People Are Making #SunburnArt But It's Actually Really Dangerous

"Your skin never forgets."
by Brooke Shunatona
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Tan lines, the dreaded marks of summer that formerly ruined the look of your sophisticated strapless outfit, are now (unfortunately) all the rage.

Twitter users are sharing photos of designs drawn with sunscreen or other stencils on their skin, and then getting a tan or sunburn on top of it so that when they remove the sunblock or stencils, they're left with tattoo-like designs. They're calling it #SunburnArt, except it isn't very artful, smart, or safe, for that matter.

Not only does it look painful, but the damaging effects of it will last long after the trend is has passed.

"To use the sun to do that [create artwork] is ridiculous," says Tina Alster, M.D., director at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. "I have people coming into my office all day long for sunspots and wrinkles, and these people will be doing the same in another 20 years. The problem is people don't see the damage right away, but everyone shows it down the line. Your skin never forgets. It serves as a memory bank for all the sun damage you acquire over the years."

Even if you're more prone to tan than burn, the effects from the sun are still damaging your skin. A huge misconception people who tan easily have is that they're invincible to the sun, but that's not the case.

"A sunburn is worse than a tan, but any time you're in contact with ultraviolet light, you're damaging your skin," Dr. Alster explains. "Even if you're not getting burned, the damage is done. The UV light is changing the DNA in your skin."

If you're dead-set on trying out the trend, Dr. Alster suggests considering other healthier options. "Get spray tans. You can use at-home bronzers and tanning creams to get you that reverse tattoo if that's what you want." Self-tanner technology has come a long way since it's orangey past, and now everyone is capable of getting a completely undetectable fake tan.

Dr. Alster also suggests eating healthier as a way to fight sunburn. "Eating healthy foods like green leafy veggies and foods full of antioxidants can help minimize inflammation. But nothing is better than staying out of the sun or wearing sun protection."

Bottom line: Don't dive into this #SunburnArt trend head-first unless you want skin damage that you might not be able to repair. Instead, slather yourself in sunscreen before heading out under the sun, and get a henna tattoo or something instead.

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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors. 

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