Fitzpatrick skin types

Laser hair removal continues to replace shaving, waxing and epilating for many people now. But there is still a lot of people don’t know or understand about laser especially when it comes to the Fitzpatrick Scale of skin types. The main point is what skin types are suitable for laser hair removal? And what laser treatments are available to the different skin types?

Well in today’s blog, we will be explaining the different skin types scientifically and the various laser treatments available depending on your skin type.

When discussing skin types, we are used to separating the different categories into oily, dry, ageing and combination skin. However, in regards to laser and IPL, there are 6 different skin types according to the Fitzpatrick scale.

What is the Fitzpatrick scale?

The Fitzpatrick Scale is a numerical system that categorizes different skin types based on their response to ultraviolet (UV) light. It was developed by Dr Thomas Fitzpatrick, a dermatologist, in 1975.

The scale ranges from Type 1 to Type 6, with Type 1 being the lightest and most sun-sensitive skin and Type 6 being the darkest and least sun-sensitive skin.

Each type is characterized by specific skin traits, such as skin colour, hair colour, eye colour, and reaction to sun exposure, which can help determine the appropriate sun protection measures and skincare for individuals with different skin types.

The Fitzpatrick Scale is widely used in dermatology and skincare to understand the diversity of skin types and tailor sun protection and skincare recommendations accordingly.

What are the Fitzpatrick skin types 1 – 6?

Designed in 1975, the numerical schema recognises the different skin types response to ultraviolet light. This is very different to other methods that classify skin based on what they look like. The scale works from Fitzpatrick 1 – 6, and each skin type is categorised as so:

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 1:

Those with Fitzpatrick type 1 skin have very pale skin that always burns when exposed to the sun. You will notice that you never tan. Some characteristics of this skin type are blonde/red hair and blue/green eyes. Albinos and redheads are usually in this group.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 2:

With the Fitzpatrick type 2 skin, you are likely to burn often and rarely tan. Characteristics of this skin type are Caucasians with blonde hair and blue eyes.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 3:

The Fitzpatrick type 3 is those that are medium skin toned. Your skin will eventually tan to a light brown but usually only after being sunburnt.  It is hard to categorise the characteristics of this skin type as many Caucasians, Asians, Medeteranians, and Middle Eastern people fall within.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 4:

Those with Fitzpatrick type 4 skin are naturally light brown/olive with the ability to tan and rarely burn. Characteristics of this skin group are brown haired and brown skin. Those from East Asia are usually within this group with lighter South East Asians.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 5:

In this group, we have people with a lot of melanin so you will have brown skin. Those in the Fitzpatrick group 5 will rarely burn if, ever, and can tan dark. Many people from Africa, South East Asia and darker Latinos will find themselves in group 5.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type 6:

Last but not least those in Fitzpatrick group 6 are likely to have dark brown to black skin. There is a significant amount of melanin found in those with this skin type. They will never burn and catch the sun very easily and quickly. Notable characteristics are those that have almost blue-black skin, very dark hair and brown eyes. Those from Africa, Indigenous tribes and dark-skinned Asians.

The Fitzpatrick scale


Fitzpatrick skin type 1 to 3


Fitzpatrick skin type 4 to 6

Why is Fitzpatrick Skin Types used for Laser Hair Removal?

Laser and aesthetic technicians will use the Fitzpatrick scale when it comes to laser skin treatments. The scale helps them to determine the effectiveness of lasers on the different skin types.

The strength of the laser used is determined based on the skin’s reaction to the light, similarly to how different skin types react to the sun. For example, those that are Fitzpatrick type 6 are more likely to be burnt by the laser.

For the best results of laser treatments, traditionally, there needed to be a contrast between the skin and hair colour. So those that had light skin with dark thick hair were the main candidates with successful results. This was so the laser could pick up the hair to target rather than the skin. Laser hair removal and skin rejuvenation previously only worked best on Fitzpatrick type 2-4.

However, as technology has advanced so has lasers ability to treat those with darker skin tones and fairer hair.

The Different Types of Laser for Fitzpatrick Skin Types

When it comes to laser hair removal and skin rejuvenation, there are so many different types of lasers on the market. 

The more basic the laser machine, the more likely it can only treat those with the light skin/dark hair combination. It is your responsibility to ensure the clinic can treat your type of skin! There is no point in spending lots of money on a permanent hair removal solution that won’t work. The better the laser, the more effective it will be at delivering results for more skin types. 

At Ray Cochrane Beauty School, on our Level 4 Laser & IPL Certificate course, students are taught to work with machines that can treat most Fitzpatrick Skin Types. We use Soprano Ice Platinum and Harmony XL Pro. Both of which are leading machines in the Laser hair removal & skin rejuvenation industry.

Watch the video below, in which our school director and laser expert, Eleanora Androva explains the Harmony XL Pro and how it’s used on the course!