We are not all the same, not even in terms of skin type. Skin whiter than others or darker. They are all different and do not suffer the same consequences from the sun’s UV rays. Some tan faster, others don’t even get a minimal tan. The phototype is the concept that explains this natural process and classifies the different types of skin according to their sensitivity and reactivity to the sun.
How is a sunscreen different from other creams?
What is the phototype
The phototype is a categorization of skin types based on the color of the skin in association with that of the eyes and hair, taking into account the reaction to ultraviolet radiation. The phototype allows estimating the risk associated with sun exposure for each skin type and determining the importance of sun protection.
It depends on three elements: hair color, quality of tan, and frequency of sunburn. The phototype is related to the production of melanin and would explain why some people tan more others.
Melanosomes, a kind of “sacs” where melanin accumulates, are capable of producing pigment when exposed to the sun and protect our cells from sun damage, which causes burns and skin cancer.
Skin classification: from I to VI
Each skin has a different ability to respond to UV radiation. The classification identifies between I and VI:
Phototype I: People with this phototype have very fair skin, blonde or red hair, and blue or green eyes. Freckles are also common in these types of people, who burn easily, their skin is red but they almost never tan. For this type of phototype, 10 minutes of exposure to the sun is enough for burns to appear.
Phototype II: the skin is fair, the hair is blond, red-haired tending to brown, the light eyes also tending to brown. In some cases, freckles may also appear. Sunburns are frequent and the skin tans very little or very slowly. A 15-20 minute exposure to the sun without protection is enough to cause burns.
Phototype III: the skin is intermediate, the hair is brown and the eyes are brown. Sunburns are occasional and progressively tan. An exposure of about 30 minutes is sufficient for people with this phototype to suffer burns.
Phototype IV: the skin is dark, the hair is brown and the eyes too. The skin tans quickly, with an exposure time necessary for burns to appear that is between 30 and 45 minutes.
Phototype V: the skin is brown and the hair and eyes are dark, and he tans a lot. Sunburn is rare and withstands an exposure time of 60 minutes.
Phototype VI: skin, hair and eyes are black. They almost never burn and these are skins that are highly pigmented.
This classification was determined in 1975 by the dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatric, based on the finding that the color of the hair, eyes and skin influences the result of tanning (the intensity, but also the risks). Some test They help us to know what our type of phototype is.
How to protect ourselves from the sun
Even if a person has a type of phototype that protects them from burns, it is advisable for everyone to use sunscreen as they must also be protected against UV rays. While lighter skin types are at higher risk for skin cancer, everyone is in danger.
The number of the sun protection factor tells us what is the degree of protection against ultraviolet UVB radiation. We will have to choose one or the other depending on the type of skin we have. Thus, people with a lower skin phototype will need a higher protection factor (50 or more); Conversely, people with a higher phototype can use a lower level of protector.
The recommended dose in any case is 2 mg per cm2 (You have to be generous and spread a good layer of sunscreen all over the body), repeating the application every two hours, after getting into the water or practicing physical exercise or sweating. Indirect sun exposure (walking, shopping, etc.) can also cause burns.
In addition to sunscreens, clothing it is increasingly the best way to protect ourselves from the sun:
– A cap or hat protects our scalp and face.
– A cotton t-shirt, the torso and part of the arms.
– Some pants for the legs.
– Sunglasses for the eyes.
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