UV tattoo

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UV tattoo as shown under a black light Black-light tattoo.jpg
UV tattoo as shown under a black light
UV tattoo on a hand illuminated under a blacklight. UV Tattoo illuminated.jpg
UV tattoo on a hand illuminated under a blacklight.

UV tattoos or blacklight tattoos are tattoos made with dyes that fluoresce visibly under an ultraviolet light, not unlike fluorescein or rhodamine. Depending upon the ink chosen a UV tattoo can be nearly invisible when illuminated only by light within the visible spectrum. Therefore, they have found popularity with people seeking a subtler tattoo. UV tattoos are particularly popular in the raver community for their distinctive appearance.[ citation needed ] Although UV tattoos are sometimes considered invisible in normal light, scarring produced by the tattoo machine in the application process will remain, and therefore still show. Smaller tattoos will be easier to recognize as tattoos, while larger tattoos are more likely to be recognized as a scar at first glance. [1] A UV tattoo becomes visible under blacklight, when it fluoresces in colors ranging from white to purple, depending upon the ink chosen.


Colored inks are also available, where the ink is visible in normal light (as with a regular tattoo) and the ink will glow vividly under UV light. Due to the mixing of visible and UV pigments the resulting color is not as vibrant in either lighting situation as a dedicated ink.

Damage to the compounds in tattoo ink cause the color of the resulting tattoo to change over time. For UV tattoos this may mean the tattoo becomes more visible under visible light or may not glow in black lighting. Blue UV inks are known to yellow or turn slightly brown with sun exposure.[ citation needed ]

Safety concerns

No tattoo inks have ever been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration because the FDA "has not traditionally regulated tattoo inks or the pigments used in them". [2] Claims made that UV tattoo ink is "FDA Approved" when used for tattooing humans appear to be fraudulent. This is confused by the fact some UV tattoo inks have been approved by the FDA for food-related purposes such as marking food animals like fish and pigs.

Other territories produce standards for tattooing inks but do not keep publicly available lists of products which pass certifications. [3] This makes it very difficult for tattooists and their clients to judge the safety of any particular ink, a problem that extends to all inks.

Some people have reactions to ingredients in tattoo ink, especially to phosphor based tattoo ink [4] ranging from minor itching to dermatitis. Although many people who have received UV tattoos have had physical effects on the skin, any ink could potentially cause a reaction. Any tattoo can produce irritation as a result of not protecting the tattoo from intense sunlight within 3 months of receiving the tattoo or by using irritants such as scented cremes or lotions on the tattoo area.

Application challenges

UV inks do not blend during application, as normal inks do. Additionally their consistency is thinner. Only experienced tattooists should apply UV tattoos, and should have a blacklight available to help check their work especially if tattooing with an ink intended to be invisible under normal lighting conditions. Due to these complications UV inking takes longer than when using conventional inks.

UV tattoo ink's fluorescence will be dulled if regular ink is used on top of it. Therefore, for vibrant high impact tattoos normal ink is used, allowed to heal, and then highlighted with UV inks.

Photochromatic tattoos

Photochromatic tattoos that react to UV light to change the colour of the pigment itself instead of simply exhibiting fluorescence have been patented. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

Fluorescence Emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light

Fluorescence is the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light or other electromagnetic radiation. It is a form of luminescence. In most cases, the emitted light has a longer wavelength, and therefore lower energy, than the absorbed radiation. The most striking example of fluorescence occurs when the absorbed radiation is in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum, and thus invisible to the human eye, while the emitted light is in the visible region, which gives the fluorescent substance a distinct color that can be seen only when exposed to UV light. Fluorescent materials cease to glow nearly immediately when the radiation source stops, unlike phosphorescent materials, which continue to emit light for some time after.

Tattoo Skin modification using ink to create designs

A tattoo is a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes, and/or pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin. The art of making tattoos is tattooing.

Ultraviolet Electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than that of X-rays

Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelength from 10 nm to 400 nm, shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays. UV radiation is present in sunlight, and constitutes about 10% of the total electromagnetic radiation output from the Sun. It is also produced by electric arcs and specialized lights, such as mercury-vapor lamps, tanning lamps, and black lights. Although long-wavelength ultraviolet is not considered an ionizing radiation because its photons lack the energy to ionize atoms, it can cause chemical reactions and causes many substances to glow or fluoresce. Consequently, the chemical and biological effects of UV are greater than simple heating effects, and many practical applications of UV radiation derive from its interactions with organic molecules.

Invisible ink

Invisible ink, also known as security ink or sympathetic ink, is a substance used for writing, which is invisible either on application or soon thereafter, and can later be made visible by some means. Invisible ink is one form of steganography.

Fluorescent lamp Light source

A fluorescent lamp, or fluorescent tube, is a low-pressure mercury-vapor gas-discharge lamp that uses fluorescence to produce visible light. An electric current in the gas excites mercury vapor, which produces short-wave ultraviolet light that then causes a phosphor coating on the inside of the lamp to glow. A fluorescent lamp converts electrical energy into useful light much more efficiently than incandescent lamps. The typical luminous efficacy of fluorescent lighting systems is 50–100 lumens per watt, several times the efficacy of incandescent bulbs with comparable light output. In comparison, the luminous efficacy of a typical incandescent bulb for 120 V operation is only 16 lumens per watt.

Phosphorescence Process in which energy absorbed by a substance is released relatively slowly in the form of light

Phosphorescence is a type of photoluminescence related to fluorescence. When exposed to light (radiation) of a shorter wavelength, a phosphorescent substance will glow, absorbing the light and reemitting it at a longer wavelength. Unlike fluorescence, a phosphorescent material does not immediately reemit the radiation it absorbs. Instead, a phosphorescent material absorbs some of the radiation energy and reemits it for a much longer time after the radiation source is removed.

Blacklight Light fixture that emits long-wave ultraviolet light and very little visible light

A blacklight, also referred to as a UV-A light, Wood's lamp, or ultraviolet light, is a lamp that emits long-wave (UV-A) ultraviolet light and very little visible light.

Blacklight paint

Black light paint or black light fluorescent paint is luminous paint that glows under a black light. It is based on pigments that respond to light in the ultraviolet segment of the electromagnetic spectrum. The paint may or may not be colorful under ordinary light. Black light paint should not be confused with phosphorescent (glow-in-the-dark) or daylight fluorescent paint.

Security printing

Security printing is the field of the printing industry that deals with the printing of items such as banknotes, cheques, passports, tamper-evident labels, security tapes, product authentication, stock certificates, postage stamps and identity cards. The main goal of security printing is to prevent forgery, tampering, or counterfeiting. More recently many of the techniques used to protect these high-value documents have become more available to commercial printers, whether they are using the more traditional offset and flexographic presses or the newer digital platforms. Businesses are protecting their lesser-value documents such as transcripts, coupons and prescription pads by incorporating some of the features listed below to ensure that they cannot be forged or that alteration of the data cannot occur undetected.

Sunless tanning, also known as UV filled tanning, self tanning, spray tanning, or fake tanning, refers to the effect of a suntan without the Sun. The popularity of sunless tanning has risen since the 1960s after health authorities confirmed links between UV exposure and the incidence of skin cancer.

Luminous paint Paint glowing in the dark

Luminous paint or luminescent paint is paint that exhibits luminescence. In other words, it gives off visible light through fluorescence, phosphorescence, or radioluminescence. There are three types of luminous paints; fluorescent paint, phosphorescent paint and radioluminescent paint.

Permanent makeup Cosmetic technique

Permanent makeup is a cosmetic technique which employs tattoos as a means of producing designs that resemble makeup, such as eyelining and other permanent enhancing colors to the skin of the face, lips, and eyelids. It is also used to produce artificial eyebrows, particularly in people who have lost them as a consequence of old age, disease, such as alopecia totalis, chemotherapy, or a genetic disturbance, and to disguise scars and white spots in the skin such as in vitiligo. It is also used to restore or enhance the breast's areola, such as after breast surgery.

Ultraviolet photography

Ultraviolet photography is a photographic process of recording images by using light from the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum only. Images taken with ultraviolet light serve a number of scientific, medical or artistic purposes. Images may reveal deterioration of art works or structures not apparent under visible light. Diagnostic medical images may be used to detect certain skin disorders or as evidence of injury. Some animals, particularly insects, use ultraviolet wavelengths for vision; ultraviolet photography can help investigate the markings of plants that attract insects, while invisible to the unaided human eye. Ultraviolet photography of archaeological sites may reveal artifacts or traffic patterns not otherwise visible.

Tattoo removal Dermatologic procedure to remove tattoo pigments

Tattoo removal has been performed with various tools since the start of tattooing. While tattoos are generally considered permanent, it is now possible to remove them with treatments, fully or partially.

UV marker

An ultraviolet (UV) marker is a pen whose marks are fluorescent but transparent: the marks can be seen only under an ultraviolet light. They are commonly used in security situations to identify belongings or to prevent the reproduction of unauthorized banknotes. UV pens can now be bought at some stationery shops to securely mark items of high value in case of theft.

Tattoo ink Ink used for tattoos

Tattoo inks consist of pigments combined with a carrier, and are used in tattooing.

Blacklight poster Type of wall art

A blacklight poster or black light poster is a poster printed with inks which fluoresce under a black light. The inks used contain phosphors which cause them to glow when exposed to ultraviolet light emitted from black lights.

A variety of health effects can result from tattooing. Because it requires breaking the skin barrier, tattooing carries inherent health risks, including infection and allergic reactions. Modern tattooists reduce such risks by following universal precautions, working with single-use disposable needles, and sterilising equipment after each use. Many jurisdictions require tattooists to undergo periodic bloodborne pathogen training, such as is provided through the Red Cross and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Process of tattooing Overview of the process or technique of tattooing

The process or technique of tattooing, creating a tattoo, involves the insertion of pigment into the skin's dermis. Traditionally, tattooing often involved rubbing pigment into cuts. Modern tattooing almost always requires the use of a tattoo machine and often procedures and accessories to reduce the risk to human health.

Cultural property imaging is a necessary part of long term preservation of cultural heritage. While the physical conditions of objects will change over time, imaging serves as a way to document and represent heritage in a moment in time of the life of the item. Different methods of imaging produce results that are applicable in various circumstances. Not every method is appropriate for every object, and not every object needs to be imaged by multiple methods. In addition to preservation and conservation related concerns, imaging can also serve to enhance research and study of cultural heritage.


  1. "White Ink Tattoos". InkDoneRight website. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  2. "Consumer Updates: Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe?". US FDA website. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  3. "Guidelines for tattoo and permanent makeup substances" (PDF). New Zealand EPA. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
  4. "Glow in the Dark Tattoos". InkDoneRight website. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  5. "Photochromatic tattoo US 6470891 B2" . Retrieved 9 June 2014.