Blogs from the Doctors
Easy way to find out your Fitzpatrick skin type.
There are so many skin care tips on the internet. Sometimes it is hard to know what works or not. But one thing’s for sure, knowing your skin type can make understanding your skin’s needs much easier.
Skin type doesn’t just stop at normal, oily, dry or combination. These refer to your skin’s level of hydration and basing your entire skincare routine on these can make it incomplete.
In 1975 Dr Thomas Fitzpatrick, a dermatologist at Harvard Medical School, developed a scale to measure how different skin types react to sun exposure. Your Fitzpatrick skin type is something you are born with, like hair colour, and doesn’t change throughout your lifetime.
How do I know my type?
The best way to find out your Fitzpatrick skin type is through observation. However, there are a few telltale signs of each type.
Although this graph is accurate most of the time, a type I or II could possibly have brown or black hair as well. The same way a type V or VI could have light coloured eyes. The most important thing to keep in mind is your skin’s colour and how it reacts to the sun.
You may also find that you are unsure between two types as it is common to fall between the extremes of one type and the other. In this case it could be useful to ask your dermatologist and follow their instructions.
Why is it important to know my Fitzpatrick skin type?
The Fitzpatrick skin type is used for many different reasons. Very often people will be asked for their type when they are getting a treatment done either by laser or other pulsed light systems. This is because these treatments often have different effects on different skin colours.
A good example of this is Laser Hair removal. Until recently, to get the most out of the treatment, the patient would have to have fair skin and dark hair. This is because the laser targeted the melanin in the hair follicle.
In consequence, people with darker skin or light hair were discouraged from treatment for various reasons. For women with lighter hair the treatment would not be very effective. Whereas women with darker skin could have adverse reactions which could even result in scarring and burning. Fortunately this is not the case anymore, but it is also a great reason to make sure to choose the right clinic to get any sort of treatment done.
Nowadays, more developed technologies are available. Laser hair removal can now be adjusted to be effective for women with lighter hair. However, women with darker skin need to make sure the equipment used is one suitable for their skin, like the Soprano Ice laser.
How knowing your Fitzpatrick skin type can help your skin care routine
Knowing your Fitzpatrick type is important to make sure the treatment is tailored for your skin. It can also be important when it comes to understanding what skin care routine could work better for you.
Type I is very fair, often with freckles, using sunscreen is extremely important for you, even on the winter months, preferably with SPF of 30+. Protecting your skin from the sun can help you protect your beautiful skin tone as it tends to burn very easily and never tan. This type of skin is believed to be highly susceptible to premature ageing and skin cancers, so avoiding strong sunlight, like in the middle of the day, and wearing protective clothing is also recommended.
That being said, most laser treatments tend to work very well for your skin type, with a very low risk of hyper or hypopigmentation. Although laser hair removal could prove tricky if the hairs on the targeted areas are very light and thin.
Here are some ingredients to look for when buying products which could help improve wrinkles and collagen production in this skin type: Retinoic Acid, Retinaldehyde, alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs), polyhydroxy acids (PHAs), Copper peptide, Epidermal growth factor, Insulin growth factor, Fibroblast growth factor, Vit C, Oligopeptide – 34, Oligopeptide – 51, Oligopeptide-53 and Pentapeptide – 15.
Your skin type is fair and almost always burns, although it sometimes tans when exposed to the sun for small periods of time repeatedly. In order to keep your skin protected from processes like photoaging and skin cancers it is extremely important to avoid strong sunlight, like in the middle of the day, wear protective clothing and always wear and reapply sun block.
Like type I, laser treatments work well for your skin type and most treatments can be done without the danger of adverse side effects. But laser hair removal may need to be carefully tailored as this type is likely to have light body and facial hair.
Similarly to skin type I, some ingredients could benefit your skin when it comes to avoiding wrinkles and loss of collagen. These include: Retinoic Acid, Retinaldehyde, alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs), polyhydroxy acids (PHAs), Copper peptide, Epidermal growth factor, Insulin growth factor, Fibroblast growth factor, Vit C, Oligopeptide – 34, Oligopeptide – 51, Oligopeptide-53 and Pentapeptide – 15.
This skin type is also prone to redness and rosacea. In this case, it could help to avoid these ingredients: Alpha Lipoic Acid, AHAs, PHA, Retinol, Retinaldehyde, Retinyl palmitate, Vitamin C, Benzoyl Peroxide, Gluconolactone, Phytic acid, Acetic acid, Allantoin, Balsam of peru, Benzoic acid, Camphor, Cinnamic acid, Cinnamon oil, Cocoa butter, coconut oil, DMAE, Isopropyl isostearate, Isopropyl myristate, Lactic acid, Menthol, Parabens, Peppermint oil and Quaternium.
Skin type III is one of the most common types. You still have very fair skin although darker than those with skin types I and II. It sometimes burns and may tan to a light bronze. That being said, your risk for skin cancer and photoaging remain higher than average so wearing appropriate sun protection is still very important.
Like the fairer skin types, type III can have most laser treatments done safely without the danger of adverse side effects. This is an ideal type for most laser hair removal methods as the body hair for this type tends to be darker and therefore easier to target.
This skin type is prone to being sensitive, so looking for more natural products could help because you end up avoiding harsher chemicals and allergens. Try to also avoid artificial fragrances, especially for facial products.
There are, however, amazing natural ingredients to look for when choosing skin care products. Green tea extract is a great ingredient to look for as it soothes irritated skin and can help with inflammation and mild acne. Aloe Vera is a life saver for sensitive skin because of its powerful soothing and moisturizing properties. Other botanical extracts such as Camellia Sinensis, rosemary extract and chamomile extract can do wonders for your skin type.
For sensitive skin it could also help to avoid hot water showers as they can strip the skin of its natural oils which makes it more susceptible to irritation. Avoid using soap to clean your face, opt for oil or cream cleansers for a more gentle approach. Whatever you do remember to treat your skin gently.
Women with Type IV skin usually have dark hair and light, olive looking skin. You tend to tan easily although you can sometimes get burned. Likewise, your risk of premature photoaging and skin cancer caused by UV damage is less than skin types I-III but it is still there. So it is important to apply sunblock and wear protective clothing when outside. Staying out of the sun during the peak hours of 10am to 4pm is also a good idea.
Moreover skin type IV can be prone to an overactive production of melanin following sun exposure which could result in uneven pigmentation.Hormonal therapy like oral contraceptives can sometimes make this stronger. Certain laser treatment can also trigger this reaction on you, although it is good to remember it is temporary. Consequently, it is important to do a patch test whenever trying a new treatment. Laser hair removal tends to work extremely well for your skin type.
There are a few ingredients which can help with evening out your skin’s pigmentation. Such as: Oligopeptide-34, Oligopeptide-51, Oligopeptide-53, Pentapeptide-15, arbutin, bearberry, cucumber extract, hydroquinone, kojic acid, liquorice extract, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, mulberry extract, niacinamide, retinol, resorcinol, beta hydroxyl acid and vitamin c.
It is also important to keep in mind that some ingredients may enhance dark spots such as: Oestradiol, oestrogen, genistein, black cohosh, chasteberry, hops, red clever, soy and wild yams.
Like skin type IV, this skin type is much less likely burn and therefore has less risk of premature photoaging and skin cancer caused by UV damage. This skin type is usually dark with black or brown eyes and hair. It is still important to prevent UV damage so try to wear sunblock and stay out of the sun during peak hours.
Most aesthetic and laser treatments can be safely done in skin type V as long as they are made by experienced professionals that take the correct precautions.
Darker skin tones, like type IV, tend to show scars more prominently. The reason for this is the naturally occurring melanin in the outer surface of your skin, or epidermis. When new skin forms, after a wound, the amount of melanin in that part is different than the rest of the skin. It can either be lighter, redder or darker than the surrounding skin. Your skin type is also more likely to get keloid scars.
To avoid bad scarring keep any wounded area of your body out of the sun by using sunscreen and protective clothing until it heals. After the wound is healed there are a lot of things that can be done to make sure your scar fades nicely. Exfoliation can help stimulate your natural skin rebuilding process. Rose hip oil is a great ingredient to look for as it contains retinol, vitamin C, omega-3, omega-6 and linoleic acid which can all help heal scars. These properties have been shown to restore original skin color by reducing hyperpigmentation and redness and avoiding keloid scars.
Like skin IV it helps to keep in mind the ingredients to use and avoid when it comes to hyperpigmentation.
People with skin type VI have a dark skin colour, usually from African decent. Although your skin type rarely burns, it is extremely important to get regular check ups from your doctor since any change in skin could be more easily overlooked.
Like skin type V, this skin type has a high risk of raised (keloid) scars. This is because darker skin has a better bed of collagen. This is actually a good thing as it means people with darker skin will take longer to show signs of aging.
Most aesthetic and laser treatments can be safely done in skin type VI as long as they are made by experienced professionals that take the correct precautions.
Skin type VI can sometimes react differently to common conditions such as acne, eczema and dermatitis. These conditions can sometimes lead to problems with pigmentation, uneven darkening or lightening of skin colour. This is because melanin responds to various stimuli such as inflammation. If your skin is prone to acne, sunscreen that is not comedogenic should be worn daily to help prevent dark spots.
In the majority of time, hyper or hypopigmentation is caused by inflammation, so here are some ingredients to avoid if you have skin type VI: Cinnamon oil, Cocoa butter, Cocus nucifera, Isoprpopyl isostearate, Isopropyl myristate, Isopropyl myristate, Butyl stearate, Isostearyl neopentanoate, Myristyl myristate, Octyl palmitate, Isocetyl srearate, Propylene glycol 2, Myristyl propionate, Lanolin, Peppermint oil, Decyl Oleate, Octyl stearate.
Take the test today: