What is a UV Tattoo?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2019
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A UV or blacklight tattoo is a tattoo which uses special inks designed to show up only under a blacklight. As a result, for much of the time, the tattoo is invisible, with the ink creating a radiant glowing design when the wearer walks into an area with a blacklight. The popularity of UV tattoos exploded in the late 1990s, especially among 18-30 year olds in the clubbing subculture. Not all tattoo artists offer blacklight tattooing; anyone interested in such a tattoo may have to do some research to find a studio which will perform the work.

One of the main advantages of a UV tattoo is that it allows someone to get a tattoo which will not be visible in most casual, daily interactions. This appeals to many people in the corporate world, where tattoos are not widely considered to be acceptable. It is possible to get a UV tattoo on the face or hands, for example, areas where tattoos would normally attract a great deal of negative attention. Several ink manufacturers also make UV tattoo ink in a number of colors, allowing people to create complex, colored patterns instead of tattoos which just show up as white or blue.


The application process for a blacklight tattoo is a bit more lengthy than that used for a normal tattoo, because the artist will have to periodically turn off the lights and check on the progress of the tattoo with a blacklight. UV inks are also somewhat thinner than normal tattoo inks, making them more difficult to handle, and they are more expensive, causing UV tattoos to be generally more expensive than conventional tattoos.

People who are thinking about getting a blacklight tattoo should talk to an experienced artist who is familiar with this form of tattooing. The artist can provide advice on designs which will work well in the medium of UV ink, and he or she can provide suggestions about placement of the UV tattoo as well. As always, clients should ask to see a portfolio of previous tattoos before making an appointment, to get an idea of the quality of the artist's work and the styles at which he or she excels.

There are some problems with UV tattoos. Many tattoo artists are concerned about the safety of the inks, as not all blacklight sensitive inks are safe to use for tattooing, and these artists are concerned about allergic reactions or potentially carcinogenic inks. As a result, some have pushed for tighter regulation of tattoo inks to ensure the safety of clients and artists alike. In addition, some blacklight tattoos may fade to unsightly brown or gray colors which become visible in regular light and look unpleasant, defeating the goal of having a tattoo which is invisible in normal lighting conditions. Anyone considering a UV tattoo should be aware that the tattoo will take between a year and 18 months to fade completely in normal light once it has been applied.


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Post 4

Caluwi, I think that you have a great idea! A regular tattoo would really be taken to another level, artistically, if it was enhanced with UV ink. I feel that it would be a great piece of art to have with you for the rest of your life.

Have you heard of anyone that had done this before? My only concern would be getting touch up work completed, due to the nature of the UV ink yellowing over time and being very thin when applied to the skin.

Post 3

UV tattoos appear to be a great way for professionals to still maintain an edge, by the ability to get a tattoo that is not visible unless in the presence a black light.

However, I wonder about the risks associated with a tattoo done with UV ink. When doing a little research into the subject, I found that there are risks but not any more then with a regular tattoo. That is reassuring but continues to make a person really put careful consideration into their final decision.

Post 2

I can't imagine getting a UV tattoo on its own, to be invisible, but I can imagine getting a regular tattoo into which UV ink was incorporated. It would be amazing to be able to see it under a black light!

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