Do You Want To find out your skin type for laser hair removal? A clever chap called Thomas Fitzpatrick in 1975 developed a system for classifying a person’s complexion and their tolerance to sunlight. This “Fitzpatrick Classification Scale” is now used by clinic’s world over to determine the type of laser and facial treatments your skin can take.
There are three main elements that contribute to what skin type you are:
- Genetic complexion: Your skin type is determined by your genes and the respective gene is one of many that contributes to your final appearance, which also includes your hair colour, eye colour etc..
- Sun exposure reaction: In assessing your skin type, the way your skin reacts to sun exposure is an important factor.
- Tanning regularity: The simple question of how often do you tan? is an important factor when assessing your skin type.
Knowing your skin type for laser hair removal is crucial for both safety and effectiveness and below is the Fitzpatrick Classification system. There are six skin types, I – VI as follows.
Skin Type 1 – Pale white or freckled, fair and typically Northern European or Scandinavian.
Skin Type 2 – Normal white, fair and associated with European descent. English, Polish etc.
Skin Type 3 – White to olive, for example of Mediterranean descent like Spanish and Italian etc.
Skin Type 4 – Light brown, lighter-skinned Asians, Persians or Middle Easterners.
Skin Type 5 – Brown, Light skinned North Africans, African Caribbeans and Asians.
Skin Type 6 – Dark brown, Africans, African Caribbeans, Southern Asians and Sri Lankans etc
Skin types 4-6 involve the largest risk for injury if a laser technician is not properly trained in treating dark skin types. Skin in these three categories includes people with olive, Mediterranean, Asian and African-Caribbean ethnic backgrounds.
Incorrect settings on a cosmetic laser caused by poor analysis or improper training can cause irreversible damage in the form of hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, burning or scarring.
That is why I perform (and all other trained technicians should also) a free patch test to make sure your skin can proceed to full laser hair removal treatment. The patch test involves different levels of intensity and will inform me of your reaction to the treatment. Skin reaction is normally delayed and thus it is important to wait 48-72 hours before commencing to full laser hair removal treatment.
Not only is the Nd: YAG 1064nm laser widely regarded as the safest for all skin types, it is really the only laser that is safe and that can deliver the results you want for skin types 4-6. This is the most optimal laser for ethnic skin tones. The physical properties of this laser allow it to penetrate more deeply than the other two lasers, thus bypassing the upper layers of skin that contain higher levels of melanin in darker skin types.
Along with the all important laser 1064nm’s long wavelength, there are several other parameters to work with, including the timing of the laser pulses, the compression of the device and the amount of energy put into the skin. These parameters allow for the safest treatment with enough laser energy to produce effective permanent laser hair removal.