• An Nguyen

UV Tattoos. Are they safe?

What are black light tattoos you may ask? Also known as UV tattoos or invisible tattoos, black light tattoos use an ink that's made of compounds that glow under black light but appear clear under normal lighting.

While many people use the ink to add an extra cool element to their traditional tattoos, others create entire tattoos using the ink. But as the popularity of these styles has grown, so have questions about the ink's safety.

The main concern is that most black light tattoo ink contains phosphorus. In some forms it gives off luminescence when charged by a light source like the sun. It is often used in glow-in-the-dark paint, which has similar effects under black light.

Phosphorus, however, can also be toxic to humans, depending on its source and how it's delivered. For some, this brings up a certain amount of concern. According to tattoohealth.org, the phosphorous used in UV tattoos has been reported to cause “severe blistering, pain, burning sensations and even skin rashes.” The site also says that there is “some concern that these inks may contribute to cancer.”

UV ink and other tattoo inks aren’t regulated for safety by the FDA. Many pigments used in tattoo inks are industrial-grade colors suitable for printers' ink or automobile paint. According to Refinery29.com, out of the millions of American adults who have tattoos, very few of them report medical issues caused by tattoo ink.