If you’re looking for a hair removal method that lasts longer than a few days or weeks, laser hair reduction is worth considering.  And while it costs more initially than conventional methods, it is actually more cost-effective in the long run. This is because you’ll enjoy lasting results and don’t have to worry about shaving or waxing repeatedly. 

Laser Hair Reduction for Darker Skin 7 Things to Know

In the early 2000s, laser hair reduction and similar methods worked best on fair skin with dark and coarse hairs. They are not ideal for melanin-rich complexions, as it was hard for old lasers to distinguish the pigment of the skin from that of the hair follicles. Fortunately, it is a different story now as certain devices can effectively treat dark or tanned skin. 

1. What type of laser is ideal for dark complexions?

Not every light- or energy-based hair reduction procedure works on all skin types and tones. Those that have a 1064 nm wavelength are ideal for darker or tanned complexions, as they bypass the melanin in the skin and solely target the pigment of the hair follicle. 

At Cutis, we use an Nd:YAG laser, which has a 1064 nm wavelength. It involves the use of a handheld device that delivers concentrated pulses of laser light that target the follicles. The hair’s pigment then absorbs the light and converts it to heat, damaging the follicles and halting future hair growth.

This wavelength also penetrates enough to damage the follicles without destroying the skin or pigment-producing cells (melanocytes). This is important because when melanocytes are damaged, it can lead to pigment issues such as hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation (pale or light spots and patches).   

2. Can laser remove all of your unwanted hair? 

No light-based method can remove 100% of your hair. Nd:YAG lasers and similar methods lead to permanent hair reduction, removing about 80% to 90% of unwanted hair. Any hair left behind should be fine and light, but it is important to know that there are cases where damaged follicles heal, resulting in regrowth. 

In the case of regrowth, the hairs are much finer because the melanin is treated or removed during the procedure. It is also worth knowing that for the laser energy to halt the growth inside the follicles, the hair should be in the active growth stage (anagen). And since not all hairs are not in this phase, you will need multiple sessions. 

For further reading: How Hair Growth Cycles Affect Laser Hair Removal

3. What areas can be treated

The device we use at Cutis has a built-in cooling design that cools the skin as it glides along. It also has a longer wavelength that provides lasting and permanent hair reduction results. Both enable a safe and effective treatment that works on all skin types and tones. It can remove unwanted hair in nearly every part of the body, including the:

  • Face
  • Arms
  • Underarms
  • Chest
  • Back 
  • Legs
  • Bikini area

4. How many treatments will you need?

Typically, the procedure requires 2 to six treatments, with the interval varying depending on the location. The number of sessions will also depend on several factors, such as the: 

  • Treated area 
  • Amount and density of your hair
  • Hair’s growth cycle

A consultation with a reputable provider will let you know the number of treatments that may be needed, including the things you can expect before, during, and after the procedure. Most patients will also need touch-up or maintenance treatments every six months to a year to keep the skin silky smooth. 

5. Is the treatment painful?

Saying laser hair reduction is completely painless is untrue because everyone has different pain tolerance levels. It can be a little uncomfortable for some people, with patients describing the sensation similar to rubber bands being snapped against the skin. This, however, only lasts for a few seconds.  

The level of discomfort you’ll feel will also depend on the area being treated. It can hurt a little more on sensitive areas such as the face and bikini line compared to legs, which tend to have thicker skin. 

6. How to prepare for your hair reduction treatment 

A consultation with a trusted clinic or provider will let you know the things you need to do before your appointment. Some may advise you to pause using skincare products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid on areas being treated, as they can increase skin sensitivity. They may also recommend stopping using retinoids or retinol after the treatment. 

There are also some basic guidelines you need to follow such as avoiding shaving at least for 24 hours or waxing /plucking the area at least two weeks before your appointment. It is also advisable to avoid sun exposure (particularly without sun protection) two weeks before and after your treatment.

For further reading:How to Get the Most Out of Your Laser Hair Removal Treatment

7. What to expect after your treatment

Skin redness or swelling is common after the session and you may be able to use a mild topical steroid or apply ice to the area to reduce it. Aloe vera gel can also help soothe the skin immediately following the treatment. Minor bumps are also normal and expected, but these usually resolve within a day or so. 

Keep in mind that following the treatment, the skin will be more photosensitive than usual. This is due to the laser damaging the hair follicles, which can lead to minor redness and irritation. Avoiding sun exposure is a must, as well as using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 50 every day. 

Book a consultation at Cutis

Our clinic recently received the Gold Award for Best Hair Removal in the Expat Living’s Readers’ Choice Awards 2023. This is a testament to our commitment to providing quality aesthetic services, particularly hair reduction in Singapore. Reach out to us at +65 6801 4000 to learn more or book a consultation with our aesthetic doctor.

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