Fitzpatrick Skin Types Explained

The Fitzpatrick Scale was developed in 1975 by Thomas B. Fitzpatrick. It is used to classify skin types and their reactions to UV exposure. Most people use this system to determine how at-risk they are for skin cancer, but others simply use it to identify skin tone.

There are six skin types on the Fitzpatrick Scale that cover all races, ages, and locations around the world. Here are the Fitzpatrick skin types explained.

Type I – Light and pale white

Type I people get freckles easily, and they rarely tan. These people burn rapidly and often, and they must wear extra protection in the sun. Most often Type I members have red or blonde hair (naturally) with blue eyes. This category has a high risk for developing skin cancer and may easily scar if slow to heal after a sunburn.

Type II – White and fair

Type II people have some freckles but not quite as many as Type I. They are able to tan with great difficulty, but most of the time, they burn. Hair colors for this category range from sandy brown to red, and the typical eye color is green or blue. People classified as Type II on the Fitzpatrick Scale are at high risk for skin cancer and vascular damage, and they may pigment if they experience trauma.

Type III – Medium and white/olive

Type III individuals usually have light to medium brown hair and hazel or blue eyes. These people are slow to burn, and they tan rather easily. They are at high risk for pigmented skin conditions, like melasma, but they are only moderately at risk for developing skin cancer. They have a high potential for scarring, but they do not have a high chance of developing visible vascular damage.

Type IV – Olive and moderate brown

Type IV members are usually brunettes with easy abilities to tan. While these people can sunburn over time, most sunburns convert into deep tans. Common eye colors for this category are green, brown, and hazel. Type IV categorization suggests a risk for trauma, chemical, and heat caused pigmentation conditions. People in this group are also at moderate risk for other pigmented skin conditions. They have a high risk of scarring and moderate risk for vascular damage.

Type V – Brown and dark brown

Type V people have dark brown or black hair and brown eyes of all shades. While they are at a slight risk of sunburn, they most often tan or remain unchanged by the sun. Type V individuals scar easily, and they are at moderate risk for vascular damage. They may develop solar pigmented skin conditions, but they are mainly at risk for chemical or heat pigmentation.

Type VI – Black and very brown

Type VI contains the darkest skin in the system. Most people in this category have black hair and black or dark brown eyes. They have very dark skin that will almost never burn, and they have little room for a noticeable tan. Such people are at a very high risk of pigmentation issues, but they do not have to worry much about sun-caused skin conditions. They scar easily, but they do not often have visible vascular damage.

Think about your skin, hair color, and overall ability to tan. Where do you fall on the Fitzpatrick Scale? Knowing this will allow you to protect yourself from problems that you are naturally prone to, and it will help you watch out for issues in the future. Whether you are Type I, Type VI, or somewhere in between, you can have beautiful, healthy skin that lasts a lifetime.

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