The Fitzpatrick test is a widely used quantifying technology that pinpoints your unique skin type and shade to help beauticians create a custom color and formula for you. Developed by Harvard dermatologist Dr. Thomas B. Fitzpatrick in 1975, this test is used worldwide as a means of classifying skin based on sun sensitivity. In other words, the scale is used to quantify shades of skin. The Fitzpatrick test is a very useful tool for permanent makeup artists (especially microblading technicians) to color-match dye to give clients the most natural looking results.
The Fitzpatrick scale is divided into 6 different categories, each containing 6 numbered subtypes. As the numbers increase, skin color gets darker and sun sensitivity decreases. Each category of skin is susceptible to different types of damage; for example, types I-III are very prone to melanoma (skin cancer). Types IV-VI tend to have less risk of skin cancer, but more issues with hyperpigmentation and scarring. In the field of permanent makeup, these categorizations can be invaluable… not only do they give the technician the tools to ensure perfect color-matching, but they also provide information about how different skin tones react to procedures that can cause scarring or increased UV sensitivity. Individuals of color can often have adverse reactions to permanent makeup (such as keloid formation). This is important to consider when deciding if you are a good candidate for permanent makeup.
The Fitzpatrick test results are influenced by three main components: genetic disposition, reaction to sun exposure, and tanning habits. All three of these factors are important to consider before undergoing a permanent makeup procedure such as eyebrow microblading, as they can affect the healing process and longevity of a client’s cosmetic tattoos. Similar to regular tattoos, the inks used for microblading and other similar procedures are more readily broken down when consistently exposed to UV rays. If a client has UV damaged skin, it can also alter the way the dermal layer holds the pigment.
When it comes to choosing a pigment for your microbladed brows, technicians often have to custom mix a few different pigments together. The tradeoff between pigment mixing and longevity usually means that more natural looking brows in a shade of brown will not have the same longevity as a regular tattoo. When color-matching the brow hairs, technicians also must take skin tone into account. The goal of microblading is to create a finish so natural that it fully mimics real hair growth, while still adding definition. Clients with skin types ranking lower on the Fitzpatrick scale will generally look best with a lighter toned brown. Brow color is also chosen based on skin and hair undertones; if the client has olive skin, an ash brown might be most flattering, whereas a client with pink undertones would probably best match an auburn brown.
By taking a simple self-reported survey, a client’s specific Fitzpatrick skin type can easily be evaluated, allowing the permanent makeup technician to customize the procedure to their specific skin type needs.
- Church, S. (2015, November 2). Working with Skin of Color. Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://permanentmakeuptrainingandtips.com/working-with-skin-of-color/
- Fitzpatrick Skin Type Test. (2014, April 24). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from https://www.notjustfacesmedical.com/blog/fitzpatrick-skin-types
- Howell, E. F. (n.d.). The Color Brown – Society for Permanent Cosmetic, Micropigmentation, Permanent Makeup, Microblading and Cosmetic Tattoo Professionals. Retrieved April 16, 2017, from http://www.spcp.org/information-for-technicians/technician-articles/the-color-brown/
- Know Your Skin Type. (n.d.). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://www.dermatology.ca/skin-hair-nails/skin/photoaging/know-your-skin-type