The Fitzpatrick Scale
In 1975 Dr Thomas Fitzpatrick developed a way to evaluate a person's response to UV exposure in terms of the degree of burning and tanning.
This system became known as the Fitzpatrick scale and since has been widely used by Doctors, nurses and practitioners to help determine the best and strength of certain treatments like laser and chemical peels.
The Fitzpatrick Scale
The Fitzpatrick skin type system specifies six skin types. Starting from type 1 (skin that never tans and always burns) to type 6 (which always tans and never burns).
Fitzpatrick Skin Type 1
Ivory skin before skin exposure
Green, blue or light grey eyes.
Naturally blonde or red hair.
This skin type burns very easily and never tans. Freckles may appear and skin is very sensitive to UV exposure.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type 2
Fair skin before sun exposure
Blue, grey, hazel or green eyes
Naturally blonde, darker blonde or red hair
This skin type often burns and tans poorly. Sensitive to UV exposure.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type 3
Darker white skin with golden tones.
Brown, blue, hazel, green, grey eye colour
Naturally light brown, dark blonde or chestnut hair.
This skin type is defined by occasionally tanning, sometimes has freckles and sometimes burns. Sensitive to UV exposure.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type 4
Olive or light-brown skin colour.
Hazel or brown eyes.
Naturally dark brown hair.
This skin type tans naturally, has an olive tone and does not often burn.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type 5
Brown or dark brown skin colour.
Dark Brown eyes.
Naturally dark brown to black hair.
This skin type hardly ever burns and darkens quickly, it is minimally sensitive to UV exposure.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type 6
Dark brown to black skin colour.
Dark eye colour
Naturally black hair.
This skin type always develops a dark tan and defined by its ability to never burn. It is minimally sensitive to UV exposure.
How Skin Types React To UV Rays
Skin Types 1-4
Light and dark skins react differently to exposure. In lighter skins, signs of sun damage include wrinkling and sagging, thread veins and solar lentigines among many others. For those who are a skin type 1 with red hair, they produce pheomelanin and that is largely ineffective in protecting the skin against UV rays, lighter skins are also more likely to show ageing before their darker skinned counterparts. Dark skinned clients usually look more youthful for longer, they have inherent protection meaning ageing is much more delayed then it would be for Caucasians.
Skin Tyes 5-6
When it comes to darker skin types how the skin reacts to sun exposure is dictated by the amount of melanin. Those with skin type 6 mainly produce all eumelanin and that is very dark and highly effective at blocking UV rays and protecting the skin against UV damage. But it is a common mistake that clients with skin types 5/6 do not need sun protection. Whilst darker skin types have fewer issues with wrinkling and sagging they are prone to pigmentation, often seen as sun spots or melasma.