What is it?

Sunlight affects everyone in a different way. The skin’s ability to absorb ultraviolet light is what determines a person’s phototype. Knowing it could be very useful, not only to know how to sunbathe, but also to prevent many diseases. Thomas Bernard Fitzpatrick, an American dermatologist who developed the skin type scale in 1975, highlights 6 phototypes (from I to VI) that vary according to their characteristics, such as their colour and sensitivity to ultraviolet light.

Phototype I

– Skin: pale white skin, often with many freckles;

– Hair: blonde or red;

– Eyes: very light, green or blue;

– Sensitivity to sunlight: very high. People with phototype I are advised to avoid sunbathing and to always use SPF50 sunscreen.

Phototype II

– Skin: fair, sometimes with freckles;

– Hair: blonde or light brown;

– Eyes: light, gray, blue or green;

– Sensitivity to sunlight: high. People with phototype II are recommended to sunbathe as little as possible and to always apply SPF50 sunscreen.

Phototype III

– Skin: darker white skin, rarely with freckles;

– Hair: blonde or brown;

– Eyes: gray or brown;

– Sensitivity to sunlight: average. People with phototype III have the ability to tan, but the skin can burn easily. They are recommended to use SPF30 sunscreen.

Phototype IV

– Skin: light brown skin;

– Hair: dark;

– Eyes: brown;

– Sensitivity to sunlight: below average. People with phototype IV rarely get sunburned. They are recommended to use SPF20 or SPF30 sunscreen..

Phototype V

– Skin: dark;

– Hair: black;

– Eyes: dark brown;

– Sensitivity to sunlight: low. People with phototype V can hardly get sunburned. They are recommended to use SPF20 sunscreen.

Phototype VI

– Skin: very dark;

– Hair: black;

– Eyes: dark brown or black;

– Sensitivity to sunlight: very low. People with phototype VI never burn in the sun. They are recommended to use SPF10 sunscreen.

Phototypes and ultraviolet light

Knowing your skin type, you can understand what is the safest way to sunbathe.

Sunbathing phototype

For phototypes I and II, sunlight is especially dangerous. People with this type of skin take greater risks when sunbathing. People with phototype I with freckles should not sunbathe at all and should use SPF50 sunscreen on a regular basis.

On the other hand, people with darker skin tone do not burn as easily, but this can give them a false sense of security. Everyone should use sun protection in certain situations and take certain precautions when out in the sun.

There is a large number of phototypes, since not everyone can see themselves reflected 100% in the characteristics described above. Most people will have a mix of features from various skin types. In order to determine your exact skin type, it would be advisable to go to your dermatologist so that the doctor can examine you and run specific tests and advise you according to the specific characteristics of your skin type.

However, it is enough to know your approximate skin type to be able to adopt the appropriate security measures. To do so, examine your skin tone in daylight on untanned areas of the body. Look at the color of the veins on your arms: if they appear somewhat greenish, then you have the warmer, darker skin tone; if they appear more blue, it is likely that your phototype is I or II.