What is the Fitzpatrick Scale?

The Fitzpatrick Scale was developed in 1975 by Thomas Fitzpatrick. The system he created was developed to classify skin types according to the amount of pigments you skin has and your skin’s reaction to sun exposure. Since one in five people in the US alone develop skin cancer in their lifetime, this scale is a very helpful tool in determining your clients risk of sun damage and skin cancer. It can also be useful to determine the potential effectiveness of dermatological laser treatments. The scale is categorized into six different skin types, each with their own characteristics. You may find that your client does not match every single trait listed in the category, but they will fit the majority. Below is a list of the characteristics of each skin type classification.

Type 1:

Skin Color: ivory

Eye Color: light blue or gray

Hair Color: red or light blonde

Sun Reaction: always freckles, always burns, and never tans

Type 2:

Skin Color: fair or pale

Eye Color: blue, gray, or green

Hair Color: blonde

Sun Reaction: usually freckles, burns often, and rarely tans

Type 3:

Skin Color: fair to beige with golden undertones

Eye Color: hazel or light brown

Hair Color: dark blonde or light brown

Sun Reaction: might freckle, burns occasionally, and sometimes tans

Type 4:

Skin Color: olive or light brown

Eye Color: dark brown

Hair Color: dark brown

Sun Reaction: doesn’t freckle, burns rarely, and tans often

Type 5:

Skin Color: dark brown

Eye Color: dark brown to black

Hair Color: dark brown to black

Sun Reaction: rarely freckles, almost never burns, and always tans

Type 6:

Skin Color: dark to darkest brown

Eye Color: brownish black

Hair Color: black

Sun Reaction: never freckles, never burns, and always tans dark


In the treatment room

If your client falls into the category of type one or type two, they are at high risk of sun damage, skin aging, and melanoma. If your client falls into categories three through six, they have a lower risk of sun damage, skin aging, and melanoma. Some tips you can share with your clients about protecting themselves against these risks include limiting sun exposure, wearing protecting clothing and hats, wearing SPF 15 or more, and getting an annual check by their doctor. It is advised to get screened for skin cancer if you have a family history of skin cancer, are a Fitzpatrick type one or two, and/or have a compromised immune system. As the beauty professional, you should advise and encourage your clients to follow these tips and to contact their dermatologist if you or they come across any suspicious lesions.



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The Fitzpatrick Scale: