I Am Begging You to Stop Tanning Your Taint

WellnessTok can be a helpful hub for peaceful morning routine inspiration, meditation tips, and positive affirmations. But just as often, it can be a hellscape of misinformation with potentially harmful consequences. This time, dear reader, it’s the latter: We are of course referring to perineum sunning, a practice that involves exposing that area right above your anus to the sun for a small period of time each day.

The trend — to which content creators attribute a slew of vague benefits, including more energy, the ability to heal faster, and improved cell function — has already racked up 23.9 million views on the app. We’re seeing post after post on social media of people spreading their legs (and cheeks) under sun’s hot rays, prompting medical experts like dermatologist Fatima Fahs MD (a.k.a. Dermy Doctor) to discourage viewers from going taint-up, citing some very real medical concerns. We initially reported on this phenomenon three years ago — this story originally appeared on Allure back in December 2019 — but, much to our collective surprise in 2022, people are once again pointing their backsides to the sky.

Back then, this Instagram post had set the internet aflame, and it became clear that many people, including some celebrities, were taking it seriously. The original poster, who goes by Metaphysical Meagan, laid out an earnest and apparently convincing argument for the practice, writing that she’s been doing the “ancient Taoist practice” recently — or as she also put it, “sunning my bum & yoni” — because, she claims, it strengthens organs, improves libido, regulates circadian rhythm, boosts mental focus, and increases energy. But as we know — especially now, in 2022 — sun damage is a sonofabitch, and we can only imaging the harm it could do to such a highly sensitive area. Read on for our experts’ take on perineum sunning, it’s benefits, and its risks.

Meet the experts:

  • Gretchen Frieling, MD, a board-certified dermatopathologist based in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
  • Heidi Prather, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas.
  • Daval Bhanusali, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

Are there any real benefits to perineum sunning? 

It’s highly unlikely. In addition to warning against the harm that could be caused by perineum sunning, doctors are also very skeptical about the purported benefits. Dr. Prather tells Allure that there is no scientific or medical merit to the claims. “The reported increased energy from daily bum sunning may more likely be from waking up early at the same time every day and getting some exercise to find that private Instagram-worthy sunning rock,” she says.

Dr. Frieling is similarly skeptical: “All of these things involve an approach to healthy living that goes way beyond lying spread-eagle in the sun,” she says. “Any ‘benefit’ would be strictly out of sheer vanity.” If you’re hell-bent on getting a tan in this area for some reason — though Metaphysical Meagan has said in her Instagram captions that this is not why she personally practices perineum sunning — Dr. Frieling says you can use hypoallergenic mineral makeup on your vulva or anus as long as you wash it off every day. (Who knew?)

Is perineum sunning safe?

In short: absolutely not. “The skin of the vulva and anus is thin,” says board-certified dermatopathologist Gretchen Frieling MD, who practices in Wellesley, Massachusetts. “For the majority of people, this is a part of the body that has barely seen the light of day and, if it is exposed to the sun, has no defense mechanism to deal with the UV rays.”