One of the most visible differences between various ethnic groups is skin color, with skin tones ranging the spectrum from the palest white to the darkest brown. But it’s more than just color. Different groups of people vary in the specific biological makeup of their skin. The differences in our pigmentation affect our propensity to certain skin disorders, conditions, and cancers. They also influence our skin’s ability to ward of sun damage, our skin’s rate of aging, and our skin’s resilience against irritants.
With all these differences, it’s important to customize a skin care regime that is best suited for your ethnic skin type.
The Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale
The Fitzpatrick Scale classifies different skin colors and is comonly used by dermatologist when assessing risk factors and skin conditions of individual patients. The Fitzpatrick scale considers ethnicity (such as racial background and hair and eye color) and skin phototype (the amount of melanin in the skin and the skin’s reaction to UV exposure.)
The Fitzpatrick scale classifies skin tone into six categories:
TYPE I: Individuals with Type I skin phototype always burn and never tan under UV exposure. They tend to have white, pale skin and blue eyes. They have blond or red hair and prone to freckles. Type I individuals are typically of North European, Nordic & Scandinavian decent.
TYPE II: Individuals with Type II skin phototype usually burn and minimally tan under UV exposure. They tend to have white, fare skin and blue, green or hazel colored eyes. They can have blond or red hair. Type II individuals are typically of North European, Scottish & Celtic decent.
TYPE III: Individuals with Type III skin phototype may burn mildly and typically tans evenly under UV exposure. They tend to have fair to creamy-white colored skin and can have any eye color and any hair color. Type III individuals are typically of Southern European decent.
TYPE IV: Individuals with Type IV skin phototype burn minimally and always tan well under UV exposure. They tend to have light brown or olive skin and usually have moderate brown hair and eye color. Type IV individuals are typically of Mediterranean, Hispanic & Latino decent.
TYPE V: Individuals with Type V skin phototype tan easily and rarely ever burn under UV exposure. They tend to have moderate brown to dark brown skin with dark brown hair and eye color. Type V individuals typically have Middle Eastern, Asian & Native American decent.
TYPE VI: Individuals with Type VI skin phototype neither burn nor tan under UV exposure. They tend to have deeply pigmented, dark brown to nearly black skin tone, and dark brown hair and eyes. Type VI individuals are typically of African & Eastern Indian decent.
Common Skin Issues by Skin Type
Our genetics and ethnic origins affect the biological structure and color of our skin. Besides the obvious contrast of skin tones, these differences affect our susceptibility to, and manifestation of, certain skin conditions, inflammation, irritation, pigmentation disorders, and our skin’s response to UV radiation.
TYPE I & TYPE II
- Skin sun burns easily
- More likely to have dry skin
- Greater risk of skin cancer
- Skin is typically thinner than darker skin types
- Prone to freckles and sun spots
- Skin reveals signs of aging sooner
- Prone to fine line wrinkling
- Scars heal better than darker skin types
Type III & IV
- More sebum production than paler skin types
- Later onset of wrinkles and fine lines
- Fine line wrinkling less comon
- Cartilage more likely to droop
- Scars are darker and thicker than paler skin types
- More collagen than paler skin types
- Discoloration from bruising may last longer than paler skin types
- Less risk of skin cancer
- More likely to develop dark circles under the eyes
Type V & VI
- Latest onset of wrinkles
- Minimal fine line wrinkling
- More prone to Keloid formation
- More prone to pigmentation issues
- Thicker cartilage
- Low risk of skin cancer
- Less susceptible to UV damage
- More likely to get acne