Is the sunscreen contouring TikTok trend dangerous?

Beauty TikTok is promoting a new contouring hack — but it could be dangerous. 

You can find all kinds of skincare tips on TikTok, like the benefits of chlorophyll or the best soap for sensitive skin. But this latest trend, known as “sunscreen contouring,” has dermatologists concerned. 

What is sunscreen contouring on TikTok? 

Sunscreen contouring is when you put sunscreen only on the high points of the face, where you would usually place highlighter. Then you go out into the sun so that the areas without (or with less) sunscreen darken. This is supposed to give you a natural contoured look. 

Model Eli Withrow started the trend. She uses a base of SPF 30 on her entire face and SPF 90 on the high points for the effect. 

Is sunscreen contouring safe? 

There is no such thing as a healthy tan, dermatologists warned. Even if the method works for temporary tan lines, it could lead to wrinkles, fine lines and hyperpigmentation due to harsh sun exposure. 

“This is absolutely not a safe treatment,” dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD 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.” 

Dr. Michelle Henry said the method isn’t even effective because of sunlight is not evenly distributed. 

“The execution would be almost impossible,” Henry told the New York Post. “Something like the curve of your cheek, or a cloud, will scatter the light from the sun.”

Be sure to apply at least an ounce of sunscreen onto any area that will be exposed to the sun. And if you really need to contour just wear makeup. 

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