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When it comes to skin care concerns, sun exposure and sun damage are at the top of most of our lists. UV rays can take a toll on your skin, from sun spots to wrinkles to more serious concerns such as skin cancer. While you likely know about the importance of sun protection—this isn’t anything new to you—you may not know about one of the ways to determine how to best protect your skin: taking your Fitzpatrick Skin Type into account. If you’re wondering what the Fitzpatrick Skin Type is and how you can determine your type (hint: you’ll need to use the Fitzpatrick scale), we’re detailing everything you need to know, below.
Before we jump into what your Fitzpatrick Skin Type is, let’s cover what exactly the Fitzpatrick Skin Type is as a whole—via a brief history lesson. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, the Fitzpatrick Skin Type is a skin classification system, identifying how likely an individual is to get skin cancer. The system was developed back in the 1970s and explains that there are six skin phototypes, which go from light to dark.
Like we said above, there are six skin phototypes included in the Fitzpatrick scale. It’s all based on how you score after answering a few questions, courtesy of the Skin Cancer Foundation. Do the math, adding up your score from each question to find yours.
First up, let’s talk genes!
Put 0 if…your eyes are light blue, light gray, or light green.
Put 1 if…your eyes are blue, gray, or green.
Put 2 if…your eyes are hazel or light brown.
Put 3 if…your eyes are dark brown.
Put 4 if…your eyes are blackish brown.
Put 0 if…your natural hair color is red or light blonde.
Put 1 if…your natural hair color is blonde.
Put 2 if…your natural hair color is dark blonde or light brown.
Put 3 if…your natural hair color is dark brown.
Put 4 if…your natural hair color is black.
Put 0 if…your natural skin color is ivory white.
Put 1 if…your natural skin color is fair or pale.
Put 2 if…your natural skin color is fair to beige, with golden undertones.
Put 3 if…your natural skin color is olive or light brown.
Put 4 if…your natural skin color is dark brown.
Put 0 if…you have many.
Put 1 if…you have several.
Put 2 if…you have a few.
Put 3 if…you have very few.
Put 4 if…you have none.
Add up your score!
Onto the next part! Answer and score the following.
Put 0 if…your skin always burns, blisters, and peels.
Put 1 if…your skin often burns, blisters, and peels.
Put 2 if…your skin burns moderately.
Put 3 if…your skin burns rarely, if at all.
Put 4 if…your skin never burns.
Put 0 if…your skin never tans—you always burn.
Put 1 if…your skin seldom tans.
Put 2 if…your skin sometimes tans.
Put 3 if…your skin often tans.
Put 4 if…your skin always tans.
Put 0 if…you don’t tan at all—or very little.
Put 1 if…you lightly tan.
Put 2 if…you moderately tan.
Put 3 if…you deeply tan.
Put 4 if…your skin is naturally dark.
Put 0 if…your face is very sensitive.
Put 1 if…your face is sensitive.
Put 2 if…your face is normal.
Put 3 if…your face is resistant.
Put 4 if…your face is very resistant and has never had a problem.
Once again, add everything up—and combine it with your score from the genetic disposition section! Then, read below to find your Fitzpatrick Skin Type.
Those who are Type 1 always burn and never tan and are extremely susceptible to skin damage as well as cancers, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. The best way to protect your skin is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, wear clothing with an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating of 30 or higher, and seek shade whenever possible. You should also do monthly skin checks.
Editor’s note: If you’re having trouble picking up the habit of wearing SPF every day, try switching to a moisturizer with broad-spectrum sunscreen in its formula, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Day Lotion SPF 30.
You almost always burn and rarely tan, making you highly susceptible to skin damage and cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. To care for your skin, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, clothing with a UPF rating of 30 or higher, and seek shade whenever you can. Additionally, check your skin head-to-toe each month.
Burning and tanning is a toss-up for you, making you susceptible to skin damage as well as both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers, per the Skin Cancer Foundation. Take care of your skin by applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of at least 15 or higher daily, and 30 or higher for extended outdoor activity, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. It’s also recommended to wear sun-protective clothing and seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is strongest. As with Type 1 and 2, you’ll want to check your skin head-to-toe monthly, per the Skin Cancer Foundation’s recommendation.
You tan easily and are less likely to burn. Nonetheless, the Skin Cancer Foundation advises protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation. To do so, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher, and, when you’re outside for extended periods, SPF 30 or higher, per the Skin Cancer Foundation. You should also seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as well as check your skin head-to-toe monthly.
You easily tan and rarely burn, though the Skin Cancer Foundation advises erring on the side of caution. As with types 2-4, you’ll want to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher daily, an SPF of 30 or higher when outdoors for extended periods of time, and seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Your skin may not burn, but it’s still important to take sun safety measures! Per the Skin Cancer Foundation’s recommendation, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, SPF of 30 or higher for extended outdoor activity, seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and check your skin from head-to-toe each month.
Next up: Phew! That’s a lot of (very important) information. Now that you know the proper sun protection measures to take based on the Fitzpatrick scale, let’s talk about sun protection for your hair. Head over to our article, This Is Your Summer Hair Protection Guide, for the full scoop.
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