Sun exposure can be beneficial if done safely and in moderation, however dermatologists believe there is never a reason to go too brown or even burn.
But that is exactly what some people have been doing as they create their own ‘sunburn tattoos’. The trend sees individuals create temporary tattoos by using sunscreen to either stencil or freehand designs onto their skin, before going out in the sun until the skin turns brown or red and contrasts with the protected skin.
Dermatologists warn that by doing this, people are risking skin winkles, coloured spots and irregular pigmentation of the skin; not to mention the potential risk of skin cancer further down the line.
“When you get any kind of unprotected sun exposure, you are doing damage to the DNA in your skin cells,” says Dr Michael Ioffreda, a dermatologist at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
“Your skin has memory, so the damage accumulates over time. Eventually, your body’s repair mechanisms can’t keep up and skin cancers erupt.”
The advice is to not follow the trend in any shape or form, but rather use a daily moisturiser with sunscreen in it.
For those who have more daily sun exposure than simply traveling among their house, car and workplace, Ioffreda recommends a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Although the dermatologist says he sees the appeal of this latest trend of sunburn tattoos, given that it doesn’t cost anything, you can do it yourself, and you can use it to express your creativity, he still doesn’t see the need to inflict the pain and damage on your body this way.
For those who must follow the trend, he does suggest using a self-tanner or spray-on tanner: “You can get the same effect without the damage,” he adds.