What the different skin phototypes are?
How many different skin tones are there? According to Reis-Mansur et al. (2023),
‘Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, an American dermatologist and professor at Harvard Medical School, classified skin phototypes between I and VI based on the amount and type of melanin produced in the body.’
Furthermore, the study goes on to share that, according to Fitzpatrick, our skin reacts differently to UV light, depending on these types.
So here’s the lowdown on skin phototypes 1 to 5 in regard to the skin types by Fitzpatrick:
In the most simple terms, phototype 1 and phototype 2 skin will have a harder time tanning, regardless of time spent in the sun. For these skin types, erythema and skin cancer risk is much higher, alongside photoaging characteristics such as depigmentation, freckles, lentigo maligna, melanoma, and actinic keratosis.
Of course, that means skin types III, IV, V, and VI (aka skin types 3, 4, 5 and 6) are known to tan quicker, with less risk of skin cancer and erythema. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all suns out, guns out for those who fall into this category.
For skin types 3 and 4, photoaging symptoms that are most popular for this group of people can include Hyperplasia, chronic tanning, solar lentigo, skin thickening, and deep wrinkles.
And, for those with Skin types 5 and 6, it has been reported that secondary changes in the elastin and collagen fibres, alongside deficient skeletal support in the skin, can be a side effect of too much time under the sun.
So now that you know the link between skin types and cancer risk, what does this have to do with sunless tanning?
Why your skin type is important to know when sunless tanning
Firstly, understanding your skin type will help you know how to find the right sunless tan formulation for your skin, as well as how much product to use in order to give it that gorgeously natural, and oh-so effortless-looking glow. It will also be super helpful for your pre and post-application skincare, so buckle up and take note of what your skin needs specifically. There’s no need to try and search for a skin type test or some random skin type quiz. Simply keep reading this expert approved article for all you need to know.
Skin types 1 to 6 explained
1. For the fairest of them all (types 1-2)
You want to make sure you have exfoliated appropriately with a gentle exfoliant scrub and mitt that will gently buff the keratosis pilaris (aka. The bumpy chicken skin, as some like to call it). If depigmentation has been a concern for you also, our go-to is the Pigmentation Package at The Parlour Room which can really help address those deeper skin issues alongside the more topical solutions of a sunless tan that can be used in the meantime.
Your sunless tanning solution of choice should be a formulation that is thoroughly tested for skin safety (like our Sontse. range), taking into account more natural and scientifically proven ingredients that are safe for sensitive skin.
Lastly, you need to be super intentional with post-glow care. This means applying a strong SPF50 to your clean, tanned skin to ensure that your skin is protected when you wander outdoors.
2. For the average Jo(anne) (types 3-4)
You’ll want to address any premature aging that your earlier tanning days may have caused you. This means getting expert advice on the right hydrating serums, anti-aging moisturisers and more. As Natalie from the Parlour Room suggests,
"Here are my ultimate tips for combating the signs of aging: Always make sunscreen a daily non-negotiable to protect your skin. I love Medik8 Physical Sunscreen. For something active I recommend the iS Clinical Super Serum Advance+, specially formulated to diminish fine lines and wrinkles with its potent botanical antioxidants and safe skin brighteners that yield visible results in just a few weeks. Additionally, the iS Clinical Youth Intensive Creme is my next favourite product, a luxurious anti-aging cream that satisfies aging skin's essential needs." - Natalie ~ The Parlour Room, Clovelly
In regard to finding the right tanning product to suit your skin type, knowing the colour base of the tan is key. While you may be able to get away with a green-based tan (really only ideal for those with olive skin), a purple or violet-based tan like our Sontse. self-tanning mousse and body tan mist are actually a lot more versatile, meaning that you can use them in the summer months when you’re naturally a little darker and still find them just as well-suited in the winter months when your skin is at its lightest.
If solar lentigo (the darkening of patches of skin) is one of the skin concerns you’re trying to correct, applying an even layer of fake tan to the surrounding skin and blending it in with a kabuki brush can really make all the difference.
Next up, post-tan care, you MUST apply an SPF30+ to really filter out that UV as you move about outdoors. Don’t let the tan fool you, sunscreen is still just as important. And, of course, ensuring your keeping your skin moisturised and hydrated will help with reducing those fine lines.
3. For our besties with the already beautiful darker tones(skin types 5 and 6)
Prep your skin as normal with a good amount of exfoliation to even out any lumps and bumps. For those wondering why those with this skin type would want to use fake tan… listen up!
Whether you’re wanting to even out your skin tone, blend any small imperfections, or add a slight dewiness and the type of sheer coverage that you’d get from a light foundation, then a sunless tan is right for you.
In regard to choosing the right product, a chocolate-based tan, green-based or violet-based tan can all be suitable depending on your preference, so doing a little patch test to see what finish you prefer is key.
As your tone is already darker, we recommend using our mousse for even coverage; one to three layers can be applied in the areas you’d really like your melanin to shine.
How to work out your skin type?
Right about now, you’re asking, ‘How do I figure out my skin type?’ And, ‘Can a dermatologist tell me my skin type?’.
The good news is we have answers to both. There are a couple of ways you can ascertain what type of skin you have:
1. Observing your skin and comparing it to the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Characteristics as outlined by West Dermatology (2022),
Fitzpatrick Skin Type Characteristics:
- Type I – If you have fair skin, blonde hair, and green eyes, you tend to burn easily in the sun and often have freckles.
- Type II – With fair skin, blonde hair, and green or blue eyes, you also burn easily, have freckles, and find it hard to tan.
- Type III – For those with fair skin, blonde or brown hair, and blue or brown eyes, you usually tan after an initial burn and may have freckles.
- Type IV – If you have brown skin, hair, and eyes, you tan more easily than average and rarely get sunburned. Freckles are not common.
- Type V – Dark brown skin, brown or black hair, and brown eyes define this type. You rarely get sunburned and tan quickly. Freckles are not present.
- Type VI – People with black skin, black hair, and brown or black eyes. You tan easily and never get sunburned. Freckles are not a concern.
2. Having a proper dermatologist examine your skin. Of course, we recommend Natalie and the team from The Parlour Room for all our Randwick locals.
How to create an even skin tone with fake tan
Evening skin just got a whole lot easier. Certified Beauty Therapist Natalie Ferrari from The Parlour Room shares;
"I like to apply self-tanner under the cheekbones and along the jawline, sides of the nose, forehead and temples to highlight high points, the technique creates the illusion of enhanced bone structure and a slimmer face. Use a small amount of product and apply with a kabuki brush for a seamless application. The idea is to create subtle shadows and enhance the shape of the face. Remember to use the self-tanning product sparingly and blend it carefully to achieve a natural-looking contour effect."
As you can see, evening skin tone products don’t have to be costly. In fact, you can even use a product you may already have on hand – fake tan.
We call this tantouring – essentially, fake tan contouring AKA contouring with fake tan.
"The key to an amazing tan is all in the prep. In the week leading up to your tan and 48 hours before, make sure to exfoliate and shave. Also try to keep the skin hydrated; hydrated skin will help your tan last longer and avoid fading unevenly." - Natalie ~ The Parlour Room, Clovelly
And how about finding the right self-tanner to contour the face? We highly recommend Sontse. Golden Hour self-tan mousse. Blend it in with a body blending brush like this, and you’ve got a totally airbrushed look.
The benefits of using fake tan to even out your skin tone
Below are just some of the reasons why Australians are waking up to the benefits that a quality sunless tanning solution like Sontse. can create for those wanting to even out their skin tone.
- It’s a sun-safe alternative. You can literally get that summer-kissed glow without exposure to the harmful UV rays that cause premature aging, sunburn, skin dehydration and higher risks of skin cancer.
- It can provide more even coverage on your skin to help blend uneven skin tone, darker spots, blemishes and tones.
- Immediate colour correction. Rather than spending days out in the sun, you can instantly create a more even glow.
- Semi-lasting results. Unlike the temporary nature of makeup, foundations and concealers, fake tan provides a longer-lasting colour that can last up to a week.
- More controlled results. Have an uneven skin tone on your face? Using fake tan can be a lot more subtle than makeup. Whether you want super subtle or full contouring results, you can control how much tone you add and to which areas of your face alongside the type of shade you’re going for.
- It’s suitable for all skin types. The good news is that our face tan mist gives a European glow to even the whitest, brightest skin types!)
So what are you waiting for? Ready to give your skin a safer sun-kissed tone-up?
Written By Liana Pantalone – Beauty & Skincare Copywriter at Climbing Vine Co.
Reis-Mansur, M. C. P. P., da Luz, B. G., & dos Santos, E. P. (2023). Consumer Behavior, Skin Phototype, Sunscreens, and Tools for Photoprotection: A Review. Cosmetics, 10(2), 39. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cosmetics10020039
West Dermatology. (2022, March 11). Find Your Fitzpatrick Skin Type. West Dermatology. Retrieved July 17, 2023, from https://www.westdermatology.com/find-your-fitzpatrick-skin-type/