Before jumping into a skin care program or having an aesthetic procedure like a peel or laser treatment, you need to know your skin type. Typically, physicians use the Fitzpatrick skin typing system to categorize skin tone on a continuum from very fair (type I) to very dark (type VI). But Dr. Zein Obagi believes this system doesn’t provide all of the necessary information for predicting how your skin will react to a specific treatment.
For that you need to consider your ethnic background, particularly when trying to correct or avoid hyperpigmentation, discoloration, and dark spots.
Dr. Zein Obagi divides skin types into three categories based on your racial and ethnic background:
- Original: this refers to people whose ancestors basically came from one place. You could be white, black, or Asian but you know for sure that all of your forebearers were from Ireland, Kenya, Japan, etc. But as we all know, this is a hard class to claim, which leads us to the next category.
- Mixed: most people in the world fall into this group. Their ancestors hail from around the globe and their ethnic and racial ancestry is mixed. When using chemical peels or laser treatments on people in this group, skin care professionals need to recognize that deeper procedures are possible, but with caution.
- Complex: this category also hails from a racially mixed background, but has less stable skin than the mixed type. The skin has a natural uneven tone, dark in some areas and lighter in others, and is very sensitive to the sun. South and North American native people as well as those from India, Pakistan, and surrounding regions, may have this skin type. When treating these patients, physicians need to be very careful because their skin cannot tolerate deep treatments without a long period of topical skin conditioning before and after.