Home Laser Hair Removal for Darker Skin: All You Need to Know

THE MYTH: Laser Hair Removal is not meant for melanin-rich skin. THE TRUTH: Laser hair removal works by targeting the melanin in the hair follicles and destroying them through light beams. It is an old myth that in case of darker skin tones, the laser is not able to differentiate between the dark pigment of the hair and the skin, thereby destroying both the hair follicle and the skin around it. What most people don't consider before propagating this myth is that laser hair treatments have come a long way since its inception, especially with the advent of the laser hair removal home-kits. These kits are specifically crafted, keeping in mind the diverse skin-tones.

How does Home Laser Hair Removal Work?

Laser treatment is a novel and non-intrusive cosmetic procedure of hair removal, which is voted by most women as the least painful way that goes a long way. The system uses a laser beam to attack the melanin. Melanin is the pigment which gives your skin and hair colour. The melanin concentration absorbs the laser beam in the hair follicles. The beam is converted into heat and destroys the follicle making the hair fall off from the roots. With prolonged use, the hair follicles grow weaker and thereby leading to a decrease in hair growth. Since there is no plucking or extraction involved, the procedure is relatively pain-free.

Why is Dark Skin an Issue for Laser Hair Removal?

Since melanin gives colour to your hair and skin, a darker skin tone would indicate a presence of higher levels of melanin. Now when the laser penetrates the hair follicles, it destroys whatever pigment absorbs the light. Darker skin is essentially melanin-rich and therefore lies a possibility that the melanin of the skin might also absorb the light which can, in turn, destroy the skin itself. When a laser is unable to differentiate between the melanin of the skin and the hair, it can severely burn the skin surface.

But given the rapid technological advancements, many hair removal at home kits come with light beams of wavelengths that go deeper into the skin surface and only target the melanin of the hair. The technology used in most home laser hair removal devices, commonly known as IPL devices, bypass the pigment present in the skin and only reach the hair follicles, making it a safe choice for medium to dark skins.

Commonly Treated Areas using Laser Hair Removal

IPL devices can be used almost on any skin surface except for the eyes. However, the commonly treated body areas using IPL devices are:

Under Arms
Bikini Line/Brazilian Area
Face (Chin and Upper lip area)

How to Choose the Right At-Home Laser Hair Removal Kit for Dark Skin

With multiple options flooding the shelves and limited knowledge about these devices, choosing the right IPL device can be a daunting task. Add to it the issue of a darker skin tone, and it will indeed become a task of finding a needle in the haystack. But worry not! If you know what your skin requires and what technology is suited for you, this very task can become a walk in the park.

Nowadays, IPL devices come with numerous setting options that are clinically tested and proven to be effective for darker skin. Go for the models that have low energy IPL settings, wavelength filters, and allow configuration of the light beams/flashes. These features are especially beneficial for darker skin tones.

How to Prepare for Laser Hair Removal on Dark Skin at Home

A couple of days before your planned hair removal session, ditch your skin-care products with harsh chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, glycolic and salicylic acids, or any retinoids like tretinoin and adapalene. These ingredients will only leave your skin vulnerable to laser treatment and cause more harm than good.

Before the planned session, coddle your skin. Replenish your fluids, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. You can also opt for a warm bath with a mild soap the night before. Additionally, give up on any plans on tanning, or even better, go, full vampire! Avoiding the sun for a few days will make your skin strong enough to deal with the laser beams and ensure negligible to no skin burns. If stepping out is an absolute necessity, slap on a thick layer of sunscreen, preferably SPF 30+ with UV protection.

The most important preparation before a laser session, however, is to shave the area you plan on treating. Unshaved hair creates a thick barrier over the skin surface that does not allow for penetration of the light beams. Shaving, on the other hand, clears off the barrier and allows the light to reach the hair follicles easily.

Post-Treatment Care for Dark Skin

A little discomfort or something similar to a mild sunburn is to be expected after you undergo a hair removal session. Nonetheless, these side-effects are fairly common and can be taken care of with home remedies or over-the-counter medications. In case you face inflammation or skin irritation, apply some aloe vera gel or hydrocortisone. But if the treatment leaves you with folliculitis or small acne-like bumps, topical antibiotics will take care of those zits. Although rare, if you face hyperpigmentation or discoloration of the skin in the treated area, over-the-counter topical creams for dark spots might prove quite useful. However, in case of severe discomfort or burning sensations, reach out to your dermatologist at the earliest.