Darker Skin Tones and Laser Hair Removal: All you need to know

Laser technology has come a long way since it was first introduced to the market 20 years ago. 


Back in the early 2000’s not only was laser hair removal very uncomfortable, it took tons of sessions to see a small percentage of hair reduction, but was also only indicative for fair skin types. 


We have definitely come a long way since the flip phones age. You may have heard of different types of laser technologies such as Alexandrite, Diode, etc, and it can get very overwhelming deciding which one to go with, especially with the amount of information and different options that are available right now.


In order to understand how laser works, we need to dive into the incredible science behind it. Every laser has a different wavelength, namely Alexandrite has 755nm and Diode has 810nm, in order to target different things on our skin. Those “targets” are called chromophores and can be melanin (the colour in our skin) , water, hemoglobin and more. Lasers “heat up” those targets through a precise optical technique called Selective Photothermolysis.


After many years of research and studies, scientists have confirmed that the 1064nm Nd: YAG and 810nm Diode Lasers are the safest for skin types 4 to 6. And why is that you ask? That is because these lasers have longer wavelengths, allowing the light to go deeper into the hair follicle and heat it up, leaving the melanin on the surface of your skin unharmed. It is important to use such technology, as darker skin tones may not burn easily in the sun, but absorb and hold heat for much longer, which ultimately results in scarring and even depigmentation.


While being ideal for darker skin tones, Nd:YAG laser works great for fair skin types as well, especially in the summer months fair skin gets more tan. It’s important to always keep in mind that everyone's skin is different and there’s no cookie-cutter approach for all skin types when it comes to hair reduction. With that said, we strongly recommend staying out of the sun when committing to laser hair reduction, especially 2 weeks prior and following your appointment.


As important it is to pick the right laser, it is equally as important to have a professional laser tech to guide and educate you through the entire process. A thorough consultation and test patch should always be performed before the first session, and they should go over with you any changes in your medical history on every single appointment. 

Tips For A Successful Laser Hair Reduction

A thorough consult and test patch are absolutely necessary. If neither of them were suggested or performed, then you should consider looking for another clinic.


It is important to shave the day of, or the day before your appointment. Do not wax or pluck hairs for at least a month before your appointment, as the hair bulb needs to be present in the hair follicle for the laser to work. If you have recently waxed, ask your laser tech to reschedule your appointment for a later date; it’s best to postpone and do it right than do it and yield no results.


Laser sessions performed on facial hair should be spaced out about 4 weeks apart, while body treatments should be about 4-6 weeks apart, and this has to do with the phases of hair growth. It is important to be consistent with your appointments in order to ensure maximized results.


Darker skin tones may need up to 8 treatments to reach optimal results. During those months, ensure you’re protected against the sun at all times.


A mild pinching sensation or a rubber band snap feeling is associated with laser hair removal. In most cases the sensation is very mild and numbing is not necessary, there are however more sensitive areas such as the bikini area that may require a light numbing prior to the appointment. 


Depending on the machine being used you should expect up to 80% reduction. Hair growth is affected by many intrinsic and extrinsic factors such as hormones, medication, genes, etc. It is normal to see some of the hair come back, a lot more sparse and thinner however. We suggest scheduling a maintenance appointment (ideally in the winter) with your laser tech if you see some unwanted hair re-appear. Touch-up appointments can be scheduled once every 6 - 12 months. 


At The Essence our core value is to treat the skin with respect and deliver true results. That is why we offer the safest and most effective laser machine in the market. The Elite iQ laser system offers the gold standard combination of wavelengths (755-nm Alexandrite and 1064-nm Nd:YAG), allowing us to treat all skin types from very fair to highly pigmented, and almost all hair types. Its breakthrough technology, the Skintel Melanin Reader, which objectively measures the skin’s melanin content allows the laser machine to select the safest and most optimal setting to accurately deliver the best results without compromising the health of your skin. 

Make sure to book a 30 minute consultation with a Skin Expert to determine which laser treatment course is the right one for you.