UV-activated tattoos are a no-no among city’s tattoo artists

Tattoo artists in the city say UV tattoos are pointless as they are visible only under UV light and fade out completely in a few months.

Back in the 90s, there was an unusual fad that had gained a cult following among youngsters — that of UV-activated tattoos. This inking trend seems to be making a global comeback this year.

However, the scene is a little different in the city. Most tattoo artists don’t recommend UV tattoos to their clients for it has a short life.

Ganesh Veeramalai, tattoo artist at Kraayonz Tattoo Studio, Koramangala, says, “These tattoos look nice only at places where there is UV lighting. Otherwise, they are pretty pointless as they can’t be seen during the daytime.  I have also read that the ink used contains a high amount of lead, which can be unsafe for the skin. Over the years, these tattoos tend to fade away which makes the entire process pretty pointless.”      

Since the UV ink is transparent, one needs to work under UV light to keep a check on the amount of ink being used on the skin. Failing to do so could lead to the artist overworking in the same area, causing skin damage. This takes too much time to heal and can cause infection. “As a tattoo artist, it is my responsibility to educate people about the cons of a particular fad,” says Ganesh.

UV tattoos were introduced in India in 2009. Though the craze spread across the country, it didn’t last long.  “The ‘glow-in-the-dark’ effect doesn’t work when the tattoo starts fading. Colours like light blue, green and UV shades don’t sit on Indian skin very well” says Akil Anand of Skindeep Tattoo Studio, Indiranagar.

He opines that there is no use in sitting through a painful session and spending money on a tattoo if one can’t show it around.

“UV lights are rare in Bengaluru and to actually be able to show this kind of a tattoo, one has to carry a UV light with them.  We don’t work with UV tattoos or recommend anyone to get it done; it’s pointless,” he adds.

Rollen Robin Lasrado, another tattoo artist, got one of these done on himself six years back. Though the initial experience was quite amusing, he says that it if he goes near a UV light now, his tattoo doesn’t glow anymore.

“Being a tattoo artist, I was experimenting with the UV inks at that time. My tattoo has three mushrooms and a few stars going around them.  Those days I used to go to a lot of parties and the UV effect had a cool factor, “he says.

He recommends people do their research and seek guidance from their tattoo artists.  

“UV tattoo have their own set of pros and cons. It would be great for people who want tattoos but don’t want to show it to everyone. And of course, it looks great under UV light. The disadvantages are that these can’t be seen during the day or under any other light. While the tattoo is healing, it looks ugly, almost infected,” says Rollen.

He points out that these kind of tattoos are ideal for the party crowd. “As a tattoo artist, I wouldn’t want to work on a UV tattoo as there aren’t enough options in terms of designs. There are only simple ones to look forward to. It is a creative block for an artist,” he adds.

Karthik Bengre, owner of SCULP Tattoo Studio, says a few of his clients have enquired about it. “UV tattoos are becoming popular because it is a way of expression. It is good for those who might not like to show off a tattoo but still wants to have something personal engraved on their skin. People who like psychedelia, love colours, thus making these tattoos ideal for them. Mushrooms, lines and geometrical patterns are quite common,” he says.

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UV-activated tattoos are a no-no among city’s tattoo artists


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