Skin Care

Fitzpatrick Skin Type Chart Explained

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Are you ready for a pop quiz? Wait, don’t panic. It is a test about your skin—just a few simple questions about your genetic disposition, reaction to sun exposure and tanning habits. You should already know the answers. Ready?

Click here to take the Fitzpatrick Skin Type quiz.

That’s it, just an easy couple of questions. In fact, you have just used the Fitzpatrick Skin Type Chart developed in the 1970’s to help doctors when evaluating patients and their risk for skin cancer. This test can now also be used for determining the effectiveness of many treatments, including laser hair removal.

Generally, the higher your number on the chart, the darker your natural skin tone. Please be advised that this does not give you free license to go without sun screen. In fact, sun protection is a daily necessity no matter what skin type you are.

Each person’s skin responds differently to ultra violet radiation. For many people, the initial reaction is to turn red (erythema). This adaptive response is the skin’s way of telling a person to get out of the sun. It also shows doctors that the immune system is healthy and, in fact, that healing has already begun.

Tanning is the skin’s secondary response, which is a way for the skin to protect itself from further exposure.  This response varies greatly among different people, even those with the same ancestry. For example, one Northern European with fair skin and freckles may burn repeatedly and never tan, while another of the same heritage may burn once and then tan.

Information obtained from skin type tests such as the Fitzpatrick skin type chart is very important to dermatologists and laser technicians because it determines their method of treatment and its effectiveness. In fact, many treatments use ultra violet light, such as laser hair removal and the results will vary according to the patient’s skin type.

Are Tanning Beds Dangerous?

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I recently read an article in the November 2010 issue of  Good Housekeeping titledThe Price of Staying Bronzed” (page 42), on the dangers of using tanning beds.  Here are some important points you should consider before going “under the light“.

According to researchers at the University of Minnesota, “spending 20 hours or more of indoor tanning, spread over a lifetime, can ‘double your risk of melanoma‘.  Spending  50 hours or more in a tanning bed will ‘triple your chance‘ of getting melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.”

When researchers compared melanoma patients with cancer-free individuals, they were able to debunk many “safety” myths out there on tanning beds.  Here are some of those myths:

  • Getting a base tan from a tanning booth before hitting the beach will keep you safe.  Wrong!  You can not buy a protective base tan. The truth is, “people who got sunburned despite salon tanning were at even higher risk for cancer.”
  • One tanning bed is “safer” than others.  Wrong!  Although different tanning beds emit different amounts of UVA and UVB rays, they are all dangerous and increase your risk of melanoma.
  • Tanning beds are more popular with blonds. Wrong!  “Indoor tanning raises your risk of cancer by the same proportion in everyone, no matter their hair color, age, skin tone, or number of moles and freckles.”

If after reading this article you are still tempted to get that “winter glow” from tanning beds, consider a good self-tanning cream.  There are many on the market that won’t streak or turn your skin orange.  Also, remember to use a good sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater when spending time in the sun!

5 Anti-Aging Foods You Can Find In Your Local Market!

By | Blog, Nutrition, Skin Care, Sunscreen | No Comments

I was watching the Dr. Oz show earlier this month.  His guest was Dr. Audrey Kunin, a board certified dermatologist in Kansas City, Missouri.  Here are her 5 favorite foods to help slow down the aging process:

1.  Guava – guava is a fruit you can find at your local supermarket.  This fruit is loaded with vitamin C, which helps to stimulate and build collagen.  You only need 2 cups per week.

2.  Wheat Germ – wheat germ is a concentrated source of several essential nutrients including vitamin E, folate, phosphorus, thiamin, magnesum and ZINC. Wheat germ is rich in zinc which helps to heal wounds and it is also an anti-inflammatory.  All you need is 1/2 cup per day.

3.  Romaine Lettuce – romaine lettuce is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, manganese, and chromium.  Vitamin A  helps with cellular turnover.  Six leaves a day is all you need!

4.  Brazil Nuts – brazil nuts contain selenium which is very beneficial in enhancing the elasticity of the skin and can help diminish fine lines and wrinkles.  Selenium also protects your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays.  You should not discontinue using your daily sunscreen for maximum sun care protection.  All you need is 2 nuts a day!

5.  Tomatoes tomatoes contain lycopene which is a great anti-oxidant.  You should cook your tomatoes for maximum benefit or use low fat, low salt tomato sauce.  All you need is ten tablespoons per week!

These foods are just a few suggestions for healthier looking skin!  Check in next month for Dr. Kunin’s favorite picks for skin care products found at your local dollar store!

In What Order Do I Apply Skin Care Products?

By | Blog, Skin Care, Sunscreen | One Comment

After doing a recent blog about the importance of using a good sunscreen, many of my clients asked me if I knew the order for applying skin care products.  I said not really, but I’ll l find out.

Some of the most frequently asked questions were:

  • Do I put  sunscreen on before or after moisturizing?
  • When should I apply my foundation?
  • When do I apply my Retin-A?

After some research and talking with a colleague of mine who is a P.A. in Dermatology, here are some suggestions:

1.  In the morning you should always start by cleansing your face with a gentle cleanser, followed by a good sunscreen.    As a rule, there is no need to apply an additional moisturizer at the same time as application of the sunscreen.  The sunscreen has enough emollient to do double time.  If you feel that you need an additional moisturizer, use a moisturizer with built in sunscreen.   Lastly, apply your foundation and you are ready to begin your day!

2. In the evening, clean your face and remove any eye makeup with a gentle cleanser.  Cleansing your face before bed is very important because this is when your cells rejuvenate.  If you use a toner, now would be the time to apply it.  Once the toner has dried, apply your moisturizer, followed by a retinoid to help repair the days incidental UV damage.

3.  It is best to apply most products when the skin is moist because active ingredients can penetrate better when they are dissolved. Once your cream has dried up, its rate of penetration decreases dramatically. Don’t wipe your skin dry after you cleansed or washed it if you intend to apply a product.  If the skin is too wet, just pat it a little with a towel.

There are many good products on the market today so look for products that are good for your skin and the environment!  See the video below from, that may also help clear up this mystery of putting on skin care products.