Skip to main content

While everyone should be concerned about the damage the sun can have on our skin, tattooed people are often especially conscious. Direct sun exposure is extremely harmful to tattoos and can not only fade them, but cause extreme pigment fallout depending on the colors present and the person's skin type. And of course, in the grand scheme of things, a faded tattoo is the least of our problems when it comes to the fatal impact sun exposure can have. However, despite our own awareness of these factors, many people are risking their health for a temporary fashion statement known as sunburn tattoos.


Sunburn tattoos occur when an individual places a shape or design on top of their skin, then goes into direct sunlight with the intent of getting a tan or a burn. Then, when they remove the stencil, they're left with a semi-permanent design.

This technique was seen back in 2015 by French multi-media artist Thomas Mailaender in his series "Illustrated People." Mailaender put photograph negatives onto people's skin and used a UV light to create a burn that allowed for the design to have contrast.

And while we're the first to say that the results of Mailaender's project are stunning, we'd highly discourage our readers trying these techniques at home. Because while the results may look cool in the moment, your health should never be jeopardized at the cost of art.

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.18.04 PM

Take a look at some D.I.Y examples of sunburn tattoos in the gallery below and let us know your thoughts on this body art trend in the comments section.

Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.17.19 PM
Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.17.12 PM
Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.19.08 PM
Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.18.31 PM
Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.18.16 PM
Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.17.38 PM
Screen Shot 2019-05-29 at 1.17.27 PM