The Sunscreen Contouring Trend You Need To Avoid

Dermatologists are sounding the alarm on a viral TikTok trend that could potentially cause sun damage or even skin cancer. Known as suncreen contouring, the beauty trend involves applying a base layer of SPF 30 sunscreen to your entire face, applying an additional layer of SPF 90 sunscreen to the areas of your face where you would normally use highlighter, and then sitting in the sun for hours at a time (via Good Morning America).

Created last year by TikTok user Eli Withrow, the video of the contouring hack has now gone viral for the second summer in a row, receiving more than 12 million views and tens of thousands of comments. According to Withrow, the goal of the trend is to end up with a "natural" contouring effect based on the way your skin tans in the areas on your face where you only applied SPF 30 sunscreen.

Is sunscreen contouring dangerous?

Despite the TikTok trend's popularity, dermatologists are warning against the sunscreen contouring hack, calling it both dangerous and ineffective (via Byrdie). Although it is important to apply sunscreen to your face, excess exposure to the sun is unsafe and will most likely not result in the desired outcome.

"This is absolutely not a safe treatment," dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner told Refinery29. "We know that direct UV light exposure is the single greatest risk factor for the development of both premature aging as well as skin cancers." The purpose of SPF sunscreen is to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun's UV rays. Those effects can include both sunburn and tanning.

While sunburn is more severe, tanning is also a sign of skin damage. In other words, there really is no safe way to tan. That's why sunscreen is key to protecting your skin from sun damage. To apply sunscreen the right way, apply a quarter-sized amount to your face and ears and distribute it evenly. After the initial application, you'll need to reapply every two hours.