Skin Types

Natural skin colour is directly related to the ease with which a person develops a sun tan or sunburn. This is due to skin colour being caused by the amount of melanin naturally present in a person’s skin. The more melanin, the darker the skin colour, the greater the ease of developing a tan, and the less likely the occurrence of sunburn. This has led to six categories for skin type:

  • Type 1: Very fair skin, a pale or milky white, possibly with freckles, and often accompanied by blonde or red hair and pale eyes. Rarely develops a tan and burns very quickly, often in less than 30 minutes.
  • Type 2: Very light brown skin, possibly with freckles. Can develop a very light tan and burns quickly.
  • Type 3: Light brown skin: the average Caucasian. Can develop a light brown tan and moderate burns.
  • Type 4: Olive coloured skin: Mediterranean. Can develop a moderate tan and minor burns.
  • Type 5: Brown skin: Latin American, Middle Eastern. Can develop a dark tan and rarely burns.
  • Type 6: Black skin. Cannot develop a tan (skin unable to darken further) and never burns.

Your skin type should be used in conjunction with the UV Index to determine what precautions you need to take when going into the sun. The advice given in UV Index tables is generally for adults with skin types 2–3. Adults of skin type 1 and children should take more precautions, while those with skin type 4 and higher can get away with fewer precautions.

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