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Do You Really Want a UV Tattoo?

Updated on February 7, 2016

I've been curious about UV tattoos for a while. A tattoo that one can't see except under a UV light sounds neat, as well as getting a normal tattoo highlighted with UV ink. Although I am not often near or under UV lights, but this may be interesting and desired by ravers and those who attend a lot of underground parties. Nonetheless, the idea is very intriguing which is why I felt the need to research this topic.

Here are a few things to consider before getting a UV tattoo:

  • They still fade, just like normal ink ones. They also can turn a yellowish/brownish color after being exposed to the sun for a long time.
  • Colored UV inks have been known to just end up appearing as a normal tattoo permanently.
  • They have to use a specific type of ink, which has been linked to some allergic reactions from the ingredients. This can range from being just itchy all the way to dermatitis. Some of the ingredients aren't 100% safe, because there have been numerous cases of skin rashes, blisters, and infection. There is also some concern that they may contribute to cancer.
  • The risks have also been linked to the phosphorus in the ink. Phosphorus is a chemical that's known to cause severe blistering, pain, a burning sensation, and skin rashes. Tattooists have said that they've removed the phosphorus from the ink to make it safer, but others claim that phosphorus isn't the only issue.
  • Here's something I read that shocked me: advertisements "suggesting" that UV ink has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In actuality, it hasn't been approved for human use but is approved for agriculture and fishing industries. That disturbed me, especially because there are people out there with UV tattoos. I just hope they were aware of the risks, otherwise, they were basically lied to.
  • If you are still deciding, here is something else to keep in mind: If you want any highlighting or anything to do with a regular tattoo, get the regular tattoo first. Then, allow it to heal completely, and then go in and get your UV tattoo highlights or add-on. Regular tattoo ink on top of UV ink can dull the UV ink, which makes it duller under a black light. However if you get it after your regular tattoo, it will be nice and vivid. Also, for the UV work, any outline or whatnot that the artist uses can become permanent if they are not careful.

After researching, I have concluded that I do not think that they’re for me. I think I will stick to my regular tattoos and just get more of those. At least I can see them. ;)


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    • emilybee profile image

      emilybee 6 years ago

      That is a cool concept, not sure I've heard of these before.

    • Alexander Pease profile image

      Alexander Pease 6 years ago from Maine

      I haven't heard of ultraviolet tattoos. They sound really cool. Wonderful hub, very informative.


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      alex 4 years ago

      I really liked mine

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      Matt 3 years ago

      There is no phosphorous in UV ink, only "Glow-in-the-Dark" ink, which are two different things.

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      Amanda 3 years ago

      The FDA doesn't approve any tattoo ink for human use, so no tattoo ink will ever be approved by the FDA; UV or not, so that's a pretty moot point.

    • profile image

      Rawr 2 years ago

      What Amanda said.^

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      Tamara 16 months ago

      You state many thing but I don't see any sources. I can't just take your word for it.

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      Sin 10 months ago

      While it may not be for everyone and there could be some health concerns, I personally have a UV tattoo that I got shortly after my 18th birthday, so almost 8 years ago now. (Talking the invisible UV ink not the coloured)

      I purchased the UV ink from a site online and did extensive research into not only the type of ink but the brand/website etc and then I found somewhere in my city that was willing to use UV ink (as nearly nowhere in Australia used UV tattoo ink yet).

      Firstly, At the time they found the shading needles didn't really work well with what I wanted (I wanted block fill not gradient) and the UV ink etc and the artist at the time found it easier to use an outliner (he asked if I was ok with him switching and he said it may take longer and be a bit more painful but was likely to be more effective).

      1. take more care than usual not to let it get direct contact with the sun in the first 2 weeks as it can agitate it.

      2. Do not expect it to glow in the dark, it will glow under UV light and some (like I later discovered mine would) may glow slightly in the full dark after being exposed to a UV lamp if somewhat close to it for a while (not holding it up to the lamp necessarily but not really in a club with lots of light dispersion)

      3. Never had any problems with reactions, complications or otherwise during the healing process. Also never had any reactions with it to sunscreen, perfume, body lotion or other products after it healed.

      4. May or may not be just because I have super pale skin and burn easily anyway, but if I'm out in direct sunlight for a while (over 15 mins in summer and more in winter) it can start to go a bit red and look irritated but then it calms down after a while and it is fine again. I have found no lasting repercussions of this so far.

      5. If you aren't super pale then don't expect the "invisible" UV ink to be invisible, it may be faint but if you are tanned it will show up and the darker your skin the more visible it is in regular lighting as the "invisible" UV ink is more of a whitish UV ink.

      6. 8 years on and I've noticed no fading in regards to how bright it appears under UV light, whereas I've had black and purple tattoos that were done a year or a couple of years later that have faded somewhat. (for reference I'm right handed and the UV tattoo is on the inside of my right wrist so when I do venture out it gets sun expose, it also gets friction from clothing and keyboard and any other manual use etc)

      I'm aware different people have different experiences and some negative effects may take longer than 8 years to be apparent but my experience has been a positive one (asides from my tattoo artist later stealing the rest of the bottle I left at the shop to come back for in 2 weeks to see if any needed to be fixed up in some of the smaller corners).

      Anyway sorry for the super long post just wanted to share a positive experience to give some feedback from someone who has been through it and come out the other side happy :)

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      Liz 7 months ago

      Same as Sin, I also had a UV tattoo done 8 years ago.

      I only notice this weekend just passed, that the UV ink can barely be seen anymore. I don't know where this is different to Sin's as mine is on my chest and my chest is very rarely in the sun anymore.

      You can only just tell that i have a tattoo there if I do get a little sunburnt, it looks like a white ink tattoo.

      I was thinking that maybe the lack of sun in the past 2 years has affected the UV ink. It may sound silly, but i was able to see it all the time under UV light up to two years ago.

      Either way I am unbothered, as it was very much a novelty thing for me :)

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