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What is the Fitzpatrick Scale?

What is the Fitzpatrick Scale?
If you’ve ever tried matching foundation to your skin tone, you know how difficult it can be to find the right shade. Your skin is unique, and its tone is largely determined by genetics. Though you can’t change the amount of pigment in your skin, you can alter its tone by tanning. Different skin types react to sun exposure in different ways, however, so it’s important to stay safe in the sun. The Fitzpatrick scale is a form of skin classification based on the amount of pigment in the skin and how it reacts to sun exposure. Knowing your Fitzpatrick skin type can help you understand your risk for sun damage and skin cancer – it may also predict how your skin will react to certain facial treatments. Here’s what you need to know about the Fitzpatrick scale and how to use that knowledge.

History of the Fitzpatrick Scale

Also known as the Fitzpatrick skin type test or the Fitzpatrick phototyping scale, this scale was developed in 1975 by dermatologist Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, MD. The test was designed to estimate the response of certain skin types of ultraviolet light. This information is necessary for determining the correct dosage for the ultraviolet light therapy used to treat skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema. Initially, Fitzpatrick skin typing was based on hair and eye color, but this resulted in UVA doses that were too high for some. The scale was adjusted and extended to include a wider range of skin types and it remains a valuable tool for dermatological research today.

The Six Fitzpatrick Skin Types

Though originally developed to improve the accuracy of dosing ultraviolet light therapy for patients with certain skin diseases, the Fitzpatrick scale is used by skincare professionals as well. Knowing a client’s Fitzpatrick skin type helps determine how a client’s skin might respond to facial treatments and helps predict risk of sun damage and skin cancer. The six different skin types according to the Fitzpatrick scale are as follows:
  • Type 1 – Ivory skin with red or light blonde hair and light blue, gray, or green eyes. This skin type never tans and always burns, peels, and freckles.
  • Type 2 – Fair or pale skin with blonde hair and blue, gray, or green eyes. This skin type rarely tans, often burns and peels, and usually freckles.
  • Type 3 – Fair to beige skin with golden undertones, dark blonde to light brown hair, and hazel or light brown eyes. This skin type sometimes tans, might freckle, and burns on occasion.
  • Type 4 – Olive or light brown skin with dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. This skin type tans often, rarely burns, and doesn’t tend to freckle.
  • Type 5 – Dark brown skin with dark brown to black hair and eyes. This skin type always tans, rarely freckles, and almost never burns.
  • Type 6 – Deeply pigmented dark brown with black hair and brownish black eyes. This skin type always tans darkly, never burns, and never freckles.
Your Fitzpatrick skin type refers to the amount of pigment in your skin and its reaction to sunlight, but there is another skin type you may be more familiar with. This skin type refers to the characteristics of your skin such as oil production and reactivity. Your Fitzpatrick scale number doesn’t necessarily correlate with a certain skin type – normal, oily, dry, or combination skin.

What Does It Mean for You?

The more you understand your skin, the better. Being familiar with the issues that commonly affect your skin and knowing how it reacts to certain products is important if you want to keep your skin healthy. Knowing your skin type is the key to choosing skincare products to best suit your skin but it also helps you determine which facial treatments may be beneficial and which to avoid. Your Fitzpatrick scale number is a little different, but it is still important for you to know. Most importantly, it gives you a clue as to how much sun exposure your skin can handle. Though everyone should wear sunscreen on a daily basis, people with skin types 1 and 2 may need to use a higher SPF rating like SPF 50 instead of wearing SPF 30. Having fair skin increases your risk for melanoma, sun damage, and premature skin aging. People with skin types 3 through 6 have a lower risk for skin cancer from sun exposure, but it still exists. When it comes to facial treatments, there are a few predictions you can make based on your Fitzpatrick skin type. Generally speaking, people with darker skin types tend to react more negatively to laser skin treatment than those with lighter skin. Skin types 4, 5, and 6 also have a higher risk for pigmentary skin changes with chemical peels, bleaching agents, and dermabrasion. It’s important to work with a skincare professional who understands the Fitzpatrick scale and its relation to facial treatments.

Yon-Ka Products for All Fitzpatrick Numbers

When choosing professional facial treatments and at-home products, it is important to consider your skin type. At Yon-Ka Paris, all professional and retail peels are safe for all Fitzpatrick skin types. Yon-Ka makes it easy to shop for products by your skin type as well. Here are some of the top Yon-Ka products for all skin types:
  • Alpha Peel – This renewing night concentrate moisturizes the skin while revitalizing the outer layers. Featuring an intensive blend of alpha hydroxy acids, this anti-wrinkle exfoliating gel reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while refining the complexion.
  • Solution Clarte – Made with a synergy of glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids, this brightening peel boosts the skin’s ability to dissolve lifeless skin cells to remove dark spots efficiently. The skin is left smoothed and hydrated as spots and tone irregularities are flawlessly controlled.
  • Crème Lumiere – Fight dull, uneven complexion and dark spots with this daily brightening moisturizer. Enriched with vitamin C and loaded with hydrating and anti-aging ingredients, this formula gives your skin a smoother look with reduced discoloration.
  • Correcteur Cible – Target and correct dark spots with this ultra-concentrated whitening solution. This formula features the exclusive Yon-Ka C-White complex of vitamin C and red algae to interrupt the development of dark spots to brighten and even out the complexion over time.
Shopping for skincare products shouldn’t be a chore. Use the Yon-Ka Skincare Advisor tool to be paired with the perfect products or stop in to your local Yon-Ka spa partner for a consultation. You’ll receive free shipping when shopping online and a free trial size kit on orders over $75.
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