Dark Skin And Laser Hair Removal: Choosing Methods That Are Safe And Effective For Darker Skin Tones

Laser hair removal is a convenient method of removing hair permanently and avoiding the hassle of shaving, tweezing and other time consuming methods. It has previously been the most effective for individuals with light skin and dark hair because the type of laser system commonly used was attracted to melanin in the hair shaft. Lighter hair has little to no melanin, making it hard for the laser to target the hair. With new developments, there are innovative systems designed to work safely with both lighter hair and darker pigmented skin.

Concerns About Scars

Scarring has been a concern for every skin type, but darker skin was more at risk. This is due to the laser causing burns on the skin as it destroyed the follicle. With lighter skin, these surface marks would usually fade and leave no permanent scar. In darker individuals, the skin often turned white and remained damaged after healing. New technology is now used to direct the heat into the hair rather than at the skin. This reduces discomfort and eliminates nearly all the risk of scars.

Salons Versus Clinics

The main cause of scarring has always been technician error. Salons that have trained aestheticians are better than those that do not have specially trained help, but they still do not have the education and understanding of skin care that is available from a dermatologist. In addition, dermatological offices will often have a variety of tools that are designed for specific hair and skin types. In a salon, it is typical for them to have only one or two methods of permanent hair removal.

Questions to Ask

Anyone with dark skin seeking permanent hair removal should ask the same questions, regardless of whether they are at a salon or a medical clinic. Find out what system they are using and how it works. An IPL system will not work on dark skin. A long pulsed light system is best for dark skin, and will be absorbed more into the hair rather than the skin. Systems that offer optical and radiofrequency energy are believed to permanently remove hair faster and are considered more comfortable than older systems. A laser system that offers a cryogen spray cooling feature will also increase comfort during the procedure.

If going to a salon, make certain the technician asks the right questions too. They should be aware of conditions that may cause complications like thyroid disorders, ovarian disorders and irregular menstruation. It should not be done on individuals with a tan or sunburn and cannot be completed on hair that has been recently waxed. A test patch in a hidden area to view the reaction of the skin should be done first. Eye protection should be provided and no technician should promise that one appointment will eliminate hair forever. It will not. Every system requires multiple appointments to be fully effective. Finally, full body hair removal is unsafe to complete at once. Small areas should be tended at a time to avoid overexposure to the light and heat of the laser.