- Fitzpatrick skin type II is distinguished by pale skin that is sensitive to sun exposure.
- This skin type is very vulnerable to sun damage, and is at a high risk of developing skin cancer due to exposure to (UV) ultraviolet radiation.
- People with skin type II should consistently take sun protection measures in all weather conditions.
The Fitzpatrick scale classifies skin into six separate types based on color and response to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This scale is widely accepted and used throughout the medical community.
Of these types, skin type II is the second lightest in color after type I, and tends to be a light shade of pink or beige. Although it is slightly more resistant than type I, type II is still highly sensitive to UV radiation, and is far more likely to burn than it is to tan.
If this is your skin type, be sure to protect your skin from sun exposure to minimize your risk of sunburn, photoaging and other forms of damage caused by UV radiation.
How to Identify Skin Type II
Two types of melanin are present in human hair and skin. A person’s hair and skin color is determined by the ratio between these two types. Brown and black pigmentation is a result of a greater presence of eumelanin; red, pink or yellow pigmentation is a result of pheomelanin.
Those with skin type II have a high ratio of pheomelanin content and a comparatively low concentration of eumelanin pigment, resulting in a light beige or pink skin color. This same balance between the two types of melanin will determine whether hair will be blond or brown.
Typical features of skin type II:
- Pale pink or beige skin
- Skin that is slightly dry or sensitive skin
- Blue, gray, green or hazel eyes
- Blond or brown hair
Reaction to sun exposure:
- Burns easily; tans with difficulty
- Sunburns cause deep redness and severe peeling
Skin type II vs. skin type I
Skin type II has many similarities to type I, but there are some differences that distinguish them.
Skin type II characteristics:
- Slightly less pale than type I, with a distinct beige or pink tint
- Tans more readily than type I, although still with difficulty
- Wider range of possible eye colors; type I tends to have only light blue, gray or green
- Tends to have blond or brown hair; type I usually has blond or red
Skin type II vs. skin type III
Although skin types II and III cover a similar range of skin color gradations, a number of qualities mark them as significantly different.
Skin type II characteristics:
- Slightly paler than type III, which ranges from reddish pink to medium-beige, often with golden or olive-colored undertones
- May have any of a wide variety of eye colors; type III almost always has either brown or dark blue eyes
- Has a lighter range of hair colors; type III usually has dark blond, brown or black hair
- Far more likely to sunburn than type III
- Has difficulty tanning; type III will tan slowly, but with relative ease, and skin will typically turn a light, golden brown
Skin Type II Risks and Safety
Due to their sensitivity to UV radiation, those with Fitzpatrick skin type II are at a high risk of incurring sun damage. For this reason, they are advised to take sun safety precautions whenever they spend time outdoors.
UV tanning beds and treatments that increase sun sensitivity should be avoided. Tanning beds carry a similar set of risks to those posed by sun exposure, while photosensitizing products and procedures exacerbate the damaging effects of UV radiation.
People with skin type II who spend prolonged periods of time in the sun without taking appropriate protection measures are at a high risk of developing painful sunburns, signs of photoaging and skin cancer. The reason for this increased risk is the balance of different types of melanin in their skin.
When pheomelanin comes in contact with UV radiation, it produces free radicals – oxidizing agents that worsen the damage done to the skin. Conversely, eumelanin absorbs and dissipates UV radiation, and has a role in protecting the skin from sun damage.
Lighter skin contains a higher ratio of pheomelanin, while darker skin contains more eumelanin; this is why people with lighter skin—such as those with skin type II—are more likely to experience sun damage, and those with darker skin are more resistant to it.
Avoid these skin treatments
Certain skin care products contain ingredients that may cause photosensitivity, leaving the skin more vulnerable to the damaging effects of UV radiation. Any treatments that involve the removal of the surface skin, such as professional skin rejuvenation procedures and over-the- counter (OTC) exfoliants, can also leave the skin sensitive to sun exposure.
As people with skin type II are especially vulnerable to sun damage in the first place, they should take special care to avoid these types of products and treatments prior to spending time in the sun.
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Glycolic acid
- Harsh scrubs and exfoliants
- Laser treatments
- Chemical peels
Skin Type II Protection
UV radiation penetrates through clouds and reflects off snow. As such, sun safety should be practiced throughout all seasons, and in all types of weather conditions.
Protecting your skin from damaging rays should be a priority for those with skin type II:
- Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher before going outdoors
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours
- Wear UV protection sunglasses
- When possible, stay in the shade
- Take special care to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., as this is when UV radiation is at its highest
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and clothing that covers your arms and legs to minimize skin exposure to UV radiation
- Take extra care to avoid ingredients and procedures that cause photosensitivity
Skin care routine for skin type II
People with type II tend to have skin that is slightly dry and sensitive. For this reason, they are likely to benefit from skin care products formulated with gentle, hydrating ingredients that encourage moisture retention and ease inflammation.
If this is your skin type, look for cleansers with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe, and moisturizers containing glycerin and ceramides. Avoid harsh cleansers formulated with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), artificial fragrances or preservatives; these are likely to cause irritation, and may worsen skin dryness.
Some moisturizers and foundations are formulated with sun protecting ingredients. These products have been proven to provide a measurable degree of sun protection; however their effects are limited, and they should not be used alone in place of sunscreen.
When to See a Doctor
Those with skin type II have an increased risk of developing skin cancer compared to those with darker skin. For this reason, they are advised to contact their doctor if they notice the development of any skin abnormalities that may be indicative of skin cancer.
Common early signs of skin cancer include:
- Formation of new moles
- Changes in existing moles
- Inflamed or bleeding moles
- Patches of skin that are darker in tone than the surrounding skin
- Flat, scaly patches of skin
For further information on skin cancer, its causes, prevention and treatment, visit the National Cancer Institute’s official website.
Skin type II is the second lightest of the six Fitzpatrick skin types, and the second most vulnerable to the damaging effects of UV radiation. Visual characteristics of this skin type include pale pink or beige skin; blond or brown hair; and blue, gray, green or hazel eyes.
As people with this type are vulnerable to sun exposure, they should be diligent about practicing sun safety. Sun protection measures include regularly applying sunscreen, wearing protective clothing and avoiding prolonged periods of direct exposure.
Those with skin type II should take care to avoid the use of skin care products that increase sun sensitivity. These include topicals such as retinoids, benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid.
Professional skin resurfacing procedures and harsh exfoliants can also leave the skin tender and especially vulnerable to sun damage. People with skin type II must take special care to avoid sun exposure immediately after these treatments.
This skin type also tends to be sensitive and prone to irritation, and would benefit from a skin care routine focused on moisturization and the use of gentle, soothing ingredients.
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