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Skin tone type refers to the color of your skin, as determined by the amount of melanin it contains. Melanin is a pigment that in greater supply produces a darker skin tone type and produces a light or fair skin tone type when not much is present in skin cells. Health-care providers, beauty product manufacturers and fashion experts pay much attention to skin tone type in an effort to keep you healthy and looking good.

Fitzpatrick Skin Type Scale

The Fitzpatrick skin type scale, developed in 1975 by Dr. Thomas B. Fitzpatrick of the Harvard Medical Cchool, helps health-care providers to better estimate skin response to treatments such as laser and light therapy. Fitzpatrick skin tone typing takes into account the genetics of complexion along with differences in reaction to sun exposure to determine skin tone type. Using the Fitzpatrick skin type scale can be useful to you as well, especially if you spend time in the sun or use tanning beds. Understanding your skin tone type can help you make better choices regarding products such as tanning lotions and sunscreen.

Fitzpatrick skin tone typing places your skin tone in one of six types based on answers you provide to questions in three categories. Categories include genetic disposition, reaction to sun exposure and tanning habits. Each individual question you answer carries a point value from zero to four that in total determine a skin tone type ranging from one to six. Skin tone types include highly sensitive, very sun sensitive, sun sensitive, minimally sun sensitive and two levels of sun insensitive skin.

Warm or Cool

Most beauty product manufactures create products based on skin tone types relating to temperature. Skin tone type can be cool or warm, depending on general skin color and each type can have further color variations. For example, warm skin tone types are dark tones, while cool skin tone types are light to medium tones. Within these general classifications, warm skin tone types can have olive or brown undertones and cool skin tone types can have pink or yellow undertones.

Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter

The fashion industry uses a variation of warm and cool skin tone typing to further break down skin tone type according to seasons of the year. The idea behind seasonal skin tone typing is to help you choose clothing colors that complement and enhance your skin tone. It begins with warm and cool skin tone classifications, and then divides each into one of two seasons, depending on hair color. Warm skin tone types can be spring or autumn and cool skin tone types can be summer or winter. A color palette within each season helps you choose correct colors for your skin tone type.

Skin Tone Shades

Skin tone shades can range from fair, light and medium to medium brown, dark brown and dark. Fair skin always tans and never burns and has blue undertones, while light or beige-toned skin tans easily and has pale pink and orange undertones. Medium and dark skin tones have difficulties tanning and feature green and reddish-brown undertones.