The Fitzpatrick Scale – All About Your Skin Type

Dry skin.

Oily skin.

Sensitive skin.

When you built your skincare routine, you probably based it around what you thought your skin type was. The above descriptions, however, aren’t actually dermatologically recognized skin types. Thomas Fitzpatrick, the “Father of Modern Academic Dermatology,” developed a scale to classify skin types in relation to their tolerance to sunlight. Modern day estheticians and dermatologists continue to use the Fitzpatrick scale to gauge how different skin types will react to different treatments and products.

At Skincare and Moore, our understanding of the Fitzpatrick scale is crucial to every aspect of our business and every service we offer. When you place your trust in us – whether it be for laser procedures, Botox, fillers, facials, or any of our various services – rest assured that we take an in-depth look at your specific Fitzpatrick skin type to build the best skin care regimen we can and provide the most effective service possible.

To provide you with a better understanding of the Fitzpatrick scale, let’s take a look at the defined skin types the scale presents:

Skin Type 1 – typically lightly pigmented, ivory toned skin. Always burns and peels when exposed to the sun, but never tans.
Skin Type 2 – light/fair complexion, burns quickly when exposed to sunlight and rarely tans.
Skin Type 3 – skin has beige tones and might burn when exposed to the sun, but is able to tan
Skin Type 4 – olive/light brown skin tones, does not freckle when exposed to sun. Tans regularly, burns rarely.
Skin Type 5 – dark brown/black skin tone, rarely burns and always tans when exposed to the sun.
Skin Type 6 – the darkest, most black-toned. Never burns, will tan quickly when exposed to the sun

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A common misconception of the Fitzpatrick scale is that people tend to interpret it as a measure of a person’s skin color. As mentioned before, it measures the skin’s reactivity to sunlight, so while you may find yourself to be a Type 2 in the winter months when sun exposure is low, you could find yourself classified as a Type 3 or 4 as your skin reacts to higher sun exposure in the spring/summer.

So, what does this mean when you come to us for a laser procedure? What does it mean in relation to skincare? Let’s find out!
The lasers we use for our procedures have various settings that must be precisely matched to your skin type, and the way your skin reacts to the treatments determines those settings. By correctly matching the settings to your skin, we can target and correct pigmentation issues, address problem areas during laser hair removal, and ensure you achieve the best results.

Those with Skin Types 1-3 have a higher risk for sun damage and skin cancer due to the lower levels of melanin in the skin. The best practice in combatting sun damage for those on the lower end of the Fitzpatrick scale is to incorporate a high-quality sunblock that has an SPF of 30 or higher into your skin care routine. Skin types at the lower end of the scale can be reactive to topical products and/or treatments, with the reactions manifesting as irritation or redness as opposed to hyperpigmentation (darkening).

Skin Types 4-6, even though they have a higher level of melanin, are still at risk for sun damage and present their own unique challenges. For example, laser treatments, chemical peels, and dermabrasion can cause issues for people on this end of the scale. The higher levels of melanin put them at a higher risk for hyperpigmentation, as the body’s response to skin injury is to produce more pigment. We are committed to taking the proper steps and utilizing preconditioning techniques to mitigate the risks you may face if you are interested in those types of procedures. Certain skin care products can also be irritating to those with 4-6 skin types. Harsh and abrasive ingredients should be avoided, and gentler acids such as lactic and mandelic acids are better choices for those who fall on the higher side of the scale. Mandelic acid in particular, is great for darker skin tones because it targets acne, discoloration, and age spots without triggering irritation. As with those on the lower end of the scale, higher end skin types should also incorporate a high quality sunblock with an SPF of 15 or higher into their skin care routine.

Have Questions? Book your appointment or call us at 1(720) 503 – 1100

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