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Understanding Laser Hair Removal Treatments for Different Skin Tones

By Mariela
September 10, 2023
8 minutes

The unwanted hair on the body and face has always been the biggest concern of almost every woman. Not all men also prefer having hair but removing their coarser, thicker hair with shaving, waxing, and epilating can be quite troublesome, difficult, and frustrating. 

Laser hair removal has solved all these worries by providing a long-term hair removal solution. The laser is a coherent light beam that destroys your hair follicles and gives your hair free and smooth skin for years. At the start, it was not a great idea for those with dark skin tones but now people say that laser hair removal on dark skin is possible. So, is it true? Let’s find out. 

Table of Contents:

Is Laser Hair Removal Suitable for All Skin Tones?

When laser hair removal started initially, it was only limited to those having light skin tones. This is because laser hair removal works by targeting the melanin pigment present in your hair follicles. The light energy changes into heat on reaching your hair sacs and this heat destroys hair follicles and gets rid of hair by the roots. 

Since people with darker skin have more melanin as compared to those with lighter skin tones, the laser was not used on them as it could burn their skin. Fortunately, this is not the case anymore. It is because the FDA has approved the use of Nd: YAG laser for hair removal and it is suitable for dark skin tone. Therefore, now all skin tones can benefit from laser hair removal. 

Who is the Ideal Candidate for Laser Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal now works for all skin tones and even for light hair colors. As for light hair colors, either a long-pulsed laser such as Nd: YAG is used or the hairs are pigmented artificially so that the laser can target your hair follicles.

Similarly, long-pulsed light is also used to treat dark skin tones. But, does this make everyone an ideal candidate for the laser? No, the ideal candidates for laser hair removal are those have light skin with dark hair color. This gives laser light a better contrast and helps it target your hair follicles effectively.

On the other hand, artificial hair pigmentation is less effective than those having naturally dark hair. Moreover, those with dark skin have to stay more cautious to prevent any side effects of the laser.

Also Read: Does Laser Hair Removal Work for Blonde, Red, and Grey Hair

What is the Fitzpatrick Scale?

An understanding of the Fitzpatrick scale is necessary to determine your skin tone which further helps you to decide the suitability of laser hair removal for you. Let’s see what this scale is used for. 

The Fitzpatrick scale was developed by an American Dermatologist by the name of Thomas B. Fitzpatrick. This scale divided skin tones into 6 subcategories based on the concentration of melanin in the skin and the reaction of the skin as it is exposed to the sunlight. 

  • Skin Type I: The pale white skin that burns on exposure to sun instead of tanning 
  • Skin Type II: Fair skin that can burn easily but minimally
  • Skin Type III: The white skin that initially burns and then tans to a light brown color gradually
  • Skin Type IV: The light brown skin that tans easily but has minimum chances of skin burning 
  • Skin type V: Brown skin that burns occasionally and can tan to a dark color easily 
  • SkinType VI: The dark brown skin that never burns and is, least sensitive among all skin types, to UV rays of the sun 

Laser Hair Removal for Different Skin Tones

Laser hair removal is now available for all skin tones. This became possible as different types of lasers were introduced. The most common of them are Ruby laser, Nd: YAG, and diode laser. Each of them has their specifications that make them suitable for different skin tones. Let’s see further details.

Skin Tone 1-3

Individuals that fall within the range of skin tones 1-3 can benefit the most from laser hair removal. People with these skin tones have less melanin in their skin which makes lasers safer and more effective for them. The lasers that are most suitable to these individuals involve alexandrite laser, ruby laser, and diode laser. 

The ruby laser was the first one to be ever used for removing unwanted hair from the body. This laser has a wavelength of 694nm which makes it effective against light skin tones and thin hair. It is less painful but takes more time.

The alexandrite hair removal system is a bit painful but faster so those with light to olive skin tone who require to treat larger areas can undergo this hair removal method. Lastly, the diode laser is suitable for almost all skin tones. 

Skin tone 4

If you have skin tone 4, the ruby laser might not be for you but it does not mean that you cannot try laser hair removal. This skin tone has more concentration of melanin pigment which means we need to use the laser that penetrates deeper to the hair follicles with little interaction with the skin.

It is possible with the help of an alexandrite laser, Nd: YAG laser, and diode laser. These are long-pulsed wavelengths of light with alexandrite having wavelength 755nm, diode with 800-810nm, and Nd: YAG laser with 1064nm of wavelength. Just like the requirements, they penetrate deep without burning the surrounding skin. 

Among the three, the diode laser has a better effect on thick hair so if you have skin tone 4 and looking to remove the coarse hair on your chest, you can go for a diode laser. 

Skin Tone 5-6

Skin tone 5-6 are the darkest skin tones among all and laser hair removal on these skin tones require lots of precautions. They have a higher risk of skin burning and skin damage. That is why the Nd: YAG laser with wavelength 1064nm is the safest and most beneficial laser for these skin tones. 

Since this laser has the longest wavelength it results in maximum penetration of the laser to the hair roots with minimum invasion of surrounding skin. As a result, there are minimum chances of skin burning with Nd: YAG laser. Additionally, it is also approved by the FDA for getting rid of all the extra unwanted hair on your body. 

Tips for Safe and Effective Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin 

As you need to be more cautious about dark skin hair removal, here are some tips to follow to ensure that your hair removal goes safe. 

Find a Qualified Dermatologist

Most of us usually have the habit of trying new places to see how good they are but you should never do this whenever you are undergoing laser hair removal. Instead of going to a new place, or a dermatologist with no experience just to save your money, find a dermatologist with better experience.

The more experience he has, the safer you are. The experienced dermatologist not only ensures safe treatment but also patient comfort and ways to minimize the side effects. So, better be safe than sorry. 

Find the Right Clinic for Your Skin Type

Not all the clinics offer hair removal for dark skin tones. So, before going to any random place on a friend’s recommendation, search thoroughly. Find the places that offer dark skin hair removaland and then you can book a consultation.

Ask your queries, tell the dermatologist about your fears and expectations, and if you feel satisfied then start your treatment sessions there. 

Stick with Pre-treatment Instructions

Laser hair removal is not just about going to the clinic, completing the session, and then coming home. There are pre-treatment instructions every dermatologist provides and you need to stick with those instructions.

For instance, you need to avoid going into the sun and minimize your exposure to UV rays, and your hair needs to be a specific length for laser hair removal. But, you cannot remove hair by waxing or tweezing as they pull the hair by the roots. 

Follow Post-care Routine

After you are done with laser hair removal, there are some more instructions you need to follow. Your skin becomes sensitive after a laser session, so a dermatologist will instruct you to stay away from the sun for a while. Also, chemical products can irritate your skin so minimize their use until your skin heals completely.

Lastly, avoid scratching the treated area or removing the hair by waxing, tweezing, or even sugaring. Also, you need to exfoliate your skin but do it 2-3 days after laser hair removal. 

Is There Any Other Method for Permanent Hair Removal?

Laser hair removal is expensive, painful, and also a bit hectic. Luckily there are also other hair removal methods available for better and safer hair removal. 

IPL Hair Removal

Just like a laser, IPL hair removal also works based on the concentration of melanin present in your hair. The only difference is that it is a less painful, and quicker method of semi-permanent hair removal. It is also less expensive if you buy an at-home IPL hair removal device

Ulike Air3 for Pubic Hair RemovalShould we suggest one? You can try the Ulike Sapphire Air3 IPL hair removal device.

  • It costs $329 while all the laser hair removal sessions can cost more than a thousand dollars so economically IPL hair removal with Ulike is better
  • It is less painful than a laser as the device has cooling technology to control the temperature and soothe your skin
  • Different intensities make it useful for all areas of the body and face
  • The device can work for as long as 10 years or for even more time

Also Read: Laser vs. IPL: Which is Better for You? 

Electrolysis 

Laser and IPL offers semi-permanent hair removal but electrolysis is an FDA-approved method that offers permanent hair removal. It uses a thin needle to target your hair and then burn the hair follicles to give you permanent results.

It is a bit painful but since the method works independently of melanin concentration in the body, individuals with all hair and skin tones can get their hair removed permanently by this method. 

Conclusion

Laser hair removal has always been people’s choice for getting permanent hair removal but it was not open to all skin tones at the start.  Now, different lasers are being used for hair removal, and among those lasers, the alexandrite, diode, and Nd: YAG lasers have been effective against dark skin tones.

They have long wavelengths which facilitates deeper penetration directly to your hair follicles with less skin involvement. So, yes, the laser is now available for all skin tones but some cautions are required to make sure it does not affect you negatively. These cautions require proper pre and post-skincare and selection of the right dermatologist and clinic.

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