Face your Skin Logo Skin Book

Interesting facts about our skin and its care.

Suitable sun protection: The skin types according to Fitzpatrick

naked-shoulder-with-cream writing-sun

Surely you have noticed a connection between skin type and tanning behavior of the skin. The fact that fair-skinned people need to protect themselves more from the sun than people with darker skin has not been a secret for a long time - thanks to Fitzpatrick.

The Fitzpatrick Model

Already in 1975 the dermatologist Thomas Fitzpatrick published a classification for skin types. Although this was still a little further developed over the years, his model is still established today. The main indicators used are skin tone, hair colour and eye colour.

Does not apply to children!

Adults can use the following categories to make a rough assessment of their skin type and choose the appropriate sun protection factor according to the expected intensity of sun exposure. However, the Fitzpatrick classification does not apply to children. This is because the skin's own protection mechanisms only develop slowly from the second year of life onwards. UV rays can therefore penetrate children's skin largely unhindered and cause long-term damage. All children should therefore be equally protected. Long stays in the sun are not recommended. Long clothing and a head covering, on the other hand, are.

Fitzpatrick's model includes six skin types. In addition, recommendations are also made for the use of a sun protection factor, which in turn is based on the UV index. The UV index is an internationally standardized measure for UV radiation which can cause sunburn on unprotected skin. However, it is important to note that there is no general formula that can be used to calculate the intensity and duration of exposure that will cause reddening of the skin. It is also not possible to calculate when a sunburn starts to develop as there are simply too many different and individual influencing factors that play a role here. Nevertheless, the Fitzpatrick model is well suited to assessing one's skin type.

Skin Type I: The Celtic Type

  • Celtic skin type has reddish or light blonde hair
  • Eye color may vary: There are Celtic guys with blue, green or grey eyes.
  • The skin is particularly bright. In summer, the Celtic type does not turn brown, but gets many freckles.
  • The self-protection of the skin is less than 10 minutes. Therefore the sunburn risk of this skin type is very high, the same applies unfortunately also to the skin cancer risk.
self-protection-time-sun-light-protection-type-1-celtic-skin type
Skin Type I: The Celtic Type

Behaviour in the sun: People with this skin type are best to spend little time in direct sunlight. The self-protection should not be estimated too optimistically. Stay in the shade, especially at midday when the sun is at its most intense. You should cover your head and upper body as much as possible, and protect sensitive areas of the face such as the nose, ears or mouth particularly well. UV index: In areas with less intense sunlight (UV index 3-4), sun protection factor 15 is recommended; in very intense areas (UV index 9 or higher), sun protection factor 25 to 35 is recommended.  

Skin Type II: The Nordic Type

  • Similar to the Celtic skin type, the Nordic types can also be recognized by the very light skin with freckles, which achieves a slight tan in summer.
  • on his blue, green or grey eyes.
  • The Nordic type, however, has no reddish, but blond or brown hairs.
  • Nevertheless, the risk of sunburn and skin cancer is also very high for the Nordic type. The self-protection time for a safe stay in the sun is just 10 to 20 minutes.
self-protection-time-sun-light-protection-type-2-nordic-skin type
The Nordic Type (Type II)

Behaviour in the sun: Even the Nordic type should always prefer the shade and protect the body from direct sunlight by wearing appropriate clothing. Wear sunglasses, possibly a hat. Good sun protection for the face should be a matter of course. UV index: In areas with UV index 3-4, for example Berlin in spring or autumn, sun protection factor 10 to 15 is sufficient. For areas with UV index 9 and higher (for example Majorca in high summer) sun cream with sun protection factor 20 to 25 is recommended.  

Skin type III: The mixed type

  • The mixed type is the most common skin type in our latitudes and has dark blond or brown hair, but sometimes also blond or black.
  • The skin colour is classified as medium, the skin shows a visible tan in summer.
  • Freckles are rather rare.
  • However, the eye color gives little indication of the type, since all eye colors occur with the mixed type.
self-protection-time-sun-light-protection-type-3-mix type
The mixing type (Type III)

Behaviour in the sun: The mixed type sometimes gets sunburnt, but this skin type is less susceptible. However, there is also a risk of skin cancer, which is why it is also important for people of this skin type to protect themselves sufficiently: Intensive sun exposure over midday should be avoided if possible. Headgear and sunglasses should be part of the standard repertoire. UV index: For longer stays in the sun, a sun protection factor of 10 to 15 is recommended in moderate latitudes. For high intensity (UV index 9+), sun protection factor 15 to 20 is advisable.  

Skin Type IV: The Mediterranean Type

  • The Mediterranean type basically has a rather olive or brownish complexion.
  • In addition, brown eyes and dark until even black hair come.
  • The Mediterranean guy doesn't have freckles.
  • In the sun, the skin of the Mediterranean type tans quite quickly and becomes medium brown. Sunburn rarely affects these happy people. The risk of skin cancer is relatively low.


self-protection-time-sun-light-protection-type-4-mediterranean-skin type
The Mediterranean type (type IV)

Behaviour in the sun: People of the Mediterranean skin type can usually stay in the sun for more than 30 minutes without danger. Nevertheless, special protection or appropriate clothing is recommended for sensitive areas of the body such as the face and head. In areas with intense sunlight, for example in the mountains or at the seaside, the mouth, nose and neck should be especially well protected. UV index: The recommended sun protection factor for areas with light sunlight is factor 10. In very sunny places, sun protection factor 15 should be used.  

Skin Type V: The Dark Skin Type

  • The dark skin type can be recognized by the dark to light brown skin. Sometimes a gray undertone appears.
  • The eyes are usually brown, the hair black. Just like the Mediterranean type, tanning of the skin is achieved quite quickly when exposed to sunlight.
  • Freckles do not show this skin type.
self-protection-time-sun-light-protection-type-5-darker-skin type
The dark skin type (Type V)

Behaviour in the sun: The self-protection time is more than 90 minutes. The skin is quite insensitive to the sun. Sunburn and skin cancer occur correspondingly rarely in the dark skin type. A head covering and sunglasses are therefore usually sufficient to protect yourself from the sun. In areas where the sun is very strong, however, sensitive areas of the face (nose and lips) and the neck should be protected. UV index: If you want to spend a particularly long time in the sun, you should use a sun cream with sun protection factor 6 in areas with UV index 3-4. For strong sun exposure (UV index 9+), sun protection factor 10 is advised.  

Skin type VI: The black skin type

  • The black skin type has dark brown to black skin, brown eyes and black hair.
  • People of this skin type don't actually get sunburn at all but also no freckles.
  • Skin cancer is virtually excluded
self-protection-time-sun-light-protection-type-6-black-skin type
The black skin type (type VI)

Behaviour in the sun: Just like the dark skin type, people of the black skin type can safely stay in the sun for more than 90 minutes. Nevertheless, one should protect the head, face and neck in very strong sunlight with coverings and sunscreen.  

Reading fodder and sources:

  • http://www.bfs.de/DE/themen/opt/uv/schutz/haut/haut.html
  • https://www.krebshilfe.de/informieren/presse/pressemitteilungen/news-detailseite/detail/News/sommersonne-geniessen-vor-hautkrebs-schuetzen/
  • http://www.bfs.de/DE/themen/opt/uv/schutz/tipps/tipps_node.html  

Picture credits: HighDroxy, nito100/istockphoto.com