how does laser hair removal work
Laser Hair Removal | 24 September 2019

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

Laser hair removal works by using a combination of light and heat to target hair follicles. A laser machine is designed to emit energy in the form of heat and light. This light is configured into wavelengths. Wavelengths indicate how far the laser will  penetrate into the skin and what it targets. 

Skin type will determine what type of laser will be used during treatment. Pale/Medium skin types will be treated on Alexandrite using a wavelength of 755nm. Darker skin types will be treated on Nd:Yag using a wavelength of 1064nm. Alexandrite laser should never be used on dark skin.

How Alexandrite laser works for hair removal

Alexandrite works using a combination of light and heat, this light is attracted to and absorbed by melanin. Melanin is the substance within your hair that contains the pigment or colour. This is definitely the most important factor for laser on pale/medium skin types. This wavelength delivers heat approx 3-4mm beneath the skin. Heat travels down the hair shaft to the root where the heat destroys the interconnecting cells that connect the hair root to the blood supply that nourishes it. As a result the interconnecting cells are completely destroyed and a new hair can’t grow. This will therefore take a number of sessions as hair has to be in a particular phase of growth for this to take place. Laser is a completely safe procedure as the laser will only absorb into these specific structures.

How Nd:Yag laser works for hair removal

Nd:Yag works in a slightly different way and is used to treat dark skin types. This safely targets hair without causing any damage to the surrounding skin and tissue. This wavelength 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. Heat from the laser will travel deeper into the skin to target the small interconnecting cells connecting the blood supply to the hair root. Over time hair follicles will not be able to reattach to the blood supply and new hair won’t be able to regrow. This wavelength is absorbed poorly by melanin so therefore will not cause any damage to the surrounding skin. 

How laser treats different skin types


For laser hair removal to work hair has to be in a specific phase of growth

There are 3 growth phases


  • Anagen/Active growth phase – Hair is nourished by the blood supply therefore hair is able to grow
  • Catagen/Transition phase – When hair is fully grown the follicle detaches from the blood supply
  • Telogen/Shedding phase – Hair dies without nourishment and sheds from the follicle
  • Over time the hair follicle will go back into the  Anagen cycle again

For laser to successfully work only hairs that are in the Anagen phase will be targeted on each session. Therefore hairs that are in the other 2 phases will not be affected. Hair follicles change phases at different rates depending on the area of the body being treated.

How laser hair removal works with growth cycles of hair

Hairs have to contain dark pigment for laser hair removal to work

Laser will only target pigmented hairs and will only work on mid brown, brown and black hairs the laser relies on this pigment to target the hair for absorption.

If the hair does not contain melanin the laser will not absorb into it and the heat transferred will have no effect. Lighter brown hairs may reduce slightly but they will not be fully removed as a result of this. White, red and grey hairs will not respond to laser at all. In areas where there is a mixture of light and dark hairs in an area the laser will only target the darker ones and the lighter ones will remain.

how laser hair removal absorbs into hair

Our Lasers are FDA approved and are safe for laser hair removal

We have been using Cynosure Elite lasers for the last 10 years, all of our lasers are FDA approved. Rigorous clinical testing has been done to deem them safe and also to prove they are effective at permanently reducing hair. For lasers to work at optimum levels they must be fully serviced and maintained.  Our lasers are fully serviced and lamps changed on an ongoing basis to ensure you get the very best results from each laser session that you have with us. Our lasers use 2 different wavelenghts one for lighter skins – Alexandrite 755nm and another for darker skins Nd:YAG 1064nm.


food and drug administration


There is more published clinical evidence to support the effectiveness of medical grade laser treatment.  Our lasers have FDA seal of approval have gone through clinical testing to achieve such a standard.

Medical grade lasers give the best results

There are a number of laser hair removal machines available.   To achieve the best results we would always recommend choosing a medical grade laser for your treatments. There is a difference between IPL’s and medical grade lasers. Without a doubt you will see results quicker results and need less sessions with a medical grade laser. Because of this they are a better option for treatment.

How is laser different to IPL?

Lasers are more selective and more effective at targeting melanin within the hair than IPL.  Per pulse of energy delivered by an IPL system only 30% of that energy is absorbed by Melanin. A medical grade laser will have approx 95% absorption of energy in comparison. This means less sessions and better long term results.

  • Lasers penetrate deeper into tissue, as a result less sessions are typically needed.
  • Lasers have more advanced cooling systems, making treatment more comfortable.
  • Treatments with laser are quicker and more efficient.
  • IPLs cannot treat darker skin types, lasers can treat darker skins very successfully without the risk of pigmentation.


Research the laser being used for your treatment, it’s important

Find out how does laser hair removal work? You are investing time and money having sessions done so want them to be as effective as possible. In addition to this you want to see long lasting results. The results that you will achieve from laser are based on a number of factors. While the type of laser used is important its not the only one. As well as this the experience and skill level of the therapist performing treatments is vital. Because we are a dedicated laser hair removal clinic all of our therapists are fully trained. As a result of this they will provide you with the best results in the safest way.

Urbana laser hair removal consultation

If you have any questions and would like to speak to one of our consultants about laser contact us today to arrange a free consultation.