Everyone is different and possesses defining characteristics that make us unique to one another. The pigment of our skin is just one of these differentiating factors. But did you know that skin care specialists categorize skin’s pigment by its susceptibility to sun damage? This measurement is called the Fitzpatrick scale, and it is helpful for you to protect yourself from the sun.
The following are the primary categories of skin type on the Fitzpatrick scale, and the respective SPF of sunscreen you should wear for your skin:
Type I (Pale, white, never tans, always burns) SPF 30+
The highest risk category for malignancies from sun exposure, skin type I is very pale and vulnerable to the sun’s rays. If you have skin type I, you never tan but instead burn from sun exposure and are at a high risk for melanoma. It is advised that you wear sunscreen with SPF 30+, reapplying multiple times throughout the day, and stay in the shade as much as possible.
Type II (Fair, usually burns, difficulty tanning) SPF 30+
If you have skin type II, you are very vulnerable to sun damage and burn far more often than you tan. Like those with skin type I, it is recommended that you wear a minimum of SPF 30 and seek shade when exposed to the sun’s rays if you have skin type II.
Type III (Olive, sometimes burns, gradually tans) SPF 15
With skin type III, you are relatively vulnerable to sun damage, carcinomas, and melanoma, but not to the extent of those with skin types I and II. If you have skin type III, it is advised that you wear at least SPF 15 when in direct sunlight and that you seek shade during the sun’s strongest hours, which is typically between 10 AM and 4 PM.
Type IV (Olive, medium brown, rarely burns, tans with moderate ease) SPF 15
More likely to tan than burn, if you have skin type IV, you are less susceptible to sun damage and deadly skin cancers, such as melanoma. Although you aren’t considered to be a member of an at-risk category, your skin will still be damaged from the sun if you don’t wear SPF 15 while in direct exposure. Carcinomas and melanomas can still develop if the appropriate precautions aren’t taken.
Type V (Brown, dark brown, rarely burns, tans with ease) SPF 15
If you have the second darkest skin type, then you rarely burn and are less susceptible to damage from the sun. Although common forms of melanoma and carcinoma are less likely to occur if you have skin type V, the more aggressive strain known as acral lentiginous melanoma, which forms in unexposed areas of the body, is known to occur in higher prevalence among darker skinned individuals. Because of this, it is advised that you wear SPF 15 and seek shade during the sun’s peak hours.
Type VI (Black, very dark brown, never burns, tans very easily) SPF 15
The darkest skin type, skin type VI does not burn. If you have skin type VI however, you are in the highest risk category for acral lentiginous melanoma and, as such, should wear SPF 15 and seek shade during the sun’s peak hours.