Monitoring of tissue blood volume and oxygen saturation using biomedical optics techniques has the potential to inform the assessment of tissue health, healing, and dysfunction. These quantities are typically estimated from the contribution of oxyhemoglobin and deoxyhemoglobin to the absorption spectrum of the dermis. However, estimation of blood related absorption in superficial tissue such as the skin can be confounded by the strong absorption of melanin in the epidermis. Furthermore, epidermal thickness and pigmentation varies with anatomic location, race, gender, and degree of disease progression. This study describes a technique for decoupling the effect of melanin absorption in the epidermis from blood absorption in the dermis for a large range of skin types and thicknesses. An artificial neural network was used to map input optical properties to spatial frequency domain diffuse reflectance of two layer media. Then, iterative fitting was used to determine the optical properties from simulated spatial frequency domain diffuse reflectance. Additionally, an artificial neural network was trained to directly map spatial frequency domain reflectance to sets of optical properties of a two layer medium, thus bypassing the need for iteration. In both cases, the optical thickness of the epidermis and absorption and reduced scattering coefficients of the dermis were determined independently. The accuracy and efficiency of the iterative fitting approach was compared with the direct neural network inversion.