Glow in the dark paint and how long it lasts on a surface may vary. The duration and durability of the color, and the luminous properties of a given paint, depend on several factors. Such as the brand of paint, the medium you apply it to, and many other factors.

Our extensive glow-in-the-dark paint guide covers everything you need to know about glow-in-the-dark paint, how long it lasts, essential tips, and applications for a triumphant glow-in-the-dark paint project. 

1. What Is Glow in the Dark Paint?

Glow in the dark paint is often known as phosphorescent paint, and this special paint usually has a greenish-blue or dull green tint. When exposed to dark or very low light conditions, the paint emits radiant light, and this light emission fades over time depending on how long the painted object is exposed to light.

When glow-in-the-dark paint was first developed, it was only available in blue, green, and yellow colors. But they did not have the same level of color saturation and vibrancy. The phosphors at the time were not as potent as they are today, so the paint did not glow as long. But now, colors of every shade, hue, and palette can be found, including chalk pastel, neon, and glitter.

One of the benefits of glow-in-the-dark paint is that it can be used on different surfaces, making it highly versatile and suitable for all types of applications. Depending on the brand and type of paint you choose, you may use glow-in-the-dark paint on different materials, including wood, metal, plastic, and fabric. In some applications, glow-in-the-dark paint can even be safe for the skin.

2. How Does Glow in the Dark Paint Work?

Phosphors can be found in various rare earth minerals. For the best glow, finding a reliable UV source is the best. These molecules absorb and store UV and electromagnetic radiation, and a small amount of ultraviolet radiation is also absorbed.

The phosphors have the unique property of becoming super excited when exposed to dark conditions after being charged. The phosphors illuminate, thus creating a visible light in the darkness. Direct sunlight is the most preferred mode of charging the phosphors for a continuous period. This method of charging the paint ensures the glow will be evenly distributed through the paint before it fades.

Types of Glow in the Dark Paint:

Glow in the dark paint is available in different mediums such as watercolor, acrylic, and even makeup to create glow-in-the-dark body art. With so many fun and exciting uses, let’s explore the various forms of glow-in-the-dark paint.

Water Based Paint

Water Based Paint

Water-based paints, also known as latex paints, are made from mostly natural ingredients. Watercolor paints contain pigments that can be toxic depending on the brand and quality of paint. While watercolor paints are safe to use on paper, most are safe on the skin or face. If you want to use face paints, make sure they are skin-safe. Additionally, glow-in-the-dark face and body paint specifically contain natural binders and pigments.

This type of paint has several pros and cons like:

  • Made up of natural ingredients
  • Dries quickly
  • Less expensive
  • Readily available
  • Eco-friendly and will not affect children and pets
  • Easy to clean up or wash off
  • Excellent for indoor use
  • Harmless to use on your body or face

Fluorescent Paint

Fluorescent Paint

Fluorescent paint is attractive because it captures and receives a charge from UV light, like glow-in-the-dark paint. Instead of storing it, it disperses the radiation in incredible vibrancies. The variety of fluorescent colors available is shocking and intense, leaving a lasting impression.

Fabric Paint

Fabric Paint

Personalizing and customizing your own clothing is easy with glow-in-the-dark fabric paint. Markers, pastels, sprays, and liquids are available to make your clothes. Apply, let the chemical sit, and wash it to get the best glow. With a bit of fun and creative thought, you will have created your work of glow art.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic Paint

These are chemical-based and made up of potent glow pigments. Never apply acrylic paint of any kind to your face or skin. While it is not toxic, it contains powerful chemical paint pigments that cause severe skin irritation and sub-dermal damage.

This type of paint has nearly no natural ingredient. It is suitable for walls and other solid surfaces. Here are some of its pros and cons:

  • Specially designed for outdoor use due to fumes
  • UVB and UV resistant
  • Produces harmful fumes and is not eco-friendly
  • Difficult to clean up and requires spirits to remove it
  • Don’t use on the body or face
  • Takes a long time to dry
  • Tends to be expensive

Glow on the Glow

Glow sticks are a convenient, clean way to travel while glowing. The best glow from glow sticks comes when put in the freezer before use, and they are also available in glow stick framework clothing like visors and hats. Glow sticks lose their shine after a few hours under suitable conditions and are kept cool to slow the chemical reaction.

Glow paint on skin

Glow Paint over Skin

Glow-in-the-dark pigment paint can be used for complete makeup. You can apply it in the form of decoration and adornment on the face with extraordinary and alluring results. It can vary from extraordinarily bold and flashy to subtle and captivating.

For performing events like fashion shows, dance performances, and circus events, performers often use glow-in-the-dark pigment paint on their entire bodies. Creative designs like dragon wings and butterfly streams on legs and arms bring characters and whole scenes to life.

Fluorescent colors are often used as a flashy accent on a costume or set-piece. Performances such as Cirque de Soleil and Famous People Players use glow-in-the-dark paint to make entire worlds seem alive on stage. For dark to low light events, neon colors are best as they shine and glow exceptionally well under those conditions more than others. These colors still have an intense hue in normal light compared to their standard palette counterparts.

3. How Long Does Glow in the Dark Last?

Dark paint gets its glow from the phosphors that react with light radiation. These particles receive energy from UV light and emit a glowing, radiant effect. The end result is similar to bioluminescence. It would be best to use it in a room or on an object that gets constant exposure to natural light.

However, phosphorous paints are different because they contain biological particles that glow. It does not get a charge from LED lights but can get a charge from fluorescent lights. However, it is a muted reaction and does not have intensity.

Glow-in-the-dark paint will go for ten years or more with sealer and care. Phosphorescent paint will last 4-5 years.

What can affect glow-in-the-dark paint’s durability?

Opened or Unopened Can

1. Opened Vs Unopened Can

A well-sealed can of glow-in-the-dark paint should last for at least two years without its performance being affected before application. You would not have to buy a new can of glow-in-the-dark paint only to have the phosphors inside lose their UV absorption abilities after only a few months.

Normal light will not help the phosphors stay active any longer. Phosphorous paint has a shelf life of three to five years in an unopened can. Most manufacturers have put great effort into the packaging to ensure consumers get the best of the paint and be used up to five years after purchase.

Normal light will not affect the can, but direct sunlight can warm the can and possibly deactivate the phosphors. It is strongly advised that any opened color be wholly used as it does not tend to store well.

Painted on wall

2. Painted on a Wall

When applied to a wall, the standard lifespan of glow-in-the-dark paint is ten years. A proper sealant can increase the lifespan of your glow-in-the-dark paint to about 12 years. If not, you can use any paint sealant or varnish available. It can be used as a solid color or mixed to create various shades and hues.

Solid color walls are fun for an accent wall or a nightlight for a child’s room. The glow pigment won’t be too intense that the child can’t sleep either.

Painted Outside

3. Painted Outside

Various brands of glow-in-the-dark paint are specifically designed for outdoor use. There can be harsh environmental conditions, so the glow-in-the-dark paint may last only a few months. If you use a good quality exterior paint and a top coat to seal it in, you can extend this period to years. And you have to apply multiple thick layers. Doing so will enhance the object’s ability to absorb UV rays and light brilliantly at night.

Painted on Rocks or Other Objects

4. Painted on Rocks or Other Objects

If you are looking to bring a pop of color, you may want to consider painting some rocks with glow-in-the-dark paint. Certain manufacturers offer specifically designed paint for use on rocks and masonry surfaces. The great part about glow-in-the-dark paint on stones is that it may glow for a longer duration than on other mediums.

Some brands can glow for 8 to 10 hours after only 10 to 20 seconds of charging under a powerful black light. To extend the life of the paint on your rocks, properly wash them with soap and water. Dry it completely, then apply the paint in several thick coats and add your sealant.

5. Glow After Application

Glow in the dark paint on outdoor objects can last for more than ten years. Normal light will be useless in charging even the poorest glow-in-the-dark colors as it contains no UV radiation. The quality of glow pigment is a significant factor in how well the paint captures UV light.

Its durability is also affected by the surface condition, and the quality of the sealer since smooth surfaces and sealers will help your color survive longer than expected because they shield the phosphors from breakdown. Longevity depends on various factors, such as after application treatment. Properly treated, the coloring can illuminate for more than a decade.

6. Glowing Time

You can charge the painted area as many times as you like. The residual glowing time is dependent on how long you have charged it. If you charge it under direct sunlight, the glow can last up to 4 hours. The more luminescent paint on the market has an immediate light and a softer afterglow that lasts longer.

After that, it shows signs of fading, but when you do charge the paint within the next ten years, the glow will be like new. The glow pigment will be saturated more with every paint layer and can aid in how long residual light lasts.

7. Recharge Variables

You can’t change the quality of your paint after you have already applied it. Despite that, you can control the charging time. For outdoor paint, charging under sunlight for several hours will bring about equal hours of glowing time.

As for indoor paints on walls, use a UV black light bar or any other UV light source, and this will act as the sun and give your glow an extra bit of energy. One hour of proper UV light charging can be better than a whole day of steady light charging for glow-in-the-dark paint.

4. Charging Glow In The Dark Paint

Objects sprayed with glow-in-the-dark paint can be charged by either natural or artificial light. Sunlight is an example of natural light, while UV torches are an example of artificial light. Domestic or normal light will not charge the glow paint as effectively, and sunlight is the best option for the brightest and longest-lasting glow.

Expose your object with the glow-in-the-dark paint to direct sunlight for 3-4 hours to completely charge it. The light should be direct and consistent in strength for the paint to charge correctly. Shadows and irregularity of light, particularly after sunset, will impact the charging of the paint, affecting the glow. LED lights cannot charge Glow-in-the-dark paint designed to be charged by sunlight.

5. Glow In The Dark Painting Tips

Lighter Background for Brighter Glow

If it were within our power as customers of glow-in-the-dark paint, we would want to paint the surface any color and have the glow last infinitely with no charging needed at the maximum brilliance. But, in reality, this is not possible. So with a few tricks, you can make the glow stand out for longer. Lighter backgrounds are more suited to a stronger glow.

The majority of the glow we see is a reflection of light, which means that light colors reflect light, whereas dark or dull colors absorb light. Because the phosphors in the paint emit light, the light will bounce off the white surface and towards the viewer when painted on a lighter background.

The contrary is also true; when painted on dark surfaces, some light is absorbed and does not reflect at the viewer. Glow in the dark paint will glow for a long time and brightly if painted on a lighter background and charged for at least 30 minutes. If the paint is applied to a dark background, it will glow brighter when the light is turned off but will fade fast. Every paint layer you add also brings out richness in the hue of the glow.

Use Less Paint Than You Need

When painting, start with a very thin coat. You can always add more if necessary. Color will be smooth and fluidic if thin layers of paint are used, and thick paint applications will make it difficult to obtain an evenly coated surface. It is preferable to apply numerous thin layers of paint rather than fewer dense applications.

Drying Between Coats

The paint should not be applied continuously. The trick is to apply layers upon layers. Allow at least 15-30 minutes for each layer of paint to dry before applying another layer. Allow the painted coat to dry first for optimal effects. When you paint over wet paint, the coat’s brilliance fades.

A hairdryer can help you get faster results. Fabric paints are usually only required on the application, as with fluorescent paints.

Additional Coats

At the very least, three coats are required for an excellent finish. If you want more vividness, more layers will only help. The more coats there will be the better. Using multiple thin coatings can give you a better and longer-lasting glowing look.

6. Most Common FAQs

Is Glow in The Paint Brighter Than LED?

Paints are only coatings and cannot be as brilliant as light. Glow-in-the-dark paint cannot replace our typical household bulbs as a light source. The highest quality, luminescent paint is still not brighter than an LED. Even though the paint shines so that items in the dark may be seen, it is no more brilliant than the LED.

Can I Charge a Wet Glow in The Dark Paint?

The paint will not glow effectively if it is still wet. As a result, the answer is no. A moist paint cannot be charged, and glow-in-the-dark paint must be thoroughly cured before setting the object in direct light.

How long does it take for glow-in-the-dark paint to get charged?

It depends on the product and the method of charging. Continuous charging through sunlight for about 4 hours will give you 4 hours of glowing time. Using a UV light bulb, the charging time can significantly decrease.

Are artificial lights sufficient for charging?

High-quality glow in the dark fabric paint may absorb some energy from artificial light. For most paints, wait for hours before the paint charges up. But it will not glow much better and will glow for a brief time. The best option is to use UV light.

Can I paint over an existing paint surface?

Of course, you can. One paint layer won’t show over the intensity of the other paint. Many coatings will, however. But the fresh paint is not thick enough because then the phosphors of the older paint may still receive light to get charged and glow behind the new paint. So, it would be best to add extra coats to make sure the older phosphors are entirely covered.

Can you see glow-in-the-dark paint during the day?

For visibility during the day, glow-in-the-dark paint can differ in the results and depend on what paint you use. Phosphorescent pigments will appear invisible during daylight hours as the particles absorb sunlight to charge up, and they will naturally glow for around three to four hours when it gets dark.

Can you put a clear coat over glow in the dark paint?

The topcoat will help preserve the glow-dark pigment integrity of the color. Always make sure that the glow-in-the-dark paint has completely dried before applying any clear topcoat, and ensure that you use it in thin layers so as not to overwhelm the paint underneath and create an uneven texture.

How Can I Remove Glow in The Dark Paint?

The best way to remove the glow-in-the-dark paint is to either scrape it off or paint over it. If you want to scrape it off, start with fine sandpaper. The luminescent paint can be challenging, so maybe a residue remover on hand is also a good idea. You can also use a bit of acetone or isopropyl alcohol.

Alternatively, you can paint over the existing layers as you need to paint several coats of your new paint to cover up the glow-in-the-dark paint.

Why Isn’t My Paint Glowing?

If your paint is not glowing, it is mainly because of not enough UV light or isn’t positioned well to get a lot of light. Another problem could be the type of paint you purchased. Maybe you are using other agents rather than phosphors that need a different kind of light to charge and glow.

Light colors reflect paint while dark colors absorb light. If you use black, navy, or other dark-colored backgrounds, they absorb light rather than reflect it. So, for best results, use light-colored surfaces, such as white or yellow.

Is Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Safe to Use?

In the past, radioactive elements were rather common and often used to make the color stand out more. However, there are no more radioactive elements in any glow-in-the-dark paint you purchase because of current safety regulations. So, generally speaking, glow in the Dark paint is considered safe to use, however, it is always best to test for allergies first, especially for body and face projects.

Even though luminescent paint is rather safe if it says non-toxic. It’s important to note that when applying the glow paint or glow powder, you should wear safety equipment such as safety goggles and a mask, especially when using aerosol-based spray paint.

7. How to Choose Glow in Dark Paint

Points to consider when selecting your glow in the dark paints:

Glow Strength:

The strength of the glow can depend on the power of the initial charge, so it’s charged by either the sun or artificial indoor lighting. Some products are optimized to be charged with a UV flashlight and provide an intense neon hue, while others emit a softer pastel glow.

Color Variety:

Glow in the dark paints is available in multicolor packs of eight or more different hues, allowing you to create multifaceted designs. Some of the best products are available only in a single color, and blues and bright aurora green have the most significant impact, while pinks, reds, and purples may deliver fewer striking results. And some are available in different colors.


Longevity is a factor to consider when designing a child’s bedroom ceiling, so look for a product that will stay for years. High-quality glow-in-the-dark paints for hard surfaces can endure a decade or more, while inexpensive luminous paints may not perform quite as well.

It would be best to consider how long the phosphorescent paint holds its charge, depending on the product.

Final Words on How Long Does Glow In The Dark Paint Last

It’s important to remember that glow-in-the-dark paint varies in quality. When charged, the highest quality phosphorescent options will glow for over 10 hours, whereas fluorescent paints glow when exposed to ultraviolet light.

The main difference between the paints is that phosphorescent paint charges during daylight and is invisible when not glowing. Remember to be inventive and use your creativity to find new and exciting uses for this fascinating medium.