How does laser hair removal work on dark skin?
Laser hair removal works on dark skin by targeting the blood supply to the hair. An Nd:YAG laser is used to treat dark skin types. This safely targets hair without causing any damage to the surrounding skin and tissue. Lasers are configured into wavelengths and the YAG operates at a range of 1064nm. Wavelengths indicate how far the laser will penetrate into the skin and effects what the laser will target. Each wavelength has different depths of penetration in the skin. This YAG penetrates 4-5mm into the skin. The average depth of a hair follicle beneath the skin is 3-4mm. The YAG goes deeper because it needs to target the blood supply to the hair.
The Nd:YAG does heat the follicle slightly, however it’s absorption into melanin is poor. That is why it is safe to use on darker skin types. When this laser is pulsed over the skin it doesn’t affect the melanin so is a much safer option.
Different lasers are needed for different skin types
Laser hair removal is very safe for dark coloured skin once this wavelength is used. An Alexandrite laser should never be used on dark skin types. This laser absorbs rapidly into melanin so will damage darker skin. To categorise skin types we use the Fitzpatrick skin scale. This scale is used to determine skin type. Skin types 1-3 are treated with Alexandrite. While skin types 4-6 are treated with Nd:YAG.
How many sessions of laser hair removal are needed if you have dark skin?
In general 8-12+ sessions of laser hair removal are needed if you have dark skin. After an initial course of treatment top ups will be needed to maintain results. Treatments on the face will be performed every 4 weeks for the first 6 sessions. While treatments on the body are slightly longer intervals of 6 weeks apart. Again it’s best to keep at this 6 week interval for at least 6 sessions. After the first 6 sessions have been completed timeframes may be extended depending on results. Factors like underlying medical or hormonal issues can affect the amount of sessions you will need.
What to do before laser hair removal if you have dark skin?
- Lightly exfoliate 3-4 days before your session.
- Gently shave your treatment area 24 hours before your session is due and remove all excess hair.
- Glide the razor with light pressure and don’t go too fast.
- Use a shaving foam or oil when you are shaving and make sure to wash residue off the skin.
- Don’t apply any topical products after showering on the day of your session.
- Wear loose cotton clothing to allow skin to cool after treatment.
- Don’t take any new medications.
What to avoid in the 24-48 hours after laser hair removal if you have dark skin?
- Don’t touch your treatment area directly after your session.
- Don’t apply any creams, oils, make up, exfoliators or make up to your treatment area.
- Forgo exercise or any activities that may cause you to sweat.
- Avoid swimming pools, saunas, steam rooms and if you are taking a shower keep the water quite tepid.
- Do not expose your treatment area to direct sunlight and use SPF50+ at all times if the area is exposed.
Why is a consultation important if you have darker skin?
Without doubt a consultation and patch test is the most important part of your treatment course. During a consultation your treatment areas are assessed to make sure they are suitable. It is vital we see the skin before you start so that we can give you clear and honest advice. We also discuss any underlying issues you may have and explain fully how this may impact your course of treatment. It’s important that you are made fully aware of how many sessions you will need and why you may need more because you have darker skin. Every aspect of treatment is explained so you fully understand what’s involved. It’s also good to meet us to get a feel for what we do and how we do it.
Why do I need a patch test?
If you have darker skin a patch test is vital. For the safety of your skin do not start a course of laser hair removal without one. Before we start treatments on anyone we always insist on a patch test. Our number 1 priority is to keep you safe during all of your treatments with us. If the incorrect setting is used on a darker skin type it can result in skin damage. Before a course of treatment is started a safe but effective setting is selected for your individual skin type. A patch test also allows you to feel the sensation of the laser so you know what to expect. This allows you to feel more relaxed before your first session so you are not as nervous starting off.
Start with us today
We specialise in laser hair removal. It’s not what we do, it’s all we do, so it’s safe to say we’re very focused on it. Our specialists treat 100’s of people every week. We have vast experience treating different skin types. When you have treatment with us, we put your safety first. Results are monitored every step of the way to make sure you are seeing progress. Treatments are not rushed, time is given to cover your treatment areas correctly. We put the time and effort needed into each and everyone of your sessions. How laser hair removal works on dark skin does differ to paler skin. It’s important you know why from the start so you know what to expect.
To book your free 30 minute consultation contact us.