What's a base colour?


In 1975, the development of the Fitzpatrick scale, also known as the Prototype scale, marked a significant milestone in dermatology. Harvard University Dermatologist Thomas Fitzpatrick pioneered this scale to effectively assess skin type and the risk of skin cancer. By surveying individuals on their skin's reaction to sunlight, experts identified clear patterns, leading to the classification of six distinct 'skin types' based on melanin levels.

To determine one's placement on the Fitzpatrick scale, responses to the following inquiries are considered:

1. Eye color
2. Hair color
3. Skin color (prior to sun exposure or on exposed areas)
4. Number of freckles on exposed skin
5. Sun responsiveness of the skin
6. Tanning ability of the skin
7. Depth of skin tanning
8. Sensitivity of facial skin to sunlight
9. Duration since last sun exposure for tanning purposes


Understanding the Fitzpatrick Scale and Skin Types is advantageous for both sunless tanning and direct sun exposure, as it helps prevent skin damage. Our placement on the Fitzpatrick scale, a trait determined at birth, indicates our skin color or pigmentation. Lighter skin, such as Skin Types I-III, is prone to easy burning and slow, poor tanning, necessitating more sun protection. In contrast, darker skin rarely burns and tans easily. Hence, it's logical for Skin Types I-III to opt for fake tanning.

**Whether you opt for sunless (fake) tanning or direct sun exposure, sunscreen remains crucial.

The Fitzpatrick scale serves as a valuable tool for determining the appropriate percentage of DHA in sunless tanning solutions to prevent overdevelopment. By considering the client's underlying skin tone alongside the Fitzpatrick scale, you can easily select the most suitable tan base for achieving a natural-looking color.

DHA, the colorless tanning agent in sunless tanning solutions, mimics the natural tan by tanning the skin's outermost layer. However, this layer can only absorb a limited amount of DHA. For instance:

- For Skin Types 1-3, a DHA solution of 6%-10% is recommended.
- Skin Types 4-5 should stick to 6%-8% DHA, providing a subtle color boost and evening out the skin tone.

Sunless tanning solutions typically come in three main bases: GREEN/OLIVE, VIOLET, and BROWN, However, ASH BASE and CLEAR BASE/ BRONZER FREE is also an option. Selecting the correct base according to your skin tone helps neutralize it for a natural-looking glow without appearing fake.

- Green/ Olive Base: Ideal for lighter complexions with cool or warm undertones, particularly Skin Types 1 and 2.

- Violet Base: Suitable for neutralizing yellow or olive undertones, typically found in Skin Types 4 and 5. Avoid using violet base on Skin Types 1 and 2, as it may appear too reddish.

- Chocolate Base: Perfect for those with brown or olive-toned skin, or those who tan easily, such as Skin Types 4, 5, and 6. Avoid using a brown base on Skin Types 1 and 2, as it may result in pinkish, reddish, or orange tones.

- Ash Base: An Ash Base best suits fairer skin tones, particularly suited for those who are Skin Types 1 & 2 who naturally have difficulty tanning and made to complement cooler undertones.

- Clear Base: Also known as a bronzer free. A clear base tan is suitable for any Skin Type. However, clear bases don't have a guide colour.

Skin tones are categorized into cool, warm, or neutral undertones, which influence overall complexion:

- Cool: Exhibits bluish, pink, or ruddy complexion.
- Warm: Features yellow, sallow, peachy, or golden tones.
- Neutral: Lacks obvious overtones and showcases the skin's natural color.

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