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The skin is made up of two layers: the epidermis, or outer layer, and the dermis, or inner layer. The epidermis is the layer that tans and is actually made up of dead skin cells that slough off a little each day. As the cells slough off, so does your tan. A tan can only be maintained by regular, repeated exposure to ultraviolet light such as that emitted by a home tanning bed or home tanning canopy or a commercial tanning bed.