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Glow-in-the-dark paint is a medium that has been around for a long time, although it has only really started to become popular fairly recently. This fun and unique type of paint can be used for special effects on a range of projects. The best glow-in-the-dark paint is often used on things like Halloween decor, craft projects, school projects, or simply for use as a fun painting activity. Washable glow-in-the-dark paint can also be used over the face and body for a mesmerizing effect. In fact, the range of surfaces over which you can use glow-in-the-dark paint is seemingly endless. Out of all the many products out there, we will narrow down some of the best glow-in-the-dark paint options for your next project.
Table of Contents
- 1 Understanding Glow-in-the-dark Paint
- 2 Different Types of Glow Paints
- 3 The Best Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Options
- 4 Tips for Buying the Best Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
- 5 Painting Glow Paint onto Walls
- 6 How to Make Your Own Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
Understanding Glow-in-the-dark Paint
Choosing the best glow-in-the-dark paint may seem daunting because there are so many different types of paint available. So, what do you need to know about glow-in-the-dark paint to understand which products to look out for? Below is a list of some of the popular glow-in-the-dark paint styles available.
- UV Reactive Paint: Also known as fluorescent paint, this paint looks like nothing under regular light. When under a black light, however, the paint will glow with intensity.
- Neon Paint: This is a type of bright paint that glows with the same kind of effect as a neon light.
- Day-Glow Paint: A bright glowing paint that also has a glow effect under daylight conditions.
- Glow-in-the-Dark Paint: Glow-in-the-dark paint is made up of tinted phosphorus crystals that charge themselves with UV light. The idea behind this is similar to that of a battery. When the paint is “charged” through light exposure, the paints will have a strong glow to them. This glow also shines through with exposure to a black light. Glow-in-the-dark paints do not work very well over surfaces that have fine details, as the glow is not very effective over this.
Now that we have established what types of paints and styles there are to consider, we can explore the different options in more detail. This will help to narrow down the search for the best glow-in-the-dark paint.
Different Types of Glow Paints
Glow-in-the-dark paints are not all the same. There are many different variations out there that are specially designed for application on various surfaces and finishes. You get glow-in-the-dark paint formulated for walls, metal, and ceilings, which works well over hard and solid surfaces. You also get paints specially formulated for fabrics as well as for body painting. You can also choose glow-in-the-dark paint that can easily wash out. This is great for cosmetic purposes, such as make-up.
Two main types of paint are available. Glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint is a durable option, and water-based paints are a safe option. When applied to a surface, the results of these paints can vary significantly. You will need to have a good understanding of the different paint types before starting your project.
Water-Based Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
Being water-based, you can enjoy numerous benefits from this paint.
- A more natural choice made up of natural ingredients
- More affordable
- Easily available
- A more environmentally-friendly option that can be used by all
- Very easy to clean up
- A good choice for indoor use
- Harmless for use on the skin
Acrylic Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
Acrylic versions are based on chemicals and work well over solid surfaces, making it a good choice for glow-in-the-dark paint used on walls. We have listed some features of glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint below.
- A great option for outdoor use
- Offers a durable finish
- UV-resistant and fade-resistant
- Can cause harmful fumes
- Not very eco-friendly
- Can be difficult to clean up and remove
- Long drying time
- Not recommended for use on the skin
- A bit more expensive
The Best Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Options
Glow-in-the-dark paint covers a wide range of uses. This is a pretty broad style of paint that can be used over various surfaces and for different projects. Before choosing a paint to use, it is important to know exactly what kind of product you are after, as different paints work well for specific uses. This is also important for the durability and lasting nature of the paint. Due to this, the paints can be split into two main categories:
- Paint for solid surfaces and fabric
- Paint for bodies and faces
Overall Best Surface Glow-in-the-Dark Paint: SPACEBEAMS Bright Green Aurora Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
This paint, manufactured by SpaceBeams, is an excellent choice for use on all kinds of solid surfaces and fabrics. The paint adheres well to a variety of hard surfaces, including glass, wood, metal, plastic, fabric, rock, and more. This is one of the best glow-in-the-dark paint options in terms of versatility, as the paint can be used inside and outside. It is not suitable for use on the skin, however.
All the paint needs is a quick 10-second charge under UV light, and it will be able to hold a 12-hour glow. With good care, this paint will be able to be used for many years, providing a strong glow for long periods. This paint works best against light backgrounds in a coating that is around 3 mm thick. Even when the paint is wet, you can get a strong glow from it. It is best to add a final coating over this paint though, such as a layer of varnish, as this will help to prevent moisture deterioration over time.
This paint has a fairly thick consistency, which many artists enjoy using. The paint can also be thinned easily simply by adding water. Just be careful, however, because it will thin very quickly with only a small amount of water. Generally, this paint dries in about an hour. This would be one of the best outdoor glow-in-the-dark paint options on the market.
If you are after the best glow-in-the-dark paint in terms of durability and fluorescence, then this option by SpaceBeams is about as good as it gets.
Best Glow-in-the-Dark Paint for Skin: MIDNIGHT GLO Blacklight Face and Body Paint
If you want to paint over faces and bodies, then this is our pick for the best glow-in-the-dark paint. The paint is available in a choice of eight different fluorescent neon colors to offer you a good choice for creating body art. When exposed to UV and black lights, this paint will glow strongly with some incredible colors coming through. While the paint is suitable for safe use on the skin, it is best to avoid painting it close to the eyes.
This paint is smooth and offers easy, effective use. It is also a fully washable glow-in-the-dark paint which makes it easy to take off the skin after use; simply remove it with water. The Midnight Glo UV body paint dries quickly, offers a shiny finish, and is easy to apply. While this paint is safe for skin use, it can stain clothing that it comes into contact with. The paint is available in a number of different size options.
Anyone wanting to create an impact at a party or function will love applying this glow-in-the-dark body paint. It is great for Halloween events and is safe and easy to use.
Best Value Glow-in-the-Dark Paint: NEON NIGHTS Phosphorescent Glow Pigment
This great-value glow pigment is a unique product due to it being a loose pigment powder instead of a paint. This pigment is versatile and can suit all kinds of different projects. The pigment powder can be mixed into any binder with ease, allowing you to get an intense glow. For the best glow-in-the-dark effects, a clear binder should be used. Some good options are polyurethane, lacquer, varnish, epoxy, or paint.
Be sure to follow a higher ratio of pigment if mixing this pigment into paint. The basic ratio for creating a glow-in-the-dark paint is one part pigment powder to two parts binder. This should provide a long-lasting finish. It is suitable for indoor and outdoor use and can be as versatile as the binder you choose. This makes it a great product for use on difficult surfaces and unique conditions. The paint will require a few hours under sunlight for a full charge. Unfortunately, only two colors (blue and green) are available.
If you want to transform any arts and crafts project into something special, then this glow-in-the-dark pigment powder is a great option. It is versatile, easy to use, and loads of fun.
Tips for Buying the Best Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
As already outlined, not all of these paints perform the same. You get glow-in-the-dark paint for walls, paint for skin, glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint, water-based paint, and so on. To make sure that you get the right paint for your project, be sure to check out some of the buying considerations listed below.
The Type of Use
Always choose a paint based on the kind of project you will be doing. For example, you can choose the best outdoor glow-in-the-dark paint, but this will not be the best choice for projects inside. Sometimes you might need one paint to cover multiple surfaces, so be sure to choose one that is suitable. The three main surface types are hard surfaces, skin, and fabrics.
As already established, the best glow-in-the-dark paint comes in two styles: acrylic or water-based. Acrylic paint is thicker, stronger, and offers better adhesion. Water-based paint is thinner but safer to use and easier to clean up. Washable glow-in-the-dark paint will also have a water-based formula.
The Glow Factor
Glow-in-the-dark paint is charged by sunlight or UV rays. The strength of the glow may vary depending on the source of light that charges it. For very fast charging, UV flashlights can be used.
Different paints also produce different glows, so choosing the right one is something to consider. Some have a shocking, bright glow while others offer a warmer, pastel kind of glow. Choosing between a bright or soft glow is a personal preference.
Depending on your artistic needs, you may require many different colors or just a few shades. Some of the best glow-in-the-dark paints come in a set of various color options. However, some are only available with very limited color options. Be sure to choose paint or a set that has the colors you need. Just be aware that certain colors will glow much brighter than others. For this reason, some sets do not include certain colors, like red, pink, and purple.
Sometimes you only need the glow-in-the-dark paint to last a for short period, such as for a party costume or quick art project. At other times, you might want a more permanent solution, such as using the best glow-in-the-dark paint for walls. If you want the glowing paint to be long-lasting, then be sure to buy a quality product. You may have to pay extra, but it will offer a better lifespan. Another option for a good lifespan is to choose the best glow-in-the-dark spray paint.
Different glow-in-the-dark paints come in various size options. Generally, the size of the bottle is relatively small (usually around 0.75-ounces) because this type of paint is just used for simple craft projects and not painting large areas. However, larger bottles of paint are available for those that need more. A good guideline for figuring out how much paint you need is that one fluid ounce can cover a two square-foot area.
Different paints are formulated with different chemicals and ingredients. This determines how safe the paint is to use. Certain glow-in-the-dark paints, usually acrylics, are not suitable for painting over the face or body and can cause skin irritations. Only specific body paints can be used for this purpose.
Water-based paints are safer to use and have fewer chemicals or toxic ingredients. These can be applied to the skin and are safe for all ages to use. However, they should not be applied near the sensitive eye area. When using glow-in-the-dark paints, be sure to check out the specific safety guidelines for each paint.
Painting Glow Paint onto Walls
The best glow-in-the-dark paint for walls is easily applied as a DIY home project. A little bit of preparation should be done to make sure that the paint works well with the surface. For a long-lasting glow, be sure to follow the best procedure when applying the paint.
- Make sure that the painting surface is clean and smooth. Any remaining dust and dirt will get caught in the paint if the surface is not cleaned properly.
- Glow-in-the-dark paint does not work very well on dark surfaces. Add a light primer coat, or just a regular white base coat before applying the glow-in-the-dark paint.
- Try to work with the paint underneath a UV light. This will help the paint to charge, which will provide a strong glow.
- For the best results, apply two or three coats of paint. Any more paint will be wasted and may affect the glow. Adding additional coats also creates a surface that is likely to be less smooth.
- Ensure that the paint is dry enough before adding a new coat. This should take about 20 minutes.
- Finish the paint off with a protective coat. A clear epoxy protective spray is a good finish for added durability.
Get creative, experiment, and have fun! The whole aim is to create unique results.
How to Make Your Own Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
Creating your own glow-in-the-dark paint is an easy possibility. You can create some of the brightest glow-in-the-dark paint that is also safe and non-toxic. Making your own paint offers various benefits when compared to paints bought from the shop. These include the following:
- You can create any colors you want
- Homemade paints are cheaper
- You can control the ingredients for a safer formulation
If you are mixing your own glow-in-the-dark paint, these ingredients are needed:
- 4 tablespoons of talcum powder or cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons of thick lotion/cold cream
- 2 tablespoons of glow-in-the-dark pigment powder
- Homemade dye or food coloring for an optional color pigment
When all mixed together, you will get a safe and effective glow-in-the-dark paint. This paint is bound by cornstarch, which also helps with adhesion and color brightness. The lotion provides viscosity and smoothness and stops cracks from forming. The glow pigment is what gives the paint its glow.
Step-by-Step Instructions on Making Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
Making glow-in-the-dark paint yourself is easy, and does not need too much precision. Just follow these basic steps and enjoy the process.
- Combine the lotion and talcum powder/cornstarch together in a bowl. If you are making various colors, divide this mixture up for individual colors.
- Add in the glow-in-the-dark pigment powder in small increments. This is best done underneath a UV light in order to add a charge to the paint. You can check the results in a darkened room to see how much glow-in-the-dark value your paint has.
- Now you can tweak the different ratios and ingredients. Add more pigment powder for a stronger glow, more lotion for a smoother consistency, and so on. Adding extra talcum powder will create a thicker paint.
- And there you go; you have just made a glow-in-the-dark paint! Be sure to wrap the paint up and store it in the fridge until you need to use it. This paint can be used with a brush, fingers, or applied with a sponge.
- Altering the color of the paint can be achieved with a few drops of food dye. The more dye you add, the less intense the glow of pigment powder will be.
- This paint is safe and non-toxic. It can be washed off easily with paint and water and is suitable for body painting.
Tips for Making Glow-in-the-Dark Paint
If you are organizing a party or a Halloween event, then making the best glow-in-the-dark paint yourself can be a fun idea. In order to create the brightest glow-in-the-dark paint, some general guidelines can be followed:
- Make sure that the pigment you choose is a special glow-in-the-dark or phosphorescent pigment powder. You also get special black light, fluorescent, and UV glow pigments. Be sure to choose the right one, and not just a standard pigment powder without any glow.
- Pigment powders range according to the size of their particles. The pigments with larger particles have a stronger glow, but they do not create a very smooth or consistent finish.
- Be sure to choose the right pigment color for your needs. The brightest glowing pigments are green and blue. These colors also last longer.
- For the most intense glow, add the glow to a darker paint and paint it over a lighter background. This helps to illuminate the glow in the paint.
- Never add water to the glow-in-the-dark pigment powder. This could cause it to lose its intensity.
The best glow-in-the-dark paints will provide loads of fun for parties, decor, or craft projects. Be sure to check the above-listed products out, or give making your own glow-in-the-dark paint a try. You will not be disappointed with this unique art medium!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Glow-in-the-Dark Paints Safe?
This depends on the paint used. Some paints are not designed for use on the skin and can be dangerous if applied to the body or face. Others are completely safe. Be sure to check the type of paint and chemicals in it before using it.
What Makes Glow-in-the-Dark Paint?
Luminescent phosphorus particles are used to create a paint that has a glow-in-the-dark effect. The particles need to be exposed to light to charge, providing a glowing effect later when in the dark.
How Long Will Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Last?
This depends on the paint and the conditions used. Some paints can last for around 20 years, while others are only suitable for 24-hour applications. Be sure to choose a paint with a glow time that suits the requirements of your project.
How Can I Make My Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Glow?
You can charge your glow-in-the-dark paints by exposing them to sunlight or UV light. Normal indoor lighting should be enough to charge these paints in order to give them glow-in-the-dark properties.
Are Fluorescent and Glow-in-the-Dark Paints the Same?
While both styles of paint glow in the dark, fluorescent paints need a blacklight or UV light in order to glow. Fluorescent paints are generally used for body and face painting, while the glow-in-the-dark paints are often used on walls and crafts projects. The latter style first needs to be charged with light rays before glowing.
Larissa Meyer is a 32-year-old mother and creative spirit since childhood. Her passion for painting and drawing has led her to train as an illustrator and pursue a career as a freelance graphic designer. Larissa is a talented artist who is able to master a wide range of styles and techniques to bring her artistic vision to life.