Black light tattoo of a skeleton

This black-light skeleton tattoo is tufneltastically great. It's invisible in normal light, but under black light, everyone gets X-ray spex.

Tattoos - UV Blacklight Ink (via Street Anatomy)



  1. Holey moley that is REALLY cool.

    What a great alternative to a normal ink tattoo, as well!

    I’d give one serious thought… if I still spent time in places with UV lights, that is.
    These days, I’d have to put a light in my house to ever see it. =P

  2. Sadly, this isn’t glow in the dark ink, so it has limited usefulness. It would be useful for identifying babies though.

  3. Wow. Incredibly sweet, but damn that must’ve stung.

    I can’t wait for the first “Blacklights are stupid.” tat.

  4. gabriel, that photo was taken immediately after the tattoo was placed – the redness and edema will almost certainly subside. i’d definitely like to see a healed one in daylight, though!

  5. While this particular example of the UV tattoo most definitely brings the win, before any happy mutants decide to go for the glow it should be noted that there is a possible catch; safety.

    The ink used in UV tattoos may or may not cause nasty effects in the human body (as in some inks are possible carcinogens/allergens). I’ll let the external brain speak for me:

  6. Maybe they’ll be made safer in the future. If that is the case, I’m totally getting one…or five.

  7. i’ve been doing them for 15 years now, and have never seen an adverse reaction to the inks. the inks come in 8 colors as well! the color looks like watercolor in the skin, but is incredibly bright under the u.v. nice work, richie!

  8. I know some artists who refuse to use them. I have had adverse effects from a few colored inks. Tattoo ink still isn’t regulated so good luck finding out who puts what in their recipes.
    I eventually gave up and went with black ink only.
    I’m a painter and used to work in a metal shop so my total guess is that I’ve grown sensitive to heavy metal pigments like cadmium.

  9. How does the tattoo artist apply the invisible ink? Does she need to have a black light, or does she just make the design and assume the blood and lacerated tissue will eventually just take the glow?

  10. anthony, i’ve been tattooing for just over 15 yr.s, and i believe that anyone would get a bad reaction from something as toxic as cadmium. most people who have a reaction to tattoo ink, have a reaction to the color red. in the ‘biz’ we call it the red reaction. if left alone it does heal. as far as the inks that i’ve had tested( by a grad student who was a loyal customer) there are NO heavy metals in tattoo pigments. most reputable shops use inks that state on the labels that they are using only non-toxic organic pigments. face it, someone is gonna be allergic to something, so use so-called ‘common’ sense.

  11. dave faris, ink is ink. there is very little blood ( if done correctly) and NO lacerated tissue. jeebus tap-dancing christ! where do you get your work done?

  12. Hey, Mintphresh

    I have had reactions to red, yellow, and orange-all of those can be made with cadmium, at least in oil paints. But like I said, total guess as to why. I’ve had no reaction to red for years, then got one new red tattoo, and all of the red in all other tattoos went berserk. Same with orange. Some yellow is okay, some not. I do go to reputable shops, so I can’t tell what happened. I assume I developed a sensitivity to something. I have been exposed to a lot of harsh crap, like selenous acid, xylene, etc. What do you think?

  13. By the way, that’s cool that you had the inks tested-good for you. Would you mind making with some preferred brand names (although I will probably stick to black anyway)?

  14. @18 The tattoo is usually done under a blacklight. I saw a great example of this done as a facial skeleton piece at a convention in NM last year. Healing will vary by individual but does generally become invisible to the naked eye.

    1. I’m thinking that roofies plus an unethical tattoo artist plus a soon-to-be ex could make for hilarity at the next visit to the local disco.

  15. I have a co-worker who thought about getting a blacklight tatoo, but she changed her mind when her stripper friend said she sees a lot of them on the job.

  16. Yeeaahhhh.
    Oil paints ≠ tat inks.
    Cadmium = Bad for you.
    Titanium white might not be fatal.
    Even oil painters can’t get old-school Emerald Green anymore, it’s toxic. Allegedly.

    Tritium: I like where your head’s at, Tak. But we might not like how it looks in a few years…

    And for the skeletal hand in the OP…
    Really??! On the cuticles?? Fuck that.

  17. A friend of mine has a small black light tattoo on his arm. If you’re looking for it, you can see it clearly enough, but it doesn’t really stand out under normal lighting.

  18. Cadmium can be found in most any kind of paint or ink. Artists can still buy lead white paint. There’s also cobalt manganese, and mercury. If other trades used them, I’m sure they were used in tattoos.

    I didn’t mean to suggest oil paints could be used to make tattoo ink.
    I used to work at an art store and kids would come in looking for inks to use for tattoos. A tip: don’t try the ones containing shellac.

  19. I was considering one of these, so got some Chameleon brand ink from Ebay (yeah, yeah) and had my tattooist do a “test dot”. It was still fairly red six months later, but now 18 months on it’s invisible except under UV.

    I decided not to go ahead with the forearm for the usual boring work reasons. But I’m tempted to upgrade the dot to a power-symbol. :)

  20. I love the idea of a black-light tat, but having already survived melanoma purposeful exposure to UV light is not on my agenda.

    Nice sugar-loaf hat you got there, DemiDan. Who made it?


  21. Nice effect, nice compromise between body-mod and keeping it from being distracting at the wrong times.. I’ve done similar things with phosphorescent makeup, but much simpler and (obviously) not permanent.

    Years ago, some friends of mine were playing with the discussion-started question “If someone offered to pay you $1000 if you would get a tattoo, would you accept and what would it be?” My favorite suggestion was the guy who said he wanted this sort of “invisible” tattoo…. of a third eye in the middle of his forehead.

  22. FLUORESCENT GREEN HIGHLIGHTER PEN! Try out some temporary art. Initially it shows up wo/blacklight. But if you rinse it without scrubbing, it becomes invisible in daylight, yet leaves enough “stain” that it still shows up under BL.

  23. As I understand it, the ink is FDA approved. The dye itself is encapsulated (microencapsulation?) so as not to react with the body. Chances are, you’d be less likely to react to this ink than regular tattoo ink because of that.
    As a bass player, I want to get the bones done on my hands with UV reactive ink as I think it would look great on stage… Spiffy!

  24. @#2 by Anonymous

    UV ink tats used to identify babies? Anyone here prepared to do that, presuming the ink is safe etc?
    Haven’t got kids myself, but I kind of like the idea actually.

    Someone wrote scaring will happen:
    Scaring will not happen unless the tattoo needle goes deeper then its supposed to. Besides that is a fresh tattoo, as it says “freshly done” when black light tattoos are healed you can kind of see it, but its almost invisable. kind of looks like a fleshy color.

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