Laser hair removal has been around for decades, yet there are many myths surrounding it. It is definitely one of the most popular services in aesthetic medical spas, and when done properly it is very safe and certainly more convenient than other hair removal options! Even though most people know about laser hair removal, I’d like to address a few things that people with sensitive skin and darker skin tones often inquire about or Google search.
Is laser hair removal safe for darker skin types?
When laser hair removal was first introduced in the aesthetic market, we didn’t know enough about how darker skin types reacted to thermal energy. This has definitely changed after extensive experience with ethnic skin as laser hair removal technology has matured and evolved.
If administered by an experienced professional, laser hair removal is very safe and can be considered the best hair removal method for dark skin. This is the case as shaving or waxing over a long period of time can lead to hyperpigmentation due to excess stimulation on the skin.
Shaving causes razor burns, ingrown hairs, and can also over-exfoliate the skin. Waxing pulls and tugs the skin, and depending on temperature and skin texture, it can cause burns and literally remove the skin in patches (temporarily). It can cause breakouts and clog pores if you don’t exfoliate and have a healthy skincare routine. Threading is great, however, it is painful and it often causes inflamed skin as well. Overall – long term cost and long term results are best with laser hair removal.
What are the side effects of laser hair removal on dark skin?
Darker skin can be more susceptible to hyperpigmentation with laser hair removal than lighter skin types. However, it is important to choose a laser hair removal clinic that is very experienced in treating darker skin types. Hyperpigmentation can be avoided by being conservative during treatment and proper aftercare. At my practice, for example, we happily test how laser hair removal works on our varying skin types and skin tones so we know exactly what works for our clients.
Do home laser hair removal devices work? Is laser hair removal at home safe?
Recently, home laser hair removal devices promising results equivalent to medical laser hair removal have become available to buy for at-home use. Lasers used FOR medical laser hair removal (at medical spas) deliver enough thermal energy to the hair follicle that health care providers operating the laser hair removal machine AND the patient HAS to wear eye protection.
Doses for ‘at-home’ laser hair removal lasers are lower and do not effectively target the hair follicle, and certainly not enough thermal energy to destroy the hair follicle. Performing laser hair removal at home is also not safe for people with darker skin tones and/or sensitive skin. You run the risk of burning and depigmenting the skin!
Will I get immediate results with laser hair removal?
Permanent hair removal with laser is done and recommended over a series of treatments. Only hair follicles in their active growth phase are permanently destroyed during every session. I recommend waiting at least a month before more follicles ‘wake up’ and present as the hair on the skin for the laser to recognize and destroy the hair. We suggest our clients have about 6 to 8 sessions of laser hair removal, each a month apart before the majority of their hair disappears, NOW, this really varies depending on the client and their hair texture! Laser hair removal results in 3 sessions typically show a 50% reduction in hair growth.
Is laser hair removal safe for sensitive skin?
Yes, laser hair removal can be performed on any skin type. It is a medical technology, and the key is to get laser hair removal services from providers that have a physician in the office to manage patients with more sensitive skin types. A combination of 1% hydrocortisone cream and aloe vera gel can frequently counter any reaction associated after laser treatment, but it is imperative that the laser operator has the experience to prevent any laser burns, and over or under treatment.
How long does laser hair removal last?
Laser hair removal is permanent; however, it is difficult to exactly predict how many sessions it will take to ‘cycle’ through and destroy all follicles. Hair growth is also greatly regulated by hormones, so it’s not uncommon to have hair growth return in certain parts of the body. Frequently, when women become perimenopausal/pre-menopausal, they will start growing coarse hair (generally on their chin) despite having had full face laser hair removal in the past. In this case, a few more cycles of laser treatment will permanently eliminate those hair follicles.
Does laser hair removal hurt?
Laser hair removal is a painless way to remove hair, and again, when administered by a medical professional using medical-grade lasers AND experience with each skin type/tone. Laser hair removal may feel like a slight amount of heat or the small snap of a rubber band on the skin, and this is generally the most people experience.
Does laser hair removal NOT work for some people?
If and when women (a very small percentage) will not respond to laser hair removal treatments on the face IF there is a hormonal imbalance. This indicates higher testosterone than should be. This is seen in certain medical conditions like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which has a spectrum of symptoms. In my practice, I always advise patients who are not responding to laser hair removal treatments to consider hormone testing so that we can address the underlying cause for the excess hair growth. Another instance when laser hair removal may not work is with gray hair or light hair. The laser recognizes darker hair, so lighter hair not targeted as well. Besides these, laser hair removal does work and works effectively.