Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Comparison

Reported by Susan Reidy

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For my oldest daughter’s last two birthday celebrations, we’ve had slumber parties. Aside from not sleeping, a major part of the fun was glow-in-the-dark paint.

I not only used it for decorations and goodie bag items, the girls crafted with it. There are several brands of glow paint (and even glow glitter by Martha Stewart), but I will be focusing on the acrylic paint by Americana and the dimensional fabric paint by Tulip.

Tulip Glow in the Dark Paint

Both paints must be exposed to light in order to glow. The length and strength of the exposure will greatly impact how much and for how long they glow. Below is a glow shot of each product in the bottle, after brief exposure to a curly-q light bulb (I guess they’re technically called CFLs).

Tulip Glow in the Dark Paint

The Americana has a larger label, so it’s harder to see the glow. In general, I found both had the same amount of “glow” power.

From a use standpoint, both paints can be used on a variety of surfaces including fabric, wood and plastic.  I tried both on fabric, paper and wood, and just the Americana on glass and plastic.

I found each served a purpose in what I wanted to accomplish. The Tulip paint is dimensional, and you squeeze it out of the bottle, so you can write with it or easily create shapes. The Americana is a traditional acrylic paint that can be brushed or sponged on.

First up, I’ll show you how the Americana works. For my daughter’s party, I poured some of the paint into empty soda bottles to create glowing bowling pins for a nighttime game. I stood the pins around a camping lantern, so they glowed pretty well through several rounds of glow bowling.

It was better to pour the paint inside the bottle and swirl it around, versus painting the outside. It just glowed better, although I felt like I wasted some paint.

Here’s the helpful pin setter. I didn’t get a good glowing shot that night, and then my pin setter threw my pins away!

Next up, I wanted to use it to add some spooky Halloween glow to a creepy bottle I created. I started with an empty wine bottle, Mod Podge and some tissue paper.

I used the Mod Podge to cover my bottle with the white tissue paper.

And then I used Tim Holtz Distress Inks to age my bottle. I added this Martha Stewart Halloween label, which I also distressed a little.

Pretty spooky, huh? To up the creepy factor, I wanted my bottle to glow. I used the Americana paint to add an overall glow. With my first try, my layer of paint was too thin, and I hardly got any glow at all. So then I really slathered it on. Once the paint dries, it’s translucent, so my big gobs of glow paint aren’t visible (except at night!).

Here she glows!

For my next project, I wanted my glowing items to have color during the day. According to Americana, you can add light colored paint to the glow paint, and still have it glow. I mixed in some buttercup paint from Making Memories for my stars on this project. The sign and stars are made from Roc-Lon Multi-Purpose Cloth.

Please ignore my terrible black paint job. Not sure what happened there. I loved the color and that my “glowing” stars would have some oomph even during the day. I tested the glow. Thanks to my several coats of paint (at least three), I think they still glowed great.

One point I want to note — I tried to paint a sheet of paper with the drippings from my glow bowling pins mentioned above. I was hoping to create a giant glow in the dark sheet of paper that I could then punch shapes from. The results were less than stellar. The glow was very streaky, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture before the trash man struck again.I think the paint works better, from a glow perspective, in smaller areas, like my stars. The coverage just wasn’t great for a larger area.

Next up are some projects with the Tulip paint. I love the texture of this one, and that it comes in different colors: Natural Glow, Green Glow, Orange Glow and Yellow Glow. I used Natural Glow for my projects, which doesn’t have a lot of color when dry, that is unless it’s glowing.

For my daughter’s slumber party, I embellished the bottoms of some socks for the girls. Not only did it add some traction to the socks, they glowed.

Here’s an up close of the design, showing the texture it gives.

Here’s an overall shot. These were made over a year ago, and have been worn and washed several times. The design has held on great.

And the glow has stuck around. Check it out:

During the party, the girls decorated some wood door hangers and I added their names in the Tulip glow paint.

Here it is dry and in daylight:

Here it is glowing:

It’s like a secret message!

For this year’s party, I made some scary eyes to decorate the outdoors. I thought they were fun, but it was hard to get these to glow, since they were attached to the tree. Shining a flashlight worked some, but didn’t get the great glow that the CFLs produced.

We all had lots of fun playing with these paints, and my girls thought I had some magical, glowing powers. I’m planning all sorts of Halloween ideas — pumpkin faces, treat bags, or even adding some to costumes.


  • Both paints have great glow powers after exposure to light.
  • Simple and fun to use, and cheap too!
  • Both can be used on multiple surfaces including paper, fabric, plastic and wood.
  • The Americana can be mixed with other acrylics so the paint has some color when it’s not glowing.
  • The Tulip paint comes in multiple colors.


  • The Americana is better on small areas, if you want a great overall glow. On larger areas, it get streaky (which worked out great for my bottle project).
  • The Americana and Tulip Natural Glow dry translucent, so it’s hard to see during the day (which can be a pro or a con, depending on the project).
  • Paints have to be exposed to direct light in order to glow.

Have you tried glow in the dark paints? How do you like to use them? Do you think my scary eyes are actually scary?

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6 Responses to Glow-in-the-Dark Paint Comparison

  1. Avatar
    Kayla and Samuel September 15, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    I have never used glow-in-the-dark paint before, these look quite fun to try. They will be perfect to decorate for Halloween, my favorite holiday! Your eyes look great, thanks for the review.

  2. Avatar
    pezadoodle September 16, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    super projects! we just recently tried out the new martha stewart glow in the dark medium. it did not glow much when we mixed it into the paint but works GREAT when painted OVER the other paints. we made a glow in the dark candy corn soap pump 🙂

  3. Avatar
    Kat Bennett October 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    While taking a studio break, I happened upon your review of the GITDs. I’ve been working with them lately for Halloween projects, and have s small bottle of the Tulip. This does work well on small projects. My local dollar store has been selling tubes of Krylon GITD paint, and that works well also. At 2/$1, I couldn’t pass it up. I’ve checked their site and can’t find it, so I’m assuming it’s a one time production. Anyway, thank you for posting this review. I’m an experimenter when it comes to paint and mediums, and have found another fun aspect of my work! Reading other’s reviews are fun, too!

  4. Avatar
    Anonymous November 27, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    How long did each paint glow for?

  5. Avatar
    Kristen January 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    My husband and I decided to repaint the bedroom of one of our children with some glow in the dark paint accents. We must say the result is amazing. Be careful not to overdo it though, because you do not want the walls to become too bright.

    Good luck!

  6. Avatar
    Russell October 31, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    Trying the Martha Stewart this year for Harvest party and a little surprised at the cost/ outcome. Maybe I’m not doing this correctly. Any pointers would be great,