Monk Skin Tone Scale vs. Fitzpatrick Skin Tone Scale – What You Need to Know

Monk Skin Tone Scale vs. Fitzpatrick Skin Tone Scale – What You Need to Know

February 14, 2024

5 min read

In terms of skin tones, you should know that each individual has a unique color. For instance, Pantone created 110 color swatches that were made to portray different kinds of skin tones realistically. However, in the world of cosmetology, two skin tone scales are commonly used: The Fitzpatrick scale and the Monk scale.

The Fitzpatrick scale has been used to categorize a specific skin color, especially when determining a course of treatment. However, recently, the world began adopting a more inclusive skin tone scale, Monk. Read our blog and find out more about these two skin tone scales.

What Is the Fitzpatrick Skin Tone Scale?

The Fitzpatrick scale is a list of six different skin colors meant to classify people with various skin tones in response to UV radiation. Developed in 1975 by Thomas B. Fitzpatrick, an American dermatologist, its purpose was to be used in phototherapy and determine an individual’s risk of tanning.

In dermatology, the Fitzpatrick scale is used to establish the correct laser setting when treating specific skin conditions. For instance, skin type I on the Fitzpatrick scale is sensitive to UV rays and always burns but never tans. On the other hand, skin type VI is the least sensitive and never burns due to the pigment content.

The Fitzpatrick scale is still commonly used in dermatology, but it has limitations when it comes to dark skin colors. The scale features four colors for light skin and two for darker skin, causing it to be subjected to a fair amount of criticism.

How Is the Monk Skin Tone Scale Different?

Developed in 2019 by Harvard sociology professor Ellis Monk in partnership with Google, the Monk skin tone scale is more inclusive. It includes 10 different skin tones (four for light skin tones and six for darker shades), measuring color from a sociological approach. The scale replaces Fitzpatrick in terms of AI research, as the former version was unsuitable for predictive skin tone.

Lately, the Monk skin tone scale has started being used in the medical field, specifically in dermatology, to reduce the risks of side effects of phototherapy in individuals with darker skin. The colors go from A to J, minimizing bias and making it more inclusive to people of different ethnicities. Whereas the Fitzpatrick scale categorizes skin from white to black, Monk places it into social categories, including Asian, Hispanic, or Indigenous.

Why Skin Tone Matters

Your skin tone can influence how you are affected by the environment – how fast you get sunspots and wrinkles and how easily you can develop hyperpigmentation. For instance, people with darker skin tones have more chances of developing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) when exposed to injury or UV rays.

The skin tone needs to be precise to choose the appropriate course of treatment. Otherwise, you might not receive the correct procedure and be subject to excess pigmentation. The Fitzpatrick and Monk skin tone scales are both great options for individuals with lighter tones, but the Monk scale is the more appropriate solution for those with darker skin.

Do You Know Your Skin Tone?

The Monk and the Fitzpatrick scale can offer insight into where you stand with your skin tone. This way, you may choose the suitable laser wavelengths for your skin or the correct skincare approach. Contact Metropolitan Skin Clinic and set up an appointment for your procedure, regardless of your skin tone.

For more information about different skin tones, please contact Metropolitan Skin at 952-288-2230. We can offer you all the information you need to choose a suitable treatment. Alternatively, you can fill out our online contact form, and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

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