What's your phototype?

Sun and skin: what's your phototype?

Whatever our skin type, protecting ourselves from the damaging short and long-term effects of the sun is essential to our health. And knowing our phototype means we can choose sunscreens that better meet our skin's needs.


Sun and skin-wise we're all different - the way our skin tans and reacts to the sun varies from person to person. It's also largely genetic: we inherit certain characteristics including the colour of our skin and its sensitivity to sunlight. And it's by measuring this sensitivity that the scientific world has been able to identify different phototypes. Phototypes are based on four criteria: hair colour, skin colour, whether we're prone to sunburn and the 'colour' of our tan. Knowing our phototype means we can avoid sun-related damage and choose the right level of protection.

# Phototype 0 

Phototype 0 is a rare skin type, caused by a condition called albinism and characterised by a lack of pigment. White or light yellow hair, pale eyes and lily white skin that doesn't tan. The slightest hint of a ray can often cause a nasty sunburn. This phototype can't deal with being exposed to the sun. 

# Phototype 1 

Phototype 1's are fair skinned with blonde or red hair and a tendency to quickly burn. As well as milky white skin, Phototype 1's have blue or green eyes. Sunburn is a problem, as it only take a few minutes' exposure to cause a flare-up. Our tip? Tanning's nigh on impossible, so don't put your skin through the mill! Protecting your skin is essential - slather on the sunscreen, cover your body and keep your hat and sunglasses close to hand.

# Phototype 2

This phototype has fair skin alongside blond or light brown hair. Freckles often appear when your skin's exposed to the sun. Phototype 2's easily burn, so limit exposure and religiously apply a high SPF sunscreen.

# Phototype 3 

Fair or slightly olive skin with blond or chestnut hair. Phototype 3's gradually tan and don't (or rarely) get freckles. You may, however, get slightly sunburned when you first expose your skin to the sun. You can enjoy the sun, but do use a sunscreen and don't bask for hours on end.

# Phototype 4 

Phototype 4's have light olive skin that easily tans, no freckles and chestnut or dark brown hair. Your skin hardly ever burns. And you deeply tan. You can gradually build up a tan, but should still apply a sunscreen.

# Phototype 5

This photo type is brunette with dark olive skin. You'll have dark brown eyes and hair. You progressively tan, rarely burn and finish with a deep colour.

# Phototype 6 

Phototype 6's have black hair and skin, with dark brown eyes. The sunbathing jackpot? You don't have to worry about sunburn!