Thousands of Instagrammers around the world are risking skin cancer in a bid to follow the latest online craze – ‘sunburn art’.
One of the unhealthiest trends to hit social media in recent years, sunburn art involves using sunscreen or stencils on parts of their body to burn various designs into their skin. The sunburn patterns range from straight lines to floral themes and abstract shapes. Some designs cover a small patch of skin, while others span the entire body.
Dermatologists are understandably horrified by the new trend. “Sunburns cause DNA damage to the skin, accelerate ageing, and increase your lifetime skin cancer risk,” The Skin Cancer Foundation told the media. “In fact, sustaining five or more sunburns in youth increases lifetime melanoma risk by 80 percent.”
New York dermatologist Dr. Barney Kenet agrees. “It’s really obvious that sunburn does two things to you: it gives you lines and freckles and wrinkles and it also causes skin cancer, especially melanoma,” he told ABC News. He added that sunburn art is a lot more dangerous than regular sunbathing, because people may be tempted to stay in the sun a lot longer, for a better burn.
“The practice is tempting them to burn even worse,” he explained. Sunburned skin does begin to peel within a few days and heal within a week, but experts say that the damage lasts longer and the after effects can be deadly.
Some dermatologists are taking to Twitter to express their disapproval of the trend. “#SunBurnArt is such a terribly bad idea. #Beauty shouldn’t be deadly,” tweeted Massachusetts dermatologist Robin Travers. But most people are just excited and don’t seem very concerned about the consequences. Like Furious 7 star Vin Diesel, who tweeted: “Sunburn Art is a Real Thing, and It’s Glorious.”
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, and the fifth most common in the UK. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that people follow a “complete sun protection regimen that includes seeking shade, covering up with clothing, including a broad brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses, in addition to daily sunscreen use.”
Some dermatologists insist that even suncare products aren’t enough to protect us from the sun’s harsh rays. “People tend to think they’re invincible once they’ve put it on and end up spending longer out in the sun, increasing their overall exposure to UV rays,” Dr. Julie Sharp, of Cancer Research UK, told The Mirror. “This research adds important evidence showing that sunscreen has a role, but that you shouldn’t just rely on this to protect your skin.”
What are your thoughts on sunburn art? Fun and harmless, or stupid and dangerous?