UV tattoos are uniquely beautiful.
Although they appear ordinary in daylight, they fluoresce under black light.
Some photochromatic tattoos are invisible once the scars have healed.
But they glow in the dark under the ultraviolet lighting.
What’s in the tattoo ink that makes it luminescent?
And it is UV tattoo ink safe?
How long does blacklight tattoo ink last?
Today, we’ll answer these questions while we review the best UV tattoo inks.
We’ll talk about how long this type of tattoo lasts and what kind of skills you need to be a UV tattoo artist.
- What Is Uv Tattoo Ink?
- The Pros and Cons of Uv Tattoo Ink
- The Best Inks for Blacklight Tattoos
- Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Glow Red, 1 Ounce
- Bloodline 6 Color Set Tattoo Black Light UV Ink Highlight
- Bloodline UV Tattoo Ink Nuclear Invisible by Skin Candy
- Bloodline UV Green Blacklight Colors Tattoo Ink – by Skin Candy
- MOM’S Nuclear UV Blacklight Colors Set of 9 by Millenium Moms
- Millennium Mom’s Nuclear UV Blacklight Tattoo Ink – 3 Color Set B
- Moms Nuclear UV Tattoo Ink Invisible Fallout
- Starbrite Tattoo Ink – Glowing Neon Set- 5 Colors
- Immortal Tattoo Ink “NEON INVISIBLE”
- Opticz All-Purpose Invisible Blue UV Blacklight Reactive Ink
- Midnight Glo UV Body Paint
- Escolite UV Flashlight
- UV LED Black Light Lamp
- Immortal Ink Mountable Tattoo Machine Light UV BULB
What Is Uv Tattoo Ink?
First, let’s talk about what UV tattoo ink isn’t.
The black light ink used for ultraviolet tattoos shouldn’t contain phosphorous (1).
Phosphorus will continue to glow even after the light is turned off, but UV ink should not (2).
Glow-in-the-dark tattoos might contain phosphorous, but we don’t recommend them for this reason.
Phosphorus is toxic, and it burns the skin (3). In high concentrations, it could be carcinogenic.
If the tattoo ink has phosphorus in it, the chances are your client will take a long time to heal and might end up with scars.
Instead, UV tattoo ink contains pigments that fluoresce under UV light.
You’ve seen pigments like these in cosmetics or laundry detergent with optical whiteners.
For cosmetics, it’s likely to be luminescent zinc sulfide. Depending on which activator is combined with the zinc sulfide, the color changes. For example, copper looks greenish, and manganese appears orange-red (4).
Back in 1999, an inventor filed a patent for photochromatic tattoos (5).
The concept was to create tattoos that are invisible until they are exposed to ultraviolet radiation.
The patent filing describes “photochromic compounds” but doesn’t specify what they are.
Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t regulate tattoo ink. Although reputable manufacturers provide an MSDS safety data sheet, they don’t always specify which pigment they use. It’s usually a trade secret (6).
The Pros and Cons of Uv Tattoo Ink
Artists have been using UV tattoo ink for more than a decade.
In the early days, some blacklight tattoos caused scarring that took over a year to heal completely (7).
But once the skin had recovered, the tattoos would be invisible until exposed to UV radiation. The effect was astonishing.
Nowadays, most UV ink (unless it’s clear) has a pale but visible pigment that shows up in tattoos regardless of the lighting. Then, it fluoresces brightly under black light.
For that reason, UV ink is best for highlights. It provides an attractive emphasis in contrast to darker inks.
It’s also convenient for small tattoos that remain virtually invisible under normal conditions.
On the downside, UV ink fades faster than other kinds. Within a few months to a few years, you might need to touch up the UV tattoo to keep it bright.
It’s also thinner than regular tattoo ink and more difficult to use. One apt description compared the consistency of UV ink to grey wash.
Moreover, artists will need a black light to check their work.
If you apply regular tattoo ink on top of UV ink, it will muddy or cancel out the effect (8).
Complete the regular ink portions first, then add UV highlights to make the art pop (9).
The Best Inks for Blacklight Tattoos
Only a few companies manufacture UV ink for blacklight tattoos.
Happily, you can purchase individual bottles or sets, depending on your needs.
It’s no surprise that our selections come from the best tattoo ink brands.
Kuro Sumi Tattoo Ink, Glow Red, 1 Ounce
Kuro Sumi ink has a reputation for being organic and vegan. It’s one of the smoothest, brightest, and longest-lasting tattoo inks available.
If you’re curious about the ingredients, you can obtain SDS sheets directly from the company.
In the course of our reviews, we pulled the safety data sheet for Glow Red UV ink.
It contains water, witch hazel, propylene glycerincol, isopropyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, and a pigment called Naphthol Red (10).
Naphthol Red is also known as Pigment Red 170. It’s used in automobile coatings and other high-end paints (11).
The Glow series is available in 1-ounce bottles. A full set of nine inks will cost you over $100.
Other colors available include blue, yellow, magenta, green, purple, yellow, pink, and clear.
Out of curiosity, we checked the SDS page for the Glow Clear ink to see if we could discover what makes it light reactive. The ingredients listed were aqua, propylene glycerincol, witch hazel, isopropyl alcohol, and benzyl alcohol.
Since those are the basic components of pretty much every Kuro Sumi ink available, we can rule them out as the UV reactive pigment. Therefore, there must be a secret ingredient not listed.
Bloodline 6 Color Set Tattoo Black Light UV Ink Highlight
Let’s switch to Bloodline blacklight inks by Skin Candy.
There are six colors available in this set, all of which begin with the name “Highlight.” They include invisible, yellow, green, pink, red, and orange. There are no blue or purple inks, sadly.
Each one is manufactured in the USA and packaged in a half-ounce bottle.
During the daytime, the colors are light. Some may only appear under black light.
The company recommends them for outlining and highlights.
Bloodline UV Tattoo Ink Nuclear Invisible by Skin Candy
The Nuclear Invisible UV ink color is clear. Once the tattoo heals, it won’t be visible. But just imagine how it will shine at the club or a rave!
Like other inks from Skin Candy, it’s made from non-toxic ingredients in the USA.
We pulled the MSDS sheets and researched the ingredients for fun.
It contains distilled water, propylene glycol, witch hazel, and two other components identified as CAS #39277-28-6 and CAS #91-44-1.
The former is Benzenesulfonamide, ar-methyl-, polymer with formaldehyde and 1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6-triamine, and considered to be non-hazardous.
The latter is 7-(diethylamino)-4-methyl-2-benzopyrone. It’s used in cleaning products, laundry detergent, textile dyes, paper, and leather treatment. That sounds to us like it might be the UV-reactive component. Think about how your white t-shirt gleams under black light.
Bloodline UV Green Blacklight Colors Tattoo Ink – by Skin Candy
Bloodline’s UV green ink comes in a half-ounce bottle.
Like other colors, it has a base of distilled water, propylene glycol, and witch hazel. It also has a resin called CAS #39277-28-6 Melamine formaldehyde toluenesulfonamide polymer.
The pigments listed include CAS #91-44-1 Green Pigment 7 and CI #74260 Phthalocyanine green G. The second one is a high-intensity color synthetic pigment found in artist’s paints and cosmetics (13).
MOM’S Nuclear UV Blacklight Colors Set of 9 by Millenium Moms
Millennium Colorworks makes the MOM’s Nuclear blacklight inks. We looked at their MSDS for Atomic Green. It doesn’t list any particular pigment, only the base ingredients like water, glycerin, witch hazel, and propylene glycol.
Like the regular colors, these are made in the USA. You can contact Technical Tattoo Supply for more details.
In general, Millennium Mom’s inks are smooth and vibrant. We’ve heard good things about the blacklight colors, too. It seems they have staying power.
The company’s promotional material describes them as UV-sensitive and “glows in the dark.”
There are nine half-ounce bottles in this set. All are sterilized.
The included colors are Atomic Green, Purple Haze, Invisible Fallout, Red Dawn, Raging Magenta, Smoldering Orange, Radiant Pink, Afterglow Yellow, and Blue Smoke.
This is the largest collection of black light inks by a single manufacturer.
Millennium Mom’s Nuclear UV Blacklight Tattoo Ink – 3 Color Set B
If you’re not prepared to purchase the large set, consider this smaller one. It features Purple Haze, Blue Smoke, and Invisible Fallout.
Each half-ounce bottle is pre-sterilized and made in the USA.
Moms Nuclear UV Tattoo Ink Invisible Fallout
Invisible Fallout is transparent and invisible in ordinary light.
Imagine the fun you could have with an ink like this one. A quick search on Instagram turns up plenty of photos to give you ideas.
We weren’t able to access the specific MSDS sheet for this color in time for publication.
Starbrite Tattoo Ink – Glowing Neon Set- 5 Colors
The US company Starbrite also makes UV-reactive tattoo ink. This set includes five neon colors in ½ ounce bottles.
Each bottle is sealed and sterilized before shipping.
The set includes Mango, Lime Green, Canary Yellow, Bubblegum Pink, and Blue Freeze.
Let’s look at Bubblegum Pink.
The MSDS sheet says that the product is “primarily composed of organic pigment and water and is not considered to be a hazardous substance.”
It lists water, isopropyl alcohol, and glycerol, along with a “color mix.” The color mix is based on C.A.S. # 13463-67-7, which is titanium dioxide, and CI # 12477, which is red pigment (14).
This information still leaves us wondering what makes this ink UV-reactive.
The answer may come from the talented Kayla Newell, a tattoo artist who specializes in blacklight tattoos. She explains that the inks she uses are naturally fluorescent. There are no added chemicals.
She says that the reason why certain colors glow under black light is the same reason why your teeth do (15).
This must be due to natural phosphors in the pigment. (Note that phosphor is not the same as phosphorus) (16).
Immortal Tattoo Ink “NEON INVISIBLE”
If you’d like to try an experiment, get neon tattoo ink. Some of the colors may look just as bright under black light as inks labeled for that purpose.
Immortal Ink makes an assortment of neon colors like red, blue, orange, yellow, magenta, purple, and green. They are supposed to be UV-reactive. We’ve heard comments that the colors fade quickly.
This manufacturer is based in China. You can request an MSDS sheet for their ink.
Opticz All-Purpose Invisible Blue UV Blacklight Reactive Ink
First off, let us explain that this is not tattoo ink.
This is the kind of ink that clubs use to stamp your hand.
It’s invisible and regular light, but looks bright blue under UV light.
Opticz has been in business for over a decade, and their ink performs well. It’s very thin and dries quickly since it’s alcohol-based.
Get this ink if you want to do non-toxic temporary tattoos for parties or raves. It’s available in small and large bottles.
Midnight Glo UV Body Paint
This paint is also fun for temporary body art. It’s washable and non-toxic. Also, it’s made in the USA.
When viewed under black light, it’s luminous like neon.
The kit includes eight brilliant colors like white, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, pink, and red.
Besides the skin, you can use it to paint paper, wood, and fabric.
The company offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Escolite UV Flashlight
If you’ve decided to try doing UV tattoos, you’ll need a source of light that illuminates the ink.
One of the cheapest options is this UV flashlight that runs on three AA alkaline batteries.
It’s embedded with fifty-one UV LEDs that brightly reveal everything from tattoo ink to scorpions and dog urine, so it’s not a complete waste of money if you change your mind.
UV LED Black Light Lamp
A more professional solution would be this gooseneck desk lamp. It has an LED UV bulb on a flexible neck.
Clamp it to the edge of a table, and you’re ready to work.
It only needs 5 V and a USB connection so that you can run it off a laptop, a phone charger, or a power bank.
Immortal Ink Mountable Tattoo Machine Light UV BULB
Immortal Ink provides an even better solution for the UV tattoo artist.
You can mount this one on standard coil machines. It won’t affect the tattoo machine’s performance.
The neck adjusts to a variety of angles. The light itself only comes on when you press the foot pedal.
Plug in the anchor base to the front binding post and then hook the alligator clip to a clip cord.
Are you excited to tattoo with UV ink?
This type of glow-in-the-dark tattoo ink takes body art to a new level.
We’d love to know which black light ink works best for you.
Drop us a comment below.
1. https://www.inkdoneright.com/glow-in-the-dark-tattoos/ April 12, 2019 by Sara, accessed October 29, 2019
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescence accessed October 29, 2019
3. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ershdb/emergencyresponsecard_2975002.html accessed October 29, 2019
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc_sulfide accessed October 29, 2019
5. https://patents.google.com/patent/US6470891 accessed October 29, 2019
6. https://www.allure.com/story/uv-black-light-tattoos by Devon Abelman, published May 10, 2018, accessed October 29, 2019
7. https://www.wired.com/2006/08/blacklight-tattoos/ published August 16, 2006, accessed October 29, 2019
8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UV_tattoo accessed October 29, 2019
9. https://www.inkedmag.com/original-news/black-light-tattoos-uv-ink-guide by Ess Adamakos, published January 2, 2019, accessed October 29, 2019
10. Kuro Sumi SDS for Glow Red, Revised April 26, 2019, accessed October 29, 2019
12. https://www.painfulpleasures.com/media/body_jewelry/gallery/Tattoo/tattoo_ink/skincandy_ink/MSDS/MSDS-BlacklightInvisible.pdf accessed October 29, 2019
13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phthalocyanine_Green_G accessed October 29, 2019
14. https://www.chembk.com/en/chem/C.I.%2012477 accessed October 29, 2019
15. https://www.kaylanewelltattoos.com/faq accessed October 29, 2019
16. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphor accessed October 29, 2019