UV ink tattoos, which glow brightly under black lights, are growing in popularity. If you like the idea of getting a glow in the dark tattoo or adding secret highlights to an existing tattoo that will only show up under blacklights, but you're wondering if UV tattoo ink is safe, we have the info you need to decide whether or not a UV ink tattoo is for you.
The Lowdown on UV Tattoo Ink
Before you get a UV ink tattoo, there are a few things you should know about this glow in the dark tattoo ink. First, contrary to popular belief, UV tattoo ink has not been approved by the FDA for use in tattoos. The misconception that it has been FDA-approved stems from the fact that the FDA has approved the use of UV ink for certain food-related purposes, like marking fish. However, the FDA has yet to deem any ink acceptable for use in tattooing humans. That doesn't mean that UV and other tattoo inks aren't safe, though. As progressively more people search for organic alternatives for everything from soap to food, tattoo ink manufacturers are working hard to ensure their tattoo ink lines meet popular expectations. Qualities like sterility and organic composition that were once the exception to the rule are now standards for most tattoo inks. (Learn more about the evolution of tattoo ink in our article, Top Brands in the Golden Age of Tattoo Inks.)
Throughout human history, millions of people have gotten tattoos with few, if any, repercussions. That said, some people do have minor reactions to tattoo ink, including UV ink. Phosphorous is the element in UV tattoo ink that creates a glow in the dark effect under black lights, and it can be an irritant for those with sensitive skin. This isn't an issue isolated to UV tattoo ink, though. Some people react to certain types of ink, some to certain colors, but such irritations are very rarely severe. If you have a negative reaction after getting a UV ink tattoo or having UV ink highlights added to an existing tattoo, you can take an antihistamine like Benadryl to soothe itchy skin. Note that antihistamines can make you sleepy, though, so make sure you're somewhere you can relax before taking one. You can also apply a soothing tattoo aftercare product like Tattoo Goo or Hustle Butter to your tattoo to soothe red, itchy or otherwise irritated skin after being tattooed with UV tattoo ink.
Even if you're one of the many people who have no negative reaction to UV tattoo ink, it's important to keep any new or touched-up tattoo moisturized. If you get a UV ink tattoo or have UV ink highlights added to an existing tattoo, make sure to follow proper tattoo aftercare to ensure that your tattoo heals well and stays vibrant for years to come. Read our New Tattoo Care article for tips on helping your tattoo heal well.
Pros of UV Tattoo Ink
Now that you know the potential cons of getting a UV ink tattoo, it's important to note the advantages to balance out your decision about getting a UV ink tattoo. One of the coolest pluses in favor of getting a UV ink tattoo is that all-UV ink tattoos can be practically invisible to the naked eye. If you're a professional and worried about having visible tattoos because of work, you can get a tattoo done with just invisible UV ink nearly anywhere on your body, and it won't be easy to spot under normal lighting. If you get a UV ink tattoo that includes colored UV ink, though, your tattoo may be more visible in normal lighting.
UV tattoo ink glows beautifully under black lights and adds a new dimension to tattoos, which is another plus. Having UV tattoo ink accents added to an existing tattoo is a fun way to add depth to your tattoo that may surprise your friends when your seemingly-regular tattoo suddenly becomes a glow-in-the-dark tattoo while you're out clubbing or at a black light party.
If you've weighed the pros and cons of getting a UV ink tattoo and decided that you're ready to go for it, know your options going into the tattooing process. As previously discussed, you can either get an all-UV ink tattoo or have UV ink accents added to a new or existing tattoo done with regular tattoo ink. You also have a number of color and brand options when it comes to UV tattoo ink. In addition to the popular invisible UV tattoo ink, you can also choose from colors like SkinCandy's Blacklight Red, Blue, Orange, Yellow, Magenta, Purple, and Green, or Millennium Mom's Nuclear UV Atomic Green, Afterglow Yellow, Blue Smoke, Invisible Fallout, Purple Haze, Red Dawn, Raging Magenta, Radiant Pink, and Smoldering Orange.
To learn more about UV tattoo ink, check out our article, UV Tattoo Ink: To Use or Not to Use?