Every Shade Under the Sun

Understanding your exact skin shade has historically been a bit hit and miss.  In past times, it would be down to the trained eye of the beauty counter assistant, but as more and more of us are buying colour cosmetics online, we need a better, more accurate way to measure our skin colour.  While some brands have introduced systems to help detect skin shade, the science, up until now, has been somewhat lacking, resulting in inaccurate results and expensive mistakes.

Finding a system that truly worked to classify skin tone became a passion point for Farah Naz, the Imperial College Biochemist turned beauty entrepreneur who founded EX1 Cosmetics, the multi award winning makeup brand that produces affordable base

products for women with olive skin tones and beyond. When Farah began to explore this area, she was amazed to find that systems that had been developed in the 1970s were still being used.  Furthermore, as a long-time beauty consumer with olive skin, Farah had noticed that the systems in use were not nearly inclusive enough, only covering a narrow range of skin tones. 

As a scientist, Farah knew that she could do better herself and so she teamed up with Professor Stephen Westland, world renowned colour scientist to develop a game-changing skin classification system, the Naz-Westland Index.  This breakthrough system is the world’s first truly accurate way to classify the skin.

Previously, companies relied on the widely used Fitzpatrick scale that was created fifty years ago and has been widely criticised by dermatologists for lack of accuracy.  Farah Naz comments, “It’s 2021 and I couldn’t understand how we have no proper way to classify skin tones.  To me it’s unbelievable that we’re still using the Fitzpatrick scale, which was created in the 1970’s and only has 6 skin tone types, which isn’t close to being inclusive enough. Our system has 20 skin tone types that are highly accurate and based on countless hours of research and in-depth skin analysis.” 

According to Professor Stephen Westland, “The Fitzpatrick scale looks more at how skin burns. We developed a scale which looks at the hues of red, green and yellow in the skin as well as the lightness to create a tool which is far more diverse and accurate.”

The new Naz-Westland Index, works on understanding the skin’s undertones and marrying this information with the skin’s lightness. During development the team made some ground-breaking discoveries such as, that almost every single person in the human population has a degree of green in their skin, yet this tone has historically mostly been associated with those with olive skin. What was also very interesting was that many of the subjects who would have classified themselves as red tones, were in fact coming out as yellow/green or olive.


This new information helped the team to develop their new revolutionary system which is a lot more appropriate for modern day consumers. Farah commented “The feedback has been overwhelming, with many industry figures believing that this tool could change the way consumers shop for beauty. By understanding skin colour in such depth, we can enable people make much more accurate purchases.”

The Naz-Westland Index is available for consumers to explore and discover the exact percentage of their skin’s undertone here.

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