What the Shade of Your Skin Can Determine about Your Health.

While in school studying to become an esthetician, I took an extraordinary interest in the Fitzpatrick Scale. Being that this was the very first time I had heard about it I leeched onto the curriculum even more so that I could gain a total understanding of how this scale could impact my clients. Now that I know a “lil sum sum” I want to educate you on the what this scale is and how it impacts your daily life.

What is the Fitzpatrick Scale?

The Fitzpatrick Scale a numerical classification of the skin’s pigmentation. It was developed in 1975 by Thomas B. Fitzpatrick as a way to estimate the response of different types of skin to ultraviolet (UV) light. It was initially developed on the basis of skin and eye color, but when this proved misleading, it was altered to be based on the patient’s reports of how their skin responds to the sun; it was also extended to a wider range of skin types. The Fitzpatrick scale remains a recognized tool for dermatological research into human skin pigmentation.

What is Your Fitzpatrick?

The categories within the Fitzpatrick Scale are as follows:

  • Type I (scores 0–6) always burns, never tans (pale white; blond or red hair; blue eyes; freckles).
  • Type II (scores 7–13) usually burns, tans minimally (white; fair; blond or red hair; blue, green, or hazel eyes)
  • Type III (scores 14–20) sometimes mild burn, tans uniformly (cream white; fair with any hair or eye color)
  • Type IV (scores 21–27) burns minimally, always tans well (moderate brown)
  • Type V (scores 28–34) very rarely burns, tans very easily (dark brown)
  • Type VI (scores 35–36) Never burns, never tans (deeply pigmented dark brown to darkest brown)

Why does Your Fitzpatrick Matter?

Listen up Types 1 and 2! Your Fitzpatrick Scale puts you at risk of sun damage, skin aging from sun exposure, and melanoma and other skin cancers.  However, these are things that can be avoided if you follow these tips to protect your skin:

  • Stay away from tanning beds
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater.
  • Limit your sun exposure and seek shade whenever you’re out in the sun.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your head and face.
  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Wear protective clothing with a UPF rating of 30 or higher if you plan to be in direct sunlight for extended periods.
  • Check your skin from head to toe each month.
  • Have an annual skin checkup with a doctor.

Now… if you are types 3- 6, you still have some risk of skin cancer from sun exposure, especially if you’ve used an indoor tanning bed. You should still use sun protection even though your risk is lower than people’s with type 1 or 2 skin.

The Skin Cancer Foundation notes that African-Americans who have been diagnosed with melanoma usually are often diagnosed at a later stage, contributing to a poorer overall outlook.

For maximum protection, you should follow these tips:

  • Limit your sun exposure.
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to protect your head and face.
  • Wear UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Wear protective clothing if you plan to be in direct sunlight for extended periods.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater.
  • Check your skin from head to toe each month. Pay careful attention to any strange growths. Acral lentiginous melanoma is the dominant form of melanoma among darker-skinned people. It appears on parts of the body not often exposed to the sun. It’s often undetected until after the cancer has spread, so make sure you check all areas of your body.
  • Have an annual skin checkup with a doctor.

For more information about Fitzpatrick Scale and the effects of sun exposure please visit Healthline.com.  Just because it is cold outside does not mean that the sun isn’t emitting UV rays that can potentially damage your skin, so please be proactive and preventive in your skincare efforts. See me for your winter skin glow up too! (shameless plug)

Love y’all & until next time,


One response to “What’s Your Fitzpatrick?”

  1. […] Fitzpatricks require preparation when it comes to chemicals— in other words you CANNOT just slap a level 3 […]

    Liked by 1 person

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