"Assessment of Skin Types

Not all skins are created equal when it comes to protection from the destructive effects of UV radiation. The harmful effects of sunlight occur earlier in people with less intrinsic skin pigment, and later in people with more intrinsic skin pigment. Simply stated, the more skin pigment, the better. Because of the strong relationship between intrinsic pigmentation and natural resistance to sun damage, recommendations on sun protection should be based on estimates of intrinsic skin pigmentation.

A simple system has been devised to categorize skin pigmentation types based on previous sun exposure reactions [167]. Those individuals having a darker constitutive (e.g., non-sun induced) pigmentation generally have a greater ability to tan. Type 1 individuals are those that never tan and always sunburn if exposed to any appreciable amount of sunlight (primarily red headed individuals and lightly complected blondes). Type 2 individuals frequently burn but are able to tan to a small degree after extended sun exposure. Type 3 individuals are those which burn infrequently and tan readily. The largest percentage of Caucasian individuals fall into pigmentation types 2 and 3. Type 4 rarely burn and tan heavily with moderate sun exposures (individuals of oriental, American Indian, Mediterranean and Latin American descent). Type 5 individuals have dark constitutive pigmentation but become noticeably darker with sun exposure (light complected black individuals, those of Indian descent). Finally, type 6 individuals are those with the heaviest constitutive pigmentation (dark skinned blacks)."