What is The Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale? - Skinora
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What is The Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale?

Have you ever aimlessly staired at your local beauty stores sun cream selection, unsure as to which SPF sun cream to choose… we’ve all been there! The Fitzpatrick skin type scale is here to save the day, and your time! Developed in 1975 by Thomas Fitzpatrick, the scale classifies your genetic predisposition to sensitivity and photoaging (sun cancer, sunspots, and sun damage).

The Fitzpatrick system is mostly used by medical professionals to categorise genetics so they can make an educated guess as to how well their skin will take to different treatments. By contrast, mainstream skin type scales are generally used by cosmetic companies as a way to easily describe concepts to their customers.

The Fitzpatrick scale works differently to your average skin type scale. Skin type can be determined by environmental and biological factors (such as weather conditions, genetics, diet, and lifestyle choices) whereas the Fitzpatrick scale is exclusively determined by your genetics. This means that your Fitzpatrick scale number will stay the same throughout your lifetime. While this can be advantageous when choosing your SPF level, the Fitzpatrick scale doesn’t provide an in-depth understanding of your skin type.


Skinora’s 3-minute skin type quiz offers a detailed assessment of your skin and a bespoke regime tailored to your unique skin type. Take the quiz here to get started!     

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The Fitzpatrick Scale Characteristics

The scale was produced by the reports of patients on how their skin reacted to sun exposure. The findings showed trends that pointed towards 6 distinct categories each with varying characteristics and sensitivity to sun exposure. Generally, the higher the scale number, the more reactive the skin becomes to products and treatments and the less susceptible to skin cancer.


Skin type Skin colour Hair colour Eye colour
1 ·Very pale skin tone
·Sometimes have freckles.
·Light blonde or red hair colour ·Cool toned light eyes, often look a little grey
2 ·Fair skin ·A little darker, often ‘dirty blonde’ colour ·Eyes are still cool toned, often blue
3 ·Olive-toned skin ·Usually, light brown ·Green/blue or light hazel eyes
4 ·Caramel-toned skin ·Brown to dark brown ·Hazel to dark brown eyes
5 ·Light brown skin tone ·Dark brown ·Dark brown eyes
6 ·Dark brown skin tone ·Black ·Dark brown to black eyes

So, let’s take a look at the physical characteristics associated with each skin category.

Generally, the table above shows the higher your Fitzpatrick scale number is, the darker your features are. But what does that mean for your skin’s sensitivity to treatments and the sun?


Fitzpatrick Skin Type 1:

  • Sun exposure: Skin type 1 has the highest sensitivity to the sun. Your skin burns very easily and never tans. This makes people with skin type 1 highly susceptible to skin cancers.
  • Treatments and products: Type 1 skin reacts the best to treatments and products. You may have never experienced a reaction to treatments such as chemical peels, lasers, or micro-needling.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 2

  • Sun exposure: Skin type 2 is still sensitive to the sun but has more tolerance than type 1 skin. The skin usually burns and tans with difficulty. People with type 2 skin are still susceptible to skin cancers.
  • Treatments and products: Like skin type 1, skin type 2 reacts well to products and treatments.

Ways to protect your skin (Skin types 1 and 2)

  • Skin types 1 and 2 are the most susceptible to skin cancers so they should take extra precautions to protect their skin.
    • Wear SPF 30+ every day.
    • Wear protective clothing that reflects sun rays.
    • Check your skin regularly for any new moles or for moles changing in colour, shape, or texture.
    • Have regular check-ups with your doctor.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 3

  • Sun exposure: Skin is more tolerant to the sun. You may find your skin initially burns in the beginning of summer but gradually fades out into a tan by the end of summer.
  • Treatments and products: Skin mostly reacts well to treatments and products although minor reactions may occur.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 4

  • Sun exposure: Type 4 skin reacts to sun exposure quite well. It rarely burns and tans quickly.
  • Treatments and products: Like type 3 skin, type 4 skin reacts well to treatments and products but is more susceptible to skin reactions than types 1 and 2.

Ways to protect your skin (Skin types 3 and 4)

  • Skin types 3 and 4 are at less risk of skin cancers but more at risk of reaction to products and treatments than skin types 1 and 2. Skin types 3 and 4 should take precautions for both concerns.
    • Wear SPF 15+ every day.
    • Only introduce new products into your skincare routine one at a time.
    • Check your skin regularly for any new moles or for moles changing in colour, shape, or texture and contact your doctor over any concerns.


Skinora’s bespoke regimes reduce adverse reactions by using personalised products that consider potential skin concerns such as sensitive skin!

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Fitzpatrick Skin Type 5

Sun exposure: The skin is highly tolerant to the sun’s rays. It always tans and rarely burns. Risk of skin cancer is low.

Treatments and products: Due to increased melanin in the skin, skin type 5 is susceptible to reaction to treatments and products.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 6

Sun exposure: Type 6 skin is the most tolerant to sun exposure. People with this skin type may have never experienced sun burn.

Treatments and products: While type 6 skin is the most tolerant to sun exposure, it is the least tolerant to treatments and products with the highest chance of keloid scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Ways to protect your skin (Skin types 5 and 6)

  • Skin types 5 and 6 are the least susceptible to skin cancers but the most susceptible to reaction to treatments and products.
    • Wear SPF 15+ when outside.
    • Check your skin regularly for any new moles or for moles changing in colour, shape, or texture.
    • Patch test any new skincare products initially on your forearm and then behind your ear to reduce the chances of reaction on the face.


The Fitzpatrick skin type scale is a good way to understand what is likely to work well with your skin. However, the categories are not clear-cut. Like most skin type scales, you may find that you fit into more than one category and that’s completely normal! Here at Skinora, we believe it’s important to personalise your routine to your unique skin type so that your every skincare need is met. Our skin type quiz is based on over 30 skin type categories comprised by our medical experts for you to have a skincare routine that’s completely tailored to you. Cut out the guesswork and get started on your personalised skincare regime today!

About the Author: Anna Puri

Dr Anna Puri is an Aesthetic doctor and GP with over 14 years experience in both the medical and aesthetic fields. She completed her undergraduate training at the University of St Andrews and University of Manchester. She continues to work both as an Aesthetic doctor at her clinics in Ascot and Kew and as a GP. Dr Anna brings her holistic approach to all aspects of the care she provides with a strong focus on advice and treatment that is specifically tailored to her patients expectations and needs. She has worked with cosmeceutical skin care brands and treated a wide range of skin concerns for over a decade. Dr Anna has a special interest in Antiaging skincare and procedures . Dr Anna's work has been featured in various magazines including Lux and The Aesthetics Journal. You can follow Dr Anna on the SkinoraUK instagram page and Skinora YouTube channel.

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Last update: September 20th, 2021

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