It’s time to put the myth that lasers won’t work on dark skin tones to bed. While this might have been true when the FDA first approved laser hair removal treatment back in the late 90s, technology has advanced quite a bit over the years, and treatment is now safe for even the darkest of skin tones.
If you have beautiful dark skin and have been looking to kick your unwanted body hair to the curb but are nervous about this increasingly popular hair removal method, then you’re in luck because in this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about laser hair removal for dark skin. So, grab a cup of coffee and get comfy - let’s dive in!
How Does Laser Hair Removal Work?
Laser hair removal treatment is a noninvasive cosmetic procedure using a laser that produces a powerful beam of light. This light is attracted to and then absorbed by the melanin, or pigment, which is found in high concentration in hair follicles. The light is converted to heat, causing thermal damage to the hair follicles without damaging the surrounding skin. Follicles are responsible for producing hair, so when they are damaged, it inhibits hair growth.
Treatment can be done on any area of the body, excluding the eyes. The most commonly treated areas include the:
- Bikini line/Brazilian
- Upper lip
Why are Dark Skin Tones an Issue for Lasers?
The fact is, laser treatment works by targeting the natural pigment melanin in the hair. Years ago, this meant that people with dark skin or those with blonde and gray hair were not ideal candidates for this type of procedure. Why? Because the lasers weren’t able to differentiate between the level of color of the skin versus the color of the hair. That is why in the early years of lasers, the ideal candidate was someone with dark hair and light skin. Lasers could not differentiate between the melanin in the skin and the melanin in the hair, which could potentially leave someone with severe laser burns - ouch!
Important Factors for Treating Dark Skin With Laser Hair Removal
Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in the body? Whether you have light skin or dark skin, taking care of it should be of the utmost importance. Here are some factors that should be taken into consideration for laser hair removal treatment:
Experience and Training Matter. A lot of progress has been made in the field of lasers with regard to hair removal for people with dark skin tones. Those with dark skin tones can now have their unwanted hair removed safely, but there are certain things to be aware of before starting your laser hair removal journey to ensure optimal safety and success.
First, it’s crucial to make sure the treatment is administered by an experienced laser practitioner that is under the direct supervision of a physician. Many states, like Georgia, require anyone operating a laser to have a laser practitioner license. Check with your state’s medical board to see if such requirements are in place.
Having a supervising doctor is also important in the event that an adverse reaction or complication occurs. An experienced laser professional will understand the different needs associated with different hair types, skin types, and textures, as well as health issues such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. Experience is key, so it’s crucial to do research, read reviews, and have confidence that the professional has treated many different skin colors without complications.
Be cautious of heavily discounted laser packages at medi-spas - you get what you pay for.
Having the Right Laser is Very Important. Currently, the most effective and safest laser for performing laser hair removal treatment on dark skin is the Nd: YAG laser. This powerful laser is a 1064nm wavelength, which is long enough to bypass the color found in the skin and only looks for color once it's under the skin. So it was designed to only affect the hair and not the skin. A trained laser specialist will have the knowledge to adjust the settings of the laser properly to provide the best results from treatment.
Understand the risks. When you do your research and find a qualified laser specialist with the right laser technology to effectively treat your beautiful, dark skin, the risks are really quite minimal. In fact, most side effects that come from laser treatment are due to an inexperienced or underqualified laser technician. However, since we promised to tell you everything you need to know about laser hair removal for dark skin, we wanted to go ahead and incorporate the risks into this article - even if they are minimal.
After treatment, some people may experience a burning sensation in the treated area, similar to that of a mild sunburn. Although it might feel a bit uncomfortable, it can easily be fixed with a little aloe vera gel and a cold compress.
Some people may also notice minor color changes to the treated area of skin. People with dark skin tones may be more likely to experience lighter pigmentation changes, while people with lighter skin tones may be more prone to darker pigmentation changes. The good news is that this side effect goes away fairly quickly and is not an issue of major concern.
At-Home Laser Hair Removal For Dark Skin
As we’ve mentioned, laser light technology has come a long way over the years. Not only are lasers able to treat people of all skin colors, but at-home options are now available as well, making it easier than ever to get silky-smooth hair-free skin. However, not all at-home laser hair removal devices are safe for dark skin.
If you decide to go the at-home laser route for your hair removal needs, it’s important to check that the device is suitable for your skin tone. Several home IPL devices are clinically proven safe and effective on dark skin. They have low energy IPL settings, wavelength filters, and special configuration of the IPL flashes to make them gentle on darker skin. This means only the longer IPL wavelengths travel through your skin. They jump past the melanin-rich, dark epidermis (outer skin layers) to the hair follicle. So, they’re safe for dark skin.
While there are many products available on the market, you’ll want to be sure to purchase from a reputable company like KENZZI that offers a top-quality at-home device, backed by a warranty. The KENZZI IPL Hair Removal Handset has five different power settings to suit your dark skin-tone or skin’s sensitivity while still producing results at any level. The KENZZI is extremely safe, gentle, and easy to use and has been designed to deliver results in as little as three to four weeks.
Laser hair removal is a cosmetic procedure that has been approved by the FDA since the late 1990s. Back in the day, this treatment was only effective for those with light skin and dark hair, but with the advancements in laser light technology, people with dark skin can now reap in the benefits that this increasingly popular procedure has to offer too.
If you have dark, beautiful skin and are struggling with unsightly body hair, laser hair removal treatment can help. Just be sure to do your research to find the best-qualified practitioner that is experienced working with dark skin tones and has the right equipment for the job.
If you would rather skip the in-office visit altogether, opt for an at-home device like The KENZZI IPL Hair Removal Handset, and kiss your unwanted hair goodbye!