What’s the Fitzpatrick Scale and Why It’s Important

About the Fitzpatrick scale
If you’ve ever tried to match foundation or concealer to your skin, you know just how tricky skin typing can be. Enter Fitzpatrick skin typing, a scientific skin type classification.

Though this form of skin typing won’t help you find your perfect shade, it can tell you just how much shade you should get on sunny days.

Developed in 1975, the system classifies skin type according to the amount of pigment your skin has and your skin’s reaction to sun exposure. This information can help predict your overall risk of sun damage and skin cancer.

Once you know your risk level, you can arm yourself with the tools you need to protect your skin. Read on to learn your Fitzpatrick skin type, what sun protection you should use, and more.

What are the different skin types?
This classification is semi-subjective, as it was developed by interviewing people about their past sun reactions. After picking out distinct trends, the creator identified six groups.

It’s possible that you won’t meet all of the characteristics of any one type, so you should go with the one that best describes you.

Fitzpatrick skin type 1
skin color (before sun exposure): ivory
eye color: light blue, light gray, or light green
natural hair color: red or light blonde
sun reaction: skin always freckles, always burns and peels, and never tans

Fitzpatrick skin type 2
skin color (before sun exposure): fair or pale
eye color: blue, gray, or green
natural hair color: blonde
sun reaction: skin usually freckles, burns and peels often, and rarely tans

Fitzpatrick skin type 3
skin color (before sun exposure): fair to beige, with golden undertones
eye color: hazel or light brown
natural hair color: dark blonde or light brown
sun reaction: skin might freckle, burns on occasion, and sometimes tans

Fitzpatrick skin type 4
skin color (before sun exposure): olive or light brown
eye color: dark brown
natural hair color: dark brown
sun reaction: doesn’t really freckle, burns rarely, and tans often

Fitzpatrick skin type 5
skin color (before sun exposure): dark brown
eye color: dark brown to black
natural hair color: dark brown to black
sun reaction: rarely freckles, almost never burns, and always tans

Fitzpatrick skin type 6
skin color (before sun exposure): deeply pigmented dark brown to darkest brown
eye color: brownish black
natural hair color: black
sun reaction: never freckles, never burns, and always tans darkly