Did you know that there are different skin types that determine the maximum exposure time for UV light? And that by calculating your skin type you get valuable information on how to optimally care for your skin? Want to know your skin type? Read on!
To understand your skin type we first have to start with the basics of tanning which has everything to do with melanin.
So tanning basically consists of 2 mechanisms that start as soon as your skin is exposed to UV light:
1. The production of new melanin
2. The oxidation of melanin already present (which results in your visible suntan)
Melanin is what gives your skin it’s color. (Want to know why? Read our blog on how tanning works).
Calculate your skin type
It’s important to know that every skin has a different ‘base’ amount of melanin. When you expose it to UV-light, your skin will produce extra melanin. Depending on your skin type this can be anywhere from a tiny bit to a whole lot. Skin that produces a lot of melanin tans faster and burns less easily. Skin that produces little melanin takes more time to get tanned and requires careful and gradual build-up of UV-exposure.
We use the Fitzpatrick scale, ranging from skin type I – VI. To determine your skin type, answer these questions and write down your scores.
1. Genetic disposition
Your eye color is:
Light blue, light gray or light green = 0
Blue, gray or green = 1
Hazel or light brown = 2
Dark brown = 3
Brownish black = 4
Your natural hair color is:
Red or light blonde = 0
Blonde = 1
Dark blonde or light brown = 2
Dark brown = 3
Black = 4
Your natural skin color (before sun exposure) is:
Ivory white = 0
Fair or pale = 1
Fair to beige, with golden undertone = 2
Olive or light brown = 3
Dark brown or black = 4
How many freckles do you have on unexposed areas of your skin?
Many = 0
Several = 1
A few = 2
Very few = 3
None = 4
2. Reaction to sun exposure
How does your skin respond to the sun?
Always burns, blisters and peels = 0
Often burns, blisters and peels = 1
Burns moderately = 2
Burns rarely, if at all = 3
Never burns = 4
Does your skin tan?
Never — I always burn = 0
Seldom = 1
Sometimes = 2
Often = 3
Always = 4
How deeply do you tan?
Not at all or very little = 0
Lightly = 1
Moderately = 2
Deeply = 3
My skin is naturally dark = 4
How sensitive is your face to the sun?
Very sensitive = 0
Sensitive = 1
Normal = 2
Resistant = 3
Very resistant/Never had a problem = 4
Want to know your skintype? Just simply add up the points you scored in the questions and check below for the answer.
Type I (0-6 points)
You never tan and always burn when exposed to UV-light. Your skin has barely any melanin, and thus can provide no natural protection against the sun. Tanning is not reccomended for skin type 1.
Type II (7-12 points)
You burn easily and almost never tan. Your skin can sure benefit from tanning, though! It just needs some love and patience. Start with very short UV-exposure times, then gradually and slowly build up. Ideally, give your skin around 48 hours to adjust after every tanning session, to get the best results. Be sure to nourish your skin with a tanning lotion – healthy hydrated skin tans faster and burns less easily.
Type III (13-18 points)
You sometimes burn mildly and sometimes tan. Your base complexion is light, however your skin responds moderately well to UV-exposure. Skin type 3 can benefit greatly from tanning: in appearance as well as health benefits (vitamin D). When starting to tan, your skin might still be sensitive. So start out on the safe side, then gradually build up to achieve that golden glow!
Type IV (19-24 points)
You tan quite easily and rarely burn. Your base complexion might be anywhere from light beige to light brown. Your skin responds well to UV-exposure. Like skin type 2 and 3, skin type 4 can benefit greatly from tanning. Keep in mind that when it comes to vitamin D production, the higher your skin type the more UV-exposure you need.
Type V (25-30 points)
You tan very easily and almost never burn. You have a light brown to medium brown base complexion. When exposed to UV-light, your skin quickly turns dark brown. Even though you tan extremely easy, using a lotion is still important to nourish and hydrate your skin.
Type VI (more than 31 points)
You never burn, but you don’t really tan either. Your base complexion is already very dark. You can still benefit from UV-exposure though: to produce vitamin D or ward off depression for example, regular tanning can be of great value. Keep in mind higher skin types are adjusted to higher UV-exposure, so they need more of it in order to receive the same health benefits.