- Fitzpatrick skin type 2 is characterized by fair skin which is very sensitive to sun exposure.
- This skin type is at a high risk of sun damage and skin cancer, so protection from the sun is vital.
- Treatments which might increase sun sensitivity should be avoided.
- You should check your skin regularly for abnormalities which might indicate skin cancer.
The Fitzpatrick skin type scale classifies skin into six distinct types based on its color to estimate its response to sun exposure. Type 2 is not as pale as type 1 but is still very sensitive to sunlight. Because of this, if this is your skin type you should ensure you protect your skin from sun exposure as much as possible.
How to Identify Skin Type 2
The Fitzpatrick classification system is usually accurate and has been widely accepted in dermatology. Unlike other skin types with light brown and dark brown skin, this type doesn’t have much protective melanin – the pigment that gives your skin its color – in the skin, making it relatively unprotected from the sun.
Typical features of skin type 2:
- Fair skin color
- Blue, gray, green or hazel eyes
- Red or blond hair
Skin type 2’s reaction to sun exposure:
- Burns and peels easily
- Tans with difficulty
Skin type 2 vs. skin type 1
Skin type 2 is very similar to type 1, but there are differences which distinguish them:
- Type 2 isn’t as pale as type 1 and will be medium-dark ivory or beige in skin tone.
- Type 2 will not necessarily have freckles; type 1 almost always has them.
- Type 2 can tan with difficulty; type 1 never tans.
Skin type 2 vs. skin type 3
Skin type 2 is more distinct from type 3 than it is from type 1. The following differences help distinguish it from type 3:
- It isn’t as dark in tone as type 3; type 3 will have creamy white or light olive skin.
- It can have blue, gray or green eyes; type 3 will not.
- It will have lighter blond or red hair; type 3 will have darker blond or brown hair.
- It finds it difficult to tan; type 3 finds it easy to tan gradually to an olive skin tone.
Skin Type 2 Risks and Safety
Fitzpatrick skin type 2 is at a high risk of sun damage and some types of skin cancer from sun exposure. Apart from sun exposure, tanning beds and treatments or products which increase sun sensitivity should be avoided.
Unprotected sun exposure can lead to sun damage which increases the risk of skin cancer. It can also lead to potentially undesirable visual skin changes.
Melanin is the pigment that gives your skin its color, but it also protects your skin from the sun. There are two types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin absorbs ultraviolet (UV) rays, but pheomelanin does not. Because skin type 2 has less eumelanin, and has fewer melanosome cell structures to carry the melanin, it is more susceptible to sun damage.
Skin cancer occurs more often in people with red hair and fair skin who burn and freckle after sun exposure. This skin type is therefore also at an increased risk of skin cancer from sun exposure.
Avoid tanning beds
Using a tanning bed can increase vitamin D production and improve mood for those with vitamin D deficiency. However, like sun exposure, it also risks sun damage, skin aging and skin cancer.
Like skin type 1, type 2 is able to meet its vitamin D needs with very little daily exposure to sunlight, meaning tanning beds will provide only cosmetic utility. Because this skin type is very sensitive to sun exposure, the use of tanning beds should be avoided.
Avoid these skin treatments
Treatments such as retinoids, glycolic acid peels and those which contain benzoyl peroxide, as well as products such as harsh exfoliants, should be avoided as they increase sun sensitivity:
- Retinoids cause sun sensitivity for the first few months of treatment.
- Glycolic acid chemical peels can increase sun sensitivity, but this sensitivity is reversed within a week of terminating treatment.
- Acne treatments which contain benzoyl peroxide might also cause sun sensitivity.
- Sun sensitivity can be increased by harsh exfoliating treatments such as microdermabrasion, laser treatments and some surface exfoliants like harsh facial scrubs. However, the increased sun sensitivity from these treatments is minimal.
Skin Type 2 Protection
To protect this skin type from sun exposure, you should:
- Apply a stronger sunscreen of SPF 30 or above 15–30 minutes before going into the sun and reapply it at least every 2 hours
- Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Avoid products and treatments which increase sun sensitivity
- Stay in the shade whenever possible
- Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible
- Wear a wide-brim hat to protect your head and shoulders
- Wear UV blocking sunglasses
- Regularly check your skin for any abnormalities
Skin care routine for skin type 2
For this skin type, one of the first things you should consider for your skincare routine is whether products will increase your sun sensitivity. Glycolic acid chemical peels and retinoids both increase sun sensitivity, but there are many more products and ingredients which can have this effect. As such, it is best to check whether each product is likely to increase sun sensitivity before use.
It is important to apply sunscreen as part of your skincare routine. To increase its effectiveness, sunscreen of SPF 30 or above should be applied at the end of your routine but before any makeup is applied. A foundation with high SPF can also protect your skin from the sun. However, this should not replace a single-purpose sunscreen.
When to see a doctor
It is important to check your skin for signs of skin cancer. You should check your skin at least once a month for any abnormalities such as:
- New moles
- Changes in already existing moles
- Moles that bleed or become irritated
- Darker patches of skin
- Flat and scaly patches
- Red firm lumps which might be ulcerated
These are all potential signs of skin cancer. If you notice any of these abnormalities and if they persist for more than four weeks you should contact your dermatologist or doctor.
Fitzpatrick skin type 2 is characterized by fair skin which is very sensitive to sun exposure. Ensuring you properly protect this skin type is crucial for keeping it healthy and preventing skin aging and cancer.
If this is your skin type, you should use sun-protecting products and avoid ones which increase sun sensitivity. You should also limit your time in the sun, avoid tanning beds and tailor your skincare routine to maximize sun protection. Finally, ensure you regularly check for skin abnormalities which might indicate skin cancer.