Posted by: Skin And Cancer Institute in Skin Cancer

You can protect your skin just by knowing your skin type. Your skin type tells you whether you need a minimum SPF of 30 or if 15 will do. It also tells you whether you need to start annual skin check-ups at age 30 or if you can wait until you’re 40.

Your skin type can also predict your chances of skin cancer. That’s right. The amount of pigment your skin has can predict your skin’s reaction to the sun and, ultimately, your risk, overall, of skin cancer.

Knowing your skin type is the first step to keeping it safe. Wondering which category you fall into? Read on.

The Fitzpatrick Scale

This scale is a scientific skin classification system. It has six categories to describe different skin shades and characteristics.

What Fitzpatrick Skin Type Are YOU

Find your skin type by matching it to the category below that best describes your skin shade BEFORE sun exposure. Then read the ways you can better protect your skin type. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 1 

For this skin type, your skin is ivory, and your eyes are a light blue, green or gray. Your hair is red or light blond. You have freckles. Your reaction to the sun? You always burn and don’t tan. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 2

You have fair or pale skin. Your eyes are blue, green, or gray, and your hair is blonde. You usually get freckles and burns that peel. You rarely tan. 

How to Protect Yourself

You have a high risk of melanoma and other skin cancers. Your skin easily ages and gets sun damage. Protect yourself with the following tips:

  • Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher
  • Protect your skin with long sleeves, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. 
  • Give yourself a monthly skin check
  • Get an annual skin check with your doctor, especially if you are over thirty. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 3

Your skin is either fair or beige, and your undertones are golden. Your eyes are hazel or light brown, and your hair is dark blonde or light brown. Your skin freckles, burns, and tans sometimes. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 4

You have olive or light brown skin. Your eyes are dark brown. You don’t get freckles, you rarely burn, and you tan easily.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 5

Your skin is dark brown. Your eyes are dark brown or black, and so is your hair. You seldom get freckles or burn. Your skin always tans in the sun. 

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 6

Your skin is dark to darkest brown. Your eyes are brownish-black. You never get freckles or burn, and you always tan. 

How to Protect Yourself

You have a risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. So, protect your skin from the sun with the following tips: 

  • Use and SPF 15 or higher sunscreen
  • Wear long sleeves, a broad-brimmed hat, and sunglasses.
  • Give yourself a monthly skin check
  • Get an annual skin check with your doctor, especially if you are over the age of forty.


Knowing your skin type can help predict your chances of getting skin cancer. The Fitzpatrick scale is a classification system that predicts your skin’s reaction to the sun based on how much pigment it has. And since knowledge is power, you can use what you know to protect yourself from the sun. 

It’s best to have daily sun protection regardless of your skin type. If you have light skin, you’ll need an SPF of 30 or higher every day. If your skin is tan to dark, you need a daily sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. 

All skin types should do a monthly self-exam. See a dermatologist for an annual exam starting at about 30 if you have light skin. If your skin is tan to dark, see a dermatologist for a yearly exam after 40. 

Ready to begin your journey to healthier skin? Please call 888-993-3761 to schedule an annual skin check today with one of our dermatologists at the Skin and Cancer Institute.