Skin typing system offers targeted approach

March 1, 2006

Orlando ? The Baumann Skin Typing System is a multi-dimensional representation of skin types. Using it will save dermatologists time and lead to more effective skin care, Leslie Baumann, M.D., says.

Dr. Baumann, associate professor at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, developed the skin typing system due to frustration over how much time she spent with patients discussing appropriate products for their skin.

"I'm a student of cosmetic history and a big fan of Helena Rubenstein," she says. "In the early 1900s, Rubenstein described skin as oily, dry, sensitive or combination."

Bingo. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator places people into 16 personality categories based on a lengthy multichoice questionnaire. Using Myers-Briggs as a model, she developed a skin-typing questionnaire. Results define whether a person is an OSNW, an OSPT or some other combination.

Dr. Baumann has just released a book, The Skin Type Solution, detailing the 16 skin types plus a daily skincare regimen for each - by price point.

"The typing system is great, even if dermatologists are selling their own products, because it's ingredient-driven. It helps doctors understand, for example, what skin type benefits from soy extracts and saves patients money."

Look for new labeling

"We'll be able to track that over time," she says.

The dermatologist, who has consulted with dozens of pharmaceutical and cosmeceutical companies, believes her typing system will help the industry market skincare products more effectively and safely.

She says, "I can't talk about it right now because of confidentiality agreements, but I believe cosmetic companies will start using the typing system."

Ethnicity, skin sensitivity

Dr. Baumann notes that the only widely used method for classifying skin today is the Fitzpatrick system, which was developed in 1976 to avoid burning psoriasis patients with phototherapy. Patients are asked a single question,"What happens when you go into the sun for the first time?"

Answers are subjective and unreliable. Dr. Baumann says, "I've had many fair-skinned patients say they never burn - a Fitzpatrick V. I'd say the same thing because I never go outside without sunscreen."

She says the Fitzpatrick system is misused in establishing ethnicity. Though not intended for that purpose, the Baumann Skin Typing System may do a better job.

"A person is pigmented if she gets spots. A redhead with freckles is a P, so is an African-American with melasma. However, a PT is more likely to have dark skin than a PW."