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    What is your skin type?

    Since 1975, the different skin types have been divided into categories which are still valid today. Knowing your skin type is helpful so you can plan how to protect your skin.

    In 1975, a skin classification system was developed by American dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick and is still used to this day. The six skin types are classified as follows: 

    Type 1
    These individuals have very light skin, often with freckles. Red hair and blue eyes are common. They can already get sunburned after 5 to 10 minutes. This skin type never tans.

    Type 2
    They usually have blond hair and blue, grey or green eye color. Their skin will turn red after 10 to 20 minutes. They tan minimally over time.

    Type 3
    They usually have dark-blond hair and brown or grey eyes. Without a base tan, it takes between 20 – 30 minutes before a sunburn develops. After regular sun exposure, they will tan more.  

    Type 4
    These individuals naturally have light brown skin, brown eyes and dark hair. Their skin only gets red after 40 minutes, if they have not been in the sun for some time. They can get a deep tan fairly quickly if they are regularly exposed to the sun. 

    Type 5
    This skin type is often found in people from Arabia, North Africa and India. They have a dark brown skin color and dark brown to black hair. They rarely get sunburned. Their natural skin protection is a maximum of 60 minutes. They do not tan.

    Type 6
    This skin type is typical of the indigenous people of Central Africa and Australia. They have dark brown to black skin, black hair and rarely get sunburned. Their natural protection is a maximum of 90 minutes.

    The six different skin types.

    By the way, all the times mentioned above refer to sun exposure under a blue sky at noon in the middle of summer!!! Why are we pointing this out? Because only paying attention to the time is still not enough to know the full intensity of UV radiation. Many other factors influence sun exposure, such as weather conditions, position of the sun and types of clouds.

    How did Fitzpatrick develop this classification system? Most of his data is based on interviews with people from different climate zones. For example, he wanted to know how their skin reacted to sun after 30 minutes during peak summer. Did their skin turn red? Did they tan?

    He also performed numerous measurements in the laboratory with UV light. He could determine exactly when different skin types burn. Obviously, this dermatologist did thorough scientific work, because his classification system is still used today.