Today in “why is this a thing?” news, we introduce you to the most cringe-worthy trend so far this summer: sunburn tattoos. Yes, people are memorializing the worst (and arguably most dangerous) side effect of summer on their bodies. These tats aren’t actually permanent ink, though — they’re literal sunburns. People are creating the look by placing stencils on their skin and roasting in the sun.
The trend actually first appeared back in 2015, but the New York Post reports it’s having a resurgence in 2019 due to reasons that are still unclear. If you search the hashtag #sunburntattoo on Instagram, you’ll get a peak of participants who are DIY-ing their tats this summer. The designs range from stars to quotes to Batman logos.
We’ll take a minute to state the obvious: Sunburn tattoos are definitely not recommended by dermatologists. As Shari Marchbein, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at New York University, warned Allure: “There is no such thing as a safe or healthy tan, and tans and sunburns are equally bad for your skin.”
“With a sunburn, UVB rays cause inflammation in the skin, and the cells in the top layer are literally dying as a result of excessive exposure to the ultraviolet rays,” she explained. “Whereas with a tan, the DNA damage from the UVA rays stimulates the cells to produce more melanin to try to protect the skin from further sun damage.”
Basically, any form of sun exposure is harmful to your skin, and purposefully burning designs into your flesh is a terrible idea. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer is the United States, with more than than 9,500 people diagnosed with skin cancer every day.