Is Laser Hair Removal Safe for Dark Skin?

by | Dec 3, 2021


You might not know this, but laser hair removal is a risky procedure in the past, especially for people of color. When scientists invented laser, aka. light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, they didn’t take melanin into consideration. As a result, lasers provide optimal results for people with fair skin and dark hair. That is because lasers need a good contrast between skin and hair to operate. Which means, if you have dark skin and hair, the risk of severe burns is very high.

Yet the good news is that advanced laser tech made hair removal viable for dark skin tones. Diversity in the beauty community is growing, and it’s definitely worth your attention. So let’s find out the “how” and “why.”

How to prepare for laser hair removal

If you are unsure about whether laser is your best hair removal option, check these things first. First of all, do your homework. You should find out about your laser expert’s experience level. In your case, ask the person’s knowledge about treating dark skin patients. If possible, ask to see image comparisons from other patients.

There is no need to free awkward because dark skin is vulnerable to laser burns. Moreover, don’t hesitate about asking questions. It is a sign that you are interested in the procedure and that you care about it. Find out how many patients have your laser expert treated, or how long have the person worked with lasers. If they have social media, check how satisfied are their patients of color from the past.

That said, you must use pre-treatment care for your own safety. Which means, you need to check with your doctor on the meds you are taking. That is because ingredients that raises photosensitivity of your skin. Also, stop using any skin care products that contain AHAs/BHAs, retinol/retinoids, or salicylic acid. If you are using isotretinoin to treat acne, you cannot undergo laser treatment for at least 6 months. Otherwise, you will be at high risk of scarring.

In addition to meds check, you should also do a hair quality test. Let a medical professional perform the test in a discreet location and wait two days for the result. It is like an extra layer of safety net. So you can tell whether laser hair removal is an option for you. If the test says all clear, then you have nothing to worry about.

The best laser for dark skin

There are different types of laser, then which one is the best for dark skin? Before I answer that question, let me first explain how laser hair removal works. The laser relies on the contrast between the color of your skin and hair to operate. So that it can heat and damage the hair follicle to stop hair growth. That said, it easier to distinguish dark hair on light skin than on dark skin. Thanks to advanced laser tech, that caveat is gone. The Nd:YAG lasers can safely remove hair on dark skin.

The Nd:YAG is effective on dark skin because it doesn’t rely on the contrast between colors. Instead, the laser can reach hair roots without the interference from skin pigment. In other words, the laser can distinguish hair from skin based on the level of depth. The Nd:YAG laser operates on a 1064 nm wavelength. Which means, it can penetrate 1064 nm deep in the skin. Whereas, other common lasers for hair removal operate between 700-800 nm. So they had to rely on melanin, aka. dark pigment, to find hair follicles. It’s science, baby!

Things to do or avoid post-treatment

A typical laser hair removal treatment takes 3-6 sessions to complete. Which means, what you do through out the period can affect the final result. Some things you should do, but others you better avoid. Right after the laser session, you can see redness or swelling on the treated area. But don’t worry, these symptoms are normal. You can ease the discomfort with a cool compress, aloe vera gel, or soothing cream. Keep using them for five days and the symptoms should go away. But if they persisted longer than a week, you need to see a doctor.

For your own wellness, you should refrain from extensive activities during skin recovery. For example, physical exercises are bad because they let you sweat a lot. You should not remove hair with tweezers, waxing, or depilatory cream, but shaving is okay. Moreover, you need to stay away from direct sunlight while doing outdoor activities. You should put on SPF30 sunscreen if you have to go out for whatever reasons.

Risks of laser hair removal on dark skin

Like I wrote in the beginning, darker skin is more sensitive than lighter skin. You can get severe skin burns if you didn’t use the Nd:YAG laser. It is a fact because lawsuits related to laser injury is increasing in recent years. If you used the wrong wavelength or energy level, you might get discoloration on your skin. Laser hair removal for dark skin has been around for 2 decades. The treatment is safe and effective as long as the equipment is reliable. That said, at-home laser handsets might be worth a try. They are affordable and easy-to-use. The best part: you can use them as many times as you want – no extra charge!

Tristan Khan

Tristan Khan

Staff Writer

Tristan is the editor-in-chief at Laser Hair Removal Pro. Being a native-born New Yorker inspired his passion in fashion and beauty. He spends weekend afternoons people-watching at a Caffè. Mantra: Curiosity is the mother of creativity.

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