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Laser Hair Removal for Dark Skin Tones: Fact vs. Fiction

Conveniently located to serve New York City, Tribeca, and The Upper East Side

Unwanted hair is a common concern that plagues people of all ages, races, and genders. While laser hair removal has been an effective solution for fair-skinned people for years, it hasn’t always been available for darker skin types.

With advances in laser technology, this has changed in recent years. However, there are still several common myths and misconceptions regarding laser hair removal for dark skin tones. Continue reading to discover the truth regarding laser hair removal for darker skin tones and if it is a viable option for you.

Laser Hair Removal for Darker Skin Tones: Common Myths

Myth: Laser Hair Removal is Painful and Damages Your Skin

Most men and women are surprised to learn that laser hair removal is relatively pain-free! While a topical anesthetic may be offered to patients, most find the procedure to be quick and painless without it.

When done by a qualified Medical Aesthetician, laser hair removal is considered a safe procedure with generally no side effects or damage to the surrounding skin, and no downtime following the procedure.

Myth: You Only Need 1-2 Treatments

Laser hair removal typically requires six to eight treatments but may require up to 10 sessions depending on where the hair is in its growth cycle at the time of the treatment.

There are three stages of hair growth:

  • Anagen stage: growth period
  • Catagen stage: transition period between growth and loss
  • Telogen stage: hair loss period when space is made for new hair growth

Laser hair removal is most effective during the anagen stage, so several treatments are necessary to ensure that all of the hair follicles are targeted during this stage.

Myth: Hair Can Grow Back Thicker

Laser hair removal works by targeting the hair follicle which is responsible for new hair growth. The pigment in the hair absorbs light from the laser, which converts to heat. This process damages the hair follicle and delays or inhibits future hair growth.

Not only does it result in less regrowth, but the regrowth that does occur is typically finer and lighter in color, making it much less visible than before. Laser hair removal is one of the most permanent hair removal techniques used today.

Myth: Laser Hair Removal Doesn’t Work on All Hair Types

Laser hair removal is effective for any hair type, as long as the hair follicles contain melanin (a type of pigment that gives color to the hair, skin, and eyes).

What does this mean? In some cases, light hair including blonde, gray, or red may not respond as well to treatment. During a complimentary consultation, your Medical Provider will review how effective laser hair removal will be for your skin and the results you can expect.

Myth: Only Women Get Laser Hair Removal

Unwanted hair is a common concern for women, men, transgender, and non-binary people.

Laser hair removal provides an effective and popular option to remove this unwanted hair for everyone, regardless of gender. Areas of treatment for trans patients typically include full face, chest, back, legs, arms, bikini line and buttocks.

Myth: Laser Hair Removal Won’t Work on Dark Skin

Early generations of laser technology couldn’t distinguish between the pigment in the hair and the pigment in the skin. For this reason, laser hair removal was not an option for darker skin tones.

Advanced laser technology now allows us to effectively treat all skin tones, although the procedure is only effective for dark hair follicles—regardless of skin tone.

Laser hair Removal: Dark Skin vs. Light Skin?

The Fitzpatrick Scale

The Fitzpatrick Scale is a numerical classification based on the amount of melanin or pigment a person’s skin has and how it will respond to ultraviolet (UV) light. This classification is the standard among skin care professionals.

During your initial consultation with one of our expert Medical Providers, we’ll identify your skin type based on the Fitzpatrick Scale. This classification will help your medical provider choose the correct laser and settings for your skin type.

Classification Based on the Fitzpatrick Scale:

  • Type 1: Ivory skin that burns and peels when exposed to the sun; never tans
  • Type 2: Light, fair complexion that burns and peels often; rarely tans
  • Type 3: Fair to beige complexion; may burn or tan
  • Type 4: Olive or light brown skin that generally tans; seldom burns
  • Type 5: Dark brown skin that always tans; rarely burns
  • Type 6: Deeply pigmented, dark brown skin that tans quickly; never burns

Effective Laser Hair Removal Treatments for Dark Skin

Elite iQ from Cynosure measures the amount of melanin in the skin and customizes laser hair removal treatments based on this information—opposed to judging the skin type by eye. This provides a highly customizable option, ideal for dark skin tones.

Elite iQ can treat many areas of the body including the face, underarms, back, legs, bikini, and chest. After just one treatment, you can expect to see a gradual decrease in hair and its thickness, fewer ingrown hairs, and less stubble.

What to Expect for Dark Skin Tones Following Laser Hair Removal Treatment

At your consultation for laser hair removal, your provider will go over the pre- and post-treatment instructions. It’s important to review any medications and skincare products at this time, as some products can create photosensitivity and should be avoided before the laser treatments.

The laser hair removal appointment is generally quick, depending on the area of the body being treated. Following the procedure, you should avoid any activity that may irritate the skin for at least 24 hours including exercise, shaving, or waxing. Following each appointment, the appearance of hair growth should continually reduce.

What to Look for in Your Laser Hair Removal Provider

Not all laser hair removal providers are experienced in treating dark skin tones, so it’s important to do your research when choosing a provider.

If you’re looking for the best laser hair removal for dark skin, Tribeca MedSpa ensures safe and effective treatment for all skin types. We offer complimentary consultations where you’ll meet with our expert Medical Providers and develop a personalized treatment plan, as well as address any questions or concerns you may have.