Laser hair removal is the process in which rays of concentrated light or lasers are used to kill the hair follicles and thus preventing unwanted hair growth. This has been in use since 1990 and has become very popular among people who do not like the process of regular shaving or waxing. Laser hair removal is a more permanent solution to removal of unwanted hair, as in just 7–8 sittings the hair growth is drastically reduced. The lasers are absorbed by the melanin in the hair and heat up, thus they burn the roots of the hair and prevent the further growth of hair.
Laser treatments have different effects on different types of skin. The scale used to measure skin tone is called the Fitzpatrick scale.
The following list shows the six categories of the Fitzpatrick scale:
• Type I — These individuals have pale white skin; blond or red hair; blue eyes; and freckles, the always burn and never tan
• Type II — These individuals are fair and white; they have blond or red hair; blue, green, or hazel eyes and they usually burn and tan minimally
• Type III — These individuals have cream white skin; they are fair with any hair or eye colour; and the sometimes get mild burns and tan uniformly
• Type IV — These individuals have moderate brown skin; typical Mediterranean skin tones, they don’t usually burn and always tan well
• Type V — These individuals have dark brown skin; Middle Eastern skin types, they burn very rarely and tan very easily
• Type VI — These individuals have deeply pigmented dark brown to darkest brown skin, they never burn and never tan
Laser hair removal technique is most suited to people who have dark hair and light skin i.e. types I–IV as the lasers would be absorbed by the hair and leave the skin untouched. However, in the case of people with darker skin i.e. types V and VI the melanin in the skin would also absorb the lasers thus causing irritation and inflammation of the skin.
Recently, technicians have found a solution to this problem and have come up with a method of laser hair removal for people who have darker skin colour (types V and VI types V and VI). In this method, a lower power laser is used to avoid skin damage. Due to the lower power, fewer hair follicles are destroyed in each sitting so more sittings are needed to achieve hair loss. The overall amount of hair loss is also reduced. The most effective and safest laser for dark skinned men and women is a long pulsed ND:Yag Laser. This laser has the ability to by pass the melanin in the surface of the skin and target the root of the hair. Thus causing the root follicle to heat up and not the surrounding skin.
It is very important for people who have darker skin to be more careful when choosing to undergo laser treatment. Not all laser clinics have the required equipment for the hair removal of people with darker skin.