What's the big difference?


“Fluorescent” refers to the pigment that absorbs and reflects more light than conventional colors, resulting in brighter and more powerful shades. To understand what sets fluorescent colors apart from conventional, you first need to understand the color spectrum.

The color spectrum ranges from invisible, low-energy infrared rays to high-energy ultraviolet rays. The colors that your eyes can see fall directly in the middle of that range, which is referred to as the ‘visible light spectrum.’ Conventional color absorbs and re-emits a portion of the visible spectrum that matches its principal wavelength, which the remaining colors are absorbed and dissipated as heat.

dayglo black light paint

Fluorescent colors can absorb light waves that are invisible to the eye (ultraviolet ‘UV’ rays) and re-emit them, which causes the object to look as if it’s glowing even in daylight. This is why fluorescent colors are commonly used for safety applications. Matching companies' visibility needs, products using fluorescent colors are more likely to be seen by consumers and hold their attention longer.

DayGlo Color Corp. extensive product line features a large variety of fluorescent colors that react under black light, including neon paints, printing inks and pigments for most manufacturing needs.


Phosphorescent pigments are more commonly known as “glow-in-the-dark” pigments. These pigments have the ability to absorb energy from the light source and store it for a short period of time. After removing the light source, the object starts to glow. The object is now giving up the stored energy in the form of light. These pigments need to be “charged” before they can emit any color in the dark. The charged pigments can glow for anywhere from seconds to hours depending on the strength.

NightGlo™ Glow-in-the-Dark Pigment is our Zinc Sulfide compound that reacts to daylight, incandescent, fluorescent or ultraviolet lights. This pigment will appear as a bright greenish shade until the stored energy is used.

glow in the dark pigment


Fluorescent colors appear intense in daylight but will not be visible in the dark unless exposed to a black light. Phosphorescent pigments will glow in the dark but only after being exposed to a light source, including sunlight or by placing under a light bulb.

The easiest way to remember their differences? With no light source, fluorescent color has no color. The vibrant colors radiate in the daylight more than conventional colors, but once that light is gone, the color will vanish into the darkness. Turn the light back on, and you’ll see the fluorescent colors again.

So, grab your black light, and see what fluorescent colors you can find!

Have questions about our fluorescent and phosphorescent product lines? Fill out the contact form or email us at dayglo@dayglo.com.