It seems we are so deep in the Y2K revival at this point that even the most questionable and niche trends are making a comeback. The latest among them is the use of tanning stickers to create “tan tattoos”. They’ve been brought back by creators on TikTok, with a number of videos going viral in the past couple of months. We’re all about to be burned.
Tanning stickers are, as they sound, stickers you wear while tanning so that when they are removed (and presumably you get very tan) leave an outlined shape on the skin. In the 2000s, they were all the rage, seen usually on the hip bones of tanned women in low rise jeans and regularly taking the shape of the Playboy bunny logo, lips, or a heart. You can still buy tanning sticker on places like Etsy or Amazon but they’re (obviously) not recommended by dermatologists, as they encourage excess sun exposure.
Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Liv Kraemer recently spoke against the trend on TikTok, posting a video that said “Might look cute now but in 10 years you’ll be in my clinic.” She captioned the post: “Sorry to say but there is no such thing as a healthy tan. You will develop wrinkles + dark pigmentations later.”
Remember, while people on TikTok are using tanning stickers in the natural sun (on holiday or at the beach), this doesn’t mean that it’s not potentially harmful. Even without the extreme UV exposure of a 2000s era tanning bed, any visible tan equates to sun damage, even if you get a tan gradually or do not burn. The American Academy of Dermatology Association tells us that any tanning—indoors or with the sun—makes your skin age more quickly and produces wrinkles, age spots, and leathery skin. Aside from the aesthetic concerns, we tanning also can lead to melanoma. In fact, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. We don’t share this to take all the fun out of tan tattoos, but instead direct you to a safer (but also trendy) alternative. Try wearing tanning stickers during a spray tan or try temporary tattoos instead.
Suntana, who sells tanning stickers online, suggests that you can use their “tantoos” for a spray tan. On their website, they say once you remove the sticker after spray tanning, “you will see the #whitebit TanToo design which will last as long as your sunless tan”. You could use this method with any tanning stickers to achieve the same look in a safe way, without the sun damage.
Temporary tattoos are also seeing a revival and they’re also a way to decorate your skin with designs impermanently. There’s cult-favorite brand Inkbox, which has almost every realistic tattoo design you could think of, and even Ephemeral Tattoos, which are applied exactly like traditional tattoo but only last 9 to 15 months. Whatever you do, don’t take skin health advice from TikTok creators and rather listen to dermatologists, no matter how cute that tan tattoo looks.