Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Is There Really Such a Thing as Skin Types? March 10, 2010

The answer to the above question really depends on who you ask.  A dermatologist will probably tell you that there is no such thing as skin types.  Someone who is trying to sell you a skincare product would tell you otherwise. 

Instead of looking at skin as dry, combination, or oily dermatologists use the Fitzpatrick skin chart as their guide to determine the best course of treatment for their patients.  This classification was developed by Harvard dermatologist T.B. Fitzpatrick in 1975 and measures an individual’s response to sun exposure.  See the chart below:

TYPE I: Highly sun-sensitive, always burns, never tans.
Example: Very pale Caucasian, freckles, or Albino
TYPE II: Very sun-sensitive, burns easily, tans minimally.
Example: Fair-skinned Caucasian
TYPE III: Sun-sensitive skin, sometimes burns, slowly tans to light brown.
Example: Darker Caucasian, European mix
TYPE IV: Minimally sun-sensitive, rarely burns, always tans to moderate brown.
Example: Mediterranean, European, Asian, Hispanic, Native American
TYPE V: Sun-insensitive skin, rarely burns, tans well.
Example: Hispanic, Afro-American, Middle Eastern
TYPE VI: Sun-insensitive, never burns, deeply pigmented.
Example: Afro-American, African, Middle Eastern


Once a person’s hereditary, genetic, and sun exposure reaction is taken into account a dermatologist can have a better idea of what course of treatment would be best for a patient.  Fitzpatrick classification is also used when one does laser hair removal, chemical peels, and all other laser treatments; what Fitzpatrick type a person is determines their course of  treatment for those procedures.  For instance there are some lasers that cannot be used on Fitzpatrick types 5 and 6.

So when do I need to know if your skin is dry, combination, oily, or normal?  Those classifications are needed when you want to buy cosmetic and skincare products for home use.  Skincare products are sold according to normal skin, dry skin, mature skin, combination skin, and oily skin.  Or sometimes you’ll see normal to oily, normal to dry, etc.  The issue isn’t so much skin types.  Rather it is – how does your skin feel?  If you use a retinol product you’ll probably need a thicker moisturizer.  In the winter you’ll probably find that your skin is drier, even dehydrated.  Even if you are acne prone you might find that you need a moisturizer.  So your skin type is how you your skin feels and it can change according to lots of different variables – the weather, the topical products you use, oral medications, your age, and even stress.  Your skin type isn’t set in stone.

If you need help to determine what skin type you are simply wash your face.  Put nothing on your face for about 15 to 30 minutes.  Then evaluate how your skin feels – is it crying out for moisture?  Is it an oil slick already?  Does it feel fine?  Does it feel rough to the touch?  Answer those questions and you are on your way to figuring out what type of products you’ll need for your face.


Further Reading:



High-Tech Skincare Help February 5, 2010

Back in November The New York Times reported that the Dutch company Philips, who are known for their electronics, appliances, lighting, and healthcare products, introduced a machine that could analyze a person’s skin almost instantly.  Called Crystalize the machine uses high-tech video cameras to take extreme close-up photos of a person’s skin.  Then the machine’s software analyzes the photos while looking for the following skincare issues:  skin type, redness, sun damage, and smoothness.  Once the analysis is complete you are given a list of recommended products for your skin type, in a variety of price ranges.  The service costs $90, and according to The New York Times article it is currently only available at Studio BeautyMix which is located in the Fred Segal department store in Santa Monica, CA.  I looked at the Studio BeautyMix website but didn’t see any mention of the service on there.  Philips  will not be selling skincare products or be receiving money from companies whose products are sold in the same location as Crystalize.  After getting your skin analyzed you can go online and share your thoughts and feelings about skincare and your skin on the Crystalize website.

Of course I went and looked up the Crystalize website which I must say I found confusing.  The website certainly tries to sell you on the machine but doesn’t mention where you can find it.  There are testimonials from people who have used Crystalize, but it isn’t clear to me how wide spread the use of the product is.  It did intrigue me to see that Dr. Doris Day is featured on the website, giving her expert endorsement of the product.  Dr. Day is a prominent New York City dermatologist who is widely quoted in the media.  I’ve read one of her books and found it interesting and informative (though I hated the format of the book).  Dr. Day has one blog entry on the Crystalize website but nothing else.  All in all the website seems very under developed.  I even tried to leave a comment and couldn’t find how to do it.  Do you have to be invited in order to leave comments?  It was really confusing and I am usually not this confounded by websites.

Crystalize is definitely an intriguing product.  If it works as it says it does then it really could eliminate a lot of confusion for consumers.  Plus it would take away the problem of wondering if the person at the skincare product counter really knows what they are talking about or is simply trying to sell you something in order to make their commission.  I just wish the Crystalize website was more complete and provided a lot more useful information like where to find it for starters!  Isn’t that a marketing 101 issue – tell people where they can find your product?

Sources and More Information


%d bloggers like this: