The Tattoo Trend That Dermatologists Say You Should Avoid

To quote chef and writer Anthony Bourdain, "your body is not a temple; it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride." While he definitely had something there — he was always quite profound — there are some things you just shouldn't do to your body. You could eat fermented shark, maggot fried rice, and maybe even get a piercing you'll hate 24 hours later, because why not? But of all the things your "amusement park" of a body should be subjected to, there's one thing you want to avoid: tattoo trends. Honestly, when it comes to trends, they're usually a bad idea. Even if they seem genius and cool in the moment.


With the summer officially here, a certain tattoo trend is back. And just like it did when it first started getting attention back in 2015, people are jumping on the bandwagon again (via The Sun U.K.). What is this tattoo trend that you should avoid like the plague?

The risks of a sunburn tattoo

The sunburn tattoo. Yes, you read that correctly. Basically, people create stencils of shapes they want on their skin (or they use sunblock), then head to the beach and cook themselves under the sun until they have a sunburn tattoo. 


"Ultraviolet causes damages to cellular DNA, with UVB damaging the basal layer of your skin predominantly and UVA penetrating deeper and also causing damage which can ultimately result in skin cancer," Dr. Mary Stevenson, a dermatologic surgeon and assistant professor at NYU Langone tells the New York Post. "Blistering sunburns in particular, which result from intense ultraviolet exposure, are known risk factors for causing cancer."

In the United States, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. It's estimated that one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer over the course of their life, and roughly 9,500 people are diagnosed with it daily (via the American Academy of Dermatology). Even if you're lucky enough to not end up with skin cancer (or melanoma, which can be deadly), the sun can wreak havoc on your body in other ways. Too many hours under the sun can give you horrific sun poisoning, in addition to that sunburn. The sun can also cause sun spots (no, those aren't just freckles) and premature aging (via Yale Medicine). 


No one wants to look 60 when they're 30. Your youthful naivety might make you think there will be a cure for skin cancer in the future or that you'll just get Botox or a facelift when things start to wrinkle up, but cosmetic surgery is a Band-Aid, not a solution.

Better options to the sunburn tattoo

If you're giving yourself sunburn tattoos, then there's a good chance you like the concept of tattoos but don't want the commitment, which is fine and understandable! But there are other options.

For example, henna tattoos. Henna tattoos are made from dried henna leaves that are made into a paste that last about two weeks before the fading starts to begin (via the Cleveland Clinic). In some cultures, henna tattoos have been used for centuries, and they're completely safe — and completely temporary.


When we think of press-on tattoos, we might think of the ones we wore as kids, but press-on tattoos have come a long way (via Save Tattoo). The versions out there today look like the real thing — even to those of us who have tattoos. Then, two weeks later, they're gone, and you can try a new design. There are also airbrush tattoos in which ink is sprayed onto the surface of the skin (via ColourFox). These can last up to a week.

Considering all you need is one bad sunburn every two years and you're already a walking candidate for the possibility of melanoma down the road, ditching the sunburn tattoo trend is a very wise choice (via Women's Health). Then, if you're ever ready to be inked up for the long haul, there's a tattoo artist out there waiting for you.