How long does it take for a tan to fade?

A full tan usually lasts around 10 days. The amount of time it takes for your tan to fade depends on how dark the tan is, what type of skin you have and which sunless product you use. A fake tan can fade in as little as two days while a dark natural tan may take up to 10 days. In this post you will find all the information about it.

What’s a tan?

A tan is the body’s response to ultraviolet (UV) light damage. Ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which comes in two forms known as UVA and UVB, is emitted by the sun and tanning beds. Your skin changes based on your genetic makeup, how much pigment you already have, how much time you spend in the sun or a UV bed, how often you apply sunscreen, etc. A natural tan can look healthy at first but will eventually break down into patchy color like orange peel skin. For the most natural looking tan possible, try using a gradual self-tanner instead of a product that may cause chemical burns on sensitive skin types.

How does a tan fade?

A tan fades as your cells naturally regenerate. As you age or stay out of the sun, there are fewer live melanin cells and your skin begins to take on a paler appearance. A gradual self-tanner works because it helps to prolong the life of those color-producing cells by applying a thin layer which is enough for your skin to absorb but not too much that it causes burning. When you repeat this process daily or weekly, you can create a natural looking glow that lasts longer than usual and gradually becomes more intense over time without dark spots appearing like orange peel skin.

What should you do to get rid of your fake or real tan?

The best way to slow the fade of a fake tan is by exfoliating and moisturizing with an oil-free formula before bed and staying out of the sun. To speed up the fading process, use a gentle exfoliator and plenty of lotion on dry spots. You can also shave the parts where you applied extra color such as your hands and feet for faster results. If you want your fake tanner to stay longer than expected, try not showering every day or washing only with cold water which will keep it locked in longer.

Which factors contribute to how long it takes a tan to fade?

The biggest factor that determines how long your tan will last is the darkness of your tan. A dark tan can take up to 10 days and a fake tan only 2, depending on the product and type of skin you have. If you have very oily skin, it may disappear faster than usual so using a gradual self-tanner may be the best way to extend its lifespan. Be sure not to scrub too vigorously or use harsh exfoliators as this will also speed up the fade process. Also avoid exposing dry areas such as knees, elbows and heels to direct sunlight for extended periods of time which can cause color loss faster. Here are some common factors:


Younger skin has more live melanin cells than older skin so the color will appear darker and take longer to fade. Checking the ingredients of any tanning product you use is also helpful because products with bronzers often create unnatural looking tans. If your tan is very light, it might not last as long due to its thin application which means there are fewer live melanin cells to absorb the color so the tanner fades quicker than usual.


Hormones and medications such as oral contraceptives may also affect your tan’s lifespan. Most women experience a slight increase in melanin production after taking these but always consult with your doctor before using any product.

Sun exposure

Frequent sun exposure may cause your tan to fade quickly which means you will need to reapply it more often. People who regularly use self-tanners usually notice that they need to apply the product daily or even twice a day for best results.

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Sarah Jay
By Sarah Jay

Sarah Jay is a beautician that loves to write about the fashion and beauty industry. This love of writing led her to start her own blog, where she shares articles on everything from hair care tips to how-to guides. She's also passionate about gadgets, and has knowledge of the latest trends in her field. Sarah knows what people want when it comes to caring for their skin and hair.

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