Lasers are now the gold standard treatment for permanent hair reduction. In the right hands and using the correct machine, laser hair removal is a safe and effective procedure with few if any side effects.
In the wrong hands, using the wrong laser or using inappropriate laser settings the resulting treatment may be painful, may not work and can even produce permanent scaring and damage to the skin.
It is essential that your laser treatment is performed by fully qualified and experienced laser therapists, preferably this means a qualified nurse and not a beautician. The laser therapists must have been through the manufacturers training program specific for that laser and the clinic should be regulated by an appropriate organization. At present in the United Kingdom all laser clinics using a medical laser device should be regulated by the Care Quality Commission as a health care provider for that treatment.
How do Lasers Work?
A laser emits a high energy beam of light that is absorbed by the hair follicle. The laser is pulsed, or turned on, for only a fraction of a second, the duration of each pulse is just long enough to treat the hair follicle, and not damage the surrounding skin. Once absorbed, the laser light energy is transformed into heat, destroying the hair bulb at the base of the hair follicle.
The colour of your hair depends on the presence of a pigment called melanin, which is produced by melanocytes, found in the hair bulb. In laser hair removal, the target for the laser energy is this melanin pigment. Thus the more melanin an individual has in his/her hair, the more effective a laser’s energy will be absorbed into the follicle and the better the results will be.
What type of laser works the best on different skin types?
Different laser machines s produce beams of light energy at different wavelengths, for hair removal you need a laser that has a wavelength that is easily absorbed by melanin.
An individual with light skin and dark hair is the perfect subject for hair removal, the laser energy is therefore selectively absorbed by the hair bulb and not the surrounding skin, this reduces the potential thermal damage to the skin and allows you to be able to deliver more energy directly to the hair bulb.
Usually the gold standard on a dark haired light skinned client is a diode laser like the lightsheer laser which produces light filtered to almost the exact wavelength needed to be effective for hair removal, alternatively an alexandrite laser can also be very effective.
With dark skin and Asian skinned clients clinics need to use a laser that is more refined for that skin type, unlike on white skin an alexandrite laser may cause scaring to Asian or dark skin.
An Nd Yag laser has traditionally the best option for darker skin. However experience shows that an Nd Yag laser used on light skin or lighter Asian skin can cause scattering of the light energy and therefore painful treatments. I prefer to use a lightsheer diode laser which can be set up with a long pulse width. A lightsheer laser has a cooled tip that cools the surrounding skin reducing any residual thermal damage to the skin and excellent results are achieved with little if any discomfort at all.
White, blond and grey hair is not really suitable for laser hair removal as the hair bulbs do not contain as much melanin pigment so it is difficult to target the laser energy into the hair bulb and get effective results.
Different light devices are also available IPL stands for Intense pulsed light, these are devices that are not as powerful as a traditional laser and cannot maintain a pulse width or deliver the fluence or energy needed to be effective. You will therefore need more treatments in a salon using an cheaper, inferior IPL device and your results will not be as good as a traditional laser.
Home use hair removal devices use IPL technology and looking at the test results and the technical specifications cannot produce enough energy to get effective results and are therefore a waste of money.
With a traditional laser you will need 5 or 6 treatments to get effective results, going to a salons that uses an IPL devices will mean you need at least 10-12 sessions for the same results.
In Conclusion, go to a medically regulated clinic not a salon, be treated by a qualified technician preferably a nurse and make sure that the clinic is using a technology that works and is safe on your skin type.