The Viral Sunburn Tattoo Trend Is Seriously Dangerous—Here’s Why
Sure it looks like harmless summer fun. But no matter how you spin it, sunburn tattoos are extremely dangerous and can put you at serious risk of skin cancer.
"In order for the stencil, or tattoo, to be apparent, you would have to damage the surrounding tissue enough that it either tans heavily or burns," Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York–based dermatologist and Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology (FAAD), tells Health.
"Both tanning and burning the skin is detrimental to your health; they're signs that the skin is receiving ultraviolet radiation with mutating potential, which increases your risk of developing skin cancer and accelerates skin aging, meaning more wrinkles, sun spots, and loss of collagen, which causes sagging skin," she continues.
Health also spoke with Debra Jaliman, MD, dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, who had a similar take. "Purposefully keeping the area sunscreen-free will do harm to the DNA in your skin cells," Dr. Jaliman says. "Not only will you cause premature skin aging, but you will also be putting yourself at risk for skin cancer."To make sure you're properly protected, apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before you're going to be in the sun, and slather it on those less obvious body spots, like your lips, feet, eyelids, and underarms. You should also wear at least SPF 15 and reapply every 80 minutes.