Ever since its introduction, laser hair removal has been a popular choice with women tired of constantly shaving and ready to be free of the pain that comes with waxing. However, women with Asian or black African skin have often been told that they’re not suitable candidates for laser hair removal due to their darker skin tone. Thankfully, with the development of new types of lasers, individuals with dark skin tones can now enjoy the benefits of laser hair removal too.
Preparing for Laser Hair Removal
Like any treatment, before you have a laser hair removal treatment it’s important that you know how to prepare and what to avoid doing before your sessions. In order to prepare the area that you are having lasered, avoid waxing, plucking, threading or any other form of hair removal which works by pulling up the root of the hairs. You should do this for eight weeks prior to your first laser hair removal session and stick to shaving or in extreme situations you may use hair removal creams. As you get closer to your laser hair removal appointment, avoid the use of acids, retinol and topical acne medications for at least two weeks before and after your sessions. This is because acids, retinol, and topical acne medications like benzoyl peroxide can make your skin more sensitive to laser treatments in the same way that they make your skin more sensitive to UV rays.
Choosing a Type of Laser
While it’s true that laser hair removal can be more difficult on darker skin tones, it is by no means impossible and there are now treatment options that work just as well on Asian and Black African skin as they do on light skin tones. The key to successful laser hair removal on dark skin tones is knowing which machines will be the most effective for your skin type.
Although some lasers are advertised as being suitable for all skin types, the two devices specifically recommended for hair removal on darker skin types are Diode and Nd:YAG lasers.
Nd:YAG lasers are more commonly used for tattoo removal and treating hyperpigmentation, however, they are also suitable for hair removal on Asian and black African skin tones although there is some discomfort involved.
You also have the option of choosing a Diode laser treatment plan, which works well on darker skin types and people with brown or black hair. Emitting a shorter wavelength than Nd:YAG lasers, Diode laser hair removal requires several treatments but comes with minimal side effects and little to no downtime.
It’s a good idea to continue avoiding the use of harsh products like retinol, acids, and topical acne medications for a week or so after your laser hair removal sessions while the area recovers. You should also avoid any form of hair removal other than shaving for around 10 days after your treatments, in order to avoid irritating the area. To avoid the risk of ingrown hairs, make sure to gently exfoliate the area when you shower.
While there are now plenty of safe laser hair removal options for women with darker skin tones, there is still a risk of side effects. If you experience any irritation or redness – which can be common after laser hair removal for both light and dark skin tones – then apply some aloe vera gel to soothe the area, or hydrocortisone cream if the inflammation persists. And don’t forget your SPF!