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Tanning by phototype: knowing your phototype


 - Tanning by phototype: knowing your phototype
What's my skin type

Blonds and brunettes tan differently.

Lighter skin (usually associated with blonde hair) doesn't produce as much melanin as brunettes' skin. Melanin is the pigment made by our skin cells that gives it it's particular color.

Melanin is the first of our skin's natural protection. Melanin is found in the skin, but also in body hair, in eye membranes and the hair on our heads.

It's melanine that determines our eye colour, our hair colour and our skin colour.

Quantities of melanin vary from person to person, depending on their heredity.
Skin types are divided into six phototypes, using the Fitzpatrick Skin-Type Chart.

How to work out your skin type

Answer the questions below then tot up your scores (marked along the top) to give you your final result:

Score 0 1 2 3 4
Eye colour Light blue, grey, green Blue, grey, green Blue Brown Very dark brown, black
Natural hair colour Sandy red Blond Dark blonde, brown, chestnut Dark brown Black
Skin colour (unexposed areas) Pinkish Very pale, almost white Pale with a beige-ish tint Olive, light brown Dark brown
Freckles Many Several Few Incidental None


Reaction to the sun

Score 0 1 2 3 4
What happens when you stay in the sun too long? Always burns, painful redness, blistering, peeling Always burns, mild blisters, peeling Burns, mild peeling Rare burns Never burns
Do you tan? Never Seldom Sometimes Often Always
How brown do you get? I don't tan Light tan Medium tan Dark tan Very deep tan
Is your face sensitive to the sun? Very sensitive Sensitive Normal Very resistant Never had a problem



Score 0 1 2 3 4
When did you last tan (sun bed or natural sun) More than 3 months ago 2-3 months ago 1-2 months ago Less than a month ago Less than 2 weeks ago
Does your tan develop several hours after exposure? Never Seldom Sometimes Often Always


If you scored 0-6 points

Type I
Type I
Phototype 1:
Your skin is very light, your eyes are blue and your hair is blond or red. Your melanin (pheomelanin) doesn't protect you. If this is your skin type you don't tan, but you (almost) always burn. In this case avoid exposure as much as posible, stay in the shade with SPF 50 sunscreen.

You can't get a natural tan so your best bet is a gradual tan moisturizer for a subtle and natural-looking fake tan.

If you scored 7-13 points

Type II
Type II
Phototype 2:
Your skin is very light, your eyes are blue, your hair is blond or light auburn. You get red spots in the sun. If this is your skin type, you tan slowly and often get sunburnt. Protect yourself well with a minimum of SPF 30 applied regularly and hydrate your skin by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

You'll find it very difficult to achieve a good natural tan so you should try a good instant fake tan or a developing fake tan.

If you scored 14-20 points

Type III
Type III
hototype 3:
Your skin is light, your eyes are blue or hazel, your hair is blond or auburn. You tan pregressively and sometimes get sunburnt. Protect yourself with a minimum of SPF 30 to guard against premature aging and sunburn and hydrate well after being in the sun.

Though you can achieve a decent natural tan, you can top this up with a tan prolonger or a shimmering moisturizer (try dry oil but only after the sun has gone down!)

If you scored 21-27 points

Type IV
Type IV
Phototype 4:
You have a light brown or olive skin tone, brown eyes, and auburn or brown hair. You tan well and rarely get sunburnt. This doesn't mean you shouldn't take care of your skin, or that you don't risk developping skin cancer. Regularly apply a minimum of SPF 15 but SPF 30 is more appropriate on holidays. Remember the sun is to be enjoyed in moderation!

You'll tan relatively easily so you don't need much help. Make sure you look after your skin with a good aftersun and use a tan prolonger to maintain your glow.

If you scored 21-27 points

Type V
Type V
Phototype 5:
Your skin is moderately brown, your eyes are dark, your hair is brown or dark auburn. You tan easily and you almost never get sunburnt. But you still risk developing skin cancer if you over expose your skin so slap on some SPF 15 and kep it topped up.

Your tan doesn't need any help. Keep a good coco butter-based moisturizer (such as Palmers) on hand to make sure your skin stays hydrated and glowing.

If you scored 28-34 points

Type VI
Type VI
Phototype 6:
Your skin is black, your eyes are black, and your hair is black. You never get sunburnt. You have impressive melanin production. You are naturally the most protected from the sun but even black skin types (including African and Afro-Carribean) can get skin cancer so play it safe a stick on a little SPF 8 - SPF 15. It's moisturizing so will help your skin looks it's best all day too.

Your skin is naturally gorgeous but can suffer from dryness following exposure to the sun. A good coco butter-based moisturizer (such as Palmers) is essential for keeping your tan glossy and lush.

Also on wewomen:
Quiz - what do you know about cancer?
Best SPF moisturizers - reviews
UV rays: how do they work?


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