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When it comes to skin type – knowledge is everything

We are all individuals with very particular idiosyncrasies. This is just as true of our skin and the care it requires, as it is for any other aspect of our lives.

When it comes to looking after your skin and developing the right skincare routine for you, there is no ‘one size fits all’.

The most appropriate skincare regime, particularly for people with problem skin, should be recommended by a professional dermatologist, who can assess your skin and prescribe medical grade products if required, along with the most effective treatment to get the best outcome for you.

Understanding skin type

There is more to assessing skin type than the traditional classifications of ‘normal’, ‘oily’, ‘dry’ and ‘combination’, although these characteristics certainly play a role in helping to identify skincare approaches.

‘Normal’ skin is really a misnomer and it’s something that rarely exists. It’s a classification used by skincare brands rather than a clinical term. It’s used to describe skin types with no discernible problems that can tolerate most skincare products without needing specialist care. In reality, most of us experience some kind of issue with our skin as some point in our lives.

In general, dry, oily and combination skin types demonstrate certain traits:

Dry skin

Dry skin tends to lack natural moisture and may be more likely to ‘flake’, especially in dryer weather and in winter. It may also be more prone to chapping or cracking if it becomes very dehydrated.

Oily skin

Sebum is an oily substance produced by the body’s sebaceous glands. It moisturises and protects the skin. Oily skin can be prone to acne due to increased secretions of sebum. Oily skin may appear greasy, and is more common during adolescence due to hormonal changes, which increase production of sebum.

Combination skin

Combination skin, as the name suggests, is a mixture of both dry and oily skin. Often the oily part of the face is known as the ‘T-zone’ (forehead, nose and chin). 

Understanding these aspects plays a role in assessing the most suitable approach to skincare, but there is a holistic approach to skin type analysis that goes much further.

The Fitzpatrick scale

The Fitzpatrick Scale is commonly used by dermatologists to classify different skin types.

Developed by Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1975, the scale is used to measure how skin reacts to ultraviolet light or exposure to sun.

Melanin is a natural skin pigment. The amount of melanin that a person produces affects the colour of their hair, skin, and eyes. The Fitzpatrick scale was based on measuring the amount of melanin in the skin following exposure to the sun, in combination with physical characteristics such as eye and hair colour.

The scale is a useful tool for dermatologists to assess if treatments are suitable for an individual, as well as assessing risk factors around skin cancer.

The Fitzpatrick Scale defines six overarching skin types based on physical characteristics and how the skin reacts to the sun:

Fitzpatrick skin type 1 characteristics:

  • very pale skin tone
  • light blue, grey or green eye colour
  • red or light blonde hair
  • sun reaction: skin freckles easily, tends to burn and peel and doesn’t tan

Fitzpatrick skin type 2 characteristics:

  • fair skin tone
  • blue, grey or green eye colour
  • blonde hair
  • sun reaction: skin can be prone to freckles, burning and peeling, rarely tans

Fitzpatrick skin type 3 characteristics:

  • fair to beige skin tone
  • hazel or light brown eye colour
  • dark blonde to light brown hair
  • sun reaction: skin will tan but may also freckle and burn occasionally

Fitzpatrick skin type 4 characteristics:

  • olive or light brown skin tone
  • dark brown eye colour
  • dark brown hair
  • sun reaction: skin usually tans and rarely freckles or burns

Fitzpatrick skin type 5 characteristics:

  • dark brown skin tone
  • dark brown eye colour
  • dark brown to black hair
  • sun reaction: skin always tans and rarely burns

Fitzpatrick skin type 6 characteristics:

  • very dark brown skin tone
  • dark brown eye colour
  • dark brown or black hair
  • sun reaction: skins always tans easily and darkly and never burns

The Fitzpatrick scale is just one of the tools that dermatologists used to ascertain the most appropriate treatment or skincare regime for an individual to achieve glowing, healthy skin.

Why do patients choose a skin consultation?

There can be many factors that instigate a skin consultation.

Some of our patients have been managing a particular skin condition for some time, or they feel that they are not happy about the appearance of their skin for personal reasons. 

Sometimes a life event is the catalyst for the consultation; a forthcoming marriage or special event, a new job or relationship can all be triggers to resolving a particular concern.

What are the benefits of a skin consultation?

No matter what the issue is that you want to resolve, every skin consultation starts with the analysis and assessment of your particular skin type. This is done in conjunction with relevant information about your medical history and an understanding of what you, personally, want to achieve.

This will lead to a personalised skincare recommendation, which may include prescription skincare products, a home-based routine or clinical treatments.

Our patients come to us with a range of concerns and conditions including:

  • skin ageing including fine lines
  • acne and acne scarring
  • pigmentation
  • rosacea or redness
  • sun damage

Start your journey to healthier skin

Our expert dermatologist will assess your individual needs and advise you about the most appropriate treatment.

Specialist skin consultations are available at our Save Face accredited clinic at Harley Street. The initial consultation is free and you can start your treatment straight away if desired.

You can book online or, if you prefer, call us on 0330 024 1300 or email us at