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Why Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type Matters

Updated: Apr 7, 2021


A group of women from different ethnic backgrounds sit together against a gray background. The women are wearing neutral-toned leotards and look relaxed.

What is a Fitzpatrick Level?

To put it simply, the Fitzpatrick Scale is a classification system that measures the amount of melanin present in an individual’s skin. The scale ranges from I-VI (1-6), with Type I having the least melanin and Type VI having the most. To determine your Fitzpatrick level, you will need to evaluate your natural complexion (hair color, eye color, and skin tone), ethnic background, and how your skin reacts to the sun. Your doctor may ask you questions about how easily you tan versus burn, and whether you tend to freckle. This information will be compared against the Fitzpatrick scale like so:


A pale, freckled, red-headed girl smiles.

TYPE I

Sun sensitivity: Highly sensitive - Always burns, never tans.

Complexion: Very pale skin, blue or green eyes, natural redhead or blonde. Freckles common.

Risk: High risk for skin cancer and vascular damage.


A headshot of a blond woman with blue eyes and fair skin. She wears a yellow top.

TYPE II

Sun sensitivity: Very sun sensitive - Burns easily, tans minimally.

Complexion: Pale skin, blue or green eyes are common.

Risk: High risk for skin cancer and vascular damage.



A headshot of a fair-skinned brunette woman smiling and looking to the right. She wears a black top.

TYPE III

Sun sensitivity: Sensitive - Sometimes burns, tans gradually. Complexion: Fair skin, brown eyes, brown hair.

Risk: Risk for hyper or hypopigmentation. Moderate risk for skin cancer and vascular damage.


A headshot of a smiling woman with dark brown hair, brown eyes, and tan skin. She has a dimple in her left cheek.