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 Suntan Art - Sun Tattoos


Think back to the time when you didn’t apply the sunscreen evenly to your body or “missed a spot”, and you ended up with a funny-looking “design” instead of an all-over, even, golden-brown tan. This was, of course, by accident, but nowadays there is a reason to create this type of effect on purpose! Some tanning salons today have complimentary stickers available to be placed on your body to create a temporary sun tattoo. Popular designs are: hearts, peace sign, lips, cross, playboy bunny, block initials, stars, moon, cherries, butterfly and smiley face. These are designed to be used on your skin to create a fun, short-term tattoo for the summer. When the sticker is applied while tanning, the skin left protected underneath retains the natural skin color. This is also a fabulous way to gauge your tanning progress as you slowly & steadily go from natural to beautiful bronze.


It is said that Jose Marin Pares, from Barcelona, developed the concept of suntan stickers. When he noticed the tan line that developed on his wrist after being in the warm, Spanish sun over time, he formulated that a well-placed sticker could be used while sunbathing to make a waterproof solar tattoo. For a while, there was a website where you could actually buy the Solar Tattoo Elastic Band stickers. There were even options for custom designs. However, at the time of writing this article, the website was not found.


A very popular image found on the internet is a duo picture of a woman’s suntan tattooed back done in a very flowery, abstract design. On the other side she is wearing the supposed “robe” that was cut out and customized for this look. It looks like some sort of see-thru, very thin material was then added to stabilize the design. Upon further inspection of this photo you will find that the polar images (the robe’s cut out pattern vs. the sun tattoo design) do not match! Sun tattooing would be difficult to create this way, since every time the subject lay down in a tanning booth to develop the color and tattoo, the robe stencil (or any design or sticker, for that matter) would have to be placed perfectly onto the body for clarity in the design. The photo is linked to a Yu-Chiao Wang.


Another really cool photo found on the web, illustrating the unique effect a suntan tattoo can generate, is a living work of art called “Tan the Man”. Janine Rewel knows how to push the envelope with her design. Her highly awarded works have appeared in ads, magazines, on book covers and product packaging. This cutting edge, graphic designer and illustrator from Helsinki, Finland, used extensive vinyl stickers and a tanning bed to add a full body design to a man front and back from the shoulders down. The design is very abstract and features a rooster (on his stomach), a fish and an anchor!


New in the summer of 2009 from Italy, is a swimwear line that intends to capitalize on tan lines! These super-cute bikinis from Skin Italy are only available on their website and cost about the same as a standard bikini. On the back of every bikini bottom is a small, but distinct cut-out heart shape, designed to get exposure from the sun, easily producing a sun tattoo with frequent wear and careful tanning. The makers of Skin Italy say “the tan tattoos are there to give wearers a memory of their summer holiday and turn the imperfection of tan lines into an advantage.” With 10 beautiful color choices, this is one bikini that is appreciated by the owner, on or off!



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