Are UV Tattoos Safe?
UV tattoos, or glow-in-the-dark ink, was a budding trend among rave and club culture in the 1990s, and while they haven’t been around for that long, these nearly invisible tattoos have made a comeback in recent years, with more and more people toying with the idea of UV ink.
So what exactly is a UV tattoo, and does it mean you’ll be glowing in the dark every time you turn out the lights? Here’s a basic introduction to this style of tattoo and some important factors to consider before getting inked with fluorescent dye.
What is a UV tattoo?
UV tattoos are tattoos made with a vivid, fluorescent dye and only appear under UV light (i.e., blacklight). This seems to be the perfect style for anyone who can’t or doesn’t want their body art to be visible in all situations. They will not glow when you turn off the lights; they generally require a UV light to trigger the reaction due to the fluorescent compounds with the ink.
There is no regulation over UV tattoos, so there is limited research on their effects; however, some health experts warn of potential health risks depending on the ink’s chemicals. Just as you would with any regular tattoo, doing your own research and finding a reputable tattoo artist to create your ink will be crucial to a healthy and safe process.
What is in a UV tattoo?
There is little scientific evidence around the safety of UV tattoos for humans, but Medical News Today reports that UV inks have been approved for use within the agriculture and fishing industries.
While little is still known about UV ink, there have been reports of more adverse skin reactions to UV ink than to regular tattoo ink. UV ink may contain phosphorous, which may cause side effects like skin rashes, burning, or severe blistering.
Although it is unconfirmed, there is concern that UV tattoo inks may contain carcinogenic compounds, which means there may be a potential cancer risk. Because there is no regulation on tattoo ink, it’s important to speak with your tattoo artist and studio about the inks they use.
What makes UV (blacklight) tattoos glow?
As we mentioned above, these glow-in-the-dark tattoos don’t show up when the lights go down. They need to be activated by a blacklight, meaning, depending on your lifestyle, there are likely very few opportunities that you will get to see your UV tattoo lit up.
Medical News Today explains that the fluorescent substance in UV tattoo ink absorbs UV light during exposure to blacklight and then emits it at a wavelength visible to humans, making it appear to glow.
How long do UV tattoos last?
Although the end result is a bit different, UV tattoos are very similar to traditional tattoos. When it comes to the tattoo process, the aftercare, and how long the ink will last, it’s about the same as traditional ink.
UV tattoos have the same durability as traditional ink, they will fade slowly over time, and factors like sun exposure can contribute to fading and a weaker glowing effect. To ensure the optimal appearance and lifespan of your UV tattoo, you will want to take the same precautions as you would with regular ink — research reputable tattoo studios and artists (ask about the ingredients in their ink, their experience, and the equipment they use) and follow the aftercare instructions to a T.
Is it more difficult to remove UV tattoos than regular ink tattoos?
While many places say that UV tattoos can be removed just as easily as traditional ink, that’s not the full story. Yes, these tattoos can typically be faded, but what we’ve seen over the years is that UV ink can be very tricky. The fluorescent dye can often oxidize when exposed to the laser and become darker.
With this in mind, we recommend taking a little extra time to research UV tattoos before making the commitment to get this ink, as it may not be as easily erased as others. UV ink can be mixed with standard tattoo ink, which means you could eventually get a cover-up job done if you’re unhappy with the glow-in-the-dark ink.
Laser Tattoo Removal with MEDermis Laser Clinic
If you’re at all thinking about having a tattoo removed, we encourage you to at least schedule a free consultation with our team. Our Certified Laser Technicians can assess your ink and clear up any questions you may have.
The MEDermis Laser Clinic team has years of experience and is ready to answer all of your laser tattoo removal questions. Are you ready to schedule your FREE consultation? Get in touch with MEDermis Laser Clinics today by calling our Austin clinic at 512-637-5277, the San Antonio clinic at 210-402-4030, or by filling out our online contact form.