Everything You Need to Know About Laser Hair Removal For Skin Colors and Types

The average woman shaves nearly 8,000 times throughout her life, totaling 60 full days of shaving. That is too much work for results that only last one day! Now more than ever before, men and women are turning to laser hair removal to reduce body hair without the never-ending hassle of shaving and waxing.

Laser technology has advanced significantly in past years. Brands like the Lumenis family of lasers are clinically proven to target the entire hair structure from the shaft to follicle in order to stop unwanted growth. Though first generation lasers could only target dark hairs on light skin, today’s lasers can accommodate a variety of skin colors and types.

The History of Laser Hair Removal and Skin Color

The science behind laser hair removal has evolved significantly since its first FDA-clearance in 1995. Even after improvements, the FDA-cleared laser hair reduction technology of 1998 could only be used on light skin tones with dark hair. The limited number of laser light wavelengths approved for use at that time were dangerous to men and women with darker skin tones since the lasers harmed melanin in the skin as well as the hair follicles.

Fortunately, cosmetic laser technology has transformed since then. Now, treatment providers possess the tools required to safely and effectively use laser hair removal on a variety of skin colors and types. Lasers that use long wavelengths and pulse widths are best for darker-skinned individuals and ethnic skin tones, while shorter wavelengths work best on lighter skin tones.

How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?

The laser hair removal procedure uses specifically selected wavelengths of laser energy to penetrate the skin and reach the melanin within each hair follicle. Light is converted into heat, which permanently damages each targeted hair follicle and disrupts the cycle of hair regrowth.

Since today’s lasers are so sensitive to melanin, dark skin tones can only be treated with the right types of lasers. If the proper wavelength or depth of penetration is not set properly, the surface of the skin becomes vulnerable to damage.

Understanding the Fitzpatrick Scale

The Fitzpatrick Scale was developed in 1975 by a Harvard dermatologist and is still used to classify skin colors by medical aesthetic professionals. Skin types range from 1, which is “very white and freckled” to 6, or “black and highly pigmented.”

Skin types 1, 2, and 3 can receive most standard laser hair removal treatments. Skin types 4, 5, and 6 – mainly individuals from Latin, Mediterranean, Asian, East Indian, and African-American ethnic backgrounds – are most vulnerable to skin injuries if the laser is not properly set and used. This is why it is best to complete a test-spot treatment and wait 72 hours before performing a full laser hair removal procedure.

Typically, the laser power is increased a little in subsequent treatment sessions. But with Type 5 and 6 skin, the increases in power are smaller. If the skin starts to become irritated the laser setting reduced during that our the next session and that’s where they stay.  The Lumenis Laser Hair machines limit the guesswork on settings for darker skin or lighter hair for a safer procedure.

Find a Highly Trained Laser Technician

It is important for patients of all skin types to find a laser hair removal technician who has the experience and precision to achieve results safely and efficiently. At Tampa Laser Hair Removal in Tampa, Florida, Dr. Ahad Mahootchi uses the most cutting edge lasers to help patients of all skin color and types achieve the smooth, hairless skin they’ve always wanted. Call (813) 773-0804 today to make your appointment and finally go shaveless!