Does laser hair removal work on all skin tones?

Does laser hair removal work on all skin tones and hair colors?

Growing up as a redhead, I could never understand why my body hair was dark brown on my legs, but it reddish-blonde everywhere else. I found myself shaving almost every other day just to rid my legs of the dark stubble that would creep back so quickly. At-home laser hair removal technology was not available when I was a teen, and I would have definitely taken advantage of it back then if it were!

Does laser hair removal work for everyone? The simple answer is no, but I will explain why and what options you have if it doesn’t work.

How laser hair removal works

How laser targets the pigment in the hair follicle
Tria’s 4X laser targeting a hair follicle

The technology behind how laser hair removal devices work is pretty straightforward. The laser beam from a hair removal device targets the pigment in the hair follicle on freshly shaven skin. The only way that the laser can find the pigment is if the skin tone is lighter than the pigment color of the hair. If the skin is darker than the hair’s pigment, or if the hair color has little to no pigment in it, the laser cannot find the hair follicle–resulting in the laser not treating those hairs.

This type of diode laser technology means that certain skin tones and hair colors will not be affected by the treatment. White or grey hair, blonde and red hair do not have enough pigmentation for the laser to target. Since I have different colors of body hair, I can treat my legs and wherever the hair is light brown to black, but the hair that is red or blonde, I cannot treat. If your hair is light brown to black, and your skin tone is pale to light tan, you are a great candidate for at-home laser hair removal.

Hair Growth Phases

Hair growth phases

Your hair color and skin tone are not the only factors that come into play with laser hair removal. Each hair on your body is in a different hair growth phase, and this is very important for successful laser hair removal. Let’s take a look at each phase and what it means for laser.

  • Anagen Phase

This is the growing phase of the hair and the only phase that laser hair removal will work on. Only 20% of your hair is in this phase at any given time, which is why you need to treat the hairs multiple times over a period of at least three months, or 5-6 treatments.

  • Catagen Phase

This phase happens right after the anagen phase has ended. The hair follicle stops producing and the hair remains intact.

  • Telogen Phase

During this phase, the hair is in a resting period for about three months. While there is a small amount of hair in this phase (about 10-15%) laser hair removal is not successful in this stage.

  • Exogen Phase

This phase is when the hair falls out. We shed about 50 to 100 hairs all over our body per day–it’s totally normal!

Keep in mind that you cannot tell which phase each hair is in just by looking–that is a mystery that only your body knows about!

Will Tria Lasers Work for You?

Tria Laser Skin ChartThe first step in deciding if Tria’s hair removal lasers will work for you is to take a look at the skin tone and hair color chart. The chart will guide you to make sure that your skin tone and hair color combination will work with diode laser technology.

As you can see here, the laser will work on pale to light brown skin tones, and only on black to light brown hair color. What could happen if your skin tone is darker than light brown and you used the laser? The answer is that the laser could target the skin instead of the hair and cause pain and damage. The great thing about the Tria at-home hair removal laser is that there is a safety feature on the device that only allows the laser to unlock when the skin tone is within a safe range.

You will still need to use precautions when using the laser over dark moles. You can purchase white circle stickers to place over the moles to make sure they will not get hit with the laser during treatments. Definitely avoid any tattoos!

What Type of Hair Removal Methods Work for Dark Skin?

The good news is that there are options for hair removal for those with dark skin tones. These options are available only in clinics and cannot be performed at home, so you will have to make an appointment and most likely go through a consultation first.

Nd: YAG Laser

Nd:YAG Laser

The Nd:YAG laser (also known as YAG) works by targeting the blood supply that is attached to the hair follicle. This laser works safely over darker skin tones as it does not target the melanin in the skin. Be prepared to go in for many sessions with this laser since the average sessions will be about 8 to 12 to achieve permanent results. As always, I remind you to do your research on the clinic you book–check reviews first! Depending on the area being treated, the average cost of these treatments are about $300 per session.

An illustration of electrolysis

Electrolysis

This method of hair removal will work on all skin tones and hair colors — this will work on blondes with light body hair and redheads! Electrolysis is highly effective technology, but there are some drawbacks that I’d like to mention when choosing this option. Unlike laser, this method works by manually placing a wire into the hair follicle underneath the skin. An electric current moves down the wire to destroy the hair follicle.

The person performing the procedure must be a licensed or certified electrologist that has a valid license to work within your state. It can take 8 to 18 months to see full permanent results with about 2-4 treatments spaced 6 weeks apart. A common side effect in those with darker skin tones is Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation that can take up to a year to fade. I also want to mention that electrolysis can be painful, even with numbing creams applied.

As with any hair removal method, regrowth is common and touch-ups are necessary. I wish you the best of luck on your hair removal journey! If you have any questions for Tria Beauty, please reach out at customercare@triabeauty.com

Who is the best candidate for at-home laser hair removal?

Check out our YouTube video interview with double-certified cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Karan Lal.

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