Is Laser Hair Removal Safe for People of Color?


Waking up each day with smooth, clear skin, and never shaving or waxing again? Sign us up! There’s a lot to love about laser hair removal. It’s the only way to permanently reduce or eliminate unwanted facial or body hair in just a few months.

Laser technology has improved over the years too—we now have options to treat darker skin tones safely that weren’t available even a few years ago. That said, people of color still need to take extra care when choosing a provider and treatment to minimize risk for side effects such as loss of pigment and scarring.

This article from Refinery29 offers a fantastic overview of the ins and outs of laser hair removal for people of color, including which lasers are safe for dark skin, what to expect during treatment, and tips for pre- and post-treatment care that can enhance your safety, comfort, and results.

Make sure the provider you choose for laser hair removal is very experienced with cosmetic lasers in general and has specific experience treating patients with darker skin.

For instance, did you know that you shouldn’t tweeze or wax for at least 2 weeks before getting laser hair removal? This ensures the laser energy can travel down the hair shaft and be absorbed by the root, which is the action that actually destroys the hair.

We encourage you to read the entire article, but here are two important points worth repeating, plus one of our own:

1.  Know your provider’s qualifications

First and foremost, be selective about who performs your treatment, as provider skill and experience are the most important factors in safe, effective laser hair removal. Make sure the provider you choose is very experienced with cosmetic lasers in general and has specific experience treating patients with darker skin. Your safest bet is a qualified medical provider, such as an RN or PA, who has specific training in aesthetics and works under MD supervision.

2. Know your lasers

Second, it’s useful to be familiar with lasers that are safe to use on darker skin. The gold standard laser for dark skin is a long-pulse Nd:YAG laser with a 1064nm wavelength. In plain English, this laser uses a longer energy wavelength that travels deeper beneath the surface, so the heat is absorbed by the hair follicle instead of the pigment in your skin.

We use this type of laser at Anderson Sobel Cosmetic (the Elite MPX laser to be exact), and both Dr. Sobel and our patients love it. This state-of-the-art laser uses multiple wavelengths (an Alexandrite 755nm, Nd:YAG 1064nm, and IPL), which we can adjust to make the laser more or less intense, based on your skin type. The Elite MPX is safe for light to dark skin tones, and it has top-of-the-line speed and cooling mechanisms for a fast, surprisingly comfortable treatment, even for large or sensitive areas.

Don’t tweeze or wax for at least 2 weeks before getting laser hair removal. This ensures the laser energy can travel down the hair shaft and be absorbed by the root, which is what actually destroys the hair.

3. Time your treatments to take advantage of cooler weather

Proper aftercare is essential after laser hair removal. You must protect treated skin with clothing or SPF, as sun exposure can lead to discoloration. That makes winter a great time to get started with laser hair removal—it’s easier to keep treated skin out of the sun. Plus, most patients need 6 to 8 treatments to achieve their desired results, so beginning treatments now means you can be smooth and ready for swimsuit season.

Considering laser hair removal in Seattle? We’d love to help

The only reliable way to determine whether you are a good candidate for laser hair removal is to consult with an experienced cosmetic surgeon. Dr. Sobel and our staff want you to get reliable, helpful information about your treatment options, so your initial consultation is free.

Call 425-452-9060 or contact us now to schedule.

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