The effectiveness of laser hair removal is dependent upon several factors including skin type and hair color. Lesser factors include the condition of the skin, sun exposure, and the cycle of the hair.
There are four basic skin types – Caucasian European, African descent, Eastern Asian, and Middle Eastern / Mediterranean. Each of these four skin types have several things in common, such as the thickness of the dermis and epidermis, the number of hair follicles, and the skin’s layered components. However, there are many characteristics of each skin type that are very different.
have the most varied skin type of all the groups. This group has light skin with great variation in skin color amongst the people, which is determined by heredity. People from this group are the best candidates for laser hair removal. Generally, they will need fewer treatments and attain the best results. Overall, the effectiveness of laser hair removal on individuals from this group is dependent upon a combination of their hair and skin color.
Individuals of African descent
with dark brown skin are usually poor candidates for laser hair removal. This is because the laser light is absorbed into the skin pigment, causing possible burns, scars, and keloids. The dark skin causes the laser beam to be drawn away from its target area.
People in Eastern Asian descent
which includes Chinese, Japanese and Korean skin types, generally have the least amount of facial and body hair. They are usually good candidates for laser hair removal because their hair is dark, and they have minimal skin pigmentation.
Middle Eastern and Mediterranean
tend to have the most facial and body hair. Their skin color can very from dark white to medium brown. Those people with lighter skin generally make better candidates for laser hair removal. Skin bleaching agents, such as 4% hydroquinone, are sometimes used by people in this group to lighten the skin as much as possible. This is done to make the laser treatment as effective as possible and reduce the risk of burning the skin. This ethnic group has an increased risk of hyper-pigmentation.
Hair color combined with skin type to further determine the effects of laser hair removal. Black or dark brown hair is usually coarser and contains the most pigmentation. These factors make it the easiest to treat because the laser light is most easily absorbed by the dark pigmentation. Lighter brown hair usually requires more treatments than darker hair. The lighter the hair color, the more difficult laser hair removal becomes. Red and light blonde hair contain phemelianin pigment which makes light absorption very difficult. Grey or white hair does not contain any pigmentation at all, therefor, they cannot absorb light. The Fitzpatrick Skin Phototype Scale and the Lancer Ethnicity Scale are used by professional technicians to determine the effectiveness of laser hair removal based on skin type and hair color.
The best combination of skin type and hair color for laser hair removal is light skin with dark hair. These people will have the best results with the least treatments.