Dark and tan skin are also entitled to permanent laser hair removal. It has been more than 10 years now that it is possible to remove hair using a laser on dark and tan skin without the risk of burns or scars. Nevertheless, they require taking a lot of precautions and respecting certain constraints.
Laser hair removal on dark and tan skin: what is it?
Laser hair removal is a technique for removing hair in a sustainable manner. Initially, laser hair removal was effective only on light skin with dark hairs. Today, with advances in technology, it is possible for people with dark or tan skin to use laser hair removal to get rid of their hair permanently.
Among the different colors of skins, there is a very wide variety of shades. Rather than a brutal dichotomy between white skin and black skin, there is a chromatic continuum ranging from the lightest to the most pigmented skin.
There are several types of skin classified according to the reaction to the ray of the sun but also the pigmentation and the melanin it contains. There are 6 phototypes that allow the doctor to adapt the laser treatment:
- Phototype 1: very light skin, possibly composed of freckles, very sensitive to the sun's rays
- Phototype 2: very light skin, prone to sunburn and can slightly tan
- Phototype 3: fair skin of people who usually have blond or even brown hair
- Phototype 4: slightly tanned skin and little prone to sunburn
- Phototype 5: dark skin, they tan easily, without sunburn
- Phototype 6: black skin that does not sunburn
In order to better adapt the treatment, the doctor examines both the complexion of the person and the color of the hair to set the power of the laser. The principle is simple: the darker the skin, the weaker the laser shot and vice versa: the lighter the skin, the more powerful the laser shot.
People who have tan, dark or black skin usually have very dark hairs with a lot of melanin, which perfectly captures the wavelength of the laser even when it is emitted at a low power. The laser knows how to differentiate between hair melanin and skin melanin. It destroys the hair without raising the skin temperature, which preserves the epidermis. The main risk of laser hair removal on colored skin is first and second degree mild burns. They cause hyperpigmentation that can take several months to disappear. In rare cases, the burn may even leave a definitive depigmentation. It is therefore imperative to avoid overheating of the skin.
To perform hair removal on coloured skin, the doctor has two lasers:
- The Alexandrite laser for slightly tan skin
- Nd Yag laser for very tan, Asian and African skin
To avoid disappointment and believe that hair removal is ineffective, it is important to know that after a session of laser Nd Yag, the hair takes between three and twenty days before falling.
Laser hair removal on tan and dark skin: for whom?
Laser hair removal is equally suitable for men and women with dark or tan skin. Several types of skin can be suitable for laser hair removal sessions:
It is a tan skin with generally dark hairs. The doctor uses Alexandrite when the skin is light enough and the Nd Yag when the skin is more pigmented. People of Kabyle origin can have light hairs (blond, red). In this case, we may not be able to do laser hair removal because the hair does not contain enough melanin. The consultation with the doctor will determine the feasibility or not.
Mediterranean women often have more developed facial hair and it is not uncommon to remove tha hair on certain areas or the entire face.
In all cases, the doctor uses Nd Yag. Among West Indians who have a wide variety of hues, the power of laser shooting will be stronger than in those with African origins with very dark skin.
In people with black skin, the laser is very effective to avoid ingrown hairs, very common on the legs in women and on the neck for men.
It is a dark tan skin with black hairs. The doctor uses Nd Yag. Asians are generally hairless and in practice they are rarely seen in hair removal sessions, except for the bikini line.
Laser hair removal on dark and tan skin: contraindications
Laser hair removal on dark and tan skin may be avoided in some cases:
- When taking photo-sensitizing medicines, for example, which make the skin more sensitive to light.
- If the patient has an immune deficiency or is coagulation or scarring.
- Some hormonal treatments can also make laser hair removal inefficient.
- As a matter of principle, pregnant or breastfeeding women should refrain from laser hair removal.
- In the case where the patient has a dermatological condition or even a skin tumour.
- If the patient has white, blond or very red hairs, the laser treatment will not be effective due to the low melanin hair content.
- When the patient has had waxing or laser hair removal before the session. The laser will not be able to destroy the bulb and will not be effective.
Laser hair removal of tan and dark skin: unfolding session
Before the session
When a man or a woman wishes to have laser hair removal on dark and tan skin, it is necessary to make a first consultation with the doctor. This is an opportunity for the practitioner to ask some questions about their general health.
He performs an examination of the skin and hair and then performs a laser test to adapt the intensity of the laser to the skin and avoid the risks associated with the procedure.
Before the first session of laser hair removal, the patient must avoid using wax, electric hair removers and any other hair removing products for about thirty days. However, the targeted area can be shaved especially on the legs and armpits, three days before the session. To remove the hair completely, the hair must be destroyed at its root, at the level of the bulb. It must therefore be in the growth phase to be removed.
During the session
During the procedure, the doctor gives the patient safety goggles and checks for short and dark hairs. He then sets the laser according to the type of skin, the color of the hair and the area to be treated.
After having cleaned the area to be treated, the doctor applies the end of the laser handpiece to the area. A jet of cold air is then pulsed to reduce the pain, providing comfort to the patient during the procedure. The laser is then turned on and a laser shot is used to target the hair. Each shot will cover about 2 cm2, corresponding to about ten hairs.
After the session
It is necessary to plan between 5 to 10 sessions of laser hair removal spaced from 4 to 6 weeks, the time that the regrowth of the hair is visible.
It is possible to notice some redness and feel tingling and itching after laser hair removal. It is therefore necessary to moisturize the skin by applying a repair cream. After waxing, the practitioner applies a restorative cream that helps to calm the burning sensation.
In the same way, some superficial burns can be observed whose crusts will disappear after 3 to 5 days.
You will also need to avoid prolonged sun exposure to the treated area for a period of about two weeks.