How Invisible Tattoos are Made
UV tattoos are made using inks that are sensitive to ultraviolet light (black light). For a few days after the tattoo is made a small amount of scarring from the tattoo machine that shows where the tattoo is. Over time, the scars heal and the tattoo becomes invisible in daylight, glowing only under a UV or black light.
UV tattoos are inked into the skin in exactly the same way that regular tattoos are. The only difference between a black light tattoo and a normal tattoo is the ink used.
Some color UV inks can be faintly visible in daylight, so white UV ink is the most reliable for use in invisible tattoos. In general, color UV tattoo ink is reserved for use with normal tattoo ink to highlight parts of the tattoo design. When used on its own, color UV ink can age to look like a skin problem or stain on the skin.
Above: A clever UV tattoo of the bone structure beneath the skin of the hand and arm. Biological tattoos such as this one, where the bone is "exposed", are an excellent use of white UV ink.
Above: An invisible tattoo of a jellyfish. In the wild, some jellyfish pulsate with a soft, glowing light, a natural phenomenon that is symbolized in this tattoo design.
Above: A tribal UV tattoo design on the hand. Because the skin becomes even darker under a black light, UV tattoos seem to be glowing even more than they actually are.
Above: This black light tattoo design shows a collage of glowing skulls. The artist has created depth in the design by shading with the UV ink. The darkest areas are simply places where the tattoo artist didn't apply ink.
There are a number of different colors of UV tattoo inks which can be used to highlight a regular tattoo, or, in the case of white UV tattoo ink, to create an invisible tattoo. Black light tattoo ink can turn yellow over time, revealing the tattoo design on the skin, which is why it is best to use UV tattoo ink as part of a normal tattoo.
Above: A koi fish tattoo design, in UV ink. The koi fish is a popular tattoo design that symbolizes beauty, wealth, elegance and freedom. The artist has outlined the tattoo with thick bands of UV ink to create contrast along the edges - defining the silhouette.
UV Tattoo Inks
Above: A selection of UV inks, displayed under a black light to show the glow effect of the ink. Some inks glow better than others; the purple ink, fourth from the left, doesn't shine as brightly as the white UV ink on the far left.
UV Tattoos Combined with Regular TattoosUV tattoo inks can be used to compliment regular tattoo inks, so that the tattoo art is visible both during daylight and under a UV light. Because regular tattoo ink doesn't glow under UV light, tattoo artists can create a greater depth of shading in black light tattoos by creating dark shades with normal tattoo ink, and highlights with UV ink. During the day, the UV ink highlights will simply be the color of the person's skin or of the regular tattoo ink beneath.
Above: Black ink has been used in this tattoo design to create strong outlines and contrast. The color UV inks add interest to the design by glowing under a black light.
Above: Color UV ink has been used to highlight only part of this tattoo design. The skulls have been inked into the skin with normal tattoo ink, while the flames have been colored with both normal and UV inks. Under a UV light, the flames glow, making the skulls seem more evil in their darkness.
Many people have chosen to have UV tattoos inked onto their face and hands, as the tattoos are invisible during the day when they are working. Over time, however, these tattoos will likely become slightly visible as the ink ages and turns yellow after being exposed to daylight. Thank goodness for tattoo removal procedures!
Above: This tattoo artist has used UV ink to highlight the skulls in the design. Non-glowing elements in front of the skulls create the impression that the skulls glow with a magical, eerie light of their own.
UV Face Tattoos
Above: A pattern of stars and dots adorn this girl's forehead in this face tattoo design. The tattoo design is created using white UV ink that will appear invisible unless under a black light. UV tattoos, especially those on the face, need to be protected from sunlight to prevent the ink from taking on a yellow hue that will ruin the "invisible" tattoo.
Above: UV tattoo ink has been used to create designs beside this girl's eyes. The patterns will only glow when exposed to a UV or black light, making it the perfect party make-up; invisible at work but glowing at a party.
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