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Laser Hair Removal Risk versus Reward: Must I choose?

laser hair removal

There is a long held belief when considering laser hair removal that the only profile that should be treated is that of someone with dark hair and light skin. When lasers first arrived on the North American scene for hair removal purposes, this guideline was extremely useful and very applicable. That is because the earliest lasers for hair removal used a relatively short wavelength. To better understand what this means, simply think of wavelength as “depth of penetration”. If a hair removal laser doesn’t penetrate very deeply, then there is the potential for the laser light energy in the form of heat to be absorbed into the skin. The reason for this is that the pigment that gives your skin its color, melanin, is the same pigment that gives your hair its color. Hair removal lasers for all their sophistication simply cannot differentiate between the two; they are attracted to pigment and they attack it. Therefore, if you are a light skinned individual during the winter, but have a tendency to darken over the summer months, you have a risk/reward equation to consider when thinking about laser hair removal. At least that used to be the case.

Skin Types and Different Lasers for Hair Removal: How-To Find the Perfect Match

It’s an oversimplification nowadays to say that the only people who should consider laser hair removal are those with dark hair and light skin. That’s because over the years, laser hair removal technology has advanced to make treatments safer and more effective for a broader array of people. There are even devices now that combine laser technology with other energy sources to provide the safest and most effective treatments for hair removal ever! With the technology of today and a little honesty, one can almost eliminate the risk and simply reap the rewards of hair free skin!

Here is a fairly simple guideline to follow when it comes time to select the appropriate type of laser: if you have dark hair and very light skin you are safe to be treated on virtually any hair removal laser. Yours is still the ideal profile for laser hair removal purposes and you should find success with most lasers. Be careful, however, in providing an honest assessment of your skin type especially during the warmer months of the year when pigment in our skin is likely to darken.

As a rule of thumb, the darker your skin– the more cautious you need to be in selecting the safest and most effective hair removal laser. If you have very dark skin, this consideration becomes absolutely critical! If you aren’t sure, then error on the side of caution and seek out longer wavelength lasers, or devices that combine laser energy with other energy sources for effective hair removal.

What Type of Hair Removal Laser Am I Being Treated On?

While the information above is targeted at those considering seeking laser hair removal services, those of you who have already signed a contract or even started receiving services need not worry. There are still steps you can take to ensure that you are being treated with the appropriate laser for your skin type.

You don’t need a degree in laser science to be able to guide yourself towards a safe and effective hair removal treatment; one needs simply to ask. The hair removal facility you chose should be able to tell you whether the device they are using is a short, medium, or long wavelength laser. Don’t get bogged down by the name of the laser as there are many trade names of lasers in the each category. Finally, ask if the device is a laser or an Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) device. Many sell hair removal services under the guise of a laser service when, in fact, they are using a flash lamp technology that isn’t a laser at all. IPL’s are very risky for anyone with any sort of pigment in their skin, and even for good hair removal candidates, these devices typically only provide temporary clearance.

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