Tips on Determining Skin Type

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The Fitzpatrick Scale is used by dermatologists and estheticians to determine how your skin reacts to the sun by identifying your skin type, and thus their DHA threshold. Now, finding the correct skin type is not as simple as it may initially seem. There can be fair-skinned clients who might not burn at the beach, and darker-skinned clients who are sensitive to sunlight: it all depends on the variables in their genetic predispositions. The best way to be sure is to ask a series of questions specifically designed to capture this data. Each question has a number associated with it, and once tallied up, will give your client their exact skin type.

We’re going to do a trial run so you can see for yourself how this works, so before moving on, be sure to have paper and a pen, or a calculator, so that you can tally up your own score as we move through the questions. Over the next few questions, record your scores and then apply those findings to the Fitzpatrick Scale to discover your skin type’s specific spray tanning requirements!

Let’s start the exercise by answering a few easy physical identifiers of skin type, and remember to assign yourself a score based upon your answer to each question!


Question one: What color are your eyes?

Light blue, light gray or light green = 0

Blue, gray or green = 1

Hazel or light brown = 2

Dark brown = 3

Brownish black = 4


Question two: What is your natural hair color?

Red or light blonde = 0

Blonde = 1

Dark blonde or light brown = 2

Dark brown = 3

Black = 4


Question three: What is your natural skin color—the color you have before you achieve a tan.

Ivory white = 0

Fair or pale = 1

Fair to beige, with golden undertone = 2

Olive or light brown = 3

Dark brown or black = 4


Question four: How many freckles do you have on unexposed areas of your skin? So this excludes the face. Think: your chest, your back, your thighs and shoulders.

Many = 0

Several = 1

A few = 2

Very few = 3

None = 4


Okay, good so far? The next four questions are based upon how your skin reacts to the sun. It’s critical here that you stress the importance of honesty to your clients, and remind them that if they want a darker tan, they can still achieve that, even with a low skin type score.


Question five: How does your skin respond to the sun? Pick the answer that best reflects how you fare at the beach.

Always burns, blisters and peels = 0

Often burns, blisters and peels = 1

Burns moderately = 2

Burns rarely, if at all = 3

Never burns = 4


Question six: When you spend time outside, how often does your skin tan?

Never — I always burn = 0

Seldom = 1

Sometimes = 2

Often = 3

Always = 4


Question seven: When you do achieve a tan, how deeply do you tan?

On this question, you may notice the response “My skin is naturally dark”. This reflects the sun having no visible effect on your client’s skin.

Not at all or very little = 0

Lightly = 1

Moderately = 2

Deeply = 3

My skin is naturally dark = 4


Question eight: How sensitive is your face to the sun? Does it burn easily?

Very sensitive = 0

Sensitive = 1

Normal = 2

Resistant = 3

Very resistant/Never had a problem = 4


Now take a look at the results and compare your final score to the types below and find the type that fits you. Using this exercise, you can find your client’s skin type as well!


0-6: type 1

7-12: type 2

13-18: type 3

19-24: type 4

25-30: type 5

31 or 32: type 6

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