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How Safe Are Glow in the Dark Tattoos?

Glow in the dark tattoos are something that both fascinate and appeal to people. Be it for their vibrant and unique colors or for the surprise you can read on the face of others as they see the hidden tattoo come to life when the lights go down, more and more people are looking into getting glow in the dark tattoos

And, if you’re reading this article, chances are that you are too.
If that’s the case, you must have a hundred questions to ask. Don’t worry, we’re going to answer them all. But before we do, let’s start with a little definition.

According to Wikipedia, the fact that items (such as toys or, in our case, tattoos) glow in the dark is called phosphorescence, which is a process in which energy absorbed by a substance is released relatively slowly in the form of light. Now, as the name suggests, phosphorescent items contain phosphor (so does the ink for glow in the dark tattoos), and that’s where things are getting a little bit more complicated. Why? Because phosphor is not as inert as other chemicals.

The Problem with Glow in the Dark Tattoos

You see, the phosphor that will allow your tattoo to glow does so by radiating light. Yes, “radiating”, which has the same root as “radiation” and “radioactive”. Indeed, phosphor is a known cause of cancer. So, if I were you, I wouldn’t risk dying for the sake of art and I would just put that idea on the side.

“But I swear I’ve seen people with those kinds of tattoo and they wouldn’t be so stupid as to inject cancer causing ink in their skin now, would they?” I hear you say. And you’re absolutely right. That’s because they’re not real glow in the dark tattoos!

Introducing UV Tattoos

Those glowing tattoos you sometimes see in the clubs use ultraviolet (or UV) ink. That type of ink is not radioactive, unlike phosphorous ink, but it will only seem to glow when put under a blacklight. So, it will remain invisible in all other conditions, even with the lights off, which is why it’s not truly glow in the dark material.
As that sort of tattoo is still not widespread, you will also have difficulties finding a tattoo artist that:

  • Will have that ink in store
  • Will accept to do your UV tattoo

You have to understand that this fad is quite recent. While tattooing goes back thousands of years, so we know how people react to having neutral ink injected in their skin, we can’t say the same for ultraviolet ink.

Final Words on Glow in the Dark Tattoos

As I tried to explain in this article, real glow in the dark tattoos are dangerous for your health. So your best bet, if you insist on getting a glowing tattoo, would be to go for an ultraviolet tat. If you can find a tattooist that’s willing to do it for you, the only question that will remain will be:

And now, what tattoo are you going to get?