You're at the beach with your friend, who is lathering on the sunscreen every hour, but you're not as worried about a potential sunburn. You apply some here and there and end the day with a nice tan but no sunburn. However, if your friend didn't diligently apply sunscreen, they would look like a tomato.
Everyone has different skin types with different needs. While you can tolerate more sun, your friend can't because they have more sensitive skin. There is a scientific skin type classification called the Fitzpatrick skin type. It classifies skin type by looking at the amount of melanin pigment in someone's skin and the reaction it will have to sun exposure.
Once you know your skin type, you will know how to protect your skin and change your sun habits. We are going to go over the different Fitzpatrick skin types and how to tell which one you are.
What Are the Fitzpatrick Skin Types?
According to the Fitzpatrick scale, there are six different skin groups. This rating system was created by scientists in 1975 and is still used today.
The classification process is somewhat subjective since it was created by talking to people about how their skin reacts to the sun. The skin types also give you an idea of how much vitamin D you need. You may not check off everything under a specific skin group, but you should go with the one that's the closest match.
Here are the six different Fitzpatrick skin types.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type I
The first skin type has an ivory color without any skin exposure. They also have light eye colors, like light blue, green, or grey, and their natural hair color is either red or light blonde. When their skin is exposed to the sun, they get freckles, burn and peel, and they can't get a tan.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type II
Fitzpatrick skin type two has fair or pale skin before sun exposure. They have green eyes, gray eyes, or blue eyes, and they're naturally blonde. When they go into the sun, their skin usually freckles, burns, peels, and almost never tans.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type III
The third skin type has a natural skin color of fair to beige with golden undertones. Their eye color is hazel or light brown, and they have dark hair (dark blonde hair to light brown). Their skin may freckle when they go into the sun and burn on occasion, but sometimes tans.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type IV
People with skin type four have naturally olive or light brown skin (often includes people of Mediterranean backgrounds). They have dark eyes and dark brown hair. When they go into the sun, they usually tan but don't freckle and rarely burn.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type V
Skin type fives have dark brown skin before any exposure to the sun. They have dark brown eyes or black eyes and hair color. Their skin always tans when they're in the sun, rarely freckles, and almost never burns.
Fitzpatrick Skin Type VI
The final skin type, six, has deeply pigmented dark brown skin. Their eye color is brownish-black, and they have black hair. Their skin never freckles or burns, and they always get a dark tan.
There are Fitzpatrick skin type quizzes you can take to discover your skin type if you're not totally sure.
Why You Should Know Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type
When you understand your skin type, you can better protect yourself. While everyone benefits from applying sunscreen daily, some people need to be more careful than others.
The first two types are the most at risk for skin cancer, like melanoma. If you have one of these skin types, you should make it a habit to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. You should also limit the amount of time you spend in the sun and try to stay in the shade. You may need to seek protective clothing, like wide-brim hats, protective clothing, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
For skin types three to six, you are still at risk when you are exposed to the sun. You should still protect yourself when you know you're going to be in the sun.
Skin cancer research shows that African American people who develop melanoma are not usually diagnosed until the late stages. The late discovery of skin cancer means there is less of a survival rate than people with pale white skin. People should wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and protective clothing for the best protection.
You should also pay careful attention to any new moles. All skin types should check their entire bodies from head to toe monthly, looking for any strange spots or growths. These marks can even appear on unexposed areas, so be sure to check all parts of the body. All skin types should also have an annual check-up with a doctor or dermatologist.
When To See a Doctor
While you should go to the doctor annually to get your skin checked, there are other times you may need to seek medical attention.
If you find a strange mole, new or changing growth, and you're over 30, you should see a doctor. You also want to get a patch looked at if it becomes raised or lumpy, changes texture, feels itchy or tingly, or is bleeding or weeping.
Skin cancer can look different on different skin types. On lighter skin types, it can look pink or pearly. However, on darker skin types, cancer can look brown.
There are also skin cancers more prevalent in certain skin types. For example, acral lentiginous melanoma affects more people with skin types five and six. This type of cancer is not directly related to sun exposure. It can appear as a dark spot on the palms and soles of the feet. If you notice these marks, you should see a doctor.
Makeup Shades Based on Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type
You can better understand what makeup shade you need when you know your Fitzpatrick skin type. You also need to know what your skin's undertone is. People fall into three different undertones.
Warm undertones have golden, yellow, or peachy complexions. Cool tones have more blue, red, or pink hues in their skin. Neutral tones have a combination of the two undertones.
Once you know your skin type and undertone, you can look for a shade that matches your skin. HIDE premium products come in a variety of different shades for different undertones. There is even a shade finder if you need a little extra help.
Foundation can also be an extra barrier between your skin and the sun. It can help protect you from potential sun damage but should still be worn with sunscreen when you are going to be outside. HIDE makeup doesn't have SPF but can be mixed with sunscreen since it is a liquid formulation.
HIDE foundation and concealer are also oil-free, so you don't need to worry about clogging your pores or creating other skin issues. It’s lightweight and provides medium to full coverage.
Understanding your Fitzpatrick skin type can be very beneficial. You will have a better awareness of how your skin reacts to the sun and how you should protect it.
Medical professionals will also be able to treat you better and determine what you need to be cautious of. Knowing your skin type can also help you better identify skin cancer since it can be different colors on different skin types.
No matter what your skin type, you should apply sunscreen and try to protect your skin when you're going to be in the sun for an extended period of time. HIDE products can help keep your face protected when mixed with sunscreen by covering it and adding a layer between your skin and the sun.