What Are Glitter Tattoos? The Latest Trend Spicing Up Your Ink

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Tattoos have seen one of the most fascinating cultural turnarounds in recent history. Just a few decades ago, having visible tattoos was nearly guaranteed to result in a person being labeled unemployable and potentially unscrupulous. Fast forward to today and nearly half of Americans between the ages of 30 and 49 have at least one tattoo, according to the PEW Research Center. As tattoos have made their way from taboo to trendy, the way has been cleared for tattoo trends to emerge and to be shared widely, thanks to the internet.


One of the latest tattoo styles to emerge across social media is glitter tattoos. The popularization of these bright, sparkling tattoos is often attributed online to tattoo artist Amanda Graves, who began posting her Lisa Frank-inspired shimmery tattoos on TikTok in 2022. The style blew up and now other artists are beginning to offer the technique as well. However, the actual methods and materials involved in creating a glitter tattoo remain a mystery to many potential consumers. 

Do glitter tattoos contain actual glitter?

The biggest misconception around glitter tattoos is the common belief that they contain actual metal or plastic glitter particles. According to Inked Mag, there is no safe way to permanently place glitter under the skin. Instead, a glitter tattoo artist creates what amounts to an intricate optical illusion by using a stippling technique known as pointillism. This method uses many tiny colored dots of varying shades to create the appearance of luminosity to the human eye.


Glitter tattoos utilize highly pigmented ink dots layered and mixed in with white dots to create the appearance of a shimmery glitter finish. Depending on the artist, tiny areas of bare skin may be left visible in order to create more contrast and to account for potential expansion as the dots age. "I think the skin gives it more contrast, depending on skin tone," Amanda Graves explained in a YouTube video showcasing her glitter tattooing process. 

How to maintain a glitter tattoo

A quick look through the comments on Amanda Graves' TikTok and YouTube videos makes it abundantly clear that people who aren't sold on glitter tattoos frequently make the assumption that they are difficult (or even impossible) to maintain. Whether this is due to the pervasive belief that they contain actual glitter remains unclear. While it is true that brightly colored tattoos tend to fade faster and require more frequent touch-ups than black or grayscale tattoos, there is nothing specific to glitter tattoos that requires any additional maintenance,  per Saved Tattoo.


With any brightly colored tattoo, knowing how to care for your new tattoo is essential. After your glitter or colorful tattoo heals, it should be moisturized daily. If it is in an area that is not typically covered by clothing, apply sunscreen daily as well. You may wish to invest in a specialty sunscreen designed for tattoos and apply it to your glitter tattoo before spending time outdoors to protect it from fading due to sun exposure. Other than these basic color-tattoo maintenance rules, shine on with your glitter tattoo!