When it comes to the best laser hair removal device, it’s important to know that not every laser is created equal. From variances in wavelength to fluctuations in pulse duration, numerous factors influence which laser will achieve optimum results for your unique skin tone and treatment area.
Understanding Different Choices in Lasers
The term ‘laser’ is an acronym that’s short for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser device stimulates atoms or molecules to emit light at a particular wavelength, then amplifies it to create a very narrow, easily directed beam of light.
The efficacy of laser hair removal is contingent on the laser device. The beam of light created by each laser is directed at chromophores — in this case, melanin, the molecule responsible for hair pigment — which can only be absorbed in certain wavelengths. The longer a laser’s wavelength, the deeper the laser penetrates. However, not all laser wavelengths are suitable for all skin tones.
The type of laser used during your treatment session depends on your skin type. The Fitzpatrick Skin Type Chart can help you understand what category your skin color falls into. By understanding the specifics of your Fitzpatrick skin type, you can not only customize your skincare routine but also discover which treatments are best suited to you.
Here’s a breakdown of the most common laser hair removal devices and what to know about each:
IPL is short for intense pulsed light, which is technically not a ‘laser’ treatment. Instead of a targeted laser device, IPL procedures use a broad spectrum of light with multiple wavelengths to eliminate hair growth directly at the follicle. Like a laser, IPL devices target melanin in the hair to heat and destroy the hair follicle. But unlike a laser, IPL broad-spectrum light can potentially damage certain skin types.
Because IPL devices target all melanin-rich structures in the skin, they cannot differentiate between skin pigment and hair pigment. For this reason, IPL is best suited for those with pale skin and dark hair and is not considered a suitable option for individuals with medium to dark skin tones.
The Alexandrite device — or Alex, for short — has the shortest wavelength of today’s modern laser hair removal systems. Clocking in at 755 nanometers (nm), the Alexandrite is best suited for individuals with light to olive-colored skin and dark hair. Like IPL hair removal, the Alexandrite’s shorter wavelength makes it prone to target brown and black pigment in the skin that can cause burns in deeper skin tones.
For those with light to olive-colored skin, the Alexandrite is ultra-efficient at quickly removing hair from larger treatment areas. The pulse repetition rates of the Alexandrite are more rapid, so a provider can cover large areas like the back and legs faster. This device also has a built-in cooling system to reduce discomfort and enhance the patient experience.
At 810 nm, the Diode laser hair removal device has a significantly longer wavelength than the Alexandrite laser. This newer laser hair removal system is only one of two that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hair reduction on darker skin tones. The longer wavelengths penetrate deeper into the skin to affect the hair follicle, not the melanin in the skin.
Deeper laser penetration is safer in medium to dark skin tones, as the light energy produced is not able to concentrate where pigment resides in the skin. For this reason, Diode lasers lessen the risk of scarring and hyperpigmentation in those with deeper skin tones and dark hair. Like an Alexandrite laser, Diode lasers include a built-in cooling system to enhance patient comfort.
The second laser hair removal system approved by the FDA for hair reduction on darker skin tones is the Nd: YAG laser system. Short for Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet, Nd:YAG is one of the newest laser hair removal devices. With a wavelength of 1064 nm, Nd:YAG it’s also the only device to be found effective at reducing hair growth in patients of all skin types and skin tones.
Like Diode lasers, Nd:YAG lasers produce longer wavelengths to penetrate deeper into the hair follicle. However, Nd:YAG devices also feature a reduced scatter of light energy that creates a second layer of protection against scarring in those with darker skin tones. Nd:YAG devices are also safer to use for shorter pulse durations than the Diode, which is ideal for fine hair and larger treatment areas.
Tribeca Trusted: Cynosure® Elite™ & Cutera® xeo®
At Tribeca MedSpa and SkinLab by Tribeca MedSpa, our diverse patient demographics require a laser hair removal solution that’s not only safe for their skin tone but also proven successful for their treatment goals. That’s why we trust only the finest device manufacturers that are pioneers in medical and aesthetic advancements. In our Tribeca office, you’ll find the Cynosure Elite and Cutera Xeo laser hair removal systems.
- Cutera Xeo is a customizable, multi-application laser that allows for face and body hair removal in individuals with light to olive skin and dark hair, as well as complementary light-based treatments like scar and wrinkle reduction.
- Cynosure Elite+ is a dual-wavelength system that combines both Alexandrite and Nd:YAG lasers for face and body hair removal in individuals of all skin tones, especially those with tanned to deep skin tones.
Like all laser hair removal solutions, both the Cutera Xeo and Cynosure Elite+ will require multiple treatment sessions to eliminate hair growth. Most patients require six to eight sessions for desired results, but some may require up to 10 sessions depending on the size of the treatment area.
Why Be Selective About Your Laser Provider?
When it’s time to get rid of unwanted hair, we recommend doing your research first. Laser hair removal demands a provider with a robust understanding of different skin types and hair growth patterns to choose the correct device. Failure to select the correct wavelength can result in permanent scarring and pigmentation issues.
Moreover, proper training and experience with laser hair removal are critical to tailoring treatment to each client’s individual needs. Remember to ask questions before having any type of laser hair removal procedure to determine if the technician has worked with patients whose skin and hair types are similar to yours.
Why Tribeca for the Best Laser Hair Removal?
If you’re searching for a trusted NYC laser hair removal provider, look no further than Tribeca MedSpa and SkinLab by Tribeca MedSpa. Our team of award-winning Medical Providers and Medical Aestheticians has vast experience with patients of all skin tones and skin types, with the knowledge of how to treat darker skin tones safely and effectively. For customized treatment you can trust, schedule a complimentary consultation.