Just got all three of these in a row… I guess now is the time to finally answer this!
What The Hell Is A UV Tattoo?
UV tattoos or blacklight tattoos are tattoos made with a special ink that is visible under an ultraviolet light (blacklight). Depending upon the ink, they can be nearly invisible in non-UV environments, but scarring from the tattoo machine in the application process may remain, so they are never “invisible”. A UV tattoo becomes visible under blacklight, when it glows in colors ranging from white to purple, depending on the ink chosen.
Is It Dangerous?
No tattoo inks are regulated by the FDA (another reason to go to a reputable artist you can trust), so (a) the big seller of the ink in the US which claims it’s USFDA approved is bullshit and (b) there are no large studies on the safety of UV ink vs. other inks.
Jury’s still out on this one, although it seems as if most artists won’t use it.
Does It Last?
There is still no such thing as an invisible tattoo. Many UV tattoos will fade to a henna-type brown as they age. And, even before that, the slight scaring from the application process (which affects nearly all tattoos) will still be visible. (You can see this above.)
Because the process is so new though… again, we’re not entirely sure. We don’t exactly have people walking around with 50 year old UV tribal bands.
Finding An Artist
If you’re willing to be a UV guinea pig, make sure you get a highly experienced tattooists—they should, at the very least, know then need a blacklight within arm’s length of the tattoo chair. Also, if you want a full-color tattoo with UV in it, the full color piece has to be applied then fully healed before UV is added on top: not the other way around.
Because of the weirdness of this tattoo, make sure they have UV pieces in their portfolio already.