What Is My Fitzpatrick Skin Type?

By Leslie Robbins, MPAS, PA-C July 24, 2018 No Comments

fitzpatrick scale

Developed in 1975 by the dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, the Fitzpatrick Scale is a skin classification system for human skin color. While initially developed on the basis of segmenting by skin and eye color, the current Fitzpatrick scale classifies skin types into six categories according to how they react to the sun (UV exposure).

The Fitzpatrick scale is a very useful methodology to predict a patient’s level of risk for sun damage and skin cancer. Understanding your Fitzpatrick skin type is a great first step to protecting your skin!

Different Fitzpatrick Skin Types

Classification of skin types is partially subjective and based on interviews of patients with different skin tones concerning their past sun reactions. After realizing distinct patterns Fitzpatrick isolated six skin types as follows often called the “Fitzpatrick Scale”:

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 1

  • Always burns, never tans
  • Skin color of pale or ivory
  • Eye color of blue
  • Hair color of blond or red
  • Moderate to severe freckles along skin

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 2

  • Usually burns, minimal tanning
  • Skin color of fair
  • Eye color of blue, green, or hazel
  • Hair color of blonde or red
  • Light to moderate freckles along skin

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 3

  • Mild burns at times, uniform tanning
  • Skin color of creamy white or fair
  • Eye color of hazel or light brown
  • Hair color of dark blonde to light brown
  • Minimal freckling after exposure

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 4

  • Burns minimally, always tans well
  • Skin color of light brown or olive
  • Eye color of brown
  • Hair color of dark brown
  • Skin doesn’t really freckle

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 5

  • Very rarely burns, tans very easily/rapidly
  • Skin color of dark brown to black
  • Eye color of dark brown to black
  • Hair color of dark brown to black

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 6

  • Never tans, never burns
  • Skin color of black
  • Eye color of brownish black
  • Hair color of black

How To Determine Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type

You can use the above guidelines to determine which Fitzpatrick skin type you fall into. Note that it may be possible to meet the requirements of multiple types, in that instance choose the tier which most describes your traits.

You can also visit your dermatologist or skin care provider for a professional assessment.

Leslie Robbins, MPAS, PA-C

Leslie Robbins, MPAS, PA-C, earned her Masters in Physician Assistant Studies from the Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Midland. She specializes in Dermatology and has had extensive experience with surgical procedures since earning her Masters. Leslie is board certified by the National Commission of Certification of PAs and is licensed by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners.

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