What Are Skin Types

"Skin Typing" is a method for determining one's natural ability to produce melanin. Skin types are hereditary and cannot be altered by outside influences.

Skin types range from a Skin Type I (albino) to Skin Type VI (African American). Skin types are classified according to a person's tendencies to sunburn and/ or tan. Most indoor tanners are a skin type II, III or IV. These people tend to burn upon exposure to varying dosages of UV light, but also have the ability to develop some pigmentation. While all of us, regardless of skin type, have about the same number of melanocytes in our skin, we vary in our ability to produce melanin. It is this production capability which results in a certain skin type.

Skin Reactions to Solar Radiation
I Always burns easily and severely (painful burn); tans little or none and peels People most often with fair skin, blue eyes, freckles; unexposed skin is white
II Usually burns easily and severely (painful burn); tans minimally or lightly, also peels People most often with fair skin, red or blonde hair, blue, hazel or even brown eyes; unexposed skin is white
III Burns moderately and tans about average Normal average Caucasian; unexposed skin is white
IV Burns minimally, tans easily and above average with each exposure; exhibits IPD (immediate pigment darkening) reaction People with white or light brown skin, dark brown hair, dark eyes (e.g., Mediterraneans, Orientals, Hispanics, etc.); unexposed skin is white or light brown
V Rarely burns, tans easily and substantially; always exhibits IPD reaction Brown-skinned persons (e.g., Amerindians, East Indians, Hispanics, etc); unexposed skin is brown
VI Never burns and tans profusely; exhibits IPD reaction Blacks (e.g., African and American blacks, Australian and South Indian Aborigines); unexposed skin is black