Table of Contents

Fitzpatrick Skin Types: What’s Your Type of Skin?

Table of Contents

Published on May 25, 2022 By: WIFH Staff

Understanding Your Individual Skin Type

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it requires good care to maintain its health. Understanding your skin type can help you plan your skincare needs.

The Fitzpatrick Skin Phototype was developed in 1975 by an American dermatologist, Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, to determine the skin’s risk of sun damage and cancer.

Read on to learn about your Fitzpatrick skin type, how to protect it, and more.

What is the Fitzpatrick Skin Phototype?

The Fitzpatrick skin phototype is a system used to classify skin types according to the amount of melanin pigment in your skin and the skin’s reaction to exposure to sunlight.

By categorizing your skin according to the amount of melanin present, the system can help you determine the risk of sun damage and skin cancer. Melanin is a dark brown pigment found in the irises of the eyes, hair, and skin.

The more melanin you have, the darker your hair, eyes, and skin, and the higher the chances of your skin tanning rather than burning. Skin with very little melanin requires more protection from the sun’s UV radiation.

What Skin Type Do I Have?

Researchers classified the Fitzpatrick skin types into six by asking people to explain how their skin reacts to sun exposure. The findings they got from this research revealed strong patterns.

However, it is worth mentioning that not everyone’s skin will perfectly fit into one of the skin types. Rather than being a definite classification, the system serves as a guide. For example, an individual with pale skin may tan instead of burning in the sun.

Fitzpatrick Skin Types Chart

Skin Type Typical Features Tanning Ability
I Pale white skin, light blue/green/grey eyes, blond/red hair Skin always burns and peels in the sun, never tans
II Fair skin, blue/green/grey eyes, light-colored hair Usually burns in the sun, tans poorly
III Darker white skin, brown eyes, and hair Sometimes burns in the sun, but usually tans
IV Light brown skin, dark eyes, and dark hair Rarely burns in the sun, tans easily
V Brown skin, dark eyes, and dark hair Very rarely burns, tans darkly easily
VI Dark brown or black skin, dark eyes, and dark hair Never burns, always tans darkly

What Your Skin Type Means and How to Protect Your Skin

First, let’s point out what applies to all skin types. UV radiation from the sun increases a person’s risk of skin cancer. It can also cause skin aging.

According to one study, UV exposure causes around 65% of melanoma and 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancer. Also, artificial tanning beds and machines are harmful to everyone, regardless of skin type.

Studies show that people who use an artificial tanning bed before the age of 35 are 75% more likely to develop melanoma later in life.

Here’s what you need to know about your skin type and how to protect it:

Types 1 and 2

You have a higher risk of sun damage, premature skin aging, melanoma, and other skin cancers because your skin is more sensitive to sun exposure.

The following tips can help protect your skin:

  • Limit your sun exposure.
  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.
  • Check your skin from head to toe monthly.
  • Schedule an annual skin checkup with your doctor.
  • Protect your head and face with a hat that has a wide brim.
  • If you intend to be in direct sunlight for a long time, wear protective clothing with a UPF rating of 30 or higher.
  • Avoid photosensitizing skincare products like retinoid creams, harsh exfoliants, and ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid.

Types 3 and 4

The skin in this category can burn, but it can also tan. Although there’s a risk of skin cancer, the risk is lower to type 1 and 2 skin.

The following tips can help protect your skin:

  • Limit your sun exposure.
  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater.
  • Schedule an annual skin checkup with your doctor.
  • Protect your head and face with a hat that has a wide brim.
  • If you intend to be in direct sunlight for a long time, wear protective clothing.

Type 5 and 6

The risk of developing skin cancer is minimal, but there’s still a risk. Although the skin does not burn, sun damage can still cause cancer and premature skin aging.

Avoid skin-irritating products because you are at a higher risk of hyperpigmentation after an injury. You should also avoid products that contain artificial fragrances and preservatives.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, creams containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles may be effective. Wearing sunscreens suited for lighter skin might create an ashen or chalky appearance.

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Fitzpatrick Skin Type Tests

Skin type tests provide more accurate results when carried out by a dermatologist than an individual. It involves a series of questions about your physical appearance including the color of your eyes and hair, skin tone, and how your skin reacts to sun exposure.

Your dermatologist can also use a reflectance spectrophotometer to identify your Fitzpatrick skin type. This non-invasive device shines a beam of light on your skin and measures the intensity at which the light reflects.

When to Get Screened

See your doctor immediately, if you notice any skin abnormalities or symptoms relating to cancer development. This is because early treatment of skin cancer is usually successful.

People at higher risk of skin cancer include people with: skin type 1 or 2, a family history of skin cancer, or a compromised immune system.

Best Treatment for Your Skin Type in Atlanta

Everyone reacts differently to advanced treatments like HydraFacial, laser treatments, dermabrasion, chemical peels, etc. The Fitzpatrick Scale helps determine appropriate aesthetic treatments and skincare for each individual.

At WIFH, you’ll receive an individualized plan that suits your skin. Click here to book a FREE consultation or contact (404) 334-2459 today!

Paul E. Cox, MD, MS

Dr. Paul Cox MD, MS is the Owner and Medical Director of WIFH, serving the Atlanta-area community as a physician for over 20 years. A 1999 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Dr. Cox completed his residency in Family Medicine in 2002 and is board certified in both Family Medicine and Anti-Aging Medicine. He has been licensed in Georgia since 2001. As one of the first physicians trained in Smartlipo in 2007, Dr. Cox has performed thousands of Smartlipo laser liposuction procedures without complication. He has been performing cosmetic injectables since 2003 and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the world of aesthetics.