Home » Glow In The Dark Tattoo: How its made and Polarizing Designs

Glow In The Dark Tattoo: How its made and Polarizing Designs

If you’re a tattoo enthusiast, you’re likely, currently on a quest to find unique ideas for your next tattoo. In that endeavor, through your research, you’re further likely to stumble upon the re-emerging trend of Glow in the dark tattoos. Those that have been through the 1990s would know what I’m talking about. The popularity of glow-in-the-dark tattoos, which are tattoos that glow under a blacklight, is bouncing back into the limelight. If you want to learn everything about them, you’ve landed at the right spot!

If you’re wondering whether a glow-in-the-dark tattoo is meant for you, you’d want to ponder over a few questions. Firstly, ask yourself if you’d rather get a tattoo that isn’t visible all the time. Next, are you looking for a way to add unique vibrancy to traditional tattoo designs? Finally, if you’re big-time into dim-lit parties, would you want to be the standout guest there? If any or all of those is “yes” answers, you’re headed in the right direction by giving glow-in-the-dark ink tattoos a severe consideration.

Ask your artist to get the tattoo machine ready! In this article, you’ll learn how a glow-in-the-dark tattoo is made, as well as other useful information you should know before endeavoring into getting one. Further, I’ve included some of the best glow-in-the-dark tattoo designs that are currently trending on the internet. Beneath each image, you’ll find the source/artist information so that you can directly explore more work by the talented artist.

Without further ado, let’s get going!

How Are Glow In The Dark Tattoos Made?

A glow-in-the-dark tattoo glows because of the fluorescent colors. Fluorescent colors can’t be seen easily in daylight. A dim environment with a blacklight is necessary to see the effect optimally. The blacklight emits a UVA light which triggers the glow reaction.

To successfully make such tattoos, the tattoo artist must ensure the standard, dark ink isn’t placed anywhere close to the glow emitting zinc sulfide. Otherwise, there will be a reduction in the glow.

Back in the 1990s, when the trend in neon lights had just kicked off, glow-in-the-dark tattoos had emerged as the latest style of getting inked. Back then, to develop this style, artists used ink containing phosphorus alongside traditional pigments. It was later proven that using phosphorus was a dangerous technique that had a jeopardizing effect on one’s skin. In fact, phosphorus is a carcinogen. One should stay away from such a highly toxic chemical.

Are Glow In The Dark Tattoos Safe?

The dangerous chemical element — phosphorus — is no longer used for achieving the glow effect in tattoos. These days it’s commonly perceived that glow-in-the-dark tattoos are as safe as any other tattoos. That’s because these days they’re using a safer alternative pigment to achieve the desired glow. A new light-reactive ink is used, which is reactive to UV light.

In spite of the above, one should be careful and go to a trusted tattoo shop only. Tattoo ink isn’t regulated by the FDA. There’s always the chance some artists may be continuing the use of non-safe pigments containing phosphorus to get the glow effect.

Furthermore, it’s challenging to be able to tell what ingredients make up the ink. Most of the major manufacturers of tattoo ink don’t list out the ingredients on the packaging. Moreover, phosphorus is an all-natural chemical, which can still be present inside an all-natural ink product.

The reason to keep away from tattoo pigments containing phosphorus is the potential side effects the chemical can cause. These include rashes, burning, and intense swelling of the skin. To ensure you don’t end up with these or any other irritation, allergy, or infection, always ask your artist ahead of time what ingredients make up the pigment intended for use. You have the right and obligation to know exactly what’s going inside your skin and body.

You should also follow a strict tattoo aftercare regimen, just as you would with any other style of tattoo. Products like Aquaphor are your perfect go-to items for tattoo aftercare.

It’s further important that you go to a highly experienced glow-in-the-dark tattoo artist. Someone with relevant experience can explain the ingredients and demystify any questions or doubts you may have. A specific question you may want to begin with should be about the presence of highly pigmented UV-reactive ink. This is a way of ensuring you’re getting natural fluorescence for the glow with no added chemicals.

Your health and safety are paramount. Your tattoo artist should be consulted and be able to help you out further on that account.

While there’s more covered on the subject in the FAQs at the very end, you might want to check out these incredible, polarizing designs first:

Glow In The Dark Tattoo Designs  

#1. Glow In The Dark Forearm Tattoo

Glow In The Dark Forearm Tattoo
Source: @soo.zyy via Instagram

This simple forearm design portrays perfectly what glow-in-the-dark tattoos are all about. They’re simpler, less visible during daylight, and stand out in an exemplary way in black light. Also, the inner forearm is one of the most popular placements for this style of tattoo. 

#2. Glow In the Dark Emerald Tattoo

Glow In the Dark Emerald Tattoo
Source: @sam_small_ink via Instagram

The above is a glow-in-the-dark tattoo depicting an emerald shard. Its placement is the man’s shin. You can see how effective the UV-reactive ink is in glowing in blacklight conditions. When it comes to glow-in-the-dark tattoos, one should be aware of the ingredients used in the pigment, so as to avoid any toxic chemical inclusions, like phosphorus, that can be hazardous to the skin and health.

#3. Glow In The Dark Rib Tattoo

Glow In The Dark Rib Tattoo
Source: @needlevvoman via Instagram

This is a fantastic tattoo design in more ways than one. Firstly, it’s perfect for rib placement. Yet, what strikes the onlooker most is the glow-in-the-dark effect featuring a lighter design. I’d say it’s a stroke of luck — this piece!

#4. Bart Simpson Tattoo In UV Ink

Bart Simpson Tattoo In UV Ink
Source: @renatofavarintattoo via Instagram

“Cool I’m Dead,” is what is captioned below the rising from the dead Simpsons character (Bart). This is a genuinely polarizing design that’s sure to be a hit among your social circle.

#5. UV Garland Tattoo

UV Garland Tattoo
Source: @tattoo_factory_jaipur via Instagram

This pretty garland of colorful flowers is more than just that. It glows fabulously when under black light. The placement is below the knees, so it’s bound to impress if you’re dressed accordingly.

#6. Black Light Reactive Reaper Tattoo

Black Light Reactive Reaper Tattoo
Source: @samxmobtattoos via Instagram

Halloween-themed tattoos are amongst the favorites among a large population of enthusiasts. It makes a lot of sense to tactfully add UV-reactive pigment at the right spots to these designs to add to the needed spook effect.

#7. Glow In The Dark Wrist Tattoo

Glow In The Dark Wrist Tattoo
Source: @needlevvoman via Instagram

The wrist can be a painful area to tattoo. Yet, if you have a pretty little glow-in-the-dark element — in this case, a butterfly — permanently inked there, there should be no looking back!

#8. Tiger On Arm In UV-Reactive Ink

Tiger On Arm In UV-Reactive Ink
Source: @joo_shinigami via Instagram

Your physical masculinity couldn’t be used more practically. That large surface area that you call your worked-out upper arm needs a symbol that depicts masculinity — like the above tiger head. Add to that, glow in the dark pigment, and you’ve got yourself one loud advantage at blacklight lit parties.

#9. Black Light Tattoo On Fingers

Black Light Tattoo On Fingers
Source: @cientattoo via Instagram

This, I feel, is a super cool glow-in-the-dark tattoo idea. Each finger has a playback control symbol (rewind, pause, play, and forward).

#10. Glow In The Tattoo On Hand

Glow In The Tattoo On Hand
Source: @one_down via Instagram

This is an impressive tattoo right there! The UV-reactive pigment in the tattoo highlights a skeleton structure design of the upper side of the hand. When this glows in the dark, onlookers get both spooked and amazed.

#11. Glow In The Dark Ornamental Tattoo 

Glow In The Dark Ornamental Tattoo
Source: @needlevvoman via Instagram

The contours beneath the side of the female breast are an incredible placement for a minimalistic, ornamental tattoo design like the one shown above. Although this design is meant for her significant other to see, it’s also visible during black light beach parties when she’s bikini-clad.

#12. Glow In The Dark Skull On Shoulder

Glow In The Dark Skull On Shoulder
Source: @equilattera via Instagram

The skull is an evergreen tattoo symbol. The above depiction has hints of fluorescence marked using glow-in-the-dark tattoo techniques.

#13. Flower Design in UV Ink 

Flower Design in UV Ink
Source: @tattooist_misaki via Instagram

This is yet another excellent inner forearm piece in the glow-in-the-dark tattoo kitty.

#14. Black Light Tiger Tattoo On Abdomen 

Black Light Tiger Tattoo On Abdomen
Source: @space.sshit via Instagram

This 3D tiger tattoo is situated at a perfect body placement. The effect is incredible when it glows in the dark under a black light setting.

#15. Tribal Turtle Tattoo

Tribal Turtle Tattoo
Source: @_go_bb via Instagram

This good luck charm inked in the upper arm glows in a very cute way, just as it looks.

#16. Glowy Ear Tattoo

Glowy Ear Tattoo
Source: @catleung1.17 via Instagram

You can see the before and after effects of this ear composition. I love how the ear lobe specifically stands out in blacklight conditions.

#17. Glow In The Dark Men’s Backpiece

The upper back of this man has an incredible, well-centered glow-in-the-dark tattoo. The artist was professional enough to make the right decisions in highlighting (for the glow effect) only those areas that were sufficient to get the idea across whenever the light gets changed.

#18. Glow In The Dark Chest Piece

This detailed chest piece depicts a dragon. The glow in the dark effect shows the dragon in rage, just perfectly.

#19. Glow In The Dark Female Backpiece

Glow In The Dark Female Backpiece
Source: @angelica_aly3009 via Instagram

Her backpiece looks mesmerizing. The glow in the dark effect is embellished rather than all over the place. It’s truly a unique design.

#20. Glow In The Dark Microchip Tattoo 

Glow In The Dark Microchip Tattoo
Source: @kitsune_tattoo_company via Instagram

Before I end the list, here’s another unique design. It’s a microchip-themed glow-in-the-dark tattoo. It should inspire you enough to get together with your artist and come up with other such designs of your liking.

FAQs About Glow In The Dark Tattoos

Q) Do Glow-in-the-Dark Tattoos Last?

You must ensure the same care for all types of tattoos. With that established, if your artist uses UV-reactive pigments to ink glow in the dark tattoos, then you can rest assured your tattoo will last as long as a regular tattoo. This also means you can expect the glow-in-the-dark tattoo to fade — though it never diminishes — gradually over the years at the same pace a regular tattoo would. If one fine day, you decide to cover up the glow-in-the-dark properties of the tattoo, you can do it by touching it up with regular pigments. The touched-up area, though, won’t look as vibrant.

Q) Are Glow In The Dark Tattoos Relatively Expensive?

The answer to this question depends on the tattoo artist you go to. Some artists, especially those that charge by the hour, price glow-in-the-dark tattoos higher than regular tattoos. Most others don’t. Glow in the dark tattoos do, in most cases, take longer to ink than regular tattoos of the same size.

Q) Can A Glow In The Dark (Blacklight) Tattoo Be Removed?

Regular tattoos are removable with techniques like laser therapy. The same holds for the glow-in-the-dark variety. Moreover, the success risks associated with laser tattoo removal are the same across all types of tattoos. Breaking up UV rays is generally achieved rather well using the laser tattoo removal method. If you’re keen on removing only the glowy part of your tattoo, an alternative is to cover it up with regular, colorful tattoo pigment. This ensures the glow gets replaced with a colored yet dull look.

Q) How Well Do Glow In The Dark Tattoos Heal?

Again, there’s no difference up this front either. All styles of tattoos, including the glow-in-the-dark variety, heal the same way. The time taken to heal is also the same. Significant healing, as with all tattoos, happens within the first week to ten days. Depending on the size and design, this period can extend up to six weeks before healing entirely.


Glow in the dark tattoos looks amazing in blacklight conditions. They’re also incredible options if you like lower tattoo visibility most of the time, or perhaps simply some pizazz added to your tattoo. No matter what your reason for getting one is, you should decide to get one with special care. This means you should have a thorough conversation with your artist about the ingredients in the pigments. A regulated studio that uses UV-reactive ink — and no presence of phosphorus — should be your go-to location to get one of these tattoos. As final words: have fun, but be safe!

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!