In 1975 a US dermatologist named Thomas B. Fitzpatrick devised a system to classify skin type based on a person’s physical attributes and their response to sun exposure.
The result is a classification of 6 different skin types:
Type I: Very fair skin that always burns and never tans.
Type II: Fair skin that always burns and sometimes tans.
Type III: Medium skin that sometimes burns and always tans.
Type IV: Olive/light brown skin that rarely burns and always tans.
Type V: Brown skin that never burns and always tans.
Type VI: Dark brown or black skin that never burns and always tans.
The 6 Fitzpatrick skin types range from Type 1 (extremely fair skin) to Type 6 (very dark skin).
Your Fitzpatrick skin type is determined by completing a questionnaire that asks about the color of your eyes, the natural color of your hair, the color of your skin, propensity to tan/burn and other questions related to how your skin responds to the sun.
Also, the specific area to be treated is important since some body parts (ie. face) often get more regular exposure to the sun than other body parts (ie. back) and therefore might be a slightly different shade ie. a different Fitzpatrick skin type.
Skin type is a very important determining factor for the success (or lack thereof) of laser and intense pulsed light hair removal treatment.
When I first received my intense pulsed light hair removal treatment, one of the first thing the practitioner did was to have me answer the skin type questionnaire to determine my Fitzpatrick skin type.
She then inputted my skin type into the machine’s computer since its settings are customizable based on the skin type of each patient.