Many of us humans have a weird obsession with getting tanned in the summer, risking it all to become a few shades darker, even if it means permanently damaging our skin. Which is pretty wild, considering how temporary a tan is. But how do tans work, anyway, and how long does a tan last, really?
Essentially, when you spend enough time under the sun, your body starts calling upon cells called melanocytes, which are located in your epidermis, the outermost layer of your skin. Those melanocytes then pump out a dark layer of pigment called melanin in an attempt to shield the deeper layers of your skin from sun damage. Put simply, a tan is just a bunch of extra pigment (melanin) settled in the outermost layer of your skin.