July 3, 2015 4:39 pm
Updated: July 3, 2015 4:40 pm

‘Tan tattoos’ or ‘sunburn art’ gaining popularity among youth

Just when you thought you've seen everything, this is what "sunburn art" looks like.


TORONTO — A “dangerous behaviour” is picking up traction on social media, prompting the Skin Cancer Foundation to issue a warning about it this week.

People are intentionally sunburning their skin for what they consider to be “art.” They then tag the photos with hashtags like #sunburnart, #tantattoo or #suntattoo on social media.




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While the practice has been going on for years, “its recent gain in popularity among young people” has led to the Skin Cancer Foundation releasing the following statement on Thursday:

“The Skin Cancer Foundation strongly advises the public to avoid sunburns at all costs. A 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 per cent. On average, a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns. 

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends adopting 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.”

The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends people use a sunblock with an SPF 30 or higher. It should also come with broad spectrum protection – this protects you from UVA and UVB rays, both of which can contribute to skin cancer and skin damage.

READ MORE: What you need to know about sunscreen and protecting your skin

Dr. Thomas Rohrer, a dermatologist based in Massachusetts, told CBS News that those who are interested in sunburn art can achieve the effect with a spray tan or self-tanning cream.

“There is no reason to significantly increase your risk for a life threatening skin cancer by intentionally tanning or burning your skin in the sun or tanning booth.”

With files from Carmen Chai, Global News

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