Does laser hair removal work on dark skin – and what are the risks? 

If you have a darker skin tone, excessive facial and body hair can be a significant issue. Hair removal techniques such as plucking, threading or waxing can cause dark patches which can be just as upsetting as excessive hair.  So is there hope for you with laser hair removal?

Is laser hair removal safe for dark skin?

For some time, laser hair removal treatment for darker skin wasn’t recommended. The reason was that earlier types of laser machine weren’t targeted enough.

If you think about it, In darker skin there is a high concentration of melanin which provides the pigmentation in your skin. All laser machines target the pigment of the hair so they also target the pigment of the skin. Because of this there is a risk that any laser treatment will burn your skin – more so if you have darker skin.

So are some laser hair machines better than others?

Yes, definitely! The latest laser machines are much safer for darker skin. For example, the Soprano Ice Titanium laser has three different types of wavelengths of light and can be adjusted to ensure the skin surrounding the hair follicle doesn’t absorb the laser light protecting your skin from burns.

However, it is important to understand that many laser machines are not suitable for use on the very darkest skin. You need to double check this with the clinic before booking a treatment. Insurers will not provide cover for clinics using machines that are not suitable and you may risk burns, scars and permanent discoloration.

How can you ensure darker skin doesn’t get burnt?

Along with the right laser machine, it’s advisable to ensure that the clinic has the right level of expertise. Skilled technicians will carefully assess your skin type so they can use the correct laser treatment – they will adjust the settings so the laser bypasses the melanin in your skin and just targets the hair follicle.

In addition, to ensure your comfort, some laser machines such as the Soprano Ice Titanium use special cooling tips to keep your skin cool and comfortable during your sessions. In the past, laser technicians would use ice packs to help cool your skin during your treatments. This cooling technology means that these ice packs are no longer necessary to protect your skin from the risk of burning.

What are the different skin types?

On the industry-standard Fitzpatrick Scale, there are six main skin types ranging from very light to very dark. Skin types 5 (brown/dark brown, tans easily, very rarely burns from sun exposure) and 6 (black, very dark brown to black, tans easily, never burns from sun exposure) have the greatest amount of pigment which is why they need the most careful assessment prior to treatment.

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Is there any difference in the treatment for darker skin?

The way darker skin is treated is in essence the same way as lighter skin although the light energy delivered through the laser is delivered at a slower rate. During your laser treatment, the laser beam heats up the hair follicles, destroying them and permanently preventing them from producing new hair.

Will I need more treatments because I have darker skin?

Everyone’s skin is different, and how many treatments you need will depend on a number of factors, such as the thickness of your hair, which part of the body is being treated, the time you leave between treatments, and whether you follow the guidelines on preparing for a treatment, such as shaving a few days’ beforehand and avoiding using tweezers and hair removal creams (for more info read our 10 tips on how to prepare yourself for your laser treatment blog). As a minimum you are likely to need 7 sessions.

I’m still nervous, is there anything that will help me feel less anxious?

The best option for you is to make an appointment for a consultation and patch test where you can discuss any worries you have before you commit to a treatment. The patch test allows you to try out the laser machines at your clinic of choice and feel how comfortable the treatment is on a small area of your skin. Most clinics offer a free consultation and patch test.

How do I choose a clinic?

Your best bet is to do some research. Take a look at:

  • Which laser machines are used?
  • Is a guarantee is offered?
  • Are there any treatment packages and payment packages?
  • Is the clinic registered with the CQC?
  • Are any staff profiles available?
  • Customer testimonials
  • Employee testimonials

Word of mouth is good too, if any of your family or friends have dark or Asian skin and have had laser hair removal, they should be able to give you a recommendation based on experience.

If you would like to check out Brigstock Skin & Laser’s testimonials which explain why clients including those with dark skin are satisfied with the results we have achieve for them, please click here

To book your FREE initial patch test and consultation where you can talk about what you want to achieve for your skin, call now on 020 3820 4822 or click here

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