Whats Your Skin Type? Fitzpatrick System
It is important to know your skin type and sensitivity as you can use this piece of information to help you decide which products and peels would be best for your skin type. Originally developed by Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1975, MD of Harvard Medical School. The system ranges from (Type I) very fair-skinned to (Type VI) very dark skin. The test is based on your reaction to sun exposure and genetic disposition. Those with skin types I and II are at a higher risk of photo-aging skin diseases, including cancer. It should be noted, however, that premature aging from sunlight can affect people of all skin shades.
Take the quiz below to discover what your type is, by totaling all the numbers up to get your final score. Then review your results below.
Part I – Genetic Disposition
Your eye color is:
Light blue, light gray or light green = 0
Blue, gray or green = 1
Hazel or light brown = 2
Dark brown = 3
Brownish black = 4
Your natural hair color is:
Red or light blonde = 0
Blonde = 1
Dark blonde or light brown = 2
Dark brown = 3
Black = 4
Your natural skin color (before sun exposure) is:
Ivory white = 0
Fair or pale = 1
Fair to beige, with golden undertone = 2
Olive or light brown = 3
Dark brown or black = 4
How many freckles do you have on unexposed areas of your skin?
Many = 0
Several = 1
A few = 2
Very few = 3
None = 4
Total score for genetic disposition: _______
Part II – Reaction to sun exposure
How does your skin respond to the sun?
Always burns, blisters and peels = 0
Often burns, blisters and peels = 1
Burns moderately = 2
Burns rarely, if at all = 3
Never burns = 4
Does your skin tan?
Never — I always burn = 0
Seldom = 1
Sometimes = 2
Often = 3
Always = 4
How deeply do you tan?
Not at all or very little = 0
Lightly = 1
Moderately = 2
Deeply = 3
My skin is naturally dark = 4
How sensitive is your face to the sun?
Very sensitive = 0
Sensitive = 1
Normal = 2
Resistant = 3
Very resistant/Never had a problem = 4
Total score for reaction to sun exposure: _______
Add (genetic disposition) and (sun exposure) totals to find your Fitzpatrick Skin Type: ___________________
Type I (0-6 points)
You always burn and never tan in the sun. You are extremely susceptible to skin damage as well as cancers like basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. You are also at very high risk for melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. These individuals should use a sunscreen with a SPF of 30+ and wear protective clothing. Seek the shade whenever you are out in the sun. They should check their skin regularly and refer to a dermatologist or skincare professional for an annual skin checkup.
Type II (7-12 points)
This type almost always burns and rarely tans in the sun. Type II’s are extremely susceptible to skin damage and skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. In addition, Type II has a very high risk for melanoma. See Type I for skin protection recommendations.
Type III(13-18 points)
This type sometimes burns and sometimes tans in the sun. It is susceptible to skin damage and skin cancers – both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma – and is at risk for melanoma. Type III’s need to apply a sunscreen of at least SPF 15+ every day should wear sun-protective clothing and should seek the shade between 10 am–4 pm. These individuals should check their skin regularly as well and refer to a skincare professional annually for a skin check-up.
Type IV(19-24 points)
You tend to tan easily and are less likely to burn. But you are still at risk; use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15+ outside and seek the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM. These individuals should check their skin regularly as well and refer to a skincare professional annually for a skin check-up.
Type V(25-30 points)
You tan easily and rarely burn, but you are still at risk. Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15+ and seek the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM. Acral lentiginous melanoma (ALM), a very virulent form of the disease, is more common among darker-skinned individuals. These melanomas tend to appear on parts of the body not often exposed to the sun, and often remain undetected until after the cancer has spread. Type V individuals should keep an eye out for any suspicious growths in unexpected areas of the body, especially on the palms, soles of the feet and mucous membranes.
Type VI (31+ points)
This type is very similar to Type V, although it doesn’t burn. Like Type V, individuals who are Type VI should use a sunscreen with a SPF 15+ and avoid high sun intensity between 10 am–4 pm. This type is more susceptible to ALM, as well. See Type 5 for more information and treatment recommendations.
WHICH TYPE OF PEEL IS APPROPRIATE FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE BASED OFF YOUR FITZPATRICK SCORE?
The best candidates for chemical peels are the lighter skin types I, II, and III, which have a less chance of complications such as hyper-pigmentation (dark spots) and hypo (light spots), and scarring. Peel solutions that create copious amounts of surface stimulation or that are designed to achieve medium-depth should be reserved for these lower Fitzpatrick types.
Although types IV, V and VI are not ideal for peels, lower strength superficial peeling agents such as salicylic acid, glycolic, and enzyme peels in lower strengths are best for darker skin types. Peel Solutions are still appropriate for higher Fitzpatrick types such as these, but always be limited to superficial peeling agents that create minimal surface stimulation.