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What is the Fitzpatrick Scale and how do you assess your skin type?

The skin is the outermost organ of the body.  Its colour texture and the quantity and quality of hair growth allows us to tell people apart from one another.  This is genetically coded information.  The outward appearance of the coded information is called a person’s skin type.  When we use this system or code we are able to sort people into six categories.  This classification system is called the Fitzpatrick System.  It is based on the analysis of five criteria: skin colour, eye colour, and body hair colour, the presence of freckles and how the skin reacts when exposed to the sun.  Skin type 1 corresponds to blue or green eyes with blond or red hair, and skin type 6 corresponds to dark African colouring.

The skin type of an individual does not change over time.  However, pigmentation can vary according to the time of year or geographic zone.  Such is the case when a tan darkens the skin in order to protect it from the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays.  This type of pigmentation is temporary.  It is therefore important not to confuse an individual’s skin type with the temporary pigmentation of certain areas that been exposed to the sun.

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