When you have darker hair and darker skin, laser hair removal gets a little more complicated. Hair bleaching doesn't make sense, some hair textures result in less-than-fun ingrown hair when shaved. Who wants to spend hours of their life shaving your legs, anyway? When technology is available, we'd turn to a more expensive, but a more permanent solution — laser hair removal. Although between all the pro-body hair Instagram photos and articles of late, it seems like nobody is shaving or removing any kind of body hair whatsoever anymore, it's still a thing for some women. Chrissy Teigen still does it — twice a day, apparently.
While our fairer skin counterparts have long been able to enjoy never having to shave their pits again for a while now, us darker skinned women still have problems. Most, if not all, dark skinned women who have contemplated of permanent hair removal have heard about the shortcomings of laser hair removal. Most significantly, the laser detects the contrast between skin and hair so the darker your hair, and the lighter your skin, the better the laser works. Still, there are ways to get a successful laser hair removal treatment, no matter your skin tone — here's how.
1. Look For The Right Type Of Laser
I spoke to Dr Komathy, of The Lifestyle Clinic in Singapore, who specializes in darker skin tones. She says, "I would recommend laser hair removal for all women because its permanent solution for unwanted hair especially facial hair. However, dark skin women have a disadvantage. because there is more melanin in the skin, they are more prone to burns." Still, she insists that technology has advanced so much that there are machines that can treat pretty much anyone safely."The machines have to be a Diode or Nd-Yag laser machines," she says.
These laser machines have improved by being more specific and thus, safer and more effective. Many of them also now come with larger hand pieces for to laser large areas such as legs and back. Pain from laser has also been significantly reduced, especially in devices such as the Lightsheer Diode machine.
2. Ask Questions
Of course, you always want to do your research before going in for any sort of extreme treatments. Dr. Komathy advises to "ask which machine is being used" when you go into any salon or clinic for a consultation. Confirm that it's a laser, and that it's one of the types mentioned above.
Next, ask how long the person who's working on you has been doing the treatment. Be sure you understand the dos and don'ts, if you do decide to go with laser treatment.
It's even good to have a look at the machine before your appointment. Take note of the name on the machine and counter check that it is a laser and the specific type.
3. Ask For A Patch Test
If you have very dark skin, Dr. Komathy advises a patch test. A small area is lasered at different energy levels to determine the right level for effective removal without burning your skin. The zone between effective level and burn is very narrow in very dark individuals.
4. Skip The IPL
Dr. Komathy cautions, "No IPL [Intense Pulsed Light] for dark skin! It's very unsafe." IPLs work in a similar manner to lasers, but with a less controllable energy emission. "A laser is specific in its wavelength, so it's precise," Dr. Komathy says. "Its effect on the melanin on the skin is less, particularly if you're using a diode or Nd-yag machine."
Go forth and get lasered, my fellow darker-skinned ladies!
Images: Getty Images; Giphy