Sunburn art or sun tanning tattoos are temporary markings made from selectively applying sunscreen to a certain body part or wearing a sticker to block a patch of skin from the sun. These markings become obvious when other parts of the body are baked and seared by the sun. This trend is hitting social media where suntan lovers – especially young adults – show off their sun tanning tattoos. Some of the marks are small; others are so large they cover the entire back. Sunburn art became so popular that children as young as 11 are trying it out.
The trend seems harmless enough; you just bake under the sun for an hour or two and get a great looking “tattoo” that disappears as your tan fades. But this seemingly innocent “craze” is extremely dangerous.
The Hidden Dangers of Sunburn Art and Sun Tanning Tattoos
There is a price to pay for baking under the sun to achieve a healthy glow. And that’s skin cancer. Studies show that sun exposure is the main cause of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is also a fatal but preventable disease. It occurs when the sun’s ultraviolet rays break down the skin. As the skin breaks down, the skin tissues are exposed to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress triggers the mutation of healthy cells, increasing the risk of malignant cells. When there’s an overgrowth of malignant cells, it leads to cancer.
Bronzed skin is often associated with healthy glow it is really? Although bronzed skin makes you look healthier and thinner, sun exposure accelerates aging.
As the skin becomes exposed to the sun, age spots and wrinkles start developing on the epidermis. But the effects of UV rays go deep into the inner layers of the skin. The sun’s rays will start breaking down the elastin in the skin, causing sagging and wrinkles. Once fine lines start appearing on the face, there is no cream on earth that can erase them.
When the skin starts breaking down because of sun exposure, the skin fibers weaken. And when this happens, the skin becomes prone to bruises and tears. It will also take more time to heal completely. The damage UV rays inflict on the skin might not be obvious in your youth, but it will definitely show later in life.
Health Warning on Sunburn Art and Sun Tanning Tattoos
After the sunburn art and tattoos craze caught the attention of health experts, the Skin Cancer Foundation has released a warning, denouncing sunburn art and recommending alternative ways to take part in the trend:
“The Skin Cancer Foundation strongly advises the public to avoid sunburns at all costs,” the group’s senior vice president, Dr. Deborah S. Sarnoff, wrote. “Sunburn is not only painful – it’s dangerous and comes with consequences. Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate skin aging, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk. In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80%. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns.”
According to health experts, you can achieve the same effects of a sun tan tattoo by using sun tan sprays and other fake bake products instead of exposing the skin to the sun’s damaging rays.