UV tattoos or blacklight tattoos are tattoos made with a special ink that is only visible under a blacklight. They are particularly popular in the raver subculture. The tattoos can be completely invisible in normal light, although scarring from the tattoo machine in the application process may remain, and therefore still show.Literally millions of tattoo ideas are floating around the Internet, and many sites even sell printable designs you can take to the studio with you. A UV tattoo becomes visible under blacklight, when it glows in colors ranging from white to purple, depending on the ink chosen. Colored ink is also available, where the ink is visible in normal light (as with a regular tattoo) but the ink will glow vividly under UV light. However, some UV inks are not as bright under normal light as normal tattoo ink and are considered not as vibrant.
UV tattoo ink is not commonly known or used, as very few varieties of UV inks are approved for use in the US. It is also many times more expensive than regular tattoo inks. Some people have had reactions to ingredients in the ink, ranging from minor itching to dermatitis. Several UV inks are suspected carcinogens and allergens and at this time, no research has been conducted into the possible side effects of long term exposure. Some UV inks are known to yellow or turn slightly brown with sun exposure.
UV inks are not as bright under normal light as normal tattoo inks, and do not blend during application, as normal inks do. Their effect will be dulled if regular ink is used on top of them. Therefore, for vibrant, high impact tattoos, normal ink should be used, allowed to heal, and then highlighted with UV inks. Only highly experienced tattooists should apply UV tattoos, and should have a blacklight within arm’s length of the tattoo chair. When applying white or clear UV ink, this blacklight should be turned on throughout the procedure. UV inking takes a little bit longer than normal, due to UV inks being a little thinner and harder to work with, and because the tattoo must be wiped and checked under a blacklight frequently during application.Also note that for non-colour based UV work, it is possible that outlines can become an issue. If the artist isn’t careful, any ink or other materials they use to outline their design can become part of the work. This is not normally an issue with standard tattoos as normal coloured ink covers this. However for fully hidden UV art, this can be a problem, as it will most likely not be even, or well distributed within the work, and reveal some of the art instead of being mostly hidden (scarring can always give away the art).