Why Does My Tan Fade?

Tanning is part of what may be referred to as the "pigmentaion process" that occurs in the top layer of skin (the epidermis). The epidermis replaces all of its skin cells every 28-30 days. Those cells in the inner portion of the epidermis divide themselves, migrate to the surface, then gradually die and slough off. Skin cells contain melanin, which is darkened as a result of UV exposure. As the cells migrate to the surface and flake off, a tan will progressively fade without repeated exposure to UV light.

Pigmentation and/or erythema (sunburn) may not be visible for 12-24 hours. Thus, two tanning sessions within a 24 hour period could cause an unintentional burn. In 1986, the FDA developed guidelines suggesting a 48 hour time interval between tanning sessions. Following these guidelines will help prevent any negative effects of UV exposures-burning, peeling, and possibly long-term skin damage. In general, maximum pigmentation can be built up gradually and effectively by following a recommended exposure schedule in 8-10 tanning sessions with consideration to your skin type.

information courtesy of Wolff Systems (Island Sun Times, 10/02)

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