Dr. Joel Schlessinger answers: What is the Fitzpatrick Scale?

While shopping for foundation, it’s not uncommon for cosmetic companies to suggest the perfect shade for your Fitzpatrick skin type. This can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the Fitzpatrick Scale. Also called Fitzpatrick skin type testing, the Fitzpatrick Scale is a classification system for skin color.

The Fitzpatrick Scale is important to the skin care community, Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains.

Developed by Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1975, the Fitzpatrick Scale is helpful for dermatologists and others in the skin care industry. Knowing your skin type is important because it can help you determine your risk for developing sun damage and skin cancer. The test measures genetic disposition and reaction to sun exposure to determine your skin type. Type I is very fair, type II is fair, type III is light, type IV is medium, type V is dark and type VI is very dark.

You can determine your own skin type with a simple test, Dr. Joel Schlessinger says.

The first part of the Fitzpatrick test considers genetic disposition. It accounts for eye color, natural hair color, natural skin color and the amount of freckles on unexposed areas of the body. The second part of the test looks at reaction to extended sun exposure. This section looks at how skin responds to the sun, how skin tans, how deep that tan is and how sensitive the face is to sun exposure. By adding up your score, you can determine your Fitzpatrick skin type as well as how to properly protect your skin from the sun. Take the test now on the Skin Cancer Foundation website.

Do you have questions for Dr. Joel Schlessinger? Share with us in the comments.

Posted Friday, January 9th, 2015 at 5:21 pm
Filed Under Category: Dermatology, Skin Cancer, Skin Care, Sun Damage, Sun Protection
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