How to Determine Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type

November 10, 2020
Margaret Fisher
By: Margaret Fisher | by L'Oréal
How to Determine Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type

You’re likely familiar with the five major skin types: dry, oily, combination, sensitive and normal skin. Once you’ve figured out what category your complexion falls under, it’s important to also consider your Fitzpatrick Skin Type. This refers to the color of your skin and how it responds to UV exposure. Knowing your type can help you assess your risk of sun damage and skin cancer. Read on to learn more about the classification and how to determine yours. 

What Is Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type?

The Fitzpatrick Skin Type system is a scale from one to six, with each number representing a different skin color. According to Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, board-certified dermatologist and consultant, fair skin is typically a one or two, while medium to dark skin types fall somewhere between three and six. 

To determine your number, think about how easily you burn or tan in the sun. Here’s a breakdown of the six types: 


You may be type 1if you have very light skin, red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes and always burn and never tan in the sun. 

You may be type 2if you have fair skin, dark blonde to light brown hair, blue or green eyes and almost always burn and rarely tan in the sun. 

You may be type 3if you have medium skin, light to dark brown hair, brown or hazel eyes and sometimes burn and sometimes tan in the sun.

You may be type 4if you have medium-brown skin, dark brown hair, brown or hazel eyes and tan easily and sometimes burn. 

You may be type 5if you have dark brown skin, dark brown or black hair, brown eyes and tan easily and rarely burn.

You may be type 6if you have black skin, black hair, dark brown eyes and do not burn.


How Should Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type Affect Your Skin-Care Routine?

Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type can help inform the level of sun protection you need, though it’s recommended to wear broad-spectrum SPF 15 or higher (if you fall into skin types one through three, go for SPF 30 or higher) daily, no matter what your skin tone is. 

Beyond sun protection, Dr. Bhanusali says this classification can also help tell you what skin concerns you’re likely to be prone to. Lighter skin types (a one or two on the scale) may want to consider incorporating redness-reducing products into their regimens, as they can be prone to inflammation and redness. Darker skin types (three to six on the scale) are typically more prone to hyperpigmentation, so dark spot-minimizing products can be helpful. Both of these skin issues can be prevented with SPF, which is yet another reason to slather on the sunscreen — whether you’re a one or a six on the Fitzpatrick scale. 


Photo: Drew Richards

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