Skin Tones

Understanding skin tones and undertones is important for finding the right color for your client and preventing residual color. Skin tone and undertone are two different things. Skin tone is your skin color. It’s determined by the amount of skin pigment (melanin) in the uppermost layer of the skin. Undertone is the hue from underneath the surface of your skin. Skin tone can change overtime however undertone does not. 

There are different ways to classify skin tone. You can classify skin type by using descriptions ranging from ivory to ebony or you can use a numerical scientific skin type classification commonly known as the Fitzpatrick Scale.

Fitzpatrick Scale

The Fitzpatrick scale is a numerical, scientific system to classify skin color. This system is based on the amount of pigment in your skin and your skin’s reaction to sun exposure. When choosing a pigment color for your client, it is important to consider their skin tone. The following are the 6 Fitzpatrick skin types along with their characteristics such as skin color, sun reaction, tanning abilities, and associated details.

Type 1

Skin color: Light, ivory, pale white, very fair

Tanning ability: Skin never tans

Sun reaction: Skin always burn

Characteristics: Blondes, redheads, Albinos, freckled 

Type 2

Skin color: White, fair, peach

Tanning ability: Skin rarely tan/minimal tanning

Sun reaction: Skin burns easily/peels often

Characteristics: Blondes, redheads, light brown hair, Northern Europeans (Scandinavians, Celts, etc.)

Type 3

Skin color: White/fair to light brown/beige

Tanning ability: Skin easily tans/sometimes tan/tan gradually

Sun reaction: Skin will sometimes burn

Characteristics: Dark blondes, dark haired, people of Mediterranean and Middle eastern origins

Type 4

Skin color: Olive to medium brown

Tanning ability: Skin will tan easily and often

Sun reaction: Skin will rarely burn

Characteristics: Medium to dark brown and black hair, people of East Asian origins (Chinese, Japanese, some Indians & Pakistanis, etc.)

Type 5

Skin color: Dark brown

Tanning ability: Skin will always tan/tans easily and quickly

Sun reaction: Skin will rarely burn

Characteristics: Dark brown and black hair, people of African origins, South East Asian origins, and some Indians, Pakistanis and Latin origins

Type 6

Skin color: Deeply pigmented dark brown to black/brown

Tanning ability: Skin will tan very easily and very quickly

Sun reaction: Skin will never burn

Characteristics: People of African origins, and dark-skinned Asian

*** The features listed of each Fitzpatrick type are common examples and characteristics. These characteristics are not limited to the above***