Laser hair removal may seem an intimidating procedure. For those with Black skin, it may seem especially intimidating, as the procedure was once considered unsafe due to the risk of scarring, burning, and hyperpigmentation.

But now, laser hair removal is safe and effective for Black skin.

A few decades ago, receiving a laser hair removal treatment would have been rather risky for a person of color. These lasers weren’t made with darker skin tones in mind, and therefore, were safest for individuals with fair skin and dark hair follicles. The main disconnect was that the lasers did not properly distinguish hair follicles and skin pigment, so those with dark skin could run the risk of severe burns, scarring, discoloration, and more.

However, in recent years, we’ve seen advancements in inclusive technology made especially for dark skin tones. And like the launch of diverse beauty brands, it’s something to be excited about.

How does laser hair removal work?

Laser hair removal is ideal for anyone looking to stop or slow hair growth on specific parts of the face and/or body. At-home laser hair removal devices exist and can be effective when used properly and consistently, but the best and safest results typically come from professional laser hair removal treatments administered at a dermatologist’s office.

“Lasers remove hair by emitting a beam of light that targets the melanin pigments found in hair follicles,” explains Dr. Henry. “The light emitted by lasers is converted to heat which damages the hair follicle and delays or inhibits growth.” Historically, it was the contrast between dark hair and lighter skin that enabled the laser to target follicles—which is also the reason these devices weren’t able to distinguish between dark skin and dark hair, making them unsafe for deeper skin.

Is laser hair removal safe for dark skin?

Because many old-school lasers had trouble differentiating between dark skin and dark hair, they carried risks for dark-skinned patients, like hyperpigmentation, blisters, and scarring. These days, though, lasers are much smarter and more precise, so they can get rid of unwanted hair for a wider range of skin tones.

“With recent technological advancements, it’s safe to perform laser hair removal on dark skin,” says Dr. Henry, “as new technologies can bypass the epidermal melanin and target only the melanin pigment in hair follicles.” Translation: Many new lasers are able to tell the difference between your hair color and skin color.

What to Do Before Getting Laser Hair Removal

If you’re trying to decide if laser hair removal is for you, there are a few items you should be crossing off your checklist before undergoing any treatment. For starters, research the laser hair practitioner and facility that you’re considering using—especially their experience treating dark skin tones. Since dark skin is more sensitive than light skin, Karavolas recommends that you ask the laser hair treatment center to see “before and after” photos of patients with a dark skin type who had undergone a laser procedure. Also, don’t be shy about speaking directly with the technician. Murphy recommends, “I would ask the laser practitioner how long they have worked in the field of laser hair removal, approximately how many patients they’ve treated with a dark skin type, and how satisfied those patients were with their results.”

To ensure your safety as a patient, following pre- and post-procedure guidelines are a must. That includes reviewing any medications and skin care products that you’re using with your doctor. In general, those with ingredients that create photosensitivity (think: AHAs/BHAs, retinol/retinoids, salicylic acid, etc.) should be avoided for at least one week before your treatment. If you’re using Accutane, it’s recommended that you do not undergo any laser treatment for at least six months after stopping medication to avoid the risk of scarring.2 Both Murphy and Karavolas emphasize that you should not overlook a patch test either. “It is ideal to have the practitioner perform a test spot in an inconspicuous area and wait for approximately 48 hours post-treatment. This is an added safety precaution,” says Murphy. Karavolas agrees: “Always do a test patch and wait prior to treatment. If the reaction is good, then you can proceed.”

The Best Laser for Dark Skin

To figure out what laser works best on dark skin, it’s worth understanding how hair removal lasers work. Murphy explains, “The contrast between the color of the skin and the color of the pigment in the hair follicle is what allows the laser to easily pick out what to target.” As you can imagine, it’s easier to decipher dark hair from fair skin than it is dark hair on dark skin. However, thanks to advancements in laser technology, there are now safer and more effective options available for dark skin types.

Among them is the GentleMax Pro Laser. “[It’s] safe for darker skin types because it offers two wavelengths: one being a 755 nm wavelength or a 1064 nm wavelength,” says Murphy. The 1064 nm wavelength, better known as the Nd:YAG wavelength, is selectively absorbed by the deeper levels of the dermis—bypassing the skin’s surface and only targeting deeper melanin at the level of hair follicle.3 And since Nd:YAG essentially bypasses the epidermis, Karavolas also cites this wavelength as a safe option for dark skin.

Post-Treatment Care and Maintenance

After you undergo laser hair removal, there are certain things you’ll want to do and others that you’ll want to avoid to ensure you get the best results possible. “To reduce any redness or swelling after treatment, it is recommended to apply a cool compress, aloe vera, and topical corticosteroids morning and evening for five days post-treatment,” says Murphy. Karavolas agrees, suggesting any soothing cream after laser. “This can be aloe vera, vitamin E, vitamin K, or hydrocortisone 1 percent over the counter,” he explains.

You should also forgo any activity that may irritate the skin during your post-treatment care. For instance, exercise is discouraged for 24 hours, any bleaching, plucking, or waxing for four to six weeks, and direct sun exposure for at least a month after your procedure and/or throughout the treatment series, explains Murphy. As for how long a laser treatment series lasts? “Typically, four to six treatments are recommended,” comments Murphy. But, keep in mind that treatments vary from person to person. “Hair growth is reduced after each treatment, and the number of treatments required will be based on your hair color and type, body area, and skin tone,” she adds.

Risks Every Dark-Skinned Person Should Know

As mentioned earlier, darker skin types are more prone to side effects than lighter skin types. So if you have darker skin, it’s so important that you use the right laser for your skin tone. “If the wrong equipment or wavelength is used, your skin may get temporary burns or discoloration,” Karavolas warns. “Lasers for darker skin complexions have been in existence since 2000. However, most facilities have not spent the money to buy the right equipment,” he adds. So as not to compromise your safety and to protect your skin, it’s essential that you take the proper precautions and only work with trusted and experienced professionals.

Here’s How Innovative Technology Made Laser Hair Removal for Black Skin Possible

Old lasers used for hair removal would target not just the hair follicle in the skin but also melanin. However, new  Laser allowed technicians to bypass the melanin and target the follicle. This makes the process safe for all skin colors.

And, There Are More Benefits of Laser Hair Removal for Black Skin Than Just Hair Reduction

Laser hair removal does not just remove unwanted hair. It can also treat razor bumps and abnormal pigmentation, such as hypopigmentation and hyperpigmentation.

How Do I Know That Laser Hair Removal Is Right for Me?

Modern advances in laser technology make laser hair removal safe for almost everyone. Some might worry about the possible side effects of laser hair removal. But, don’t be afraid, as side effects are usually limited to temporary redness or swelling. Rare side effects include bruising or slight changes in skin tone. Almost all are minor and temporary.

Is laser hair removal right for me?

If you’re looking to remove hair from all over or certain areas of your body and your hair is dark enough, yes. Laser hair removal is safe for all skin types and colours, so it’s suitable for most people looking for more permanent, smooth results. As the laser is attracted to the pigment of the hair follicle, the only consideration is whether your unwanted hair has enough pigment to be treated. Most of our clients see permanent hair reduction of up to 90%, but these results are dependent on hair type and colour. Your practitioner will discuss this with you during your free consultation.

Who is dark skin Laser Hair Removal for?

Using the latest FDA approved medical grade Candela technology our Nd:YAG wavelength lasers are ideally suited for Brown, Asian, Indian, and black skin tones. Our practitioners will have years laser experience before joining us, making them the most knowledgeable and safest practitioners in the industry today, so you can trust us to safely help you get the results you desire.

You will find our clinics to be professional & friendly, modern, comfortable & welcoming across our 9 convenient locations in London & Surrey, open 7 days a week until 8pm why not book a free consultation today and prepare to throw away your razor!

Am I a Good Candidate for Laser Hair Removal for Black Skin?

Most people are! You’re an ideal candidate if you have coarse or thick hair that is dark, though you may still qualify if you don’t. To find out for sure, you need a consultation with a laser specialist.

The benefits of laser hair removal

  • Reduces hair growth, permanently – We recommend a minimum of 8 sessions. If you have the recommended number of treatments for your hair and skin type, you’ll see up to 90% hair reduction. Any hair that does grow back will be much finer and will grow back less frequently, which means smoother skin for longer.
  • No more ingrown hairs – You won’t need to shave as frequently, minimising rashes or brittle stubble, and less waxing will also result in fewer ingrown hairs too.
  • Money and time saving – The average female spends £6500 on razors and 8 weeks of her life shaving, so laser hair removal is a worthwhile long-term investment.
  • Improved skin tone and texture – Repeatedly shaving or waxing an area can cause skin pigmentation and uneven skin tone. Laser hair removal reduces the risk of this happening.
  • A positive impact on the planet – The average woman in her lifetime throws away 2400 razors, and every year, approximately 2 billion razors end up in landfill as they cannot be recycled. Switching to laser hair removal will dramatically reduce that negative impact on our planet.

Call us at 905-239-4124  to book a consultation today, and take the next step on your health and beauty journey with our laser experts!

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