Laser hair removal is a technique that removes more or less dark hair in a long-lasting way. Initially, laser hair removal was only effective on light skins with dark hair. Today, with advances in technology, it is possible for people with matt or dark skin to use laser hair removal to permanently get rid of their hair.
Among the different skin colours, there is a very wide variety of shades. Rather than an abrupt dichotomy between white and black skin, there is a colour continuum from the lightest to the most pigmented skins.
There are thus several skin types classified according to their reaction to the sun’s rays, but also according to the pigmentation and melanin they contain. There are thus 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 fair skin, prone to sunburn and able to tan slightly;
- Phototype 3: fair skins of people who usually have blond or even brown hair;
- Phototype 4: skins that are slightly matt and not very prone to sunburn;
- Phototype 5: dark skins, they tan easily, without sunburn;
- Phototype 6: black skins that do not get sunburned.
In order to best adapt the treatment, the doctor examines both the person’s skin tone and the colour of the hair to set the laser power. 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 with dark, mixed race or black skin generally have very dark hair, with a lot of melanin, which perfectly captures the laser wavelength even when it is emitted at low power. The laser knows the difference between the melanin in the hair and in the skin. It destroys the hair without raising the skin temperature, thus preserving the epidermis. The main risk of laser hair removal on coloured skin is a slight first and second degree burn. They lead to hyperpigmentation which can take several months to disappear. In some rare cases, the burn can even leave permanent depigmentation. It is therefore imperative to avoid overheating of the skin.
To perform hair removal on coloured skin, the doctor has two lasers at his disposal:
- The Alexandrite laser for slightly matt skin.
- The Nd Yag laser for very matt, Asian and African skins.
To avoid any disappointment and believe that hair removal is ineffective, it is important to know that after a Nd Yag laser session, the hair takes between three and twenty days to fall out, depending on the person.