattoos are unusual; while a normal tattoo won't set you apart, a glow-in-the-dark tattoo certainly will.

UV Ink Cons

  • Glow-in-the-dark tattoo ink is more frequently rejected by the skin than the inks used in regular tattoos. In some cases, these tats are so uncomfortable and prone to irritation that they have to be removed.
  • It can be difficult to find a tattoo shop that will do this kind of tattoo, or that carries the right kind of ink.

Where to Buy UV Tattoo Ink

Ultra violet tattoo ink that isn't seen until it's beneath a UV light isn't very widely available, but it is available from some specialty merchants. A few suppliers include:

  • Skin Candy: Skin Candy supplies an invisible, backlight tattoo ink that gets very high reviews from it's users. The ink is recommended for outlining and highlights. The company also carries eight colors of UV ink that are visible, but will glow beneath a backlight.
  • Joker Tattoo: Joker Tattoo makes a set of glow-in-the-dark tattoo inks as well. Their selection includes seven colors and an invisible ink that only shows up beneath the UV light.
  • Millennium Mom's: Millennium Mom's Nuclear UV ink is available in eight colors that glow beneath UV lights, as well as an invisible ink that only glows beneath UV.

Get Inked

With newer and better tattoo inks and colors, the possibilities of what you can do with some UV ink are nearly endless. Create a one-of-a-kind statement tattoo with some glow-in-the-dark ink and get noticed.

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