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Is laser hair removal more effective on dark hair or light hair?

Laser hair removal has fast become one of the most popular methods of removing unwanted hair – surpassing waxing, shaving, and creams in the convenience, technology, efficiency, and long-term benefits departments. Considering the overall benefits of permanent hair removal, it’s easy to see how it’s become such a popular alternative to potentially painful and time-consuming methods. In fact, it’s difficult to come across a group of people where at least one person hasn’t had it done! And it’s not just women but men too. More and more often, we see men come in for permanent hair removal. Hairy backs are a thing of the past!

One of the most heard questions would have to be whether it will be an effective process for them. After all, there are so many different and varying hair types, textures and colours that all influence the process. To better understand how black hair differs from lighter hair in the laser removal process, we should discuss what laser hair removal is, and what it achieves.

What is laser hair removal?

This method of hair removal has been commercially available since the mid 1990’s and offers an array of benefits, such as:

  • Less frequent treatments in comparison to shaving and waxing
  • Positive long-term effects like continuous reduction in hair growth
  • Quick and near painless treatment times
  • Little to no recovery time

If you’ve read our previous blog post “How removing black ink tattoos differs from coloured ink”  you may already have an idea about how laser technology works, and how it reacts with different colours. But for those who haven’t read it; Laser hair removal is the process of removing unwanted body hair by using pulses of laser light and energy on the skin that targets and destroys hair follicles. This is more technically referred to as Selective Photothermolysis.

Laser Hair Removal Effectiveness for Darker Hair

For the same reasons to why you should avoid wearing black clothes in summer (because black absorbs more light and creates heat – leaving you a hot/sweaty mess!), laser hair removal works best on dark hair. Light is absorbed best by dark pigment, which then creates the heat and energy required to destroy the hair follicles. Because of the selective absorption of the laser, only hair colours like black, brown, reddish-brown, or dark blonde can be removed. Considering darker hair colours are those that are going to be most visible on a patient, being able to effectively remove these hairs via laser hair removal is going to bring a sigh of relief for those looking for a permanent solution.

Laser Hair Removal Effectiveness for Lighter Hair

There are two types of Melanin when it comes to hair: Eumelanin and Pheomelanin.
Eumelanin is what gives hair brown or black colours, while Pheomelanin gives a blonde or red colour. As we mentioned earlier that black absorbs more light, this also means that lighter hair colours don’t have as much pigment to attract the laser light with, making it harder for the laser to “search and destroy” the hair follicle. This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible though. But it does mean that you may need a specially developed laser for lighter colour hair removal and an appropriately adjusted treatment plan.

Other factors: Skin Colour

Skin colour is another factor involved in the overall efficacy and outcome of laser hair removal.
Coming back to our previous points about how lasers interact with different colour pigments, darker hair and fair skin is the combination that will produce the best hair removal results. On the other hand, if you have darker skin or fair coloured hair on your body, the laser is likely to experience a sort of colour blindness when searching for the hair follicle. If there isn’t enough difference in the depth of colour pigment between your skin and your hair, or if you’re hair isn’t much darker than your skin, the laser will get confused, and disperse its energy in a less direct and more diluted heat pulse into your skin.

Laser hair removal will not be the same treatment experience for everyone. But with expertly trained staff, state of the art technology, and an industry that is constantly having its methods, safety, and efficacy reviewed to ensure that consumers are always receiving the most up to date information and treatments, you can be sure that you will receive the highest level of personalised care.

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